Tom is obsessed with 2 things: entrepreneurship, and helping other founders and creators grow their revenue into something that pays the bills.
It all started in college where, weirdly, Tom chose an entrepreneurship class instead of a finance one. He then became obsessed with launching his own business which first happened in 2014. After raising capital but realizing his shortcomings, Tom headed out to get more experience in managing people, doing marketing and building products.
Fast forward to early 2021, Tom and his previous co-founder decided to work together again.
After observing the changes that occured in the past years, Tom thought the hardest part wasn’t to build a product anymore. It’s marketing, distribution, sales. With hundreds of tech products being launched every day, competition for clients is becoming fierce and most founders don’t make it.
After weeks of trial and error trying to solve part of this problem with his co-founder, he and Tom finally landed on Tweet Hunter, a product that helps its users grow an audience they can monetize on Twitter.
Where did the idea for Tweet Hunter come from?
We were trying to solve a problem: how can early-stage founders / indie makers find their first clients. Tibo (my co-founder) and I were testing out products, and as the “marketing guy” of our duo I was in charge of bringing in a few clients.
But that didn’t happen. Instead, Tibo was bringing in early users through his Twitter account (around 3-4k people at the time). I was left a bit disappointed in my own performance.
So I decided to start a Twitter account. And that didn’t go so well. Early days of tweeting are hard, and coming up with content on a regular basis took me hours.
At the time, we were playing around with a tweet database we had built, trying to find a use for it. And the idea came to us that we could sort it, classify it, and use it as inspiration for our own tweets.
That’s how it all started: Tweet Hunter came to life and later evolved into a very complete tool.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I work about 8-10 hours a day, and mornings on week-ends.
Here’s what a typical day looks like for me:
Coffee + Twitter notifications
Customer support emails
Checking yesterday’s numbers (traffic, sales)
Product work (feedback, mock-ups, prioritizing, etc.)
Customer support emails
Write a few tweets and engage with people on Twitter
How do you bring ideas to life?
My co-founder and I impose on ourselves only one form of validation: revenue.
Gathering emails, having people say they’re interested or they “would pay for it” doesn’t count. We either make revenue, or we move on.
With that in mind, we therefore need to build an MVP for each idea we want to test. So we set out to build them very quickly, along with a no-code landing page, and we see whether anyone puts in their card details.
If so, we may be on to something worth pursuing.
What’s one trend that excites you?
For me, Web3.0 isn’t what’s going to change the world and revolutionise everything. I’m fascinated by the tech and the possibilities, but to be honest I don’t feel it will change much about how we live (maybe I’m an idiot, who knows).
What I am excited about is people quitting their jobs and trying to make a living on their own. I sense people need more freedom and passion in their professional lives, and for many the best way to reach it is to just go out and try to make a living doing what you like.
That’s a truly world-changing paradigm. It’s a sizeable evolution of what humans consider to be important in their lives. Remote work, digital nomads, indie makers, “side hustlers”, all of these are signals of a meta trend that people are starting to hate their 9-5 and don’t want as much security as they once did.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I go to bed and wake up very early, around 5AM.
When I wake up I immediately start working (I’ll admit that, due to my business, checking Twitter notifications is work).
This helps me get so much done before most of the world wakes up. I get 3-4 hours where absolutely no one talks to me and I can just do deep work that requires concentration. It’s much harder for me to focus later in the day.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t go to business school. Go to engineer school or do some dev bootcamp or something.
Oh and start your Twitter account the day you learn how to write!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Change is not a risk. It’s a necessity if you want to do anything worthwhile in your life.
Let me give an example of what I mean by that:
Most people have no intention of ever becoming an entrepreneur, and many of my friends fall into that category. They often tell me that what I do takes “some serious guts”.
I strongly disagree. I would be absolutely miserable if I wasn’t a founder. For me, the biggest risk I can take is to remain at the same place for years with no end in sight. Change for me is not a risk, it’s the only thing that makes me want to keep going.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
It’s not a daily habit but rather an ongoing, sometimes unconscious thing that I do.
I regularly re-evaluate my goals and targets. Entrepreneurship is often made of desperate failure or incredible success. It’s very rare that early-stage founders reach 90-110% of their targets. It’s more often 5% or 500%.
And as a founder, exploding or completely missing your target has a huge impact on your personal life and goals which can quickly become overwhelming.
So if you don’t want to be desperate that you didn’t reach a goal, or so excited you lose your mind over beating one by a landslide, you need to keep a cool head.
Re-evaluating, thinking of the next step will make it all feel more maintainable.
As an example, Tweet Hunter started out with a $5K MRR goal in mind. It quickly became $10K. Then $40K. And now it’s $100K.
Likewise, personal goal started with paying myself enough to pay the bills.
Now it’s to possibly buy a house.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We partnered up with someone who had both marketing skills and a niche audience right into our target market. That took us from around $5K MRR to $15K MRR very quickly, and it keeps delivering results today.
I think now everyone has heard the general advice “build an audience before you build a product”. Unfortunately our audience wasn’t that huge when we launched, so we found a way to circumvent that.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My first startup was riddled with mistakes. The product consisted of a mobile app that motivated children to do their daily chores.
– I did not face the problem
– I did not know the target market
– We made a huge MVP before realising our design sucked for children and had to start over
– We hired too many people
– Raised too little or too early
That’s just too many mistakes to ever be successful. But it was a fun ride!
I didn’t overcome it. At some point I just moved on and came back to entrepreneurship later in life. Sometimes the best way to deal with a failure is to accept it and go on to other things.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
OK so I have an awesome idea that I am incapable of building (business school graduate here 👋).
It’s not a sexy idea which is why I’m sure it’ll work.
Scaling startups have a hard time with employee processes and SaaS. They go from 10 people to 100 in a matter of months, and all of a sudden they need to start controlling things.
– What SaaS do we subscribe to?
– How much are we spending for SaaS and for what departments?
– Who’s the admin?
– Who’s allowed to access it / have a license
– Who can cut the access if an employee leaves or gets fired?
Most of that tracking and authorization process is done with spreadsheets and emails.
Make a SaaS for that.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought a wine accessory that allows me to keep an already opened bottle of wine for weeks instead of days. A great investment because I often open a bottle that I don’t finish and after 4-5 days it loses most of its taste.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I have 3 chrome extensions:
– Colorzilla (pick colors from a page)
– Copy all URLs (to copy all open tab URLs to your clipboard)
And I couldn’t live without them.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’ve only ever read 1 startup book which is the 4-hour Work Week by Tim Ferris.
But if you want a short actual book to read I’ll go with Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. I’m pretty obsessed with mountain climbing and read the entire book in a day.
What is your favorite quote?
“Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.” – Elon Musk
Lol, quoting Elon Musk. How original!
- Idea validation can only come from revenue.
- Change is a necessity, not a risk.
- Adjusting your professional and personal goals frequently will help keep you sane.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.