The Rise & Fall Of Bllush

A detailed post-mortem of a semi-successful SaaS


Our initial vision was broad – leverage user generated content (UGC) from social media for marketing e-commerce products through real people. This was back in 2016, when Instagram was starting to take off and it had only 400M monthly active users (MAUs) vs approx 2,000M today. Compared with today, very few retailers & brands were working with influencers.

First Client – Our first paying client was an e-commerce brand called TenenGroup, who operate jewellery websites. We followed the “sell first, build later” business model. Only after we closed the $1,500 / month deal, we developed the required software. The goal was to showcase photos of their customers wearing their products for social proof. The required software included pulling images tagged by their @brand on Instagram, collecting user permissions and a widget to display the images on their website. The content would be shown on the product detail page (PDP) as well as a new Discovery page. Several weeks of coding and the product was complete. We launched and celebrated our first big win 🎉 🥂 .

First Churn – We were delighted to close the deal just weeks after starting. Seeing the first $1,500 payment enter our brand-new bank account was exciting. The excitement soon faded away after we received the following email:

The client cancelled on us 1.5 months after signing. They weren’t impressed with the the quality of photos we were providing, as it was largely out of our control what content is tagged on Instagram. Too many bathroom selfies with bad lighting. Not enough attractive photos. We left on good terms with the client and collected as much feedback as possible. We learned their brand image is a very delicate commodity for brands. Any initiative that risks damaging it could be easily be shutdown.

First Pivot – We took the churned client hard. Perhaps too hard. We took a step back and went back to the drawing board.