Building an app for virtual phone numbers
November 8, 2022projects
A couple years ago we set out to build an online fax service half jokingly as a way to launch a micro SaaS and play with the Stripe API and the Twilio API. It has since seen a number of record sales days and we've sent thousands of faxes.
I've been a Google Voice customer for over ten years. Initially I used it to setup a virtual business phone number for my web agency. I've since been trying to migrate from Google products for privacy reasons and then Google decided to sunset legacy GVoice accounts.
With a similar tech stack to our online fax service we thought we could spin up a Google Voice alternative service pretty quickly.
There are numerous solutions out there to setup a virtual phone number. But we thought we could create a differentiated product in a fairly mature market. Here's how...
- Privacy focused: private number, spam filtering (coming soon), encrypted messages
- Fair use, flat rate pricing: we don't charge per call or minute - just yearly prices based on features
- Focuse on the low end of the marketing: Solo founders, sweaty startups, and e-commerce store operators don't ned a thousand features
- A free phone number gives you a number you can share online to keep yours private
- Use it for customer support on your Shopify store to receive SMS and support voicemails
- Use it to activate your WhatsApp account
- Use it to receive SMS messages online
- Use it for call forwarding to your personal phone number
Everyone loves to learn how products are built. Our go to stack hasn't changed across all the produts we've built at It's Fine. This helps us to quickly and easily spin up new ideas to market.
Getting our first customers
We did what we have done for awhile... Built a bare bones app (that sometimes didn't work) and setup a couple landing pages targeting some long-tail SEO keywords. And then customers started showing up at our door and giving us money. Once that happened it was time to get feedback, iterate, and optimize.
A key lesson we have learned from this product is to keep the marketing site and web application separate. It makes it much less fragile and easier to iterate on both platforms independently.
And don't forget our first product if you need to send a one time fax online from your computer.