Shutting Down Unfurls

unfurls website previews

This past weekend, I made the difficult decision to refund all active subscribers and shut down Unfurls. RIP Heroku. It was a bittersweet moment, marking the end of a journey that began with high hopes and anticipation.

Unfurls was a particularly challenging venture for several reasons. Despite my extensive efforts - writing a detailed blog post exploring the problem space, achieving a successful Product Hunt launch (which crashed our server on launch day), getting featured on the Slack app directory, and acquiring paying customers within the first week - I ultimately couldn't find a path to develop a profitable business model. I pivoted the product multiple times, but no approach seemed viable. I take full responsibility for the failed venture.

I built this product to scratch my own itch. Even after shutting everything down, that problem still feels unresolved. No one has truly cracked this space yet.

shakes iron fist gif

So why did I decide to shut down Unfurls?

  • Lack of profitability. We had recurring MRR, but I couldn’t acquire enough paying customers to sustain the business.
  • High operating costs, especially for image generation and hosting.
  • Maintaining the dynamic service across 13 different networks required regular, labor-intensive updates to design and development rules (e.g., adapting to weekly Facebook newsfeed redesigns).
  • The product was beginning to experience stability issues.
  • Unfurls had become a distraction from pursuing opportunities more closely aligned with my core mission of promoting human happiness and fulfillment.

Lessons Learned

  • Find paying customers quickly (which I did within weeks of launching), but having early paying customers doesn’t necessarily justify continuing if you can’t identify a sustainable, scalable business model. Despite solving a real problem, I failed to find a customer segment that truly valued the solution enough.
  • No matter how amazing your product is, the market you’re operating in will largely determine your growth potential. I couldn’t uncover a repeatable acquisition channel for my target segments.
  • Copycats can sting, but competition is healthy. A few users quickly launched similar products after trying Unfurls, likely inspired by our approach. I reached out to discuss potential collaborations, but everyone has different motivations.
  • Slack proved ineffective as a marketing and sales channel for us. Only 278 teams installed our app, with low ongoing usage. The app directory is not an ideal place to introduce a new product - it works better as a value-add for an existing sticky service.
  • I’m glad we explored pivoting Unfurls into a sticker generation tool (even pitching Snap), though that effort ultimately failed as well.

Despite the closure, I'm grateful for the experience and smiling through it all. I had a lot of fun with this product. Unfurls is no longer a "hell yeah" endeavor for me, and I need to prioritize projects that align with my core drives. While Unfurls may resurface in another form someday, I'm shifting my focus to new opportunities that truly excite me.

I'm still smiling and had lots of fun with this product. Unfurls is no longer a "hell yeah" project. I need to make space and reserve energy for HELL YEAH projects. And that's what i'm doing now. I suspect we might see Lala, Mato, and the rest of the crew in another incarnation...

Thanks to all customers, teammates, and supporters who made this journey possible. I appreciate you!


Latest Blog Entries