It’s been a while! I’ve been really scratching my head on what to do with these posts. The stuff that is most natural for me to talk about is business and product development related, but that’s not really what people care about reading. I think people want to read about American manufacturing, boycotting China, stuff like that, and I’ve had a much harder time writing good content related to all that. So I didn’t post until I could figure it out, but since we’ve made a number of changes recently I wanted to make a large update here, and hopefully I will resume regular blog posts that focus on American/Western manufacturing in the future.
2 days ago we ended our beta. We had been open for around 6 months, letting people use the software and give us feedback. After that time we felt we were at a stage where we could end the beta and see if people were willing to pay for what we’ve made, and I’m very happy to say some people are.
How the extension works now is there are 3 tiers.
- The first tier is by people who have downloaded it and don’t have an account of any type, with that tier we show you the items we’ve identified on the page that are Made in USA, and a few from our database.
- The second tier is still free, but happens once you’ve made an account. We ask people to make an account when they access more results so we can put some thresholds in place. We are worried someone will come and copy everything we’ve done. It’s also easier to communicate with those users, and we can easily give free upgrades during special times of the year.
- The third tier is our Plus plan. For $2 or $3 a month you get full access to the results we’ve found.
The Plus plan is our only source of revenue. I’ve had quite a few people get concerned about us selling data, or assuming that the listings in the extensions are ads or sponsorships. We don’t sell data. The only thing we use from the anonymized searches we see are the terms, so we can make sure we’ve got good results.
The listings in the extension are researched by us, they aren’t ads or sponsorships. Our guiding philosophy is to make something really great. Our hope is we can make enough revenue from selling Plus plan subscriptions that we can continue with the extension like this, where our incentives are just to make it as good as possible. Adding advertisements or prioritizing certain companies would detract from the user experience, and that’s not what we are looking to do.
We made our big website change, which I’m very happy with. The one part I want to improve touches on everything I’ve written so far in this blog post actually, I don’t think people can find information about the tiers or about our revenue model easily enough. I’ve been brainstorming how to get that across in an elegant fashion.
In the next few weeks we will continue adding tons of brands and making our extension better, as well as improving the front end and adding a referral program.
We’ve also been actively researching, but not quite as fast as before. I’m very involved in that and I’ve been spending a lot of time on the website and stuff. However once the referral and front end is better we look forward to swinging around and improving our back end processes, which would make it faster.