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Dan Zaitsev
Dan Zaitsev

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Bootstrapping Catchar. A community-based startup for AR creators. $1K revenue so close

Hello DT,

My name is Dan Zaitsev and I’m the founder and co-maker of Catchar Today, I would like to showcase to you our side-project that we are bootstrapping at our own.

Catchar 2.0 is the world's largest community and hub where developers and companies build, share and support the best Augmented & Mixed Reality projects that change the ways we interact with digital content and information. In addition, Catchar can help in terms of business opportunities and collaboration with AR creators.

BTW, today we are also presenting Catchar on Producthunt and I would highly appreciate it if you can support us, leave your review and 🔼

About me/us 👨‍✈️👨‍💻👨‍🎤

I’m a product (startup) maker and entrepreneur from Ukraine. Actually I’m not a developer but I know how to code a little bit on React.JS, Node, PHP, Wordpress, etc. I have more mixed experience (around 12 years) in product / project management, growth hacking & classic marketing, UX design, monetization and bootstrapping the startups / products. Previously, I was working on a number of different startups and full-time based tech companies. In 2019, I met Dmitriy Zolotar, he is our CTO & hacker now and Sergey Lagodzinsky, our hipster and lead designer.

Story and challenges 🙇‍♂️

I started Catchar 1.5 years ago as a side-project and was the solo-founder during the first year. One friend of mine helped me to build the basic MVP based on React.js. The first version was a simple, curated directory where users were able to share their projects. I’ve got some transactions and feedback but honestly, the first 4 to 8 months were very tough for me. First of all, it was difficult in terms of activity and traffic, secondly, I had a lack of features and resources. I even tried to learn React.js and Node.js to improve the core features but had no time to mix marketing, management, design and also do my full-time job. Anyway, I didn't stop working on marketing, SEO and AR content. Also, I was talking to users to get feedback and collect more XR projects. I felt that I had problems in PMF so I was looking and thinking about new ideas for Catchar.

Changes and profit 🚀

In 2019 I came up with an idea to transform Catchar into a community-based startup/project. In summer 2019 I met my new co-founders and we have started working on the 2.0 version. Our main goal was to build something for AR/MR creators and be more focused on people rather than on projects. And this worked well. Also, I jumped into Startupschool by YC and it helped me to change my mindset a little bit. The first positive feedback was received when we got a spike of pre-registrations for the 2.0 version and our first donations.

Catchar - Discover more 1000 AR apps and developers

Business model and investments 💰

Catchar is still a 100% self-funded project that we support at our own expense, along with donations and the profit from business users. In terms of the business model, we ask AR/MR creators and companies to pay once for the membership fee to be listed on Catchar. In addition, they will unlock their profiles and as a result, have the ability to create online portfolios. Basic users are able to use the product for free but they don’t have profiles.

How much we spend per month:

▶️ Support - $140/mo (I have a friend of mine who works with us on a part-time basis. He helps us in terms of moderating the community properly)
▶️ Hosting - $0/mo (Trial by Google Cloud Platform)
▶️ Content - $50/mo (Proofreading of EN articles, posts, etc.)
▶️ SEO - $300/mo (We are also working with 1 guy who helps us in terms of SEO)

How much I spent in one year 💸

Currently, I’m investing in Catchar with my own funds. Please note I’m not an investor but it’s necessary in terms of supporting, marketing, etc. So, if someone thinks that they can build a startup or side-project with 0 investment, I would say it’s possible but will be difficult. During the last year and 3 months, I have invested around $1,529.

Revenue 💰

Until today we have earned approx $976. We achieved this during the last 3 months after the launch of Catchar 2.0 with a connected payment gateway. Unfortunately, the first version of Catchar wasn’t connected to a PG and it was tough for me to monetize it.

Catchar - A web-community for Augmented Reality developers and creators

Traffic and stats 📈

Around 50% of traffic is coming organically with the other 50% through direct and social media channels. I’ve worked a lot on SEO and have been writing tons of content and posts. In 2020 SEO is going pretty hard.

Our tech stack ⚙️

Website is written on PHP and Javascript, using Laravel framework for back-end and Vue.js on the public. Server instance has Ubuntu 18 and MySQL 5.7 database. We use Redis for caching and Pusher for broadcasting events. For the instant notifications we have connected Mailgun service. Payments are going through Stripe. Hosted everything on GCP.

Some recommendations:

Below, I’ve decided to share some recommendations that might help you to build something quickly. Please note, maybe in your case they wouldn’t work. Also, I think I will use the same tactics for my next ideas / startups / side-projects.

▶️ Work on PMF and talk to users first! I would say you even don’t need to have a product to prove PMF. Simple start from a .pdf presentation or landing page and send it to your potential users / customers.
▶️ Founders & Co-founders. I think guys this is the biggest challenge to find the right co-founders / people, if you can’t build a project / startup as the solo-founder. I have had a few dead startups due to co-founders that weren’t able to finish them or they just passed out. Think twice and work only with open-minded people who will be on the same page with you.
▶️ GO with crowdsourcing! I’ve found that some guys such as Pieter Levels (founder of Nomadlist) are doing amazing projects and products with crowdsourced databases. It will help you in terms of content.
▶️ Start from PoC and MVP. Don’t try to build a Maximum Viable Product if your product has PMF, people will use it anyway.
▶️ Monetize. I would say you have to monetize your products and ideas ASAP. Integrate any payment gateways as soon as you can. One of the best will be Stripe and Braintree but Gumroad, Paddle and Paypal will work for PoC too. With monetization you will get a picture of whether your idea / product makes sense and users are ready to pay for it. In addition, you and your co-founders will get +100 on the motivation scale when you receive your first payment or check.
▶️ Marketing, talk and scale. Don’t think that users and customers will come by themselves. This will never happen. You have to take them by the hand and bring them to your product.
▶️ No code? Thanks to Bubble, Webflow and Carrd, makers are able to build something fast and good. If you are the solo-founder with limited coding skills, those products would definitely help you.
▶️ Community and growth hack. You know guys, one of the most important things is to find your growth hack and build a community around yourself (or your product). I still have challenges in terms of building community around myself, since I don’t have enough time to write posts on Medium, share stories to Twitter, etc. But if you create something cool and useful YOUR USERS will definitely help you and support you! Actually, if you create a community around yourself then you can launch and scale almost any ideas and projects.

I hope that you found this post useful.
Good luck with your ideas and projects.
And please support us on PH

Top comments (1)

rickyrodalv profile image

Good post! Pretty interesting. The only catch for me is that there are a lot of acronyms that they are not explained. If only you could write the full thing as "As soon as possible(ASAP)" then you can write only ASAP would be great