From idea to 15k revenue in three months. What we’ve learned so far…
We have new plans with Hometour 🎉 But first, let us give you a timeline of what happened in the last months…
Don’t you want to read the article? Here’s a recap:
🚀 In the last six months, we’ve made the first MVP, organized five live streams and made 15k revenue. We had 8k+ people who signed up for our early access.
🏋️♀️ We are pivoting to a platform where creators (artists/influencers/online teachers & more) can connect their existing channels (Youtube, Spotify & more) and sell content directly to their fans through subscriptions.
💰 We are raising 250k investment to build Hometour 2.0. We focus on creators who want to get paid for their content (live streams/exclusive videos/podcasts & more) and build audiences at scale to turn their passions into livelihoods.
🎉 Through this adventure, we learned a lot. You can start from the beginning to read our whole journey or scroll down to our learnings’ conclusion.
How it all started…
It all began in April. Due to COVID-19, our Dutch government decided to limit the people who can visit shows, pop venues & festivals. Shortly after this, famous Dutch influencer Tim Hofman (aka @debroervanroos) tweeted that “he would pay to watch live streams of concerts.”
In 24 hours, our team came back with a response. We quickly created the prototype and shared it on Twitter. The promise of the product was straightforward:
A platform where artists, theatre, pop venues & festivals can sell tickets for their live stream shows.
Fans can still enjoy their favorite concerts/events, festivals, and performances.
The response was genuinely unique. We received 100+ phone calls/emails from radiostations, television programs & other news sources. It was the best validation we could get.
A day later, we received more than 1200 signups. 🎉 The demand was utterly bonkers. Our team worked 10–12 hours a day to build the first MVP. One month later, we launched the first MVP of Hometour. To test the MVP, we organized the first concert with Akwasi.
It was exciting & scary at the same time. We had a lot of questions. Are people buying tickets? How can we make it feel like you’re there at the concert? How do people interact with the artist? Last but not least is the technology stable enough?
After weeks of blood, sweat & tears, we finally got our answer. Akwasi gave the best live performance we could ever imagine. We sold many tickets, the live stream was very stable & we received thousands of photos, videos & questions in the Telegram chat.
Fans were partying in their living room. It was so awesome! 🔥
Our team was pleased. It was the best validation of the idea we could ever receive. We continued improving the experience for the fans & artists. We had some small problems we needed to fix.
- Some fans did not receive their live stream ticket in their inbox when buying a ticket.
- Because of this problem, our support chat blew up. Fortunately, we addressed this problem very quickly & send everyone the unique live stream ticket on time through our support chat.
- A few people experienced a small audio delay of 300ms.
How did we continue?
After the first concert, we received thousands of emails from artists asking when it opens for everyone. It was very challenging because we had to say no a lot. We first wanted to make sure that all the bugs are gone before opening it for the masses.
What we did:
💌 We switched our email delivery service to fix the problem where people did not receive their tickets. We switched to https://postmarkapp.com/)
👨💻 Made a back office so that everybody could easily publish the live stream when they set up a contract with a new artist. In this back office, we can manage the event details and see all the tickets buyers + their unique live stream ticket.
📹 Changed the video player to fix the audio issues and included support for Chromecast and Apple TV.
After implementing the new improvements, we teamed up with artists/standup comedians to host four more shows.
The second show we did was an absolute disaster. 😢
- We did not sell as many tickets as we wanted. It was for an event that did not have a lot of followers or brand exposure. They only had 200 followers on Instagram & the artists did not want to make promotions on their own Instagram.
- Fans experienced multiple downtimes in the live stream. The camera crew who filmed the show did not have any experience filming live stream events. This was very problematic cause filming live stream events needs a certain kind of knowledge about sending the video signal to a streaming URL.
Immediately after the show, we evaluated the live stream with our team to not make this mistake again.
To fix this, we made a requirement list that artists/camera crews/venues received before they could organize a live stream through our platform. The change made the streaming quality better.
Next to that, we had a lot of things to arrange before the artist could go live, such as:
✅ Find artists, create a proposal, manually set up the event, and deliver support. This process was very time-consuming…
✅ Do marketing to sell tickets. Sometimes artists/events asked us if we could help them find ticket buyers. We learned that it’s easier to sell tickets if artists have a strong following on social media. One standup comedy show hosted by a famous dutch influencer had a lot of superfans. They would buy anything from him. He sold 1200+ tickets in under 24 hours. That was insane.
✅ Finding a venue where artists could give their show. You need to find a place, introduce the artist, see the venue location, create contracts, negotiate, and set up the location to film the live stream.
✅ We needed to find a good camera crew. This part was also very time consuming because we needed to find a camera crew that the artists liked. We saw that most artists had a camera crew. Artists having a camera crew was a big opportunity because they found themselves comfortable working with them. What if we could make the process more straightforward so that artists could use their camera crew and streaming platform such as Youtube.
Next to that, artists/influencers and other makers asked us if they could sell other shows such as vlogs / pre-recorded videos/podcasts and more.
Three months later, we had organized five shows, received 8k+ signups, and made 15k revenue. Our team started thinking, what if our process is just too complicated? What if we could make a much easier platform?
What if we extend our platform to every creator, whether it is a musician, stand-up comedian, influencer, or maker who wants to earn money with their content?
But first! Some research 🤟
When we did research, we stumbled upon the following statement:
“ More than 16.9 million independent, American creators earned a baseline of $6.8 billion from posting their music, videos, art, crafts and other works online in 2017. “ — Read the report here.
This trend is called a passion economy. And it’s getting bigger and bigger each year. Investment firm Andreessen Horowitz says the following about the passion economy:
New digital platforms enable people to earn a livelihood in a way that highlights their individuality. These platforms give providers greater ability to build customer relationships, increased support in growing their businesses, and better tools for differentiating themselves from the competition. In the process, they’re fueling a new model of internet-powered entrepreneurship https://a16z.com/2019/10/08/passion-economy/
Launching our first MVP, we got many requests from makers asking if they could sell their Youtube videos and podcasts on our platform.
These influencers and artists’ problem was that they make their video content & shows available for free and earn small profits with ads and sponsor deals.
These creators (that’s how we call them) tried several ways to diversify their income so that they could turn their passing into livelihoods. It would mean that every creator could start earning money with their content. 🙌
That’s when the idea of Hometour 2.0 was born. 😺
The new Hometour platform
The solution. We’re creating a marketplace where creators (big & small) get paid for their content and build audiences at scale to turn their passions into livelihoods.
Creators can set up an account, connect their existing platforms (such as Youtube, Spotify) and sell their exclusive content to their fans through memberships. Creators can set up their memberships, define a price, and define what fans receive for this membership.
Fans can subscribe to their favorite creator, buy a membership of their favorite creator, and receive exclusive content in their email or platform.
Currently, our team validating the new features with Hometour users through user testing. Before launching the new platform, we want to find a perfect fit for our creators and fans.
Our 6–12 month goal is to bring the new platform to the market and find a product-market fit.
To make this all happening, we are seeking a 250k investment to build Hometour 2.0. We’re going to use it to:
- Hire team members. We need a developer and someone who performs highly in marketing.
- Continue validating our product and find product-market fit.
- Develop the new MVP
- Grow our creator base and increase our one metric that matters (OMTM) 👉 selling subscriptions
What we’ve learned so far
Learnings are the most exciting part of this journey. A few things:
1. Define what your MVP needs to do and create the simplest version possible. It is effortless to get lost in building the perfect solution. Because there was so much time pressure, we chose to make a Wizard of Oz MVP. Read more about it here.
A Wizard of Oz MVP is a technical shell wrapped around a human who’s powering the back-end.
Our first MVP was just a Webflow website. When we closed a deal with an artist, we manually made a signup page for the event in Webflow, create an audience in Mailchimp, and waited until we had enough signups for the concert. When we had enough signups, we would sell tickets using a simple payment provider (Mollie). The streaming service was provided by Verizon & the email service by Postmark.
We gave the streaming URL to the camera crew, and “viola” the stream was live!
Customers believed that they were interacting with an automated product, but our team pulled all the levers and delivered the service in reality.
2. Work with influencers to build your first audience. We were fortunate that famous dutch influencer Tim Hofman posted something about the initial idea on Twitter.
But because our team answered so quickly with a simple prototype we designed in Figma, we enabled Tim Hofman to share it with his followers. Because he is a powerful role model for his followers, this immediately converted into vast amounts of signups on our landings page. And him covering it made it a lot easier to get entries at famous Dutch news stations.
3. Only talk to people who help you realize your product. If your product is getting a lot of attention, you can quickly get hundreds of emails per day. You receive emails from investors, news outlets, competitors, and customers.
It’s easy to answer every single email and sit in Zoom calls all day long. After writing back the hundreds of emails, we wrote down our most important goals and only spoke to those who helped us reach those goals.
We also hid our email address on our website and implemented Intercom. On Intercom, we created automated responses and chat flows to categorize the essential conversations automatically. It resulted in fewer emails and less distraction.
4. Try to zoom out. In the heat of your deadlines, it’s effortless to focus on the things that already work. We were obsessed with settling deals with artists and manually fixing these live streams. It was the thing that worked best, but it was very time-consuming.
After five concerts, we were completely stressed out and realized that manually onboarding artists was not the right approach. If we had slowed down a little earlier and focused on our strategy, we might have reached this conclusion much faster.
5. Always involve customers in the process. Involving customers was something that helped us be successful in the first place. People found us empathic because we involved them in the process of making new features.
Through Instagram, emails, and physical conversations, we asked artists and fans what they liked. When they saw that their feature was implemented, they bought a second ticket for the latest show. It is entertaining and beneficial for the growth of our product.
I want to thank Lonneke Idema, Mark Vermeulen, Ruben Heijbroek, and Peter Kuiper for all the great work.