Marcus Wood


My App Scaled to 46,000 Users Two Weeks After Launch and Made $0. Lessons Learned.


Last year, I launched Guess the Throne, a Game of Thrones death pool app. I built it with a friend of mine in two weeks and launched a few just before the final season premiered. We had one goal: achieve product/market fit. Oh boy did we!

Below are some of the lessons learned and what we wish we had done differently.

Don't get in the weeds

We coded the bare minimum features for the app. At launch (and after), users couldn't even edit their entry name. That led to a bunch of really funny support emails asking for us to change their name because they created an entry with a very NSFW name 😅.

The big takeaway here is that people didn't miss that feature or any of the other features we left out. The faster you get your product in someone's hands the more actionable feedback you'll receive.

Be Scrappy

We launched the app with a $150 marketing budget. Most of our users came from engaging with communities on Reddit, Facebook, forums, podcasts, and Twitch. If you can engage the small communities, that'll lead to more growth and knowledge about your market. I wrote up a blog with how we marketed the app on my website if you'd like to read more.

Ads Aren't Always the Answer for Growth

If you have a small marketing budget I encourage you to think about the cost per conversion before considering ads, especially if your app is free/free to try. For example, we found a fan account on Twitter that had a bunch of followers. We reached out and they said for $20 they'd give us one tweet. We tried it out and the tweet blew up! Loads of people came to our site from that one tweet for a $0.20 cost per user, NOT cost per click.

Have a Monetary Strategy

I will say that we didn't set out to make money off of this app, but once we started receiving thousands of requests per second I could feel my credit card catching fire 😱. By the time it had happened it was too late since we had never thought about making money. We tried making it donation based where we'd donate 50% to charity and 50% to keep the app up, but it only amounted to around $40. The cost for the servers were over $500.

Get your Bearings

This was the first product (after many tries) that took off to become popular. There's a variety of reasons I believe it did, but once you find success expand your lens to see the bigger landscape. Why did it become popular? What made it special? What's next? Don't be afraid to paint in broad strokes once you've found something special.

That leads me to today's launch of Guess the Rose! It is a fantasy league for The Bachelor/Bachelorette that we built from the ground up with everything we learned from Guess the Throne. We want to create a suite of fun games for TV shows for people who want to play fantasy, but aren't into sports.

Please check it out and sign up if you're a fan of the show! Good luck with your products, think bigger, and stay positive.

p.s. We also launched on Product Hunt today so if this post helped you please consider upvoting.

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Marcus Wood is a software engineer that focuses on building products using Typescript, React, and GraphQL. He has built and delivered solutions for some of the largest companies in the world.