In this episode of the GrowthTLDR, we talk to PJ Taei, the founder and CEO of Uscreen, a platform to help people monetize their videos.
It's no secret that online videos are a rapidly growing market, and the pandemic has only added fuel to that fire.
We talk to PJ about how he bootstrapped Uscreen to 50 employees, with over 4 million active users on their platform.
We cover how challenging growth is, and the reasons Uscreen struggled in their first three years. We talk about Uscreen's current growth channels and if focusing on specific industries is a growth accelerator. And, PJ covers how he built the first version of Uscreen, and why he wouldn't recommend it to others.
Time Stamped Notes
[2:25] - PJ has bootstrapped Uscreen's growth by using funds from the sale of a previous company he founded and personally investing $500k. They're now at 50 employees, and make it easy for people to monetize their videos.
[5:05] - A lot of Uscreen's customers switch from WordPress, existing competitors, or are brand new. The new bucket has expanded rapidly during COVID.
[7:05] - Uscreen is an entirely all-in-one platform for video monetization
[8:55] - PJ doesn't plan to take on investment; it's not a priority for them. COVID's had a significant impact on Uscreen's business; they've seen a massive influx of new users.
[12:30] - You should never feel comfortable in business or your personal life; you always want to be pushing yourself. PJ does worry about an influx of capital to competitors in his market, but he doesn't feel money alone can be a deciding factor in who wins that market.
[15:00] - Uscreen struggled for the first three years they were in business. The main reasons for this were their product wasn't great, and they were very early in the market. Uscreen's first customers came from PJ directly selling to people selling online fitness and education DVDs. Uscreen differentiated themselves in their market by allowing people to create online channels people could subscribe too.
[20:30] - Today Uscreen's growth is a mixture of content marketing & SEO, referrals, and sales outreach.
[22:30] - Referrals are common in the industries that Uscreen targets like fitness, online education. PJ took advantage of that by launching an affiliate program that pays out 25% of customers subscriptions for any referral you make.
[23:45] - Uscreen's marketing efforts don't currently focus on specific industries. PJ would change that as the size of their marketing team grows. There are more than four million active users on Uscreen's platform. PJ helps video providers better monetize their audience by providing relevant data points, e.g., how best to use gift cards to convert more customers.
[25:30] - Uscreen provides a bootcamp for the fitness industry. It's an in-depth course that helps accelerate companies' success in that market to monetize their audience with Uscreen's platform.
[27:10] - Uscreen has a 14-day free trial to monetize their demand. It gives people a taste of the product to help them decide if it fits their needs. PJ feels Uscreen is a high-touch sale, and people need to be walked through the key benefits of the product.
[29:45] - One of the mistakes PJ initially made was trying to build all the features customers requested, instead of prioritizing those that mattered. PJ talks about how he prioritized hiring.
[32:30] - PJ talks about his experience building the MVP version of Uscreen through an agency. PJ wouldn't recommend this method for making your first MVP unless you've built software before and know precisely what you want. The main advantage of going through an agency is speed to market. The MVP version of Uscreen took four months to build. Once PJ hired a CTO, they completely rewrote the software.
[36:10] - If you don't have the technical skills to build an MVP version of the product yourself, you can try to find a co-founder. That can be a lengthy and challenging process.