Developing Instapages: With the Right Vision, Sacrifices Are Worth It!
The story behind the most successful landing page creator currently in operation - Instapage, is perhaps among the most inspiring ones in the world of entrepreneurship. This company is all about million dollar revenue and hundreds of employees right now, but where was it just six years ago and how did it get there?
The founder, Tyson Quick, was persistent in making his idea work! From sleeping in his car to creating a million-dollar company, he never let his dream go - bootstrap, or nothing!
This is the story of Tyson's sacrifices for his ideas.
A Simple Sacrifice Will Help Your Business
Tyson Quick, founder and CEO of Instapage, gave up whatever was in the way to make his startup work. He had the idea and the vision, knew how to create it, make it happen but didn't have the support he needed. When we say support we mean finances above all, of course.
He was just a young marketer and entrepreneur with a pure ambition to make it in this crowded world. Like most educated young people, he had the option to simply go and work for someone, sparing himself the stress young entrepreneurs go through. However, he knew that he wanted to make his vision a reality, and for him, that meant giving something up to make something new!
That's when he decided to move to San Francisco, where he would sleep in his car for a few months in order to save up money for his product. He would shower and stay fit at the gym and he'd find every other possible shortcut in life to help him launch his startup.
Human willpower at its finest!
Once he got to San Francisco, the ball started rolling.
Vision And Will Are More Important Than Investors
Tyson was just like every other young man trying to make it. But, he had something others didn't have - patience. He knew he couldn't have it all at once, and was highly aware that the fancy offices and desks come years after the product launches and proves its quality. Demand for his product was going to determine his future and he knew it.
His story actually begins with a desktop software application called Hummingbird. Tyson made the app to experiment with affiliate marketing, and since it went well, he exceeded $1M in revenue in a matter of months. Throughout this experiment, he learned that the process of affiliate marketing needed some improvement. For example, he didn't like the fact that he had to market his product to affiliate marketers before they would start promoting it.
He wanted to find a shortcut towards product discovery.
So, that's how his next project was born - Jounce.
Some three years before the launch of Instapages, Jounce had a seed funding round, which turned out to be a waste of time. Jounce was built for running digital advertising campaigns. Lucrative - only at first sight, as he initially saw a 5% click conversion rate from ads, which then turned into 3%, meaning he was losing 97% of the money, because those clicks didn't actually turn into sign-ups.
With the gift of patience, Tyson didn't waste any time chasing angel investors, begging them to drop some money into his business. Instead, he worked tirelessly on the beta product until he was sure that it would get traction once launched. Just to be clear, Tyson wouldn't reject any money coming from seeders, but he simply did not have the time to chase them! Dedicating his time to the product was absolutely necessary because otherwise, the company could have easily stagnated and failed.
This was a real win for him as he also got to keep most of the company. Steadily, he continued to build a sustainable product that would later start to bring in serious revenue, quickly growing his business capabilities.
Finally, in 2014, the product was placed on the market - and just as Tyson anticipated, it started getting traction right away! It has proved to realize a much higher ROI on advertising, adding efficiency while saving resources - most of all, valuable time. His days of living in a car were over and he could once again afford to pay his bills and have normal showers at home!
Turns out, not chasing money and giving away his company worked out for the best, but that wasn't the key to getting his first customers: he simply had a good product which spread through the digital marketing world like wildfire!
Why Landing Pages
With that 3% signup rate on its ads, Jounce wasn't exactly doing great. Tyson needed a lot more money to develop it the way he wanted, and if it wasn't for that conversion rate 'failure', he would have never thought to create a product that would streamline the process of scale-deploying landing pages.
After things went downhill with Jounce and Tyson pivoted towards Instapage, the bank account was again, almost empty. This resulted in laying off nearly the entire team, but he retained two of the best contractors - one in Poland and one in Romania. He couldn't even afford rent anymore. He would spend half the month sleeping in his car, working out and showering in the gym, and half renting Airbnb-s, as they were all he could pay for.
However, it soon became clear to him that conversion rates are much higher when you build a landing page for each ad campaign. This was due to the fact that the relevancy is greater from app to page.
Back then it wasn't really possible to do this at scale. Tyson found it simply ridiculous that people would engage with the ad and still end up not buying. They showed interest in the ad, but something was driving them away. So, he started searching.
"Was it the design?"" he asked himself, "Because if you're going to have a creative and unique ad, why would the landing page not match?""
That's where it clicked. Focus on just one problem, one that bothers a lot of people.
Solve it and you've won!
In the beginning, he had truly minimum funding - less than $75,000. He knew he had to get revenue as quickly as possible, so he went after the lowest hanging fruit - low value, but easy to find customers, who were also very forgiving of the minimally-viable products. The first price ever for the Instapages product was $5 per page. The fact that they were so affordable brought them tons of initial customers and allowed them to generate enough cash, first to pay their bills and then, grow the company!
Of course, this was not the end goal. In the next phase, the company increased prices and moved to a more sustainable paying plan. The product was still not perfect, and their ideal buyer's persona was not yet created in their minds. However, they were ready to introduce their monthly paying tiers, which started at $17 per month and went up to $97 per month.
That's basically how you bootstrap a company. After surviving this initial period, everything else came far more easily for Instapages, as it often does with brilliant but unfunded start-ups.
Tyson didn't have 'a book of success' to follow. By 2017, only five years after it was conceived and three after it was launched, Instapage booked a yearly revenue of $19.2 million, including $3.5 million in funding.
In 2018, they attracted a serious investment amounting to $15 million in Series A funding by Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, aiming to introduce post-click optimization to a bigger audience.
The path has not been easy for Instapage.
From a startup founded by a guy living in his car - to a company that currently employs some 150 people from all around the world. The platform is growing more powerful with new tools and plug-ins, developed practically on a daily basis.
Instapage has become the bible for digital marketers with 90% of their clients using the platform to run campaigns on Instagram and Facebook. The team is now able to take your business to a whole new level!
Verizon, eBay, Vimeo, Soundcloud, Marriott, Yamaha, SurveyMonkey… These are just a few of the companies whose conversions are driven by Instapage.
Tyson witnessed how tough things were, and he survived many ups and downs. However, this story has a happy timeline, not a happy ending. The ending is still unknown.
What is known is that persistence, courage, and vision will find the right way - even if you have to shower in a gym!