SleepyClean

What I learned from a landing page

Recently I’ve been working on canvas and landing page for a Muse business.

SleepyClean Lean Canvas
SleepyClean Lean Canvas

Let me explain where I started:

What I was aiming for

Dave suggested to me that I might want to look at Tim Ferris-style Muse-businesses – lifestyle businesses that might at some point generate passive income. Not startups. By listening through some of the examples, I figured that finding a niche that you could get someone else to do all the fulfilment for was the aim.

The problem

I saw some people chatting on twitter about how to get their down sleeping bags cleaned. They linked to a poorly written page on a cleaning company website that explained you could post them your sleeping bag, with a cheque and your contact details, and they’d send it back. It seemed that unless you knew about this page, there’d be no way you’d find it.

Down (feather) sleeping bags are quite delicate, and so cleaning them seems a faff, you have ~5 options:

  • Don’t clean
  • Hand wash in the bath
  • Machine wash (perhaps using a special product
  • Dry clean
  • Get professionally cleaned by specialists

Some people recommend different things. Most of the labels on the sleeping bags tell you not to do anything. I’ve washed mine in the washing machine before, but drying it was a pain. It’s not easy.

Synthetic sleeping bags are somewhat easier, more robust, often cheaper, and people seem more comfortable washing them as normal.

Minimum viable research

I posed this question to my twitter followers:

How much did you pay for your sleeping bag?

The results:

  • 30% paid over £100
  • whilst 21% paid over £150.

My guess was that the owners of the more costly sleeping bags (often down ones) would want to look after them better.

Minimum viable landing page

SleepyClean
SleepyClean

I used a template to put together a quick landing page, did some bootstrap+mailchimp hack to get a popup saying “we’re not quite ready” if anyone tried to order, hooked in the analytics, and at last minute, removed most of the references to me from the page.

You can take a look at either a full page screenshot, or the site itself if it’s still online.

Stealth testing

I posted the landing page to my facebook, probably breaking Tomer Sharon & Steve Blank’s rules, and without hinting that I had anything to do with the site, posted a link and:

How do you wash your sleeping bag? Anyone got experience using anything like this?

Sleepyclean - full page screenshot
Sleepyclean – full page screenshot

I was lucky to get an interesting stream of advice explaining how people currently did it:

  • suggesting I bought a down wash thing, and took it to a laundry
  • they always dry cleaned
  • they washing machine/laundry
  • “If the label says not to machine wash, you can probably ignore it”
  • many synthetic sleeping bag owners put their in the washing machine
  • “I wash my down bag on a cool, gentle wash with a down wash that I got from Cotswold. Then tumble dry it on a low heat for multiple hours with a couple of tennis balls to keep it fluffed up”
  • “How much do you lot piss and vom in your bags!? I’ve never washed mine. Just air it out in the sunshine.”
  • “I washed my down bag once. Never again – it took forever to wash, even longer to dry, then sat for hours teasing the down clumps apart. After the bottle of special down soap, long cycle on the machine, and hours of tumble drying down the laundry, fifty quid isn’t far off the cost of diy. Avoid having to do this too often by always using a bag liner.”
  • “I recommend I send our down bags to them every year to get professionally cleaned. It costs £35 I think per bag plus £10 postage. They are in and when I searched a few years ago for professional cleaners of outdoor stuff they were the only ones mentioned in the UK. They can also make repairs and add feathers. Wouldn’t dream of putting my £300 down bag through a normal washing machine!”

I did similar on twitter, and got a similar range of replies.


The last two replies give a kind of hope – there’s one person saying that they’d pay for it, and another person saying that they have in the past. These are reassuring responses.

In a sense, replies like this:

aren’t a problem at all – they demonstrate people who aren’t in the target segment, who struggle to imagine what it’d be like to be in the target segment. If you don’t have a £300 sleeping bag, it’s fairly difficult to imagine there are people who do.


The future

Having said all that, I think this may be the end of the road for this idea. I’m going to keep the site live, and I’ll keep an eye on the stats, but I have some worries about it that put me off investing further in it at this point:

  • The revenue/markup is too low
  • and the market is too small.

The revenue stream that I can imagine is very weak. The operating profit I can visualise, is quite meagre, and I can’t think of a way to streamline that without being a laundry.

The market seems smaller than I’d hoped for, and to need the product even less than I predicted. As in, even people who would use it, would seek to avoid using it as much as possible. It makes loads of sense, I just failed to predict that clearly.

Data

Not one person who has visited the site has clicked the buy buttons, or signed up to the mailing list.

  • 0% conversion.

Reflections

  • This is a good thing. I have learnt all this before investing greater time & energy
  • I perhaps could have got similar learning by posting a competitor website to facebook and asking the same question
  • testing in my facebook friends is probably not good enough
  • I’ve learnt a lot about building landing pages, and this is perhaps one of the best things. I’m going to use those skills for my next thing.

Stay tuned, I’ll share more thoughts and learnings soon!

Learning Russian

Pursue Growth and Learning

This is a post from my My 20-day Zappos + Buffer Values Challenge

“Pursue Growth and Learning”

I love that this value can apply to personal growth and development and business growth and development. (Whilst it might not always be appropriate value for, say, a community enterprise that really doesn’t want to grow significantly, if growth is part of the plan, then focusing on it is very wise.)


In a business situation, pursuing growth seems logical, but codifying it as an aim – makes it clear that the business doesn’t want to stagnate, and seeks continual improvement in everything it does..

If you view everything as an experiment with aims to increase growth and learning, then it means everything you do will have a positive outcome if you grow and/or learn from it.

If you take that to the extreme, it’s the Lean Startup Methodology. You may not want to apply it to everything you do to the extreme – but even

“We tried putting tea cakes in the toaster. It sort of worked, but now the toaster smokes a lot, so work out another way to toast your teacakes or work out a way to do it less smokily.”

is something learned from an experiment.


When you’re making things happen:

  • Pursuing growth is good
    • because it means you can work out how to help more people
    • makes you think about learning how you can grow
  • Pursuing learning is good
    • because you can understand what drives your customers, and what it is you’re doing that makes your customers really happy
    • because you can understand what drives your growth (maybe you want to pause your growth engine whilst you understand better what drives your existing customer from satisfied to super happy)

This is something I epically failed to understand a few months ago, which caused me to re-examine my approach to learning, and to look carefully at what I didn’t know about.


Books I've read this year
Books I’ve read this year

I didn’t have a smooth relationship with my schooling, so it was well after I’d left formal education before I realised I’d been learning for fun for a long time!

Academia and I didn’t manage to align perfectly, and the medium in which most academia is conducted (thorough literary explanations, rather than applying the learning to real life problems) didn’t work perfectly for me.


Possibly one of the more useful things I learnt from school was a lecture on how it’d be useful for to evaluate areas you’d like to improve, and then rather than just say “try harder” at, say French vocab learning, to put some plans down in concrete steps: “I’m planning to improve learning french vocab by making flash cards with each set of words, and learning each set of flash cards”.

Turning a set of intentions into the concrete next steps, and then applying them with the best discipline, can really help work towards goals.

I guess my aims for this year, and my commitments from 2013201220102009 to reflect on how things went, and plan where I want to grow myself have been quite helpful. Of course, this year, I’m staying slightly more on top of things, by reviewing things every 3 months.


My preferred way of learning has often been to have a go – make a breakable toy project around a problem or desire I had, and play around with it. I guess there’s been loads of these projects that quietly concluded, and from each of these experiences, I’ve learnt something about how to do things, how hard some things are, what works, what doesn’t, what interests me, what is quickly really dull. Sometimes weekend hacks, turn into larger things, like jobs, and often just trying to learn more about things helped guide ones path in the right direction.


One of my aims for this year is to read 24 books. I’ve not said whether they have to be fact or fiction, but currently my preference is very heavily on nonfiction that will help me understand more about things I’ve naive to. I don’t think the goal is super ambitious – it’s just meant to be achievable.


A word on TV:

I have an almost certainly slightly unfair and limiting mantra that TV limits learning, but what I suspect this comes from is that while *I* find TV entertaining, there’s rarely anything super informative in any field I want to learn about. For nonfiction, it’s just a less efficient knowledge transfer medium compared to text .

This means I almost never watch TV. This week, I watched the same amount of TV as I watch last week: 0 hours.

I like entertainment, but I tend to choose to have that in the form of action sports like hiking. :)