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How to Acquire Users for Your Developer Tool? with Rishabh Kaul (Appsmith)
Discover strategies from Rishabh Kaul of Appsmith on acquiring users for developer tools. Learn about content tactics, community engagement, and more. Gain insights for effective developer marketing.

How to Acquire Users for Your Developer Tool? with Rishabh Kaul (Appsmith)

Jonathan Reimer
Jonathan Reimer
CEO & Co-Founder, crowd.dev

Welcome to another exciting episode of the Development Podcast! In today's episode, we're diving into the world of developer marketing with a special guest, Rishabh Kaul, the Head of Marketing at Appsmith. Appsmith is an open-source platform that empowers developers to build custom applications on top of their data sources efficiently. Rishabh, with a background spanning impact investing, robotics, and HR tech, now leads marketing efforts at Appsmith. Let's explore his journey, the strategies behind Appsmith's growth, and his insights into developer marketing.

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From HR Tech to Developer Tools: A Journey of Accidental Expertise

Rishabh's professional journey is nothing short of a captivating adventure. His trajectory has led him from impact investing to robotics, HR tech, and finally to the realm of developer tools. He describes it as a series of accidents, with each experience contributing unique perspectives and insights. Transitioning from marketing HR tech to developer tools was a remarkable shift, involving moving from HR and recruiting professionals to the world of developers, who are known for their strong opinions and technical expertise.

Rishabh's fascination with the B2B space, along with his experience building internal tools in his previous startup, played a crucial role in shaping his path toward developer marketing. This expertise laid the foundation for his role at Appsmith, where he now focuses on reaching developers and addressing their needs effectively.

Empowering Developers with Appsmith: The Essence of the Platform

At its core, Appsmith aims to simplify the process of building custom software for organizations. Many critical operational applications are built on top of proprietary data sources, requiring specialized functionalities and integrations. Traditionally, backend engineers were responsible for developing front-end interfaces, which often wasn't their area of expertise. Appsmith steps in by providing an open-source platform that offers additional functionalities like role-based access control, audit logs, and single sign-on, enabling backend engineers to concentrate on business logic rather than frontend design.

Appsmith's open-source nature makes it particularly attractive to users dealing with sensitive data. Self-hosting and code visibility empower users to maintain control over their data, aligning with modern data security concerns.

Journey to 28,000 GitHub Stars: Unveiling the Growth Strategy

Appsmith's popularity is evident from its impressive 28,000 GitHub stars, but how did they reach this milestone? Rishabh shares some key insights into their growth journey:

Leveraging Online Platforms

In the early days, Appsmith leveraged platforms like dev.to and Hashnode to share their product. Being open source, GitHub was a natural fit for distribution, free from ads and ideal for reaching a tech-savvy audience.

Crafting Comprehensive Content

Appsmith embraced content creation, focusing on creating valuable and relevant content across various platforms. Canonical URLs enabled them to reach wider audiences, contributing to their steady rise in popularity.

Tapping into Communities

Engaging with communities like Reddit and Hacker News provided access to relevant audiences. While front-page placement on Hacker News might be challenging, active participation in discussions and providing valuable insights proved beneficial.

Nurturing Word-of-Mouth

Appsmith's Discord community and podcast collaborations created a network effect, enabling recurring traffic and building brand recognition over time. Nurturing these platforms allowed them to tap into referrals and exponential growth.

Content Strategy Evolution: Finding the Sweet Spot

Appsmith's content strategy evolved with an intentional focus on use case marketing. Rather than just discussing features, they started addressing specific functionalities that were missing in popular tools. This approach, popularized by tools like Zapier, resonated well with audiences seeking practical solutions to their challenges.

Lessons in Developer Marketing: Unveiling Rishabh's Insights

Multichannel Approach

Appsmith has found success in multiple channels like Reddit, LinkedIn, and Discord. However, they acknowledge that each channel has its unique dynamics, and a tailored approach is crucial.

Focus on Word-of-Mouth

Referral traffic and community engagement through platforms like Discord can lead to consistent and exponential growth, making word-of-mouth a powerful strategy.

Thoughtful Feature Marketing

Rather than overwhelming users with a laundry list of features, Appsmith focuses on highlighting how the platform solves specific problems and empowers users.

Evolution of Personas

Rishabh emphasizes the evolving personas in the developer marketing landscape, including non-technical team members. Appsmith's messaging accommodates this shift by addressing a wider audience.

Connect with Rishabh Kaul

Rishabh Kaul is open to connecting with fellow enthusiasts and professionals in the developer marketing space. You can find him on Twitter (@rishabhkaul) and LinkedIn. Whether you want to exchange ideas, learn from his experiences, or explore potential collaborations, Rishabh is eager to engage.

In a dynamic world where developer tools play a pivotal role in innovation, Rishabh Kaul's insights shed light on effective strategies for acquiring users and nurturing a thriving developer community. Appsmith's journey from 0 to 28,000 GitHub stars serves as an inspiring case study for those looking to make their mark in the developer tool landscape.

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