by Mike Williams

How I built the Airbnb of music studios in a single evening

This is Part 1 of my How I series with freeCodeCamp I’m excited to share!

Sometimes you come up with an idea that you just know has to be built. That was the case I came up with Studiotime, which started as a simple marketplace idea for artists to book music studios. Today, it’s the largest online marketplace for music studios!

The Initial Idea Phase

The idea for Studiotime came to me one evening and I immediately started searching Product Hunt and the “Airbnb for x” collection. I assumed I would find that this idea had already been built. Much to my surprise, though, I could not find anything similar. That is the moment when I committed to building Studiotime.

As a serial maker and entrepreneur, I try to have a process and workflow when I get started with projects so that I can optimize both time and resources. In this case, I had little to no resources or help, thus I set these rules for the creation of Studiotime:

  1. Come up with a catchy name and logo in minutes. Do not do explore design/branding initiatives for the MVP.
  2. Use pre-existing technology/code as much as possible and do not reinvent the sharing economy marketplace on the tech side (I used Sharetribe).
  3. From idea to a functional prototype should not exceed one evening and that would be the cutoff. I had cancelled dinner plans once I committed to the build. By the end of the evening I would have an MVP for Studiotime or I would put this idea on the back burner so I could focus on my daily work with Thinkbox during the work week.
  4. Following the evening build of Studiotime, the next day would be spent trying to convince a few friends to signup that were in the industry, so I could validate that there was a need for the concept.

Building The MVP

After writing down these rules on a white-board (for accountability), I mapped out the basic flows for user account creation, listing a studio, requesting and booking a studio, and other flows that needed to be defined. I could use these as a guide when modifying the Sharetribe platform. Once I had these flows in place, the majority of the time was spent configuring the listings and information that would be needed on them to meet my needs for Studiotime. Sharetribe was not initially configured for bookings or rentals but focussed on selling goods and services. I needed to remove any features and optimize it for the use case of Studiotime.

Modifying the studio listing fields, filters, and other specific data for Studiotime on the Sharetribe platform’s admin panel.

Beyond this initial setup, modification, and testing, I resisted the urge to customize further and marked the initial MVP off as done at around 1 am that night.

Getting The First Users & Building Initial Marketplace Supply

The next day, I mentioned Studiotime to a few friends in the music industry and they were shocked to find out that no one else had already built this (as I first was). They also couldn’t believe I was the one to actually build it, which provided more validation that there was an actual need for it. A few of them also signed up, so they were the first Studiotime users!

Since this was a Friday and I was busy running Thinkbox, I did not spend any significant amount of time on marketing initiatives. I could only really find time to post about Studiotime on my social and continue speaking with a few of the friends I had reached out to earlier. Also, I managed to make a few postings on Craigslist that evening. On Saturday, I found studios on Craigslist and contacted them to try and get them to sign up for Studiotime (inventory).

Original posting on Craigslist for Studiotime. This generated a few users over the weekend before our Product Hunt launch on Monday.

In addition to this Craigslist initiative, I also took to Twitter where I tweeted at industry influencers and media outlets letting them know about Studiotime. The goal was to build awareness and draw some interest prior to launching the next day on Product Hunt, where I hoped I would really catch their attention. The results were not impressive, but I did have the first few studios and users now on Studiotime which was helpful for the launch.

At this time, the site was still on a test URL, but I decided to purchase www.studiotime.io and submitted it to Product Hunt Sunday evening. Since I used Sharetribe instead of building it from scratch, I was not eager to share that I had submitted it to Product Hunt because other makers typically submit custom builds. I went to sleep that evening with little excitement around the Product Hunt launch.

The Product Hunt Launch

Monday morning started with checking Product Hunt. Much to my surprise, there were some upvotes and a bit of initial traction! I started receiving email notifications for new users in the hundreds by lunchtime and I even had people in Europe asking to add their studios to the site. Since I had only thought about having Los Angeles and New York City as cities to start out with, I created a wait-list for studios in cities that I had not anticipated having on at the time.

We received 130 upvotes on Product Hunt!

Fast forward to 6pm on the day of the Product Hunt launch and Studiotime had reached over 1k users! We had studios signing up, a growing community of artists, and even a wait list for studios in markets that we did not yet serve. We even had people emailing me asking to be ambassadors for Studiotime and also asking if we (I) were hiring!

Just one of the emails I received asking if we were hiring from music industry professionals.

When Press & The Media Covers You

By Monday evening, I was thinking that the week was off to a great start for my side project and it might generate further interest down the road. Much to my surprise (again!) FACT Magazine picked us up and wrote a piece about Studiotime that drove significant traffic to the site.

I knew that the 130 upvotes alone on Product Hunt had not attributed to the first thousand users and this article was just the beginning in a series of press mentions, blogs, and others in the music industry that had taken notice of Studiotime. The outreach efforts over the weekend, Product Hunt awareness, and word of mouth all combined to put us in the music industry spotlight. We were picked up and covered by BBC, Hypebeast, Forbes, and over 50+ other media outlets and blogs.

With little to no resources, but leveraging process, tactics, and speed, I was able to take Studiotime from an idea to MVP in an evening, then generate thousands of users and initial traction within hours.

Rather see a video format of this with more details? Watch this 12 minute video where I share more:

Here’s part 2 of this series about Studiotime: How I scaled the world’s largest music studio marketplace