Welcome to The Early Days: A series that checks in with kickass Founders who share honest lessons, tips & tricks and a sneak peek into building their startup in public, from the ground up.
Today we're chatting with Domenico & Marc Etienne who are building AI Alfred. When we saw this Tweet, we had to reach out to Domenico with a thumbs up 👍🏽 to share his learnings on tips for reaching beta users with no product?
🏗 Share with us a little about what you're building
I'm building a new AI product named AI Alfred.
It’s an AI tool that can summarize web articles in short or long paragraphs in seconds.
👨🏻💻 Your Background: Where were you 5 years ago in your career? How did you get into AI? Can you share more about your last exit?
So I have a bachelor's degree in economics, and 5 years ago I was studying at my University here in Italy. I was not engaged with the no-code world, but what I had was an amazing passion for the startup world, and for innovation. After University, I started working for some corporates, and at the beginning of this year, I became a Business Analyst for Mexican Fintech. I entered touch with the no-code world 3 years ago. I was a project consultant for the first Italian no-code startup. It was very funny. But the real meeting with this world happened last year. I decided to be more active on Twitter, and I discovered the Build & Sell Challenge. It was a challenge where you need to build something with no code and sell it in 30 days. I started this challenge with Tanveer, and then we decided to go on building a micro-saas lab based on the same vision: to build and sell micro-products in months.
We built and sold 2 micro-startups this year. The most important one was the last one, onetap (now lumelixr). It was an AI tool that converted text into excel formulas. We launched the product in March, and we sold it in May. We reached almost 500 users with no paid ADV.
One tip: you need to start talking with users before building the product. It can bring you: a better understanding of the needs. The problem you're solving. You can start building a small community.
🌱 Ideation: What was your inspiration for building AI Alfred? What are the advantages you see for building in public? Can you elaborate on the importance of community?
After my exit from Microfoundry (the micro-saas lab I built with Tanveer), I decided to start my own startup studio in Aug. I wanted to create the same basis as Microfoundry, but with the aim of building and holding a startup. So I have decided to go on with the AI market because it's growing a lot this year, and I think it has the amazing potential also for the no-code community. I think the building in the public form is amazing. It can give you a different point of view. So the sharing part is the most beautiful part of building in public: you can get feedback, testers, and opinions, and you can also ask for them. I think the main goal of building in public is to show that everyone can create his own career in the no-code market today.
At the beginning of Sept, I decided to launch the idea of AI Alfred on Kernal ideas. I read a lot of articles every day, and I have to admit that I don't read everything due to a lack of time. This was the first inspiration for the idea. Once I shared the idea on the platform, I got in touch with Marc-Etienne, who shared almost the same idea a few days before mine. So we have decided to build this small team for the same purpose: to summarize web articles using the web URL or the text input, for giving the right time to everyone.
⚙️ Building: What are some learnings and tools used from moving from idea to MVP?
In this stage, the community, mostly on Kernal, has helped a lot. We have received more than 80 emails from day 0. We got feedback about the idea, and tips for promoting AI Alfred and the network - we connected with more than 10 people, talked with them, and spoke about AI Alfred and our plans. That was so important for the validation stage. I always say "validate it before building it". So we've decided to build a very quick MVP based on Bubble. I think no-code is so powerful mostly for the first stage, where you can go from 0 to 1 in just a few days, instead of weeks.
The most important learning from this phase are:
- Get out of the building as soon as possible: the execution is so important, and you can't waste weeks building the perfect product
- The validation is more important than the building phase: you need to validate the idea before going live. There are no excuses for it
- You should hear your users from day 0, launch your MVP, and improve the product according to their feedback
📈 Growing: What are your biggest challenges? How do you plan to overcome them? Can you elaborate on how you found beta users, set this up, and how it is going?
I think one of the biggest challenges for new products is finding the first users. This is so important and so difficult sometimes. How do you overcome this obstacle?
- Building a community around your personal brand (Twitter account)
- Promoting the Value of the product, and not the features
- Being open to the change
- Hearing early feedback about your product
For the new product we have tested a new Strategy for getting the First beta users:
- We have built a yep.so Landing Page in 1 day
- We have promoted the product using Twitter, Indie Hackers community, Kernal, and Medium.
We have asked for feedback from day 0.
Thanks to this strategy we have validated the product before building it, and now we have more than 50 people waiting for the first release.
One tip for the product-building phase: you can build a very Quick MVP using a no-code tool. That's the best thing you can do during the validation stage.
A huge thanks to Domenico for sharing his early learnings with us here at Kernal. We love seeing how these two builders shared ideas and connected through the platform to take the idea a few steps further. What are your thoughts on building in public? Have you built a no-code MVP? Let us know in the comments below and keep following along with AI Alfred's progress here.
Do you have an idea that you're itching to share? Post here and watch your seeds grow into a forest. 🌲🌳🌲🌳
With nearly 10,000 members, 2,000 startup ideas and 200 MVPs, Kernal is an expanding community of founders, operators, and investors focused on validating and building pre-seed startup ideas. Post new ideas, browse startups with momentum, and get expert feedback to take the next steps of scaling your startup idea. This exclusive community is the most supportive place to be for builders at this stage in their journey. We welcome you to join here.