How a hyperscheduling app got their first 1.5 million downloads with Leo Tumwattana (Sorted)

In this episode, Leo Tumwattana and Reza Saeedi (Sorted) talk about:

  • The concept of hyperscheduling and how it has multiplied his productivity
  • Not giving his product away for FREE as a way to get people invested early
  • Getting featured by Apple and how it boosted his downloads
  • Curating a high quality private community
  • Looking as users as influencers and ambassadors
  • Using a fair pricing model to attract and retain users

Podcast information:

About the guests

Leo Tumwattana is the founder of Sorted – a hyperscheduling app that combines your to-do list with your calendar. Leo grew Sorted to reach 1.5 million downloads focusing on creating a world class user experience, and by treating his users as his brand ambassadors. Prior to Sorted, Leo worked for Louis Vuitton and General Assembly.

Find him here:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/imkulio

Reza Saeedi is an experienced growth marketer, who has worked for companies such as Reedsy, CrowdRiff and On Deck. Reza formerly managed the go-to-market strategy for Sorted and focused on leveraging product-led marketing and community strategies to boost Sorted’s growth.

Find him here:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rezsaeedi

Books, tools, people, frameworks mentioned in this episode:

  • Sorted – https://www.sortedapp.com/
  • General Assembly – https://generalassemb.ly/
  • Hyperscheduling – https://www.sortedapp.com/hyper-scheduling
  • Eisenhower matrix – https://www.eisenhower.me/eisenhower-matrix/
  • Pomodoro – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique
  • Lean Startup Methodology – http://theleanstartup.com/principles
  • Appfigures – https://appfigures.com/
  • Things 3 – https://culturedcode.com/things/
  • OmniFocus – https://www.omnigroup.com
  • Sketch – https://www.sketch.com/
  • Ahrefs – https://ahrefs.com/
  • Mixmax – https://www.mixmax.com/
  • Zapier – https://zapier.com/
  • Lean Startup – http://theleanstartup.com/
  • Demand Curve – https://www.demandcurve.com/
  • Julian Shapiro – https://twitter.com/Julian
  • Y Combinator – https://www.ycombinator.com/
  • Lean Analytics – https://www.amazon.com/Lean-Analytics-Better-Startup-Faster-ebook/dp/B00AG66LTM
  • Brian Balfour – https://twitter.com/bbalfour
  • Hubspot – https://www.hubspot.com/
  • Reforge – https://www.reforge.com/

Leo Tumwattana 0:00
We were keeping it pretty tight. We did have some beta testers using it, right. But it was pretty close circle. So by the time we launched it, we were worried the first day. And then like, for the next week to two weeks, we got like 2000 emails from users saying like, Oh, this is this is great. We love this app. And you know, and we eventually call them like love letters, because some of them are literally an essay long.

Ricky Willianto 0:26
launching a new app in a crowded App Store is not easy. However, Leo Tumwattana, the CEO of Sorted managed to get huge engagement at launch, even though he kept his abs release low key. A big reason for his success is how much he cares for every single one of his users. He refers to emails from his users as love letters, and treat them as such. This is how sorted managed to rack up 1.5 million downloads, since they launched with little to no marketing, and became profitable in the early days. My name is Ricky Willianto, co founder of Ravenry and the host of the growth multiplier podcast. Through this podcast, I hope to uncover the pathways, startups and companies have taken in their journey of growth, share some stories from the trenches, and hopefully identify patterns and hacks that can be replicated by businesses in Asia and the rest of the world. I hope you enjoy the show.

Leo and Reza, welcome to the podcast. Before we start, maybe we can get you to share a little bit about yourself and also a little bit about what is Sorted.

Leo Tumwattana 1:31
Okay, so Hi, I’m Leo. I’m the co founder and CEO of Sorted, I have a background in computer engineering. And then I helped turn around a retail clothing company and took it public, then did an MBA and joined Louis Vuitton as an executive. After a few years there around for years, I travelled around the world for a year, took some time off. And then I ended up teaching coding at a place called General Assembly. And then that’s when I kind of started sorted and other projects as well.

Ricky Willianto 2:04
Sounds good. Thanks to you.

Reza Saeedi 2:07
Hi, Ricky. Thanks for Thanks for having us. My name is Reza. I’m the head of growth at Sorted. I’ve been working with Harry and Leo and the rest of the team for just over eight months. Now. I also studied engineering at the University. But soon after graduating, we’re talking nine years now. I realised for my love for the tech and SaaS space and left the engineering world and haven’t looked back since.

Ricky Willianto 2:31
Sounds good. So can you share a little bit as well What Sorted is

Leo Tumwattana 2:35
So Sorted is a merger of your to do lists and your events, your calendars into one app, and we promote this new method we call hyper scheduling, to help you kind of get organised really quickly and focus on doing rather than on managing, right. And so maybe I could give a little bit of background on how this all started. sorted really started as a personal project to scratch my own itch, I would describe myself as kind of like a creatively disorganised person. I struggled with tasks and time management. And I think like many people have tried all the available tools at the time, and basically found myself getting on and then falling off the task management bandwagon every few months. And that happened again and again. And it was just really stressful, right? Because if I, you know, it’s really stressful to manage the list. But then it’s also really stressful if I don’t manage them, because then I forget to do stuff. So there came a time when I remember the quote from Einstein, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. And so I decided to do something about it. And that’s kind of how I got into this whole task management trying to solve it this rabbit hole and so in or so yeah, that’s basically it. And we’re basically here to help people gain more focus, as I said, reduce stress through hyper scheduling at but also to kind of promote them to both schedule their work and personal life, right, in a way that’s like so effortless, that they would start wondering why they didn’t do this before.

Ricky Willianto 4:25
So I’m a bit of like a productivity tool geek as well. I love these things. I spent hours and hours researching what to do list to use. Tell us what is hyper scheduling and what makes it so different from other apps out there. Okay, I

Leo Tumwattana 4:39
think a lot of other apps Well, a lot of them are to do lists. And then there are some that are that focus on particular concepts such as like, you know, Eisenhower matrix for you to prioritise stuff and you could put into a grid and stuff like that, or pomodoro to, you know, tell you to take breaks in between and manage your focus and energy. But all this kind of like are separated into different parts. And there’s no like one kind of glue to glue all this together, right? I mean, when you have a to do list you have tonnes of you’ll start getting tonnes of stuff on there, you don’t have any kind of commitment or, or way to tell you what to really focus on. Right. So what is like the, the metric, the one thing that define that, like controls all of us, right? We have, we all only have 24 hours in a day, whether you’re Elon Musk, or you know, or just Joe Blow, you have 24 hours in a day, it’s how you use that 24 hours that count. So if you fall back to that being the limiting factor, then it makes sense that that’s what you want to do, you want to schedule yourself within that 24 hours to work on the stuff that you care, and it’s most important to you, right. So that’s kind of like where hyper scheduling starts coming in. It’s all about scheduling small little time blocks and your day with actually what you want to try to do. And when you do that, you gain a couple of stuff. One is you you no longer worry have to worry about over scheduling yourself. If you only have 24 hours, what fits will fit, what doesn’t technically need to go into the next day, you also gain a sense of clarity into what your purpose for that day is. And then. But that’s kind of just scheduling, right? And our definition of hyper scheduling is you need to do this with a proper tool so that it’s fast and easy, right? If it takes you a lot of time to do scheduling, then you will likely not do it consistently. And we don’t do that you don’t gain that snowball effect of task management. It’s something that you need to do consistently to begin to snowball the benefits. And that’s really what we’re after is to, you know, make scheduling super easy, hence, hyper scheduling.

Ricky Willianto 7:07
So you’re essentially like taking a to do list and helping people put it on a calendar with time with deadlines, just so that they are always aware of what is possible within their day, what’s not possible, and help them see that on a on an hourly basis. So they can actually go through their day.

Leo Tumwattana 7:24
That’s the gist and then and then there’s this extra step where when you can do that really quickly. That also means that you can update it really quickly.

Ricky Willianto 7:36
Yeah, so we’ve been on point, right? Adding like one extra task during the day, right? You don’t know when you can get it done. Right. So Exactly. So and then.

Leo Tumwattana 7:44
And then things don’t always pan out exactly the way you want it to whether sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind, right? So when you have a tool that you can just in two taps, revise your schedule, rewrite the script, then you gain this really strong sense of confidence, right? That you can adapt to anything. And that you could make a decision and say, Oh, I can’t do this now because I have to go and pick up the kids. So you don’t have to worry about like forgetting things like that. Or or you’re like, Oh, this is this meeting is really, really helpful right now, right? Let’s spend that extra 15 minutes, I can do that I could shift like something less important, out of the way. And just having that in front of you is really, really beneficial, I think.

Ricky Willianto 8:28
Yeah, I see I see one of the features that sorry, Reza go on.

Reza Saeedi 8:31
I something else I just wanted to double click on as well on on the concept of hyper scheduling that Leo touched on briefly is, and we hear a lot of our users really finding that is the factor that really differentiates sorted for them is the unified aspect of the app is it’s bringing not just your to do lists, but also your calendar events or multiple calendar events into one one place. Because as we all know, there are certain days that all you have to do is go go to meetings, you have five or six meetings and there’s nothing goes you can realistically do so scheduling tasks to do or even like assuming that you’re going to do certain things on that day is quite unrealistic or unhealthy to put it in another word. So I think that is that has been for me as a user has been a deal breaker as well as just how can I basically see my day, all my commitments, and like likely I mentioned just it being really flexible and easy, easy, easy to adjust?

Ricky Willianto 9:23
Yeah, I think that two things I’ve tried the app from the Mac App Store and also on my phone, I think the two things that I really like is one it treats events like a task as well, which means I can tick it off which is kind of like it gives them that sense of satisfaction that you know like it has gone from my from my list or from my screen which is nice. And the second thing is the is the ruler function where you’re able to kind of lock in certain events in place and drag the ruler which is the time right and change the time of like all of your other tasks in one go. That that was also super It was super

Leo Tumwattana 9:56
fun. It is time is the limiting factor right so it didn’t kind of like lead. To be thinking of, well, it only makes sense if you work out of your, this one single timeline. Right. And if you’re going to work on one single timeline, you need all the information from different sources. So your calendar and also your to do lists and maybe even your notes and, and any files that you have. So we have attachments in our in our tests as well. So we need that all kind of together, interleaved, not like in different parts of the UI, in order to, for you to really live that like one single timeline and just follow that those you schedule to do. So that kind of is how we came about it. But I guess, like, some of the key insights I had at the beginning, when I started this project was really one is that I think the ROI of test management, as I may have mentioned before, is not linear, right? So that’s a important thing,

Ricky Willianto 10:55
this this in the sense for the user, right? Like, the longer you use it like the there is an exponential benefit to the users that we’re using

Leo Tumwattana 11:02
that to, but also like the time you spend on task management, it’s not like, and the benefit of it is not linear, right? You don’t do it, then it’s bad, you do too much. And it kind of just waste time, it’s not like the more you do it, the more time you spend on task management, the more benefit you gain, right. It’s like a really steep bump. And you want to kind of just hit just enough time task management for you to get organised, and gain the benefits and not more. Right. And I think there there are some people who who have also kind of used task management almost as a way to procrastinate, you spend more time actually managing the system, and it feels good managing the system, but then you’re not actually getting things done. So I think hyper scheduling is targeting that and, you know, trying to avoid you falling into that trap. And then I mentioned commitment, right?

Ricky Willianto 11:54
I mean, that’s great. I think a lot of the times people buy into certain technology because of the value and the principles behind the product. And I think also the principles and values that the founders live by and swear by oftentimes, right. I think a lot of people buy into that more so than anything. But we can talk about like, you know, the philosophy of task management and productivity all day. I love that. But I need to start a new podcast for that, I guess. But today, let’s talk about growth, right? So you have kind of like taken sorts of, you know, from this little tool that you built for yourself to this point, right? We have like 1.5 million downloads. Can you share with us a little bit about that journey from you know, the inception, up to this point, what has been like the key moment that has really helped the company or the app grown in terms of its user base revenue, etc? Yeah, tell us a little bit about how you got here.

Leo Tumwattana 12:44
So I think a lot of it has to do with word of mouth, especially since the beginning. I think Reza has a term for it product lead marketing. So we I guess it was really important on the outset that we were working on something that added value, and not just creating another to do list. We have enough of those. Right? And so Harry and I really discussed and, and thought it through and said, are we actually adding value, right? Especially before we kind of like glued everything into this concept hyper scheduling, we were still looking around, trying to figure out what are the benefits we knew as users of our own personal tool. We knew it was helping us but we weren’t quite sure what it was. And so it took us quite a while to kind of like glue all this into this concept of hyper scheduling. And then so I think that kind of insistence to really make sure that we’re adding value to our through our app into the app store caught a bunch of users attention.

Ricky Willianto 13:48
And how did that start? Like, how did how did you initially recruit or get the attention of this very early users? was a very, it’s a very busy place, right?

Leo Tumwattana 13:58
Yeah, I think part of it is just like really being really lucky, right? Somehow we got like a few users to try us. And then they start, you know, email us and tell them tell us that this is really a great, I’m telling all my friends about it.

Ricky Willianto 14:12
Right? And it was that free back then or was it free? Oh,

Leo Tumwattana 14:15
no, it was I was paying, it has always been paid. We you know, we kind of believe in the whole Lean Startup thing, right? And you have to test your your product in such a way that, you know, if it’s free, it’s hard to test whether it’s really adding value, right. But if somebody has to actually pay for it, and you know, use money, as opposed to you know, then then they then you’re getting an actual vote on whether your product is any good or not. Right. And so we made sure that we started off the app paid, even though like the early version was, was basically our like our personal use version and we just like public washed up a little bit and put on the App Store. And we got a lot of feedback from people saying, this is really hard to learn, because the initial version was like, all gesture based. And, you know, it was for personal use, I didn’t have to care about how people would learn the app. And so but we also got a lot of people saying, Yeah, it’s really hard to learn, but it’s well worth learning the concept, right, and how to use the tool because it’s great. And so that got us curious and excited, right. And then it turned out that some of those users were engineers, from Apple and, and managers at Apple, right, which we later found out. And somehow I think they started using it, start liking it, they even told us that they have it on their home screen, and they’re telling their colleagues about it. And then, and then somehow Apple reached out to us and said, We want to feature you. All right. And then we got featured. And then and then I think that snowballed into, like other media asking about us. So we actually didn’t do any active marketing. At the beginning, we had enough, we had a steady growth of users through word of mouth to kind of like, test, you know, a future changes and stuff like that, and our direction. But then it was it was also this, that word of mouth that spread it to a lot of news, channels, and blog sites and stuff like that, that talked about us and somehow drew in even more users. And I think one funny story we had was at one point when we launched that sort of three, that was when we we designed the whole app version. Yeah, yeah, that’s sort of one and two was like the early versions. And we’re testing things out

Ricky Willianto 16:43
a timeline of that as well, maybe

Leo Tumwattana 16:46
I was probably like, a year and a half or so for started one and two. And it was mostly to kind of like test out, you know, test the market with our initial launch, tweak it to see how we could make it easier for users to learn the app, because that was the major complaint. And then at one point, I told Harry and said, Look, okay, it seems like we’re getting some traction. People, some people really love it. And like the idea behind, you know, hyper scheduled, but if we are to take this seriously as a project, then I need to redesign this, like from the ground up to so that it’s for users, and not like for personal use, right. And so we actually ended up spending maybe one and a half years, redoing the app, and he was there, you know, managing the existing apps or two at that time. And I was like, redrawing the whole thing. And with user feedback, and with some new ideas and our vision, and when we launched store three, and I guess right before that, that our biggest worry was that here, we’re doing like a complete rewrite and complete redesign. And are we going to alienate our existing user base? Right? Are we gonna get a big low back on us? And it’s hard to, it’s hard for us to tell, right? Even though we do have beta testers, and a lot of them love it. And it turned out by the time we launched store, three, somehow, when we submitted to the App Store, the people in Apple wrote us and said, Hey, I saw you, you’re going to release sore three, why didn’t you tell us about it? Right? And we want to we want to promote you guys. And then we’re like, What? How did you find out? And then yeah, so

Ricky Willianto 18:30
you guys, you guys, we’re not talking about this sort of three version coming up with anyone through any media through your website? not know,

Leo Tumwattana 18:38
anything? No, not at all. We were keeping it pretty tight. We did have some beta testers using it. Right. And that, but it was pretty close circle. And then yeah, so by the time we we launched it, we we were worried the first day. And then like for the next week, to two weeks, we got like, like 2000 emails from users thing like, Oh, this is this is great. We love this app. And you know, and we eventually call them like love letters, because like, some of them are like, literally an essay long, right? And then we were like, super surprised. But it was only just me and Harry at the time really working on this. And so we actually ended up spending all that time because we also made a decision that would always answer all user emails or messages. So we ended up spending like a month just answering emails.

Ricky Willianto 19:34
That’s a good problem.

Leo Tumwattana 19:36
It’s a good problem. It’s also like really great feedback, because that’s where we learn to like a lot about what users care about, like and what we should incorporate as part of the vision of sorted and yeah, so that’s just a little story. We ended up Yeah, answering a lot of emails and then and then Harry had this great idea and said we need help to answer emails and It’s urgent. And we have user community on slack. Why don’t we ask our people on slack? whether any of them want to help? And we’ll pay them right. And then. And then. So that became like the foundation of how we found practically everyone on our team. I mean, including Reza, who was a user on slack who didn’t advocate, he

Ricky Willianto 20:23
understands the product division.

Leo Tumwattana 20:25
Yes. And also, because I think being existing users, they know what the issues are, they know what the how to use the app. So they, there’s no training involved in or get people up and running. And they love the product. So it’s, it’s like, easy for them to, you know, reach out to our customers and, and help each other. Basically, I want

Ricky Willianto 20:48
to drill down a little bit into this whole community thing that you mentioned, how do you start this community? And how have you used it to help I guess, like, increase loyalty and also increase like, you know, I guess, your user base and get that word of mouth going? Have you been able to tap into this community into helping you grow as well?

Leo Tumwattana 21:05
I think so. So we started out this community, kind of just, you know, the Slack channel, kind of just as a more direct way to communicate with our customers and kind of help them resolve any sort of technical issues. And then eventually, some of them, you know, we became friends, right now where some users will greet each other and say, happy birthday to each other and stuff like that, right. So so I think that’s kind of how it grew. At one point, we actually tried to open up the slack channel to to the public. So just a public link, they click on it, they joined the channel, but then that became really overwhelming really quickly. And then we ended up having a lot of users that join the Slack channel just for like one question and then become inactive. And so we eventually turned that turned them around and said, Okay, we’re close, make this close the community again, to keep like, and then move more of the single question kind of answers kind of interaction towards email. And I think that really helped the community because instead of being diluted, we only bring in people who were we actually spent some time through email chatting already. And they’re, they seem like interesting people who are really dedicated to to the app and hyper scheduling the concepts and stuff before we bring them into the Slack channel.

Ricky Willianto 22:33
Got it? So up to this point, I think your main growth channels have been and strategies have been community building great product search, product, lead marketing, as I put it, right? And also the word of mouth bit, right? Because I think that’s kind of what you know, great product leads to happy customers. We’ll talk about it. Can you share a little bit where you guys are now in terms of the business, from a numbers perspective, you can share with me, number of users paid users revenue view, if you’re open to it, like where are you guys now, in terms of the business? For sure.

Reza Saeedi 23:04
I think, before digging into that, I think I wanted to add one point on the community side of things, as well as having that sort of intimacy on slack with people I think email is great, because everyone always checks their inbox, right? They say email marketing is never going to go anywhere, because inboxes basically, is probably the most intimate place. But I think there is an immediacy factor associated with slack where you can quickly talk to people. And I think even during our website redesign project that we recently launched a brand new website where we can better and more clearly showcase what sort of is all about, we got a lot of quick user feedback through even for things like our our hero message on our homepage, we actually created a survey on slack. And God got our users to tell us, if you were to describe sorta to a friend of yours, how would you describe it in terms of messaging and positioning. So I think that’s been super valuable as well, as well as having our beta testers and people who help us with translations sort of is available right now in 14 different languages. So I think having people there as well, to get again, their quick help. But with that, that’s been that’s been super helpful. In terms of the app itself, there has been a lot of demand for having cross platform access to the app inside the apple ecosystem. So Harry and Leo had been working and the rest of the team have been working on a Mac App before four years prior to that. So meaning for the last sort of 12 months or so. So, which we eventually launched in December 2020. And at the same time, as launching the Mac App, we actually celebrated our 1 million downloads, sort of milestone which was, which is pretty huge. We weren’t even clearly tracking that. But one day I was I was looking at his platform is super amazing for people having basically apps High School app figures, Android or Apple, you can clearly access a lot of App Store metrics or Google Play metrics. And we just realised we actually surpassed that 1 million milestone and we as of now we are like you mentioned we are just under one and a half million downloads, which is which is a great milestone for us for us to look at. Sounds good.

Ricky Willianto 24:51
So what’s the next big milestone for Sorted?

Reza Saeedi 24:54
I think there’s a lot of areas as a growth person who can get really excited and want to want to focus on we could do a lot b2c content and try to focus on SEO and just write a lot of good articles that come up on the first page of the search engines. And then through that you introduce people to your app, I think there’s a low friction there for people to just want to download a new app and then get them to get them to buy it down the line. But I think for us, we we realise we have an existing user base that we want to sort of maximise. And we really sat down and tried to understand the characteristics of the user base, we realised there is a product market fit here we have a profitable business. That is that is making money. And it is getting a lot of I mean, at the time, we had like maybe 15 – 16,000, reviews ratings on the App Store, I like 4.8. So that is that is super healthy for for an app. So the problem then became How can we get more of those people in more markets? Right. And I think right now for us is sort of being an app that started started off in Asia and naturally having a lot more traction there is how can we expand this concept to more countries around the world? We have a primary one being the North American side of the middle. Let me just pause there.

Ricky Willianto 26:02
So is that is that kind of like the biggest segment for you guys user base wise? Is it Asia?

Reza Saeedi 26:08
Correct? At the moment? Yes. In terms of number of downloads and active active user base? Yeah, how

Ricky Willianto 26:11
many percent will that be? So estimate,

Reza Saeedi 26:16
yeah, if I were to give you an estimate, I think we’re probably looking at I give you like an order of sort of sort of Asia, China being the primary sort of user base for for sorted. And then we’re actually looking at the US market, then countries, other countries like Germany, UK, these four or five probably make up around want to say like 30 to 40% of our of our active user base, the segment that you mentioned, are the top ones, China, and then the second one is us, right? I mean, at least those are the top in the top five, have you seen any differences in the user behaviour and what kind of strategies work for them

Ricky Willianto 26:48
in terms of growth.

Leo Tumwattana 26:50
So China and us are our top two, and us is actually not that far behind on most months from China. But we do know that we have a lot of more media outreach in China. And also not active right, it was a website called SS PP, I really took a liking to our app and started like promoting us and stuff. And so somehow, that kind of like helped us give China a big boost. Whereas in the US, I think we’ve we’ve had less kind of like these kind of media entities that helping push us, I think user behaviour wise, so far, we haven’t seen like a huge difference between how they use they’re great. They all love it, once they give it a try. With with also had quite a few users who emailed us and told us that they heard about sorted like, quite a while ago, on some podcasts that we did. But then they didn’t really download it or give it a try. And then it was like months later that they tried it. They’re like, Oh, hey, this is great. Yeah, I’m gonna tell my friends about it. So I think it’s just now we’re at a point where we were just trying to reach as many eyeballs as possible.

Ricky Willianto 28:06
Got it? Got it. So I guess Reza, then this is kind of where your rule comes in. Right? You’re like trying to focus on growth in the US market? What have you guys done so far in the US, and you know, what’s worked and what hasn’t worked?

Reza Saeedi 28:19
We are focusing a lot with getting in touch with the right influencers, who are already users have sorted, I will plug one shoe ami is one that has been one of our biggest advocates, he actually doesn’t live in the US. But he has, he has like a lot of reach in the US. So I think just really trying to build that relationship with a lot of different influencers, who we know have the right audience, and then just over time working with them. So we’re trying to do more of that influencer marketing, as well as that we are basically trying to basically leverage leverage the App Store, because we know it’s one of our biggest, biggest channels right now that is working for us really well, Leo mentioned that we are trying to build on that maximise it, but ensuring that you’re providing really good customer experience by responding and interacting with every video, every interaction that customers are providing with us there. So we are focusing on a lot of App Store optimization, and soon episode search ads that we have never actually tried before. So we’ll see how those two initiatives will will impact our focus in that in that geography as well. And outside of that, we are also focusing on a bunch of different partnerships with for example, educational institutions. I touched on students being one of our one of our biggest user groups right now. And one of the things we want to really maximise and that’s leverage is understanding how we can work with universities and schools to get sort of in front of in front of more of them. It’s not so much of a growth hack that will work overnight. We are really want to play the long game and really get get sort of in front in front of the right people. So it’s something that we are now putting in place if you talk in two or three months, we should be able to give you some sort of early results on how that pilot is going with a bit a few universities that we are we are in touch with and how does that work? How

Ricky Willianto 29:52
does how does that partnership work? So you will be the University and the University endorses the app or is there a student discount Does that work?

Reza Saeedi 30:01
Correct. So we are trying to offer a benefits programme for students to like I mentioned we we took a step in that direction to offer a freemium model. But we know the freemium model as being a business, we have to put certain features behind a paywall. So it has its own limitations, so that the benefits programme for students that we are kind of rolling out in collaboration with the with the institutions is going to make the pro version of the app available at a reduced price for for students so they can more easily just want to give a little plug. So I’ve downloaded the app, I haven’t really converted to a paid to become a paid user,

Ricky Willianto 30:34
I’m still holding on to things as much as I can. I’ve been using this app for like six years. So I can understand like how I think the conversion process for a lot of your user will take some time and will take a lot of prodding and convincing. I am almost convinced. But I just want to say that the free app is fully functioning just for those who listen. So you can download it, you have all the fancy features already available to you that differentiates sorts it from other apps, check it out. And if you love it, you can convert.

Reza Saeedi 31:00
Thank thanks for thanks for your blog, I want to I want I want to talk about that model, I appreciate you mentioning that I think we had a bit of a survey, you can’t really call the growth challenge. But just sort of a positioning or messaging challenge when it came to our pricing model, it might be sort of valuable for people listening as well, because we had the we had the app paid. But we had we had the 14 day free trial in order to give people access to these fancy features, as they called it, so they can try it out and see what it’s like. But when we did with rolling out the freemium model, we had this challenge of how do we actually present the two together, there’s a free trial. And then there’s there’s a freemium, which we ended up with, you can see on the homepage with sort of the illustration that we have on the homepage that we hope does explain or illustrate what the app does. But it was one of the things that under under sort of price pricing or monetization side, as we were rolling out this new model we had to sort of deal with, and we are obviously refining it as we go. But this is the this is what we landed on at the moment.

Ricky Willianto 31:53
So just to again, like clarify, you have a free app that you can download, and then for your for your premium version of the app, you offer 14 days trial. That’s correct. Correct. Have you have you seen any any results or any initial kind of like, you know, differences between how you’ve done it previously, which is kind of just having it as a premium app with no, you know, free version? Has there been any changes in the adoption, you know, the number of downloads, etc? Actually,

Leo Tumwattana 32:19
we we always had it as a free trial. But what we did was we did when the trial ended, we turned the app into read only mode. And then so then you can’t really use it, but you can still extract data back out of it. And so I think that limited A lot of you know, students who at in certain parts of the world who cannot afford to pay for the app, or that’s what they tell us couldn’t continue using sorting. And so when we switch to the freemium model, of course, we worried about whether you know, what we put behind a paywall? Is that enough? Is there enough value there to have people convert, but extra up to now since we did do that we actually didn’t see any drop in in our conversion. But we did, we did kind of like, I think, on top of the 14 days, we did add ability to for some people to extend that trial. Because what we found was there were some users who would download us I’d start using it for a day and then go off on vacation, and then kind of come back and all the trial was over. So we added that extension for for those people. And and so right now we are we actually increased our trial time by longer. And so we’ll have to wait a little bit longer to see how that impacted our our conversion, whether it like kind of like flattened the curve, planned the curve a bit. Yeah. So that’s still it’ll take a little bit more time for us to see. But I

Ricky Willianto 33:48
guess that is a sensible strategy from a pricing perspective, because as I mentioned, I think for a lot of, I guess, more like pro or heavy duty users, it takes them time to migrate things. And it also takes them time to get accustomed to like a new productivity tool, right. So I guess it makes sense to offer that free trial extension and also a free version of the app, because then people can play around with it, and maybe convert six months down the road. Because I think that’s kind of how most people behave when it comes to you know, habits, right? It takes some time before they get into it. And then they can live without it.

Leo Tumwattana 34:17
Exactly. And also, that’s also like work on the engineering side, which I’m part of as well is to kind of like reduce any barriers there and kind of friction to convert from other tools. We do know we have a lot of users who convert from things straight from OmniFocus. Because they tell us, right and so yeah, we’re in the process of doing a lot of like importing tools and other things like that to to make the transition easier for them. So lower the barrier and for them to really try out sorting before they decide whether to buy or not. So, yeah, lots of work coming ahead.

Ricky Willianto 34:57
I’m also curious about your pricing strategy. I think, you know, Nowadays, a lot of apps, I mean, anything nowadays is all subscription based, right? So you have to pay at a certain recurring fee on a regular basis. But you guys have taken the path of it’s a one time fee paid once and you use it forever. What was the thinking behind this pricing strategy?

Leo Tumwattana 35:14
Yeah, I think, as I mentioned before, I think a lot of people, when we talk to our users, a lot of them will tell us they’re really willing to pay for content and kind of like web services, but less so on like a, an app that like a to do lists app, right, you chill it, you kill it. Yeah. And, you know, Harry, and I spent a lot of time discussing this insight and ask ourselves, are we willing? Like, do we like paying for, you know, something similar, right? And we thought, Well, if that’s not the, that’s not that, we wouldn’t really want to do that. Either. We can understand, like, paying for Netflix. So so we thought, Well, why don’t we keep it as a single purchase for now, right. And then I think the most important thing for to us at that time was kind of like figuring out what sort of is about and developing the product. And so long as the revenue that we were generating was or covering our costs, and was profitable or any, we had a leeway to kind of like, you know, to continue working on this, right. And then we also made the decision to you know, for to upgrade our existing users from sort of one two, up to sort of three for free, without them having to pay any extra, although some of them actually, you know, tell us I’m willing to pay, right. And we kind of worked in a method we we actually have in the app, you can actually buy us a soda for like $3 or something. And then you can buy us a pizza for $10. us. And you don’t really get anything out of it aside from like this little cool animation that we did for them as a gift. And so we actually have a lot of people who who do that right to support us and say, thank you. And some of them say, Oh, you saved my, you saved my life today, I almost forgot something. So here’s a pizza. So I think I think we ran with that up to now mostly because, you know, we wanted to keep our users happy, it was enough to keep us going and build up a team and have some savings to hire other people. And and so we really wanted to focus on like, the product and whether we’re adding value to people right now in the future, or there are some some features in our vision right now, that might turn out to be good points for subscription. So if you need that feature, it will be a subscription based, because it’s like, for example, let’s say a web version, or like collaboration, right, especially in collaboration, and it’s in a business, like in a business team setting, then I think they are more willing to pay for subscriptions to solve like a team’s problem. So maybe those are what we go head into subscription for. But will will always try to keep like the the standard version of sort of kind of like a one time payment, or maybe, maybe adopt, like, you know, the app sketch, like the drawing. Yeah, yeah. So they do a business model where you pay like for updates. So you pay once and then you have like one year worth of updates. And then a year later, you can let it expire, give the same version or using it because you just won’t get the new features. So that might be something we can consider in the future. But it’s it’s not like our current major focus. And I think the the the addressable market is still way big enough for us to continue on quite a while. Yeah. Especially. Like, even now we have users who, who said, who say, Why? Why I Why didn’t I know about you guys? Right? It’s like, I’ve been looking for you guys for so many years. And I only heard about you guys right now. Like, what’s up with that? So yeah, so I think we were going to take one step at a time and just get ourselves out into more eyeballs first, and then move on with our with our product vision, which I’d say we’re only like 30% of the way there. So yeah, lots of work.

Ricky Willianto 39:31
Sounds good. What is what is your biggest challenge now as a team,

Leo Tumwattana 39:35
getting ourselves out there? Right getting the the concept of hyper scheduling out there. I think that started like our immediate goal is how do we reach more people now that we have as has Reza said, we have our full platform on Apple. Now with the Mac App, we have expanded team, we have our new banner hyper scheduling, we have our website, everything is kind of like coming together. Now. Now it’s forced to action on those and just reach ourselves out to more people. Yeah. And hopefully just build that momentum behind this. Because we think, you know, it’s hyper scheduling has helped us a lot, and has helped a lot of users a lot as well. But I think it has more potential to help even more people. And that’s kind of just what we’re trying to achieve now.

Ricky Willianto 40:24
Sounds good. So, let’s move into the quickfire round right now. Somebody says I have like five short questions. I think we can you know, you can take it in terms. So Leo, you answer first and Reza, you answer right after Leo as quickly as you can. Okay. Ready? Okay. Okay. Cool. So first one is what is the one metric that you care most about now?

Leo Tumwattana 40:46
Okay, I guess downloads.

Ricky Willianto 40:49
Okay, cool. How about you, Reza?

Reza Saeedi 40:51
Yeah, I think I think is the same thing for us too. But more specifically, like I touched on earlier we are, if I were to give you like a very narrow answer would be our sort of market share and revenue split from from the US market that or the North American market more broadly. Got it.

Ricky Willianto 41:07
And then what’s the one software that you swear by to help you grow?

Leo Tumwattana 41:13
Barely verse to Reza.

Reza Saeedi 41:16
There is a there is like there’s a couple that I religiously use. But you haven’t really rolled this out with Sora yet but a traps is amazing for SEO plus content. I leave it to one one to answer I can I can give you a couple more if you want. We’ll have more. Yeah, throw us a floor up for outbound marketing. They’re very lightweight, but powerful tool that you can use that we are using that sort of mix max. It’s one that a single team single person team can use as well. And then one that a lot of people probably know for automation, Zapier or Zapier, I think is a super powerful one as well.

Ricky Willianto 41:48
Yeah, I love that one as well helps you like ultimate so many things. What’s your kind of like, favourite go to growth strategy that’s worked for you so far?

Leo Tumwattana 41:55
What are my guess? Okay.

Ricky Willianto 41:57
Awesome. Reza, do I think? Yeah, I

Reza Saeedi 42:02
think in terms of what’s worked so far, I think I think I would, I would say the same thing. And I think I see I see their influencers that I touched on earlier influencer marketing, when we do get the word out through the right individuals, we see, we haven’t like really attributed this or on a one on one basis to like, we did this campaign with this influencer, and this happened, but I personally see it as a powerful sort of thing that has worked for us so far.

Ricky Willianto 42:25
Yeah, that makes sense. As I’ve mentioned, I think a lot of these productivity tools and solutions, people follow follow the founders and you know, the vision and the philosophy behind it not so much like, Okay, this is an app, this is the app, you know, they can like believe in the in the vision of the of the people who built it. What are your growth, your favourite, go to growth resources can be a book, newsletter website, you know, anything, you know,

Leo Tumwattana 42:48
book, I guess, lean startup, you know, just testing and trying to figure out that product market fit. I think that’s important before you can grow anything you need to know, you need to have something to grow, basically.

Unknown Speaker 43:00
Sounds good. How about you guys? Uh,

Reza Saeedi 43:02
yeah, if you are in growth, you probably have already heard of this. But if you haven’t, go check it out demand curve newsletter by Julian Shapiro and his team. It’s one of the best pieces of content I get every two weeks, I think they’re at number 30. Now, so they’re doing it bi weekly. And it’s it’s super powerful, that kind of, they basically go and talk to a lot of Y Combinator companies and find out what’s worked for them and to kind of distil that inside a newsletter. So super, super useful. And then actually, on the book side of things, I would go with the with another recommendation in the lean, sort of under the lean umbrella, lean analytics. I think it’s under the same sort of group of books by got a guy called Alistair and I’m blanking on his last name. But when it comes to like data analytics, it’s kind of like a reference book you don’t want to read from start to finish in one go. But it’s it’s a good one to have on your on your desk if you’re dealing with a lot of product analytics and things like that. Yeah, I

Ricky Willianto 43:53
love that book. I should have read it. I think it’s very actionable. It’s very simple. And I think it kind of like demystify a lot of things that seems very technical and scary for people who are not so technical. So definitely a great reference book to have next to you, when you’re thinking about growth and also demand curve. Look, Julian’s Julian’s work again, like very, very succinct, very to the point, he has a lot of these playbooks that he created and he’s done one for producthunt and one for LinkedIn. amazing resources for anyone who’s thinking about growth in general as they’re running a course as well. Right?

Reza Saeedi 44:23
They have like a practice. Yes. Yeah. Do you have any course on demand curve as well? Yes.

Ricky Willianto 44:27
Yeah. Sorry. We kind of like you know, taking this quick quick fire around a bit to relax. Okay, last last one last one. Okay. Who are your growth role models, you know, that you kind of look up to and you are following it. This can be in Asia. If not, then anyone you know, outside of Asia is fine.

Leo Tumwattana 44:44
Go ahead.

Unknown Speaker 44:45
Reza. I sadly haven’t had the opportunity to work with a lot of Asian sort of growth growth people I’m now having this opportunity to work with with sorted so I think I’ll get to know more of them. But the one the one person I religiously follow and look up to quite a lot is Brian Balfour, ex-VP growth at HubSpot, I had the opportunity to do one of his growth courses called growth series back in March 2020. And it was it was a very eye opening experience as through a programme called Reforge that they that they offer, it’s an online virtual programme. So Brian Balfour follow him on his blog. He has a lot of good good content as well.

Ricky Willianto 45:20
Yeah, that’s that’s another another website that has been mentioned a few times through this podcast Reforge thing a lot of people to like, you know, really look at that, as you know, a good a good go to for for growth marketers and growth experts.

Unknown Speaker 45:31
Sounds good.

Ricky Willianto 45:32
So final question is how do we reach reach out to you, Reza and Leo? And also tell us how do we find sorted?

Reza Saeedi 45:41
Yeah, on, we are fairly active on Twitter, we’d like to be more active if the time permits, because you can reach us at sorted HQ on Twitter. Our website is hopefully quite memorable, sorted app.com, where you can get the download links to both the Mac and the iOS version as well. And then on both platforms, if you’re on your Mac or on an iPad or an iPhone, you can just go to the App Store and put sorted or sort of three. And you should you should see that pop up. Personally, you can reach me on Twitter, I’m pretty active on Twitter as well and my handle is at @rezsaeedi

Leo Tumwattana 46:15
And my Twitter handle is at @imkulio

Ricky Willianto 46:21
Sounds good. And who should reach out to you guys,

Leo Tumwattana 46:22
Anybody? Anybody who is what to geek out about task management, anybody who’s curious about hyper scheduling, anybody who’s having a tough time juggling multiple tasks and multiple projects and life in their hands and need some help to handle that? Yeah. Contact us.

Ricky Willianto 46:44
Sounds good. So basically, anyone who’s looking for Marie Kondo for their life,

Reza Saeedi 46:50
simplify your life. Yeah, for sure.

Ricky Willianto 46:52
Sounds good. Sounds good. Well, it’s been a pleasure you and Reza, thanks so much for joining me today.

Reza Saeedi 46:57
Thank you so much, Ricky, for having us.

Ricky Willianto 46:59
Thank you so much for listening to this podcast. Check out other episodes to hear more growth stories and hacks from experts who have been there and that that you can find our show on iTunes, Spotify, or via our website www.theravenry.com/growthmultiplier.

See you next time.

 

About Growth Multiplier

The pursuit of growth is never-ending for any business – from a small startup all the way to a large global corporation. The Growth Multiplier podcast examines pathways, strategies, and hacks companies have explored and tested in their efforts to scale up their businesses. 

In each episode, host Ricky Willianto – co-founder of Ravenry – speaks with CEO’s, growth hackers, product managers, and marketers all around Asia to find nuggets of wisdom and insights from their journey multiplying growth. 

Ricky and his guests discuss viral marketing, community building, pricing strategies, channel development, and also company culture and people. Growth Multiplier explores not only replicable successes, but also phenomenal failures that we all can learn from.

Growth Multiplier is produced by the team behind Ravenry.
www.theravenry.com

Other Growth Multiplier episodes

Early stage growth hacks with Hsu Ken Ooi (Iterative)

In this episode, Hsu Ken Ooi of Iterative VC talks about the early growth strategies of his first two startups Weave and Decide.com. Hsu Ken also talks about why it is important to invest in one’s self, how to look at psychology for growth hack inspirations, and why you need to fall in love with the problem instead of the solution.