How We Launched Vylo.org and Where We Go From Here

How We Launched Vylo.org and Where We Go From Here

As much as Perrin and I enjoy working on our portfolio of niche sites, we really get excited about the business potential of our new product Vylo.

If you have been following along this software business case study, then you know that Perrin and I have been working for about 6 months now to get Vylo developed.  We are happy to say that the first public version has finally been released and is now ready for the world to try out!

When I hired Perrin at the end of December last year, not only did he bring an awesome work ethic and niche site building skills, but he also brought with him a software idea and 6,000 people that were interested in that idea.  You can read all about what Vylo is here and another update here.

Basically, Perrin had the idea for a hassle free, web based chat software for PC gamers and pitched the idea on Reddit.  As a result of that one Reddit thread, over 6000 people signed up on his email list expressing interest in the product.

Because I saw the enormity of the gaming market, the initial interest in his idea, and knowing first hand how well software ideas can do, I sweet talked my way into becoming a partner in the project.  Okay, I put up some money as well, to help get the project off the ground.

So, after hiring a developer that I had worked with previously, we spent the next 6 months getting Vylo to a place where we were comfortable releasing it.  We launched it about a week ago to the list of 6,000 email subscribers and have developed a more comprehensive marketing plan.

If you want to check out Vylo to see what it's all about, please visit Vylo.org right here.

Since this is really Perrin's idea, I'm going to let him give you a more in-depth update of how Vylo has done since we launched, what our plans are going forward, and some lessons learned.

Recap of the Vylo Launch

Hey guys! Perrin here. It’s been a while since we’ve talked about Vylo in our last update on the project, and a lot has happened since we did!

We’ve been scrambling and working our butts off, and we finally launched Vylo last week. How’d it go? Let’s find out…

Leading Up to Launch…

Leading up to launch, we had an enormous amount of work to do. It was all hands on deck, and every single member of my team was working to get the product ready for launch day.

It was a really great learning experience, too, because frankly, developing a software product and releasing it to the public requires a lot of different skills – and it all has to come together at the right time.

Plus, as with any project, you really can nit-pick anything to death, so a considerable amount of energy was devoted just to remaining efficient – focusing on the things that mattered most, making sacrifices, and deciding what we just didn’t have time to do.

As we got closer to launch, we all kind of realized how much work we’d done (and how much we had left to do), and we literally worked right up until the hour we went live.

Here’s the breakdown of our activities.

Technical Stuff

The technical stuff was by far the biggest part of the pre-launch work, and our developer, Nick Ohrn, had by far the biggest work load.

The largest chunk of most of the rest of our time was also related to the technical side. We spent plenty of hours testing every little thing we could think of, finding friends to test it, and testing everything again.

A few of the major things we did on the technical side were:

  • Rebuilding the landing page. We had some pretty huge technical problems here, mostly on the hosting side, which were mostly my fault. We ended up having to rebuild the whole thing from scratch. It was not fun at all, but it was necessary.
  • Moving the app over to our domain (and all the related stuff that went with it). This was actually relatively simple, but there were quite a few moving parts involved. We had to move the app to the Vylo.org domain, transfer ownership to me inside Heroku (the cloud application platform Vylo is built on), and set up a Stripe account to enable us to take money.
  • Fixing bugs. I won’t bore you with all the bugs we fixed, but it was a major part of the process. And it’s going to be a part of any development process; you’re just never going to know what needs fixing until you go in and try to break stuff. And we did!

Design Stuff

In addition to the technical stuff, we realized we needed some super-fast, emergency design. Much earlier in the project, I chose to go with a designer I knew and trusted instead of hiring an agency, and this is where that decision really paid off.

As we started wrapping things up, we realized we needed to design a whole new page – mostly because we hadn’t counted on having to design it. That page was the sales page. And, really, it was two pages – one for people who already had a free account, and one for those who did not.

So, I called our designer, Suzy Williams of SuzDesign.com, and basically begged her to knock out a design for those two pages in less than 24 hours.

And she totally came through!

One of the reasons I love working with Suzy is that she is incredibly fast, and she was able to design those pages and get the files to Nick (our developer) in no time flat.

And we really, really appreciated it. In fact, she and her husband got two large pizzas and a 6-pack of beer from yours truly as a “Thank you” to Suzy for coming through in the clutch, which she always does.

Priming our mailing list

As the technical stuff and the design stuff was getting worked out, I also had to prime our mailing list. And that, I thought, was going to be a major problem. Why?

  • We hadn’t emailed them for months (didn’t have much to say, but still… a mistake)
  • We’d changed our name (from GGNoob to Vylo)

So, not only did we have a cold list, but when we did decide to email them, they probably wouldn’t have any idea who we were.

I had to get us back in the game somehow, and for the week leading up to launch, a lot of my own energy went into strategizing exactly how we were going to do that. Here’s the email I ended up sending:

Screenshot 1

My strategy was basically to use a headline that caught the reader’s attention and got them curious enough to open the email. I was leaning into the fact that they would be seeing a new email from someone they’d never heard about. Then I had to remind them why we’d be awesome enough for them to sign up with us.

Here’s how it did:

Screenshot 2
Click to Enlarge

As you can see, that email did very, very well. In fact, it did about twice as well as I thought it was going to, and I figured I was being optimistic. Getting a 42% open rate on a cold list with a new brand is about as good as you can hope for.

So, for the remainder of the week. I sent out a couple more emails. None of them were as successful as the first, but they all did pretty well. Here are the stats:

Email 2:

Screenshot 3
Click to Enlarge

Email 3, which was actually our launch email:

Screenshot 4
Click to Enlarge

Finally Launching!

We launched on Monday, June 2nd at 5:00 PM. The idea here was to snag people who were just getting off work to go play video games. We only launched to our list, so it was really a pretty soft launch. Why did we only launch to our list? Well, we did that for a few reasons:

  • We had a big enough list (6,000) that it was feasible
  • We knew there would be a few more bugs, and we didn’t want to flood ourselves with traffic just yet
  • We wanted to reward our list for signing up early

So, on that Monday afternoon, I had about 3 beers (pretty uncharacteristic for me – but, hey, how often do you start a company?) and let ‘er fly…

How’d it go?

The launch went… okay. It didn’t quite live up to my dreams, but it did about as well as we could have hoped based on the data we’d already seen, especially since our email numbers were trickling off.

In the back of my mind, I’d kind of hoped we’d get a thousand people to the site, but we didn’t quite get there.

Here’s the raw data:

Screenshot 5

And here’s how the launch day looked in the context of the month:

Screenshot 6

Finally, here’s a screen shot of the built-in analytics (current as of June 10):

Screenshot 7

Deciphering the Data

Phew, so that’s a lot to take in. Here it is at a glance:

  • 725 visitors on launch day
  • 332 actual users on launch day
  • 260 people have signed up for free accounts
  • Users are using Vylo organically
  • Traffic is declining, as expected

So what’s the good news and what’s the bad news?

The best news by far is all the people who have signed up for free accounts. That big 260 number is much, much more than I would have hoped. Why are they signing up?

The friends list!

With Vylo, you can have a friends list, but only if you sign up for a free account. And that has really been working for us. It means that it’s a feature people really want, and they don’t mind giving us their email to get it. And that is absolutely awesome. Roughly 12% of our users are signing up for free accounts. That is a very, very good conversion rate if you ask me!

From that data, we can infer that our product is sound. And I think that’s really true. In fact, I think we currently have the best browser-based voice application on the market. And our 12% conversion certainly seems to back that up.

The bad news, of course, is that we haven’t made any sales (those two paid accounts are myself and one of my team members). So, while a bunch of people are signing up for free accounts, no one has been sold on the “Pro” accounts.

All of that tells me… only half of our sales funnel is working. And we’ll likely have to do some major tweaking to get it working.

For now, though, we’re not worried about it. So what are we worried about?

Exposure.

And here’s how we plan to get it…

The Action Plan

We’ve been working hard, but the hard work is really just beginning. Up until now, most of the workload has been getting the product working – technical stuff, design, mailing lists…

But now, we’ve got to do the tough part. We’ve got to get out there and pound some pavement. We’ve got to get some eyeballs on our product. We’ve got to spread the word, build relationships and keep the overall hype up, so that we can edge ourselves over the event horizon – get ourselves to critical mass.

Because right now, if we don’t do anything, Vylo will eventually just die out. It’s not popular enough to survive on its own.

We’ve got a pretty difficult mission ahead of us, and it’s all hands on deck. Here’s what we’re going to be doing this month.

Agent Perrin: I’m going to be in charge of getting our product into the hands of influencers. This is going to be really, really hard, I think. But, in my view, it’s critical to the success of Vylo. I’m going to be reaching out to important gamers, bloggers, communities and companies in the gaming space to see if we can buy a tweet or endorsement or whatever we can get. In addition, I’ll be looking into a few advertising avenues – namely Twitch.tv and Reddit. I’m also going to be overseeing everyone else’s marketing efforts.

Agent Spencer: Spencer’s going to be throwing his weight around – droppin’ some Haws bombs. Spencer is going to try to get us on some podcasts, and he’s going to try to get us on some big ones. That’s the real value of having Spencer on board here: he’s got some really great relationships, and that should help us in the long run. Spencer is also in charge of asking relevant Niche Pursuits gamers for help, so he may be reaching out to some of you soon!

Agent Ahon: Ahon is going to be managing all of our Reddit efforts. Reddit played a huge role in Vylo getting so much early traction, and they have tons and tons and tons of gaming communities. Ahon will be tapping into the biggest ones. He’ll be writing big posts and managing all the Q&A that happens there. If I was going to guess, I’d say that this is where almost all of our traffic is going to come from this month.

Agent Samir: Samir is going to be in charge of our grass-roots efforts. He’ll be seeking out, connecting with and promoting Vylo on as many smaller gaming forums he can find. While Ahon is going to be focused on a few high-impact Reddit posts, Samir will be the man creating a general buzz – laying the foundation.

So, our plan consists of these elements:

  • 12 or so big Reddit posts
  • 1 Reddit ad
  • 1 Twitch ad
  • 5 tweets from influencers
  • 50 posts on small forums
  • This blog posts
  • Help from Niche Pursuits gamers?

Final Thoughts

Overall, I’m super excited for Vylo. I truly do think we have the best Web-based voice application available, and there are very, very few things like it on the market.

That said, I’m also nervous. I have no idea how any of this is going to pan out, and I’d feel a lot better if we’d made a few sales. I think exposure and virality will be critical to the project, but those things are very difficult to create.

The one thing I know for sure is that we got a whole lot of work to do. Luckily, working hard is something I’ve always been pretty good at. So we’ll see where it goes.

What do you guys think?

Til next time!

Related Projects:

49 Comments for this Post

  1. Jared

    Jared

    Hi Guys,

    Great idea that you have come up with however there are quite a few other ones available for free which are very good.

    Steam also has a partnership with another great company were you can download from they site.

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      Hey Jared 🙂

      Thanks. And we know! 🙂

      However the main difference between us and them is that you don’t have to download anything to use Vylo. But even if we were exactly the same, there’s always room for competition in any market. Just ask Duck Duck Go!

  2. Mark N.

    Mark N.

    Hi Perrin,

    Congrats on the launch, the site is looking and working well for me. One thing I was wondering about is whether the website encrypts IP addresses when establishing the P2P connection between the voice chat participants? Because if this isn’t done, it could lead to a lot of abuse in higher elo games in League. And you obviously want high elo players to be comfortable using it because they would provide you with the most advertisement, particularly the streamers.

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      Good thought!

      And I can tell you play 🙂

      I’m not sure, actually. I’ll have to ask our dev about this. Very interesting.

  3. Mark N.

    Mark N.

    Oh and i I could make a recommendation: changing the name “Web-based voice chat” to “Browser-based voice chat.” The word web doesn’t really imply to me personally that there’s anything special about the product, since to me the word “web” simply means “internet,” not “browser.” So “web-based” is pretty much “internet-based” for me 🙂 Not sure how others see it, but I would think that browser-based would be far more catchy.

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      Thanks! I’ll think about that one. “Web” was just shorter and snappier. But you might be right. 🙂

  4. Jon Haws

    Jon Haws

    Gotta Love those “Haws Bombs” . . . I’ve been known to drop a few in my day!

  5. Shaun

    Shaun

    Hey P, congrats on the launch, it looks like a good product. I had a look at the pro version though and the price looks a bit much for what it is. From what I’ve seen it’ll be very hard to get good conversions at $9.99 a month. People will simply do with the free version.

    If you priced it at $4.99 however, you’ll probably make more “eh, it’s only $5” sales. That would probably lead to more money coming in. $9.99 however will probably seem like a big chunk of change to a lot of gamers.

    Of course do your own testing, but that’s what I think based on owning a few membership sites in different value niches. Good luck with the project.

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      You might be right!

      We’re almost 100% focused on exposure right now, but as we start optimizing our sales funnel, this will certainly be something we’ll try.

  6. Ferzy

    Ferzy

    Congratulations on the launch. Even if it did not work out exactly as you wished, i think it’s a major step up from a lot of businesses that launch with 0 visitors and 0 email at launch.

    I will be looking forward to your software business journey, especially since i am in the process of launching 2 software businesses myself.

    Good luck.

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      Thanks, Ferzy!

  7. neale

    neale

    Perrin for non gamer’s and non savvy internet users like myself, where can I read how to use it?

    We have four bicycle shops and the owner receives phone calls all day long from the employees, is there a way we can use your app on our mobile phones, with say a room that is open for us all to share in at any one time?

    Kinda like we all have the room/page/url open in our browsers and employee (a) sayse “hey boss whats the price of this item?” the Boss then automatically hear’s the voice and responds with the price..

    Possible?

    • neale

      neale

      If your app can do something like the above I think you will have a sure fire winner and a much bigger market, love the short domain name..

      • Jon Haws

        Jon Haws

        Neale . . . I think you are really on to something. The gaming market is an awesome niche for their product, but creating an appeal to the mass market or for business owners in your case would be a wonderful application for this tool.

        I am not a gamer myself but as I looked at the tool I thought the same thing “How can I use this application in my daily life”

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      Hey Neale 🙂

      We’ve actually talked about this. We’ve got a really great core of code here, and there are tons and tons of applications for something like this.

      If we do turn a profit, we’ll probably expand into other areas. At this point, though, that’s wishful thinking — we’re mostly trying to buckle down and tackle the tasks at hand.

    • Joe

      Joe

      Skype?

  8. Chris Jensen

    Chris Jensen

    Awesome!! Congratz on being live.
    I took the liberty of posting about this on my gaming forum Rts Sanctuary. I hope it will help out!

    I have also told one of the lead commentators about it.

    GG and WP

    /Chris

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      Thanks man! We REALLY appreciate it?

      What do you play?

  9. dave

    dave

    Congrats on the launch!

    Here’s an idea for you. Check out team liquid forums as a place to make some posts.

    Additionally they do live streaming.

    http://www.teamliquid.net/video/streams/

    Some of the people that stream there get thousands of viewers. If you could convince a few of them to test out your product on a live stream, that would be some killer advertising.

    Or sponsoring a team, for example.

    • dave

      dave

      Additionally I would say you could be a bit more aggressive with the marketing. I had a hard time even finding where the pro version is – and there is Free written all over the home page.

      • Perrin

        Perrin

        Good advice; thanks 🙂

        And those are good ideas. Sponsoring teams/steamers/tournaments is something that could certainly be in the cards in the future.

  10. lynn

    lynn

    Congrats on the launch! I’ve been thinking about launching my own software product in the future (likely to be seo or domain related).

    It looks like it will be a tough road for me but I’m hoping it will be much easier as I follow along with your progress.

    Thanks for sharing as always!

  11. Rahat

    Rahat

    I’ve got another idea… maybe customer chatrooms for businesses

  12. Max

    Max

    Congratulations!

    Ill post your link into my gaming clans forum to help you guys out!
    I learned so much on this site, im happy to help.

  13. salo

    salo

    hi guys i try vylo and have this error “michophone not found”, THEN CREATE A NEW ROOM, and go on and on, i have a zoom h4n i don´t know why vylo can´t conected with that i make call with skype therefore the mic is good.

    i think that you approach is marketing is bad you should start by buying a good gamer¡¡

  14. Will Blears

    Will Blears

    Why don’t you take advantage of E3 at the moment and promote the brand through that community?

    Also, do Paid Tweets targeting specific @handles who are huge in the gaming community.

    Lastly, look at doing remarketing for everyone who lands on the site to help drive them back to get their free account and begin using the site.

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      Hey Will 🙂

      We don’t really have the resources to market at E3, but we’ll be taking advantage of it as best we can. Namely, we’ve been in contact with the mods over at r/Gaming to make sure it’s kosher for us to promote there during E3.

      Not ideal, but still a good tactic, I think; hopefully we get some eyeballs.

  15. John Shea

    John Shea

    I love the idea of this being a gamer myself.. I used to use the browser based chat with Battlefield 3 when it was available on Battlelog and I do remember it being buggy but it was later removed so it appears.

    I honestly think 90% of gamers are using platforms like Steam, others maybe only use Origin or say OnLive and Steam has it’s own voice options which is mainly what I use so in my world (not being in a clan or anything for any games) I have no use for Vylo.

    Most other people seem stuck on TeamSpeak or Ventrilo so if you guys can conquer those markets (clans and needs for large chat rooms) you might have something here with this product.

  16. Vladimir Bestic

    Vladimir Bestic

    Congratulations on your lunch! I really like the idea of this project so I`ll leave some feedback 🙂

    1) Add an option to invite friends by e-mail or Facebook. At the moment, user needs to register then PM username to his friend so he can invite him. It`s too long process to go viral.

    In my opinion that is the most important feature. Virality is what you need to spread the work – Make them do it easy and with platform of their choice

    You can even go further by rewarding users who tweet out or share the app on Facebook 🙂

    2) Expand number of people that can join room in pro version. With only 15 people limit you are loosing a big market of World of Warcraft players who are “raiding” (40 people in the team)

    3) Use Facebook advertising for promotion. It`s really strange for me that you didn`t include FB in your promotion strategy. You could search for small gaming groups and add them as a custom audience and make game specific ads. To get more conversions from game specific ads you can add a script that changes headline based on URL parameter. That way you will make users feel it`s just right for their game, not for general chat.

    4) Set up your tracking correctly. Go further than report of what source brought you most signups. Track onboarding process, session timings, what features they use.

    It`s important to not just track that data, but to segment them in cohorts and acquisition channels. You may not see benefit 2-3 months from now on, but after a year when some data accumulates you will be grateful you implemented it from the start

    I want to recommend you 2 blogs and one book about SaaS (software as a service) business. I am not affiliated with them this is just a personal recommendation. I know every of their articles will be useful:

    chaotic-flow.com
    sixteenventures.com
    Book: “Freemium Economics” by Eric Benjamin Seufert.
    It`s more focused on freemium business model but most chapters will benefit SaaS model too.

    If you have any questions or need help, feel free to contact me. Your blog was so useful for me so I don`t mind helping you guys

  17. Eric

    Eric

    I would try to use Facebook Advertising in your plan and see if it has any succes. You can reach out to the audience of competitors which should be a great audience and target if your product is better.

  18. Jeffrey

    Jeffrey

    HI Spencer and Perrin,

    Congratulation on the launch. I’ll help you to spread the word around by tweeting. My prayers and thoughts to your launch and success to it. (In sales)

    Since i love gaming, i think i will sign in as free account.

  19. Tim

    Tim

    Good luck with the launch. I love the way you diversify your portfolio of work. Not much of a gamer myself but I can see there is soooooo much potential in what your doing.

  20. Josh Escusa

    Josh Escusa

    I just checked out vylo.org and I was able to create a room in seconds. Simple and efficient… it’s brilliant. I can see how people who do team gaming would love it.

    Have you looked into promoting vylo to some of these gamers that post youtube videos? Some of them have pretty significant followings and if you can get a few of them to back you up, I think it would give a decent boost.

  21. Shane

    Shane

    Just getting the software developed and launched and all within 6 months is impressive. Congrats on that! I like Josh’s idea above if you can get some gamers with a following to rave about your project then might give it some momentum.

  22. Zareef Hasan

    Zareef Hasan

    Nice idea for the project. Clean and easy user interface. Try to add some advance features in future. Good luck!

  23. Rohan Bhardwaj

    Rohan Bhardwaj

    It is great of your guys to launch great niche websites and get some cool success. Though there were no sales, but I know you guys will nail it sooner or later.

    I learnt something which I might use for my blog too. You intrigued people to get subscribed to your email list, before even you launched your blog, now that is insane. Gonna try it out.

    Thanks, anyway I found this on kingged.

  24. Podcast 33: How Perrin Got 6,000 Email Subscribers in 1 Day and Launched Vylo.org | Niche Pursuits

    Podcast 33: How Perrin Got 6,000 Email Subscribers in 1 Day and Launched Vylo.org | Niche Pursuits

    […] addition, to discussing some of the same information we shared in our last blog post here, we also dug a bit deeper into the story of the product, how Perrin generated initial buzz, and […]

  25. Eugen Paraschiv

    Eugen Paraschiv

    First – congrats not only for taking action, but for being open as well – that’s hugely valuable.
    I did have one thought I wanted to share after reading the post and listening to the podcast. One idea to figure out where the second part of the funnel is not working would be to actually talk to some of the free users. This is right out of the “slow launch” process that Rob from “Startups for the Rest of Us” has been practicing in recent years (there are a few great episodes about that). The main idea is – instead of leading more traffic into what you essentially know it’s a funnel that’s not working, fix the funnel for a few users (get them to paid) manually. Talking to individual users may not scale but it’s a competitive advantage that you can do that at the start. Only once you figure out how to improve the to-paid conversion add more traffic.
    So – emailing the free users, asking who would be willing to jump on skype and basically figuring out what’s missing for them to jump to paid – would make sense. Otherwise, there’s always a risk that you’ll get a bunch more free users but little to no conversions, because you still haven’t identified that one-two reasons that users are not going for paid.
    Hope this makes sense, and thanks again for sharing.
    Cheers,
    Eugen.

  26. Diogo

    Diogo

    More important, create a support service for this software. Because Long Tail Pro doesn’t have it. Lot of emails not even one reply !! Software have bugs, not fixed and they simple don’t care about clients problems. Action is important, but create a good product is the key. Continue to improve the product is the way to success.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Diogo, we have tons of support for Long tail Pro. A full time dedicated customer support rep with a ticketing system at longtailpro.com/support. And I also respond personally to lots of emails coming to my personal inbox every day. All tickets are responded to, so you likely missed the response to your tickets and emails. We also have a team of programmers constantly updating the software…you comment is unfounded.

  27. Christine

    Christine

    Congratulations for successfully launching Vylo! It is such as great inspiration for an IT graduate like me. I could take advantage of the steps you followed to garner success.

  28. kim

    kim

    Hi guys, congratulations on getting this far. With a team like you two I am sure you will come up with some marketing genius ideas … I am certain you will succeed … I am now looking forward to seeing how that path unfolds. I am sure you will get there.

  29. Bashar Iqbal

    Bashar Iqbal

    Congrats to all the members of the team Vylo for such a successful launch.
    I have a bit of advise on design of the site. Home page is quite good but after that you should change some styling in the inner pages. Instead of further explaining that, I am giving a link, I have done a little bit editing for you guys so you can understand what I am trying to say, so check this – http://www.myurl.link/4t4xw

  30. Podcast 33: How Perrin Got 6,000 Email Subscribers in 1 Day and Launched Vylo.org | IM Aggregator

    Podcast 33: How Perrin Got 6,000 Email Subscribers in 1 Day and Launched Vylo.org | IM Aggregator

    […] addition, to discussing some of the same information we shared in our last blog post here, we also dug a bit deeper into the story of the product, how Perrin generated initial buzz, and […]

  31. Jason Statham

    Jason Statham

    Congratulations on the launch of Vylo. Though the results are not that satisfactory, I know you will get more in the future!

    • Blogger Talal

      Blogger Talal

      I checked vylo.org and it is good. Just require some more improvements.

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