The challenge: Finding product-market fit
In 2018, serial entrepreneur, Vikram Chalana, was running a 350-person company. Among all these employees, across many disciplines and departments, Vikram noticed that one person was in constant demand from their colleagues: the video specialist. They were swamped with requests from every department to create webinars, product demos, training videos, and so on.
“Everybody wanted to do videos,” Vikram explained. “Everybody wanted to consume videos. But videos were very hard to produce, record, and edit.”
Vikram wondered why there wasn’t a video version of Canva, a tool where anyone—regardless of technical skill—could go to easily create and edit simple videos.
By the end of 2019, Vikram attended a hackathon in Seattle and built his prototype for a simple video editing tool. He called this tool “Pictory” and won the hackathon.
Vikram spent the next eight months building out the product and validating it through early users. There was just one problem: Vikram couldn’t get customers interested. As the business saying goes, he couldn’t find product-market fit.
Partnering with AppSumo
AppSumo approached Vikram in Spring 2021. Pictory seemed like the type of user-friendly tool that’s often popular on the platform. “Have you considered launching Pictory on AppSumo?”
This was the first Vikram had heard of AppSumo. He explained to us some of the challenges he faced in bringing the tool to market. One of the benefits of launching on AppSumo is the ability to receive fast and honest feedback from customers about your product. It can be effective in helping founders discover their ideal customers—and by extension, find product-market fit.
Vikram was in.
The launch was scheduled for summer 2021. Now, it was time to prepare. The first step was to perform a test run with AppSumo users. AppSumo prepared Pictory for a launch to Beta-lings (AppSumo testers) to determine the best marketing approach and feature changes that should be implemented before launch.
The AppSumo team integrated Pictory with AppSumo. They did a soft launch to Beta-lings, who gave Pictory high marks. They loved it! They also had some feedback regarding features Vikram should add or remove to make the product even more compelling for Sumo-lings.
Then AppSumo’s marketing experts worked with Vikram to script and produce an introduction video. AppSumo wrote copy for the deal landing page and prepared the launch emails. Start to finish, the marketing prep took about a month of close collaboration.
AppSumo recommended Vikram set up a public-facing roadmap and add support staff and resources to assist during the launch. Sumo-lings love to know what’s coming down the pike. They also will have a lot of questions and expect fast responses.
Vikram took the advice.
Launch day (AKA the “App-Tsunami”)
Pictory went live on AppSumo. Almost as soon as the landing page was public, support tickets and Pictory’s help desk requests started flowing in. Sumo-lings wanted to know more about Pictory.
“We were slammed. Our entire team—all we were doing was answering questions and responding to support tickets,” Vikram said. “The questions we received made a lot of sense. It felt like we’d found product-market fit—within a day. It was insane and exhilarating and crazy and tiring.”
As requests came in, the Pictory team added new features to their roadmap. “People were making rewarding suggestions.” Pictory developers were also making real-time changes to the product as Sumo-lings suggested new features.
Sumo-lings told the Pictory team that they preferred Storyblocks over Shutterstock for content licensing, for example. Pictory made the swap. Sumo-lings requested a version of the app in Portuguese. The team quickly implemented the new language. Day by day, more sales came in, and the product improved in real time based on user requests and feedback.
Vikram worked alongside his team to answer Sumo-ling questions. As he heard from happy customers, he asked people to leave reviews on AppSumo and on third party review websites. The reviews quickly rolled in, which Vikram describes as having a “snowball effect” on additional sales.
The Pictory team was swamped. They couldn’t even find time to implement additional promotional tactics—and they didn’t need to. All hands were on deck to answer questions, implement new features, and onboard users.
Results: 6,000 customers, monthly recurring revenue, and more
Before launching on AppSumo, Pictory had 50 customers. After their two months on AppSumo, Pictory crossed 6,000 customers—and continues to grow.
It’s common for online businesses to run on a subscription model. One of the key benefits of shopping on AppSumo is the opportunity to snag lifetime deals on powerful software. But this begs a common question: how do lifetime deals affect founders and their products in the long term?
Vikram explained that AppSumo’s impact didn’t stop when the lifetime deal ended. Sumo-lings have become huge advocates for Pictory, helping the company multiply its monthly recurring revenue. The key comes down to the organic word of mouth that often sparks from successful AppSumo launches.
Vikram said, “AppSumo customers are telling their friends, telling their colleagues, how good the product is. Those new users now join on a subscription model.” Vikram even created an affiliate program to add fuel to the fire.
“The biggest [impact on monthly recurring revenue] was the network effect of the AppSumo campaign. We got a lot of Appsumo customers who provided great reviews about our product, in blogs, videos, review sites, etc. Some of them became affiliate partners are started promoting the product to their base,” Vikram said.
Before launching on AppSumo, Pictory had $3,000 in MRR (monthly recurring revenue). After the 60-day AppSumo campaign, that number reached almost $12,000 MRR. By December 2022, Pictory officially crossed $100,000 MRR.
“We still get emails—I got three today—about buying our product on AppSumo. The AppSumo effect keeps up even 18 months later.”
The future for Pictory
Vikram has created a Facebook group for Pictory’s AppSumo customers. Right now, he’s continuing to grow the business as they pursue a Series A investment round.
Vikram said, “The product has continued to improve since our launch and we continue to add more customers. We got another bump recently because of ChatGPT. Someone posted a video about how ChatGPT and Pictory can be used together to create videos. That feels like another App-tsunami that we’re going through right now.”
Sounds like this is only the beginning for Pictory. It’s always exciting to hear how AppSumo Partners are achieving success.
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.