Dominik Sobe graduated in Management And Economics with focus on Strategic Management and Business Information Systems from the University of Innsbruck and Hong Kong. He is a tech enthusiast and has a huge interest in product design, development, and entrepreneurship. He is a self taught developer. His most recent product is StorePreviewer– a tool that helps developers and agencies see what their apps will look like on the App store without the need to publish it.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Dominik Sobe says:
I think one of the most important things to do in the beginning is: Doing things that do not scale. Personally reaching out to early users, getting to know their problems and needs, and finding a way to create value for them is crucial. People tend to try to automate everything from the beginning. Still, I think the personal component can help you gain valuable insights and engage better with your potential future customers.
Surround yourself with people who share the same or at least similar interests. The process of being a founder and leading a business is challenging. You have a lot of happy ups but also sad downs. Having people to talk to and share experiences with, as well as having people who support what you do and bring you up when you are down, is very crucial. If you don’t have people currently around you, reach out for online communities such as Indie Hackers, Maker Mag, or WIP. They have a great community to talk to. Also, I believe that you do not need to study to be a founder and lead a startup necessarily. The internet provides you with endless opportunities to learn everything you need – most of it even for free. Take advantage of it.
Read on to know more about Dominik Sobe and his journey.
Please tell me about your personal background, and what are you working on currently?
Dominik Sobe: I just graduated in Management & Economics from the University of Innsbruck and Hong Kong. I am a self-taught developer, and I have always had a huge passion for programming, design, and internet businesses. Mainly self-funded, bootstrapped ones.
I have been working on a couple of different products over the past two years. My most recent product is StorePreviewer – a tool that helps developers and agencies see what their apps will look like on the App Store without the need to publish it.
What motivated you to get started with your company?
Dominik Sobe: Three months ago, I started the development of Nutri, my second mobile app. An app that helps you learn about essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
Whenever I want to try out or publish a new app, I encounter this one repeating and very annoying problem: There is no way for me to see how my app’s copy and screenshots will look like on the App Store. Until now, I had to launch the app and then review it live on the App Store. This process is final and inflexible.
Playing around with various design software templates is nice for perhaps that one logo preview, but iterating over multiple screenshot ideas is quite cumbersome and takes a lot of time. I was not even thinking about doing it for multiple devices, dark and light mode, as well as the list and detail view. Optimizing your app’s copy and screenshots should be a creative, productive, and most essential fun process. This is why I created StorePreviewer.
How have you attracted users and grown your company from the start?
Dominik Sobe: It has been two weeks since the launch, and StorePreviewer already has hundreds of users. StorePreviewer has received a lot of positive feedback from the community, and I am super excited to be working on it.
What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue? What strategy worked best?
Dominik Sobe: StorePreviewer is currently free to use. It includes the essential functionalities to preview your app. However, there will be a premium version dedicated to the needs of developers and agencies. Some of the features that will be included are more supported devices, landscape, and dark mode, saving multiple app previews, analytics, and more.
How much money (funding) have you raised in total so far?
Dominik Sobe: StorePreviewer is completely bootstrapped and has not received funding.
What are some marketing tips to help maximize the success of a product launch?
Dominik Sobe: I think one of the most important things to do in the beginning is: Doing things that do not scale. Personally reaching out to early users, getting to know their problems and needs, and finding a way to create value for them is crucial. People tend to try to automate everything from the beginning. Still, I think the personal component can help you gain valuable insights and engage better with your potential future customers.
What is a good product launch checklist?
Dominik Sobe: There are already hundreds of great resources and insights on the internet. Medium is a good source. However, there are few things I would like to point out for internet businesses: Make use of websites and communities where early adopters gather around, such as Product Hunt or Hacker News. This is especially important for gathering feedback since these people genuinely want to help you. StorePreviewer got featured as one of the top five products of the day on Product Hunt with over 485 upvotes. This generated a lot of interest and, most importantly, new users.
- Track everything you do and measure what works and what doesn’t.
- Keeping track of your product’s mentions on the internet is also immensely essential.
- Especially on launch day, your engine is running on 110%, your thoughts are everywhere, and you have so much to do.
- Knowing exactly where and when someone tweeted, posted, or commented on your product can help you engage faster in discussions and answer possible open questions—all resulting in more satisfied users.
What’s the hardest thing about product launches?
Dominik Sobe: A product launch is a robust process. Who would have thought? Especially when you are just a one-person/women show. Lack of sleep, dealing with different times zones, high alertness on all possible events, promoting, engaging with communities, and answering feedback are just a small selection of things you are working.
You are exposing your product to people around the world. Hence, posting your pitch on forums, groups, etc. at the local peak times makes sense. For example, I currently live in Austria, which is 9 hours ahead of San Francisco’s PST time zone. This means launching at 9 am is a breeze for me. However, engaging with people who get off of work at 5-6 pm in California leads to dealing with the thought of whether I should or should not get the next cup of coffee at 2-3 am for me. This is also just the first launch day of your product. It is all possible – knowing what lies ahead of you, just makes it much more comfortable.
Another thing would be responding to harsh feedback: Knowing that the job you have been working on for weeks/months needs more improvement can sometimes be a bit, though. However, the sooner you launch – the easier it is to receive feedback and improve upon it.
What are the most common mistakes founders make when they start a company?
Dominik Sobe: There are a lot of mistakes one can make. Everyone makes mistakes – some are preventable, some are not.
One thing which is mostly overseen and also a mistake I have made a couple of times is the Product-Founder fit. Many people talk about the Product-Market fit, but there is also this measure of how well your startup fits you. In broad terms, you need to make sure that the business you are building aligns with your personality, skill-set, resources, and goals.
What do most startups get wrong about marketing?
Dominik Sobe: Not most, but some startups think that you need to be available and right at a dozen of marketing channels.
However, as correctly pointed out by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares in their book “Traction,” the best way for marketing is to narrow down to two or three channels that work and optimize them as best as possible. Also, knowing the difference between traffic strategies that will sustain a business such a mailing lists, organic search, and content vs. supplemental traffic sources such as social media and PPC advertisements is essential. An excellent resource for more tips like this is Rob Walling’s book “Start Small, Stay Small.”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? And What advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing similar things like yours or in a similar direction?
Dominik Sobe: Surround yourself with people who share the same or at least similar interests. The process of being a founder and leading a business is challenging. You have a lot of happy ups but also sad downs. Having people to talk to and share experiences with, as well as having people who support what you do and bring you up when you are down, is very crucial. If you don’t have people currently around you, reach out for online communities such as Indie Hackers, Maker Mag, or WIP. They have a great community to talk to. Also, I believe that you do not need to study to be a founder and lead a startup necessarily. The internet provides you with endless opportunities to learn everything you need – most of it even for free. Take advantage of it.
Another great advice I have read so far is from Patrick McKenzie:
Go to the gym like it is your job.
Being a founder is demanding – physically and mentally. I cannot stress enough how exercising helps me keep a healthy balance.
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