The challenge: Finding the ideal customer
Komodo Decks started as a hobby project in 2018. For Founder Khanan Grauer, the idea was to design a mobile app for recording and editing videos over digital programs like PowerPoint or PDF. Komodo Decks enabled people to easily record a presentation, explain a complex document, or even teach a course.
The first big break for Komodo Decks happened in 2020. Remote work became the norm in response to Covid. Komodo Decks gained traction among university professors and high school teachers across the world.
But this brought about a new problem. Educators didn’t have much money to spend on software. It was costly to maintain Komodo Decks. Khanan kept the company afloat by paying the bills out of pocket. Even though educators got a lot out of the tool, and Khanan was pleased to support them, he knew that his business was most likely to succeed if he focused on a different customer: businesses.
At the time, about 80% of Komodo Deck’s users were educators. The remaining 20% were businesses. If Komodo Decks would one day become a self-sustaining business, Khanan needed to flip those ratios.
Time for Komodo Decks to pivot.
Becoming an AppSumo Partner
Komodo Decks’ Cofounder Harry Brodsky had an idea to help with the pivot. What if they launched Komodo Decks on AppSumo?
Harry had followed the ideas and work of AppSumo’s founder, Noah Kagan, for a while and wondered how Komodo Decks might appeal to Sumo-lings.
Harry reached out to Noah and told him about Komodo Decks. Noah thought it might be a good fit for AppSumo and connected them with the Partner Success team. The rest, as they say, was history.
The AppSumo Partner team began with some onboarding to learn about the product and begin creating all the necessary marketing collateral for a successful launch.
There was marketing copy to write, product images to capture, and video scripts to draft and revise. “AppSumo did most of it,” Khanan said. “We let them take charge We just took a step back and thought they know their audience better than we do.”
During this time, Komodo Decks also had a soft launch to AppSumo’s QA team. This is a group of testers called Beta-lings who test and offer feedback on Partner products before every launch.
In this case, the Beta-lings gave tough reviews to the Komodo Decks team. The feedback centered around a single point: What makes Komodo Decks different from other products on the market?
Komodo Decks took the advice to heart as they prepared for launch day.
Launch day: Selling 6,000 licenses on AppSumo
Launch day arrived and Komodo Deck’s support lines exploded.
Harry said, “The AppSumo team gave us a heads-up about having enough support. And they weren’t joking. AppSumo told us, ‘Just be prepared to be very busy post launch.’ And busy we were.”
For Harry, launch day was “a confluence of emotions.” As soon as the landing page was launched, the team was flooded with questions from Sumo-lings. “It was excitement, nervousness, anticipation—because a lot of work had gone into the backend to get to this moment.”
Khanan, on the other hand, “didn’t even have time to be emotional. Of course, I felt excited. But really all I could think about was: How do I answer all these questions? How do I respond to every review? They were coming in every second.”
Komodo Decks followed AppSumo’s suggestion to bring on some additional support staff for the launch. But Khanan and Harry were equally involved. Khanan even said, “Don’t outsource this because this gives you a pulse on what’s happening, what problems people are facing.”
It soon became clear that answering questions one at a time was not the most effective way to work. Khanan wanted to scale their responses. “We learned quickly that number one, we had to scale. And number two, we had to set up a community on our site. If one person has a question, then that means 100 other people probably have the same question. When you answer the question within your community, you can help everyone at once.”
So, Komodo Decks quickly created a community. They also wrote multiple blog posts to answer the most common questions and cast a clear written vision for their roadmap.
The sales poured in.
After the first day, Komodo Decks started gaining traction beyond AppSumo. People started posting in Facebook Groups and invited Khanan into their niche communities to answer questions. YouTubers made videos reviewing Komodo Decks. As Khanan put it, “The conversations were everywhere.”
The dev team also kept busy. They were shipping new features during the campaign. For example, one of the most common feature requests from Sumo-lings was the ability to white-label the product. The dev team delivered.
Devs also fixed many bugs. The influx of an international audience also brought overlooked bugs to the team’s attention. One Sumo-ling in Tokyo reached out because he couldn’t access the tool. It turned out, the network Komodo Decks used was blocked in Tokyo, so the devs quickly fixed the issue.
But the impact of launching on AppSumo was deeper than license sales. Sumo-ling feedback changed Komodo Decks for the better.
Building the product customers want—from feedback
Komodo Decks exists within a competitive software niche. As Sumo-lings purchased, tested, and used the product, feedback and feature requests poured in.
Some of this feedback allowed Khanan and Harry to spot unique problems to solve within their competitive niche. Khanan recalled, “The AppSumo community opened my eyes to the fact that there are problems I didn’t even know existed. And those are very important. Because if you can solve these problems, you create value.”
The feedback also helped Komodo Decks become the best version of itself. As Khanan put it, “AppSumo customers are demanding. You can look at that as a negative thing, but we saw it as a positive. They push us to be better.”
The immense feedback reminded Khanan of a famous idea from the startup world. It’s the notion that nothing valuable gets built in a vacuum. It’s best to stop coding, step outside, and speak with real people. “AppSumo opens up that vacuum. They help you really understand whether you’re meeting customer needs or not.”
Want to launch your product on AppSumo? Learn more about becoming an AppSumo Partner. Maybe your success story will be the one we write about next.