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The Road to $10K – Part 1

Hi Shuffle fans! Since I acquired Shuffle Venture’s assets back at the end of May, I have been focusing on making sure problems get fixed, the app runs smoothly, and generally Shuffle does all the things you expect it to do. We still have work to do, but it is going well. Inspired by the fine folks at Groove HQ and their series on hitting $100,000 in monthly recurring revenue (MRR), I have opted to give you a peek behind the curtains and be open about how we are doing at hitting our goal of reaching USD $10,000 in monthly revenue.

I previously founded Four9 Hosting Solutions, Orpheum Hosting Solutions, and CleverHost. Through Orpheum, I bought another hosting company called HostPolar and integrated their customers under Orpheum’s umbrella. I eventually sold both Orpheum and CleverHost for a variety of reasons, and consider both of them successes.

The story of Shuffle is well documented. What you may not know is that I was a Project Manager at the digital agency that designed Shuffle’s interface, and Shuffle was my first big project. Craig and I developed a relationship and got along well, and we continued to stay in touch after my time at Shuffle. I downloaded the app again in early May 2019 because I needed a second number for something, and we all know that paying for another smartphone and plan is not the smart or affordable way to do that. I thought of Shuffle, and was able to retrieve my old account after a password reset.

The evolution of Shuffle’s logo over the past five years

Sadly, a week or two later, I got the news that Shuffle would be shutting down. After thinking about it for a few days, I reached out to Craig about the possibility of buying Shuffle and maintaining it, while figuring out what a path forward would look like. Thankfully we were able to make a deal, and here we still are today!

So, what have we done with Shuffle since the acquisition? Quite a bit, actually! With the help of our development team, we…

  • Fixed a bug that caused the app to crash when tapping a message notification
  • Optimized the app for iOS 12
  • Upgraded to the latest version of Swift
  • Upgraded to the latest version of Twilio’s SDK, enabling better call quality at lower bandwidth
  • Cut costs by disabling tools we no longer needed
  • Started communicating with customers over email to keep you in the loop
  • Localized the App Store listing into French, Japanese, Chinese, and several English language App Stores like Australia, UK, and Canada
  • Hired a marketing intern

Of course the bottom line is, what impact has that had on revenue so far?

Why $10,000 in monthly revenue?

Shuffle has an initial goal of hitting $10,000 per month in revenue. Doing so would create plenty of cash flow and allow us to focus more intently on the product, the user experience from start to finish, and more. Better and more marketing initiatives, hiring support staff, investing in better internal reporting, and so on all becomes much easier as you begin to approach $10,000 per month.

So, about the impact. Here is what the past four months look like:

As you can see, August is our best month so far since acquiring Shuffle, and it’s the second best month for revenue in 2019. Through a variety of marketing and product development initiatives, we were able to grow revenue by 40% month over month from July to August.

Baby Steps

A lot of what we did after acquiring Shuffle involved just getting things back up and running the way I wanted them to be. That meant reviving a number of properties like:

That’s when I really started digging into user numbers, metrics, tools, and everything else I had available at my disposal. I had a one-on-one meeting with the head of the development firm that builds and maintains Shuffle, multiple calls with Craig, and did lots of research into what the app has and what it actually uses.

I downgraded products to a less expensive tier that actually matches Shuffle’s needs, cutting costs by roughly 10%. I have started using new tools that give us much better visibility into Shuffle’s metrics and what our competitors are up to.

July was mostly righting the ship and getting Shuffle v1.8.3 out the door. The result of all that work is clearly seen in August’s numbers, and we will continue to keep a close eye on what initiatives drive results.

What’s Next

In September we will create a LinkedIn page, start running some targeted app install ads for different market segments, experiment with App Store search ads, engaging in some content marketing with, what we hope will be, very helpful content, and we’re looking at hiring some additional interns to help us with our development needs outside of the mobile app.

We are also in the midst of designing a whole new version of the iOS app now.

The next interim goal is another 40% MoM growth from August, meaning revenue of roughly $1,500. If we can maintain or even improve on that number through January, then 2020 will see us build an Android app and even a web version!

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