#16: David’s AI side project is making $4K+ monthly revenue
Learn how to ship a no-code AI side project
Side hustles are a great way to upskill and learn about new technologies in the world. David started with a quest to learn AI and discovered a viral side project opportunity. His side project in three months has achieved milestones like
👀 1Mn+ visitors on the site
🤑 $30K+ in total revenue
🤯 $4K+ in MRR
David built an AI-based side project generating $4k+ MRR
David Bressler is a digital marketing graduate living in Florida with two kids. He has been working in marketing analytics since graduation and enjoys his job. Building side projects allows him to explore his interest and curiosities. He feels that one does not need to give up their full-time job to explore new interests. Side projects need a few hours daily, and "small incremental changes every day can lead to a big impact."
Quest for upskilling leading to finding a gap in the market
David was on paternity leave and had some free time. With the evolving AI landscape, he felt it would be a natural progression for his career in analytics. So he decided to start learning about AI. One night, he went down the rabbit hole of GPT-3. He spent the whole night asking GPT-3 hundreds of questions. And being in analytics, he uses Excel very often. He decided to test GPT-3's knowledge of Excel.
He started with simple questions and progressively made them more complex. The responses were mindblowing, and an idea stuck David. What if AI could generate the excel formula with text inputs? He searched Google to find if an excel formula generator existed. Nothing was in the market.
"I've worked in analytics. Everyone from interns to data analysts to CFOs and CEOs use Excel. One billion people use it, and even the most proficient ones Google for formula help. It was a no-brainer."
David saw this as an excellent opportunity to create a product that could bring value to Excel users. Since he had no coding skills, he built the product using No-code tools.
David had come to know of Bubble, a no-code web application tool with capabilities of integrating OpenAI API. He learnt Bubble on the go, watching YouTube videos, failing and learning. He would spend his nights reading API documentation for OpenAI. Soon the MVP was ready. He named it Excelformulabot. The app’s front end was simple, with just an input text box and an output box.
David wanted to test the ideas and get feedback from initial users. He posted about Excelformulabot on an excel subreddit. His Reddit post went viral and was reposted on another subreddit, where it received 10K upvotes.
He got his validation and decided to continue building it.
Unknown to him, a TikTok influencer with 4.5Mn followers posted about Excelformulabot. The video went viral, with 285K likes! David learned about the post a day later from one of his colleagues. Overnight, Excelformulabot had thousands of users.
Building upon the virality of the MVP with an incredible full-fledged product
The MVP was completely free, and the number of users skyrocketed David's API cost for a few weeks. He invested several thousand dollars before making any returns. But it did not worry him much as he knew he was building something worthwhile.
He started building the product with better flows and outputs. He added a monetization layer to the product by adding usage-based pricing tiers. And in September, he launched Excelformulabot on Product Hunt.
On PH too, the virality continued. The launch day has been the highest sales so far. Within three months of the launch, Excelformulabot has reached $30K in revenue, $4.0K MRR and 1.1Mn visitors.
The growth has been insane and mainly driven by organic marketing. The product has generated lots of traffic from social influencers sharing it on their profiles. David did not reach out to them, but the product’s benefits attracted them organically.
"Excelformulabot has been shared by several hundred because influencers LOVE promoting free tools to their audiences. TikTok and Twitter are full of 'productivity hackers' who freely promote websites that can help people be more productive."
The product growth has been amazing because of the unique combination of the product's usefulness, novel technology and generous free usage. David also capitalized on organic marketing by using social listening and being present in any conversation on social platforms that mentioned the “excel formulas” and sharing helpful tips.
Since the launch, many competitor products have also entered the market. But David is confident that if he continues to provide value, Excelformulabot will keep growing. He has some significant plans for marketing in the coming weeks! To manage his time between his job, family and side projects, he started getting help from freelance contractors.
"Don't recreate the wheel. There are now 10+ Excel AI generator websites and 50+ AI-based copywriting sites. If you think you offer something better/different, then build it, but why would someone purchase from you if it's the same as all the others? You better be damn good at marketing. Find a problem and build an answer."
Hustlers insights of the week
David's story is full of inspiration. He did not let the lack of skills or time stop him from solving a problem. He founds ways to overcome and shipped a product that users love.
Start with MVP and keep improving: You do not need a full-fledged product to start getting users. Even a simple MVP can go viral. David started with an MVP and progressively improved it. He built a good fan base through the MVP, ensuring the product's success before the launch.
Share your progress as you build: We live in a world crammed with information and products. For side projects, it gets even more difficult to market & compete with big products. But what can make a difference is building in public. Don’t work on your side project in stealth; instead, share your progress and learning at every step. David made a Reddit post immediately after building the product. He also keeps sharing the progress on Twitter and generating organic marketing.
Keep upskilling: Always keep your thirst for learning and upskilling alive. In your quest to learn novel ideas, you can discover an opportunity for a project that can make a big impact. David discovered the gap in the market for an excel formula tool because he started learning about AI.
Side Project Playbook: Launch your side project in 30 days
After enabling hundreds of builders, we are open-sourcing the playbook for FREE. When applied diligently, the playbook will ensure you can build & launch your side project.
It is not theoretical but put together in a way for the content to aid the building process.
The best part? People can join the community, too if they want to get feedback, find collaborators, find a tribe, and hang out with the best of the builders.
Would love for you to have a look at the playbook and share your thoughts/feedback/comments.
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