I don't get it, how does something like tally.so succeed?

First and foremost, this post is not intended to criticize https://tally.so/. I’m genuinely delighted by their success. However, it does leave me somewhat perplexed about how to identify a successful product idea. They seem to be achieving $70k in MRR.

How can a form builder thrive in such a competitive market, given the abundance of similar products?

Did they validate their idea by seeking input from users to discover what shortcomings existed in existing form builders?

What specific problem does their product address that sets it apart from others?

Does it just not always matter what the product is as long as you have a good marketing strategy?

I must really be missing the bigger picture here of what makes a successful product…


By spamming forums with links to their site.

Okay, relax, I’m kidding… unless you really are spamming, then tsk tsk, Heyrio. :wink:

Truth be told, I am fascinated by exactly the same thing. How do these folks do it, and why in the hell have I not been able to figure it out myself after the better part of 6 years on a platform that has given me the ability to build pretty much anything I want? I know I’m not the sharpest spoon in the shed, but it feels downright embarrassing at times.

Good for the folks who are killing it, though, because I’m sure none of that success comes without a ton of hard work.

Marketing is incredibly important and there are numerous ways to do this. Additionally, there are numerous tricks that a company can incorporate into their promotion of their product to have a greater reach and market penetration. Finally, there is also the idea of leadership and follow through. Some people might have the same idea, same product, and same general sense of marketing, but lack the leaderships follow through and consistency.

One of the best lessons I learned in marketing at a young age was from a landscaper. Like most landscapers in USA, he was an immigrant, who worked as hard as every other landscaper, immigrant or not, and used the same tools and technique for cutting grass as all other landscapers. The difference between him and others, was that he successfully penetrated the market in the uber rich neighborhood while other landscapers failed.

His trick was simple he told me…he charged 150% more than any other landscaping service, and that trick led to the perceived extra quality by the rich clients he targeted.

Lots of ways to trick the consumer, and they can be learned. You could start by researching the psychology of marketing/advertising and how marketers make use of the understanding of human psychology to influence their target audience. A simple technique like this is the idea of ‘scarcity’, which plays into the same internal brain reactions we humans have when we yawn as we see another person in our vicinity yawn. We yawn because our brain interprets the other person yawning as a sign of a lack of available oxygen and so we ‘greedily’ attempt to draw in more oxygen than we may need simply to ensure we get our oxygen before it is fully depleted. It’s like a person who has the salt in front of them, and when another person at the table requests them to pass the salt, prior to making the pass, they use the salt, out of an involuntary response to the suspicion that there may not be any salt available once they no longer have control of it, so use it while you have it available. When a product has limited supply and is scarce, it can lead a great deal to increase in sales.

Apple is an incredibly valuable company, not because they make great products alone, but because they have very smart individuals who perform all the mathematical calculations to determine how many iPhones to release and when and at what price point (ever notice first release sells out fast, and later releases come with reduced costs?).

Perceived value is incredibly valuable to companies. It is why luxury brands like louie Vutton will burn unsold items rather than sell them at a discount. It costs the company less to burn them than it does in loss of perceived brand quality when they choose to sell the items at a discount.

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Ha! That is a strategy, but sadly, this one is not mine.

It’s hard to figure out; I’ve read and researched a lot. What I’ve come to find is that there’s a lot of conflicting information. That’s why lately I’m trying to really deep dive and analyze others’ success to see what they’re doing right.

His trick was simple he told me…he charged 150% more than any other landscaping service, and that trick led to the perceived extra quality by the rich clients he targeted.

Alex Hormozi actually talks about this a bit, people will perceive more value if a product is a bit more expensive.

People are weird lol.

It might be urban legend or just me making it up in my head, but I think I remember something about the pricing thing (higher pricing, that is) leading to the success of one of the major shoe brands. It might have been Timberlands or Doc Martens or another one like that (I’m too lazy to try to verify it right now), but I remember hearing they were ready to call it quits because nobody was buying their shoes. So, they said screw it, just mark the inventory way up, and who cares if any of it sells… and that’s when they started selling like hot cakes, of course.

On a completely unrelated note, I have a simple web app you folks can try if you want, and it’s $2,500/month because it’s super valuable. Just let me know if you’re interested. :wink:


Sounds great…but I’d only be interested if you made it so it was only available to a very limited number of users and more exclusive.


Sounds like Club Houses initial marketing :joy:

I remember when they came out you had to be invited.

Hell, I remember getting invited to Gmail forever ago (yeah, I’m old) by a friend who was a super Google insider at the time when Gmail was just starting, and not gonna lie, it felt like I had won some sort of lottery. I was so early that my friend told me I missed getting mike at gmail dot com (which would have been the best and worst email address ever) by literally a couple of days. Still a little bummed about that to this day.

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Rob Walling’s YouTube channel gives you the insights and education needed to start the next “tally…” from scratch. Very informative channel.

Also his books are great for this.

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First off, I know nothing about tally but the biggest thing to remember is $70k MRR is not that much. That’s 2,400 customers at their $29/mo price point. While thinking of that from a bootstrap 1-2 person team standpoint with 0 current customers it can seem like a long way away but with funding and the ability to dump $ into ads it’s not.

When relying fully on paid ads and email remarketing the avg acquisition costs for a new customer tend to range between $200-$900, this tends to be toward broader audiences. If your SAAS is hyper niched down (when with a low funded bootstrap startup it should be) you will have much lower acquisition costs and even organic acquisition.

However let’s assume a $500 acquisition cost per customer avg that’s roughly $1.2M. They don’t have much overhead outside of staff so assuming low churn will have initial investment + dev costs recouped after a year. To be conservative let’s say 3 years. This also doesn’t account for ongoing dev and such which are all write offs to reduce taxable revenue anyway.

A business model that can have you toss <$2M in and see a return and fairly passive income or asset to sell at a multiplier is a phenomenal return for any investor/founder who can afford it. To acquire 2400 customers even in a highly competitive market isn’t a hard feat with the burn rate to do so.

Edit: many times (not always) when going into products like this that are competitive and broad the founders or investors have some form of upper hand in the market, typically large already seasoned marketing pixels related to the target audience from other ventures so their acquisition costs are even lower and they aren’t starting from scratch.


I’m marking this as a solution to my question because it really makes a lot of sense and puts this in a perspective I hadn’t even considered. When I see success like Tally’s, I guess assuming that’s all organic growth with zero upfront investment, which is probably not the case.

Thanks for putting this into a perspective I hadn’t even considered. That actually makes a ton of sense.

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:raised_hands::heart:I’ll drop some more info for you and a couple book recommendations.

Subscription based SAAS is one of the best investment models you can get into. It’ll outpace real estate, stock market, scale beyond local businesses and more sustainable.

However for bootstrapped unfunded founders it’s a far different experience. It requires finding a firm solution to a complex problem because you don’t have the burn rate to waste.

This is where the idea of micro SAAS comes in. The most effective way to validate multiple ideas and find what scales.

When you find a problem that needs solved and the competition is slim but existing you can jump straight to MVP.
An example that I’ve personally profited off in the past about 2 yrs ago is crypto/NFT space. At the time to have an ethereum smart contract developed in solidity and NFT project generation done it cost between 3-10k on avg by manual developers. There was one tool on market that automated a part of the problem but was greedy and charged $1500 still.

I built a solution that did the whole process for $399, it developed the smart contract, generated, etc at a cost 10x under market going rate and had 1 main competitor at the time. In this case I jumped straight to MVP.

Refer to how @gaimed started CoAlias/SAASalias as well for another great example of starting small, validating, scaling.

In cases you’re not quite as lucky with timing and trying to validate a list of ideas to find what can scale to put time into building your mvp your best bet is to buy a few generic domains that can apply to multiple products, Use web flow, Clickfunnels, Wordpress etc build out a few generic funnels around your ideas with features and such listed and a very quick generic figma markup (upwork or fiverr speeds this up). They will be waitlist sign up forms.

Once you have a few you will launch fairly low budget paid ads around them ($250-500 per idea to run for 1-2 weeks) after which you access conversion rates and signups on each idea.

The goal here is to get base validation before building. As you do this it becomes cheaper as the ad account and pixel seasons and you can reuse on related products.

What’s working you can redistribute ad budgets from what’s not and replace what’s not working with new ideas.

Once you find an idea that converted traffic beyond everything else and had good amount of waitlist signups you move it to MVP. You can expect about 10-20% of your waitlisters to signup on mid ticket lifetime launch deals as you release the MVP. This will fund you enough to either further dev or advertise more.

Personally I prefer micro SAAS testing over throwing darts at a wall and hoping I hit a bullseye. It does involve initial risk trying to find and validate ideas though.

Few book recommendations:
The lean startup - Eric Ries
The SAAS playbook - rob walling
Getting acquired - Andrew gazdecki
Ask your developer - Jeff Lawson (more dev sided than idea validation good read though)