LuckyUnicorn t-Shirts
We've just launched 20 limited edition Failory t-shirts. Click here to buy one!

❌ Failed startup
✅ Successful startup

Addressbin: Problems of Being a Technical Solo Founder

Addressbin was an easy way to collect email addresses. Bad marketing and big competitors where the problems that dug its grave.

Canada
Web Application
Bad Marketing
No Passion

Adam Bard

March 16, 2018

Sponsor Failory and get your business & product in front of +20,000 CEOs, startup founders, entrepreneurs, developers and marketers every month.

Do you want to grow your business? With GenM you can get free marketing from an apprentice as part of their training. The student will work 40 hours per month creating content, increasing SEO rankings, carrying out advertisement campaigns...

Do you want to grow your business? With GenM you can get free marketing from an apprentice as part of their training. The student will work 40 hours per month for only $49.

Want to take ownership over the growth of your business, but don't know where to start? Get 1-on-1 advice from vetted growth experts about your business.

A 5-minute read that's informative, witty and free? That's Morning Brew — the daily email that delivers the latest news from Wall Street to Silicon Valley.

Hello Adam! What's your background, and what are you currently working on?

I'm a software developer, and I make a lot of websites. The most successful of these so far has been Later for Reddit, a post scheduler for Reddit. But I was asked to talk about a failure, and out of my menagerie of these I've chosen Addressbin.

What was Addressbin about?

Addressbin actually still exists, so I guess it's still in the process of failing. It started as an easy way to collect email addresses, mostly (as is my habit) as a way to provide myself a facility to do so for free and then expanded to allow other people.

Having collected all those email addresses, it was a short step to allow people to send emails to them, which I implemented by making a special address for each list that would forward your message to each address, and just like that, I invented the Mailing List.

I added a few more features (Drip messages, opt-in forms) but ultimately at this point, I was competing with Mailchimp and everyone else and decided to stop working on it. It's still up and running fine and requires very little input on my part.

How did you grow Addressbin?

If you build it, they will come, right? Well, after that didn't work, I tried many other things, including:

  • Adding a blog to the site and writing some articles for it
  • Emailing my list, of course
  • I tried sending some cold emails
  • I made a spin-off site called easyecourse.com, which was the same software with a different stylesheet aimed at people who wanted to make email courses
  • I posted about it on Quora and Reddit a bit

My nearest success was the Opt-In Form Generator, a free attached tool that actually gets a fair bit of google traffic. Unfortunately, it hasn't performed as a way to get people into the product, probably because it's something that's useful mostly to people who have already landed on a provider. I tried the free tool route a couple of other times, but that's the only one that people were actually searching for.

Hire digital marketing interns. 40 hours for $49/month.

Learn More!

AD

40 Hours of Digital Marketing for $49/Month

Do you want to grow your business? With GenM you can get free marketing from an apprentice as part of their training. The student will work 40 hours per month for only $49.

👉 Learn More!

Reach +20,000 Startup Founders!

If you are looking to get your product in front of founders, CEOs, VPs, web and mobile developers, makers, consultants, marketers, bloggers, product managers, and many other thought leaders, then we can help you.

👉 Sponsorships

What were the mistakes you made?

My biggest mistake is that I really don't want to do anything but write software, and that only works if your product is so narrowly focused and immediately useful that it practically sells itself. I guess this is the usual mistake for a technical solo founder: I made a thing that nobody really needed. We're trained to make our software as general as it can reasonably be, but for the purposes of operating a small business, you really need to target a small niche, which I was never able to find.

What were your biggest disadvantages?

I have no idea how to market, and no inclination to learn, and in the end, I wasn't motivated to change that for this project. Marketing can mean a huge range of things -- everything from buying display ads, to approaching people on the street, and everything in between (including, for the sake of irony, email marketing). I just don't like bothering people!

Oh, hey, actually, the real disadvantage is that, given the above, I made a tool that's primarily useful for marketing. If selling is hard, selling something you have no interest in is harder!

If you had to start over, what would you do differently?

Nothing really, except to spend my time on something else. At least I learned from the experience.

From Wall Street to Silicon Valley...

Are you busy? Sure you are — that's why you need Morning Brew. It's a free daily email that gives a quick 5-minute rundown of the day's top business news. Join the 925,000+ people who start their day with Morning Brew!

👉 Learn More!

Grow your business. Get 1-on-1 calls with +100 mentors.

Learn More!

AD

What's your advice for someone who is just starting?

Make something you love, not just something you think someone else might like! 

Where can we go to learn more?

If you're that curious you can head to Addressbin website, since it's still fully operational. Or, you can browse my morgue file at my website.

✉️ Subscribe to receive weekly startup related articles!

We’re always digging for more failure stories like Addressbin. Sign up for our newsletter to keep updated on the latest additions.

👇 Other Interviews

One Hour Professor: How Ron Makes $10K/Month With 6 Different Websites
By 
Ron Stefanski
  •  
February 21, 2019
United States
Blog
Up to 50K
Trackin: Solo Founding a +$167,000/Month Food Startup
By 
Bruno Didier
  •  
February 21, 2019
France
Web Application
Over 150K
Campertunity: Building & Growing the Airbnb of Camping
By 
Nora Lozano
  •  
May 20, 2019
Canada
Marketplace
Up to 50K
Rayna Tours: Bootstrapping a Travel Marketplace in 10 Years
By 
Manoj Tulsani
  •  
February 21, 2019
Dubai
Marketplace
Over 150K
Rankd SEO: How to Build and Validate a Backlink Database in Less than a Month
By 
Martins Sulcs
  •  
May 1, 2019
Latvia
Analytics
Up to 50K
Joker Greeting: Making $30,000/Month Selling Prank Cards
By 
Travis Peterson
  •  
February 21, 2019
United States
e-Commerce
Up to 50K
AskTina: Failed to Validate the Idea
By 
Tom Hunt
  •  
March 17, 2018
United Kingdom
Web Application
No MVP Validation
ABBY: Here’s What Andy Has Learnt
By 
Andy Goldschmidt
  •  
March 16, 2018
Germany
Analytics
Not Practical
Big Competitors
Eloquis: Losing $20,000 with a Bootstrapped SaaS
By 
Rohit Nallapeta
  •  
March 17, 2018
United States
SaaS
Unprepared Market
Not Practical
Addressbin: Problems of Being a Technical Solo Founder
By 
Adam Bard
  •  
March 16, 2018
Canada
Web Application
Bad Marketing
No Passion
REPitchbook: Building a SaaS Priced at $1,500/Month and Making $0
By 
Charlie Reese
  •  
March 27, 2019
Canada
Analytics
No MVP Validation
BeehiveID: The $70,000 Startup Killed by Facebook Data
By 
Mary Haskett
  •  
March 17, 2018
United States
Technology
Not Practical