Update 1: Introducing Lowdown

By Steven Hylands on January 13, 2020

Welcome to the first-ever Lowdown progress update! You might be asking yourself “what is a Lowdown?” and “progress towards what exactly?”. Well, let me explain…

Lowdown is a new subscription software product that I (Steven Hylands) and Phil McClure have been building since September 2019. We’re a designer and a developer who’ve been working together in several Northern Irish tech startups for almost a decade, but this is the first time we’re going solo. Sometimes it’s scary to think that it’s now all on us, but it’s also incredibly liberating and we’re dead excited to finally be in total control of our own fate.

The journey so far

Until now we’ve been fairly quiet about Lowdown — focused on building an early version and on getting early feedback from our first beta testers, but today we’re stoked to bring Lowdown out of beta — launching our new website, a few new features, and the ability for users to become paying customers!

Since this is our coming-out party, we want to make a bit of noise, and we could think of no way better than by doing something a bit different. From now until the end of June we’ll be publishing weekly progress updates about how the Lowdown product and business are developing — specifically towards our own goal — $10k MRR (monthly recurring revenue) by the 1st July 2020. This is our first update. 🎉

We were inspired to do this by Jon Yongfook who is on a journey with Mojosaas to achieve $100k ARR within 12 months by bootstrapping different products. For our journey, we’ll be focusing on just one product – Lowdown.

Why $10k MRR by July?

We’re giving ourselves 6 months to solve a problem so well that enough customers will part with their cash, and hire our software to make their lives easier. If we can do that we think we’ll have proved Lowdown can become a successful business.

We arrived at this specific challenge for several reasons:

  1. $10k per month will enable us to cover costs and prove it can make enough money to pay ourselves a wage.
  2. At our current base pricing of $29 per month, that means we need 345 paying customers. That feels like a good challenge while still being achievable.
  3. We’re firm believers in the power of public accountability and by being fully transparent it will help push us to make it happen.
  4. Lowdown is one of the Ignite Propel Pre-Accelerator 2020 teams. It runs from 13th January-29th June - so timing-wise this challenge fits well.
  5. Finally, we hope that by sharing our experiences, we can help other founders learn from our successes and failures.

What our updates will cover:

Honest, transparent truths from the journey to bootstrap a new product from $0 in revenue (full disclosure we have received some equity-free grant funding). We have no proof yet that anyone will pay for Lowdown and we’re still unsure exactly who the right customer is for the product, but that’s what we’re hoping to work out. If you follow along you’ll experience the ups and downs alongside us as we grapple with learning what customers really want, developing the right features, working out how the hell to market the product and finding a payment model that converts.

Anything is possible, we could pivot the product in an entirely new direction in the search for a business that successfully solves customer pain points. If we do we’ll not be shy about why.

To top it off we’ll have insights from what it’s like being a startup in an accelerator — good and bad. Hopefully, they won’t throw us out for revealing our issues while we’re still there. 😀


So what exactly does Lowdown do?

Glad you asked! Lowdown turns the best Slack community content into a weekly newsletter.

The idea originated from my own experience starting a public Slack community — Impact Makers. As the membership grew I noticed that many new members would join only to never engage. I wanted to find a way to reengage these members so they could gain value from the community, but since they often were already gone, it was hard to get them back to Slack. That’s when I had the idea to deliver them the best content from Impact Makers in a weekly newsletter, so members don’t miss out and can be guided back to get involved.

Lowdown in its current form does just that but there are so many ways to use Slack that we’ve already become aware of several other potential use cases which we hope to explore over the coming months. In a way, this is actually our main problem — to work out which use case to focus on that will maximise our chances of making Lowdown a profitable business.

We’re most comfortable starting by solving our own problem. However in order to make Lowdown a success, we need to learn if it solves the same problem for other Slack communities to a point where they’d happily pay Lowdown to do the job for them — and that’s what we plan to figure out as quickly as possible.

Let the fun begin!

Did you find this update useful and would like to follow along with our journey? Then subscribe below to get a weekly report on our progress and learnings delivered to your inbox.


Steven Hylands

Steven is a co-founder and CEO here at Lowdown. He's obsessed with finding signal amongst the noise of real-time chat.