How to grow from 0 to $10K MRR in less than 12 months after launching a product that failed

Kilian and Selim launched a product that no one wanted. How did they change the game in less than 12 months?

Ana Bibikova


The photo is a courtesy of Monde Des Grand Esecoles

Selim and Kilian, both talented engineers, were always fond of marketing. When they decided to apply to one of the French incubators they came up with the idea of a digital marketing agency that would do automated Facebook ads. Co-founders quickly jotted a draft of the MVP architecture — everything looked good. Aside from the part where they needed to automate the actual ad creation. They had no idea how to make the tool write a relevant copy plus add the visuals. That’s where they started digging deeper into AI-generated content.

End of 2020 — and GPT-3 released by OpenAI became a very hot topic in the startup industry. Everyone wanted to test it and see how far new technology can take automated content creation (Read another success story about a startup built on the AI-generated content
— We should give it a try — decided Kilian and Selim and built a tool MarkCopy that would allow users generate content faster. But that’s where they made a mistake.

Failed product

March 2021. Co-founders had to choose who would be their beta users. Whom do they target with the service? Who would potentially benefit from using AI-generated content?

Initially we thought: the most reasonable option would be freelance copywriters, — explains Kilian. — These people create content for a living and they would definitely love to have something that makes it easier for them, right? Wrong! When we started reaching out to freelancers they were like “we hate you, you’re going to steal our jobs’’. We got so frustrated. Only because we already had we were not completely discouraged by the failed launch. We decided to give it another try.

What made co-founders believe that the problem was not the product market fit but the wrong customers? The fact that the market was quickly becoming highly competitive. They just looked around and saw that there are other startups that do what they were doing, and that these companies were growing pretty…