We Interviewed Mitch at Subflow About Their Journey To Finding Product Market Fit In Less Than 30 Days

Subflow

Found product market fit in less than 30 days

Industry: Software, Retail

Subflow Case Study

Full Interview Transcription

Steven:

Hello again. I'm Steven, and I'm here today with Mitch, the founder of Subflow. Mitch, it's great to have you on. How are you doing?

Mitch Lawson:

Good. How are you?

Steven:

I'm doing well. Thank you. I want to get to what's new and exciting with you guys, what's on the horizon, and talk a little bit about your work with WeAdvertiseYourBusiness. But first, can I just get you to tell me a little bit about yourself and a little bit about your company?

Mitch Lawson:

Yeah, my name's Mitch Lawson. Like you said, I'm the co-founder and CEO of Subflow. We started the business in July of last year, did a bunch of early feedback and reaching out to target customers and getting feedback on what we were trying to build, which shaped the product today, which we're really excited about. I actually come from a military background. That's one of the first things I did out of school and then transitioned actually somehow into product management in the tech side at a company called Lonely Planet, which is a travel media brand. And worked my way up in the product management side of the house and just fell in love with digital products and continued to create and ideate on different ideas I had, which landed me at the current position at Subflow.

Steven:

Okay, cool. So, I mean, can you tell me a little bit about Subflow and sort of where this idea came from? Because, I mean, listening to your background, you have interesting experiences, but none of it screams online fitness training to me.

Mitch Lawson:

Yeah, definitely. I would say I'd be more the user of the product versus the actual somebody that subscribed to the fitness side of house. We at Lonely Planet, the idea actually started there, we implemented a subscription product for that company. And it took months. Lots of developers hacking together different solutions and trying to make an easy to use subscription and engagement tool for our subscribers at that company. We had tons of resources, lots of money behind it, a lot of great resources and a huge brand, but the process was just very disjointed and it ended up with a half a subscription product at the end of that project.

Mitch Lawson:

So my co-founder and I actually started to think about how there's a lot of small businesses out there that have great content, great services that they can offer around a subscription-based product, getting reoccurring revenue on a monthly or yearly basis and really growing and scaling their subscriber base, but they don't necessarily have the tools or knowledge or resources to really implement those. So we started to think about, how can a company use a tool that can do, really, two things? They need to be able to quickly collect payment and manage subscribers and communicate and engage their subscribers themselves with the content or services they offer.

Mitch Lawson:

So we started to focus in on fitness trainers. I love running, I love going to the gym, but I don't have time to actually engage with a coach. I don't of time to go every morning and get the workout in or have different meetups or whatnot. But I would love a way to easily connect with them on a virtual basis. So that's where honing in on fitness came from. We think Subflow has a lot of use cases. We're just focused on fitness and health and wellness first.

Steven:

Okay, yeah. So what is it about that sort of sector that makes it a good use case? And I'm curious if there are other potential ones that are similar?

Mitch Lawson:

Yeah. There's definitely plenty of apps that are built for trainers to run their programs on, but we found from a client perspective, and that's where I would be coming from, I don't have time to download and use another app and upload a ton of information and data. Really, what I'm looking for is a connection to a coach. I'm willing to pay a coach to update me a couple times in a week on what I should be working out on, maybe a meal plan or things to watch out for.

Mitch Lawson:

And then really the accountability, "Hey, how'd you do this week? Did you follow through on this plan? Where was your weaknesses? Where were your strengths?" And have that really direct communication line without having to go to the gym or without having to download and use this robust app or upload all this information. I just need that coaching aspect, right? The conversation, the accountability, and the planning. So, yeah, there's definitely apps out there that do have a more robust thing specific for trainers or wellness professionals, but the whole idea of Subflow is just that connection between coach and client more than building in a lot of tools that make it more complex.

Steven:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Totally. And you mentioned, I mean, this is a very young company. When did you guys start?

Mitch Lawson:

So the company was launched in July of 2021, really just an ideation phase. We had a hypothesis of connecting these two things and had an MVP shortly after that we used to talk to potential customers just to get feedback, just to get interest and see where the pain points were. And that's, again, we were focused on the fitness and wellness sector. But we started to get this common theme. Even though you could have maybe a great system in place or using a great app that's already in existence, getting adoption from their user base was difficult, and actually reengaging the user base was difficult, whether that's even apps. Say if you have an app and trying to send a notification and getting somebody to log the fitness for the week or day, getting them to communicate through this app or answer an email is extremely difficult.

Mitch Lawson:

So that's when we started to think about SMS or just communication in general. What is the number one form of communication that people actually engage with? And SMS kept coming back as by far the best in terms of open rate, read rate, and then the engagement or click through of somebody taking action with the message you send them. So that's where we started to think, "Okay, what if we tied SMS to a subscription program?" And then around that, once that was established, then you could start to add other features that'd enhance the program or the software for the business owner.

Steven:

Gotcha. And you guys recently closed a round of funding, is that right?

Mitch Lawson:

Yeah, we did. So in the July through most of the fall, we were able to have enough traction and enough feedback that formed the overall idea and concept of Subflow. And we were able to take that and land our first round from a private investor.

Steven:

Yeah, well, very nice. So, yeah, I'm curious what other use cases or just, if you don't have other ones that you're testing out or that you're thinking of, what are some things that you're looking for? What are some potential directions you can see this going?

Mitch Lawson:

Yeah. So, I mean, well, like you said, fitness and wellness is the first audience that we're focused on talking to now, as a starting point, but we can see Subflow branching out really to any business, or influencer, or content creator that has value that they can provide on a recurrent basis, leveraging Subflow to create the subscriptions and deliver content or value. So think any service provider, so housekeeping or lawn care, they come to your house on a reoccurring basis and perform a service. And you're paying them on a reoccurring basis, giving them a way to not only collect that payment without having to knock on your door, or Bimo, or some other means. They can collect their payment on a recurring basis. And then they can also use Subflow as a communication tool for scheduling, or updates, or new services when maybe the grass is growing.

Mitch Lawson:

We're also interested in talking to people, influencers, creating content subscriptions around, they have millions of followers on Instagram, and being able to pull them off the specific platform and create value outside of that platform so they're not beholden to whatever Instagram decides is important or not. Right? So things like that. Anybody that has followings or anybody that has services or content that somebody's willing to pay for on an exclusive or premium level, we think Subflow could be a great tool for them to manage those programs.

Steven:

Okay, yeah. Very interesting. I mean, that opens up quite a few doors, thinking about it like that. So, I mean, yeah, you guys are still clearly very early in the process. I'm curious, how did you get in touch with WeAdvertiseYourBusiness? And, yeah, what has your work with them involved so far?

Mitch Lawson:

Yeah. So Paul reached out on LinkedIn, picked up on the fact that I was a startup in that space and reached out and introduced his business. And that was something we'd been looking at. I come from a product side, obviously really engaged in the user experience and talking to users and understanding what their needs are. My co-founder is an engineer. So he's deep in code every day in a dark corner somewhere. But what we are really missing, something that I don't necessarily have the experience in, is the marketing and sales side of the house. Besides maybe emailing and talking to people when they come in and engage, or the people that do answer our emails, getting them on a call and demo, besides that, how do you scale that process? Right?

Steven:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mitch Lawson:

A startup has a million things going around. I'm handling product. I'm trying to do sales, trying to do marketing, and I'm doing the business side of the house and accounting. And there's two of us. Right? And my co-founder is constantly deep in building product and adding new features. We needed somebody to come in and really help us come up with a strategy more than, "Here, pay me this X amount and I'll go run off and do some things." And then when you stop paying, it's done. I need somebody to help craft a marketing strategy and a growth strategy that was, A, scalable, but B, I could take on after we quit engaging with WeAdvertiseYourBusiness, if that ever happens. And Paul was able to provide that. He was able to come in and build a framework for us, and not only set it up for us, but also teach us how to run the strategy ourselves. And we're already seeing that pay off.

Steven:

Yeah. So can you tell me a little bit about the strategy and what kind of results you've seen?

Mitch Lawson:

Yeah. So I think the first thing, and again, we just got started not too long ago, but one of the first things that we see paying off is just our direct outreach, finding a way, messaging, finding a way to connect to our target audience. One way we're doing it is through LinkedIn and automating a process where we're outreaching to people within our target audience, which is the health and fitness sector right now, but target having specific message to them and then setting it up with software that can automate that process. And I constantly have leads coming in where I'm not cold emailing and spending hours reaching out. So when somebody does engage with us, we're able to get them on the demo and start educating them about Subflow. So that's where my time's being spent versus prospecting, spending hours trying to find people to talk to. Paul's process helps all of that.

Steven:

Is that how that was your approach to marketing before?

Mitch Lawson:

Oh, yeah. Yeah. It was an Excel spreadsheet and going through Google and trying to pull emails off of random websites and then outreaching, which would take hours.

Steven:

Yeah, yeah.

Mitch Lawson:

Yeah, definitely. I might as well be walking door to door.

Steven:

Yeah, exactly. So, yeah, I mean, I'm glad to hear that there's a little bit more of a formalized and more painless and more profitable strategy in place. So, I mean, yeah, you guys are, you said, very young and we've already talked about some potential avenues that you might go down, but I'm curious what's on the horizon maybe in the next 12 months for you guys. What are your hopes for that period of time? And what are you excited about going forward?

Mitch Lawson:

Yeah. Our primary focus is launching Subflow, which should happen in the next month with our beta customers, and talking to as many potential customers as possible, collecting the feedback, finding product market fit. We know we're not going to have all the answers or all the features for everybody, but the quicker we can get this in the hands of actual users and start collecting that feedback is our main goal. So I'm looking forward to launching and finding that product market fit, and then hopefully going after our next round of funding so we can really scale and take this past six months and future six months and just compound on the growth that we've already had.

Steven:

Very cool. Okay. So finally, I guess I would just ask, what would you say to others who may be considering working with WeAdvertiseYourBusiness, potentially people in the very early stages, such as yourself?

Mitch Lawson:

Yeah. If you're early and you're funded and you have a startup and you don't have the expertise that Paul brings to the table around growth and marketing, it's worth the money getting in earlier, getting that framework, learning yourself on how to run that side of the business, because without customers, your product's dead. So the sooner you can get people in the door and start thinking and talking about your product and speaking to you, the better. And then just optimizing. So it takes time, a lot of these practices that we're putting in place. You have to open up the top of the funnel and get people coming in the front door. So the sooner you get that, the sooner you'll have customers using your products. So, yeah, I'm fortunate Paul found us early and we jumped on it. And, yeah, thankful to have him part of our team right now.

Steven:

Yeah. That's a good point, I guess. If you wait until the product is completely ready to go to start thinking about marketing, you're going to be way behind, aren't you?

Mitch Lawson:

Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Our product's not even launched yet, and we're already talking to users and building a list of beta customers. Right? I can't have them sign up yet because we're not technically launched, but there's already people waiting at the door to try out Subflow. And Paul has helped, enabling that top of the funnel and figuring out what's working, trying different ads and optimizing and having those funnels ready to go. And when we are launched, you can expedite by growing your ads and putting more money to ads or doubling down on your direct outreach. There's different mechanisms, but you can figure out what works early so those funnels or, I guess, streams of potential customers are ready to go when you're ready to launch.

Steven:

All right. Well, yeah. I mean, you guys are in a very exciting position. I look forward to seeing what is on the horizon for y'all. But, yeah, Mitch, thank you for stopping by and chatting with me.

Mitch Lawson:

Likewise. Thank you for having me.