In 2009, I created my first startup with two friends. It was a voucher code site. They were all the rage at the time, everyone was doing it. We'd stumbled on the perfect domain and already had the framework in place from a previous project. From start to finish the first version was live in less than a week.
As the team was tiny we had to automate as much as possible. By sourcing voucher codes from data feeds we were very quickly able to offer vouchers for thousands of retailers.
Search engine traffic was key, so the first few weeks were spent begging for links from any relevant source. Within about 6 months we were generating enough revenue to support ourselves (I'd moved back in with parents).
Based on this traction we were able to secure angel funding to accelerate our marketing efforts.
Email marketing was our biggest driver of traffic. People were encouraged to sign up to receive newsletters. They could also sign up to be alerted when their favourite stores had new discounts and create a personalised list of discounts based on their interests.
Unfortunately, we were at the mercy of Google to supply us with a steady stream of new visitors. We were hit by a harsh Panda penalty and never recovered! We even made it into The Guardian's list of websites most affected.
FuelPHP, PHP, MySQL, Apache, Linux, SVN, jQuery, CSS, Photoshop
Co-founder & CTO