November 14, 2017

How a Point-of-Sale SaaS Business Makes $900/mo

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    What a beautiful dashboard!! I mean the layout is really, really nice. Did you use any templates or did you design yourself?

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      Thanks, Robin -- and nope, they're all bespoke. In my day job I do a lot of front-end design and dev to order; building the views and dashboards for Quail was one big creative delight for me. Which dashboard did you mean in particular!?

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    Thanks for the interesting article!

    Startup lesson # 112: "Talk to your users"

    What are these quotes? From some book?

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      Ah, no -- they're just from years of reading YC blog posts on Hacker News and (more recently) following community discussions here on Indie Hackers. I'm pretty sure all of the things I passed off in the interview as quotes are just standard received wisdom, and I'm equally sure there are obvious ones I didn't cite!

      ("Raise your prices" is the obvious one that comes to mind, which I should...probably...think about, actually)

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        Thank you


        where did you get these quotes from? from which book? I just can not find, just one presentation in slideshare

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          No book, no source -- just my head! That's why the rule numbers just kind of increment randomly!

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    Very nice job! How do you manage changes among various clients? For example: one client asks for a reasonable change that impacts every other client's experience?

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      Very carefully. So far I've found that the vast majority of feature requests are things that will benefit, if not all, then at least most of my customers. Lots of things that I now consider pretty flagship features were actually requests from specific customers.

      What's really been great, though, is forcing myself to really talk to store owners when they ask for a feature. Often, that conversation takes us down different paths that neither me nor the store owner would have expected -- and often, we end up with a better, more generally-useful idea we can build together.

  4. 1

    Great interview, thanks a lot for the insights

  5. 1

    Hi Trevor, this is very exciting. Your customers sound exactly like the sort of b2b clients we look for in the US to sell our Drosselmeyer Nutcracker. Any suggestions how can we finds these people as they are mainly offline as you said?

  6. 1

    When I read the scrapbook, I falldown from my chair!!!!

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      When I received the scrapbook I fell out of mine!

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    Fascinating! I am very similar to you in that I made a web-based POS application for clients I have access to (dispensaries in North America). I can absolutely relate to your points about how software is magic to those who don't know how it's made, and the feeling of having customers love your product even when it's so bare-bones and missing so many features!

    Choosing boring technologies (that you're familiar with!) is absolutely key, I agree with your point there. Because I'm younger and hipper, boring technologies for me were Node + React, but the upside is that it's very easy to hire for. Every Bootcamp in my city (Vancouver) is effectively training their students on my stack, so I wouldn't complain. I intend to expand into multiple iPad apps in the future, thus the need for a clearly defined and separated API layer.

    I'm the founder of and although we started out targeting small businesses, we've found recently that it's the large chain stores that have a real need for our software. They are often shocked to receive high levels of support and attention, similar to what you've seen!

    I'll be following your journey, definitely keep the community updated!

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      I'd love to know more about how you pivoted from targeting small businesses to larger chains; mind dropping me an email at if you'd be willing to chat a bit about that? Also: how big is your team, and what's it been like to grow from a small team serving small stores to a (presumably) large team serving more enterprise-level customers? I'm super curious!

      I'm younger and hipper

      Ouch. :) Pieces of the Quail front-end (e.g. that vendor portal app I mentioned) are React, which I adore, but I in no way regret the tech stack I'm using for the main app or the API. Dropwizard has been a delight from start to finish, and is just hilariously easy to build production-stable backends with.

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        Hey Trevor, we are still a small team of 2 engineers. It just happens that if you work hard enough, you can build the features that are needed :)

        In our case, we are fighting against large, legacy incumbents. For targeting enterprise, it takes many months of being on their minds, then waiting to jump when issues arise with their existing systems. I'm not too sure how applicable this will be for your industry though.

  8. 1

    It's good to see your business progressing from what I remember on your first posts about QuailHQ.

    "Beyond organic growth, I've actually had surprising (to me at, least!) success with bulk direct mail. In March I mailed flyers to 100 antique stores in two states where I had no presence, and for about a month I didn't see any results from that at all — but since then I've seen a handful of stores sign up who have confirmed that's how they found out about Quail."

    How many is a handful would you say? If you're getting above 3%, I'm impressed.

    Any chance you can upload an image of the flyer, and give us more details (size, color, gloss/matte), the design of the flyer (text, stock photos), and what company handled the printing/mailing?

    Also how did you create the list of 100 antique stores, and use to track signups (i.e. a special offer code) ?

    Thanks and I hope QuailHQ continues to grow.

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      Thanks, Samuel! I definitely feel like things are progressing, though maybe not at quite the rate that I'd like. Though to be honest I can't imagine a rate of growth that I would be content with; for every hockey-stick graph there's always an even-steeper curve one could aim for.

      Not that my growth curve inspires any Canadian sports dreams at the moment, though.

      Out of the 100 stores to which we sent flyers I've gotten 3 confirmed signups, so I'm sitting at exactly 3%. I'm afraid that I don't have a copy of the flyer handy, but we printed it with Vistaprint (easy, cheap, straightforward) and, err, did the mailing ourselves. "Things that don't scale," I guess -- but really it was just because we were being cheap! I've been building a customer list for months, just through aggressive Googling; I tracked signups from the mail-out campaign by just...asking store-owners where they heard of us ("Uhh, you sent me this flyer?") or in the case of one who still hasn't responded to any of my emails (best support customer ever) by simply matching their name and address against my list of mailed stores.

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        Thank you for sharing. Considering how little effort you put into the fliers, response rate, and the cost of your service, I'm impressed on the return on investment you achieved.

        Keep at it, as I'm interested in how your service develops!

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    I love this -- antiquing is exactly the kind of thing we as techies are probably primed to ignore (no offense to the antiquing developers out there). But if you ever drive cross-country, you'll realize what a big deal it is...

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      Exactly! In my day job I work for a Bay-area startup you've probably heard of, and trying to explain what Quail is and who it's for to my East- or West-coast colleagues is often surprisingly complicated. I don't want to get political, but there is definitely a massive cultural disconnect between engineering-types on the coasts (i.e. tech on the west, finance and biotech on the east) and literally anything that goes on west of Richmond and east of Las Vegas. It sometimes amazes me how little (some) of us know about how our own country lives.

      What I really want to do is build tools that help folks in economically-devastated areas in the U.S. (so, geographically speaking, basically everywhere) regain some of the independence and stability they've lost. Quail is a tiny start (antiquing is a big niche, but still niche) in the right direction, but I'm constantly looking for other openings and ideas.