How I Built This In Public: Marie Martens
Lessons from building Tally.so from 0 to $40k MRR all in public
Hello everyone, it’s KP. Welcome to a brand new interview series I’m starting today.
It’ll feature top founders and creators who’re boldly building their projects, startups and creative ventures in public. My intention is to ask them a consistent set of simple questions and distill insights and lessons so we can all learn from their experiments.
My first guest is Marie, co-founder of Tally —a refreshingly simple way to create forms for free.
Without further ado, here’s the interview:
Hi, my name is Marie, and I am a co-founder of Tally. I was born and raised in Belgium and have a background in B2B marketing. Currently, I am building the simplest way to create forms with my co-founder and partner in life, Filip.
1. At what point in your startup journey did you begin your “build in public” journey and why?
We shared the early beta version of Tally on Twitter after working on it for 2 months.
We didn’t have a network to share it with, but we had to start somewhere 😅. Building in public allowed us to connect with potential users and build a community around Tally that could provide valuable feedback and support us.
2. What personal / business benefits do you believe you attracted from building in public?
I definitely helped us to build and grow an audience for both personally and for Tally. By sharing our bootstrapped story in an authentic and transparent way, we could establish trust with potential customers. Sharing your big milestones can also be a great way to attract new customers and generate buzz around your product.
3. In the early days, did you have any specific challenges or hesitations on whether you should build in public or not? If so — what were they and how did you overcome them?
I still struggle with finding the right balance between sharing too much and not enough. As a beginner, it's important to be honest about not having all the answers. As you grow, you don't want to appear self-centered by sharing your revenue. Additionally, sharing too much could lead to copycats, and your competitors are likely paying attention.Ultimately, the decision to build in public should be based on your business or personal goals and what you feel comfortable sharing with the world.
4. Are there any myths or misconceptions about building in public from before that were debunked by your personal experience?
I think building in public can be perceived as self-promotion, but I don’t see it as a crucial lead-generation channel for Tally (although it definitely can be for other products). I learn the most form other founders building in public, and for me it’s more about learning and providing value to others.
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5. What are your 3 tips for someone who’s just starting their “build in public” journey?
Be authentic and share your learnings, or provide context instead of making bold statements. Don't be afraid to share, as there is always someone who might be struggling with the same problem you had, or someone who might have a solution to offer.
6. In your experience, how did the 80-20 rule play out? What few vital activities of BIP do you believe have resulted in high leverage outcomes for you?
I've noticed that posts containing revenue milestones tend to work well, but they don't always provide the most value. To provide more value, I always combine them with an extended blog post containing our learnings from that phase. That's the type of content I'm looking for myself – not just what was done, but how it was done.
7. How much time do you allocate for building in public on a daily/weekly basis?
I don't consider myself an expert in building in public. It's not my main focus, and I try not to overthink it. I don't plan tweets; they usually just happen when I have an idea, and it takes me around 15 minutes to prepare them. Major milestones require more preparation, and I typically spend around 2 days writing the blog post and thread to announce them. I engage in conversations and try to help others when I have the time and feel like it.
8. How did you stay motivated in the early days when generally you don’t see quick results or super high engagement as you begin building in public?
Sharing definitely becomes easier when your business is growing and things are going well. I've noticed that I'm not as active when I'm stressed or too busy running Tally. Building in public or growing a Twitter following (where I'm most active) has never been the end goal for me. It’s something I enjoy doing, and it helps me look back and analyze the goals we have reached (or haven’t reached). I only share when I feel like it, which is the best way to stay authentic in my opinion.
9. How did you handle copycats while you built in public?
Simply ignore, and I try not to take it personally.
10. Who are 3 people you would recommend for others to follow in the BIP niche?
Tibo, Kevon, Arvid Kahl and Damon Chen
Other blog posts and Twitter threads where we can learn more about you/your story?
https://blog.tally.so/year-1-how-we-bootstrapped-tally-to-11k-users-and-5k-mrr/ (our most popular blogpost)
PS: Have you heard about the Fellowship program and community I’m launching? 👀
That’s a wrap for now! Hope you enjoyed this first interview and the new series.
Would love to hear any comments, feedback or questions. If you enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share the link on your Twitter, Linkedin etc.