July 11, 2018

Tell IH: 6 months and $177k in revenue (+ Special offer for Indie Hackers)

👋 Hey guys

Just wanted to give a quick update about how my bootstrapped project is going since it has now been about 6 months that we've been running it.

First of all let me start with a quick infographic here is a second one about our results.

6 months ago I launched it on IH. I made the landing page in a couple of hours, posted it on a few Facebook groups and got the early subscribers. Back then we were only charging $99 and $179 per month and increased our prices twice since then.

💡 How were the early days, how the idea came up, how was the start? ...

  1. 🚀 Launched in 5 hours. Idea of launching was to quickly validate the idea and let the market decide if it is good or not.

  2. 👩 🎨 Worked with two designers only, I was working remotely with them on Skype

  3. 👨‍💻 Handled all the projects myself (I was the project manager), launched the site myself, did the marketing myself

  4. 🔥 Got hunted on ProductHunt, got absolutely roasted there since we weren't ready but improved a lot since then.

(You can learn more about this on the Indie Hackers interview)

... Since then:

  1. 🌏 Moved to Indonesia and took a one way ✈️ plane ticket.

  2. 🤼 Instead of working remotely, I hired and trained a local team.

  3. 👨‍🏫 Gave more than 100 hours of training to the design team.

  4. 📖 Productized our services to ensure scope of our service is not too broad and that clients expectations are met.

  5. 🤑 Paid more than $50,000 to our design team and pay them salary 50% (or sometimes even higher) than the capital average designer salary.

To celebrate those 6 months, I made a special offer for all the Indie Hackers here, 2 months of our subscription for the price of 1. Here you go: https://manypixels.co/specific-offer/sp4offer

Feel free to ask me really ANYTHING about the process. I am willing to share the revenue, the profits, our hiring plans, our blueprints, ALL.


  1. 6

    Congrats on reaching these revenue numbers! That's quite impressive!

    I'm skeptical though. I've seen so many services like this already. What makes you different?

    1. 3

      Good point.

      I think we are different on three dimensions compared to similar services:

      1. ✅ Unique supply and inventory

      ---

      The first focus of Manypixels was to build the supply, and then we knew that the demand would come after.

      a. I moved to Indonesia where I built a ground team and where I work side by side with everyone to set expectations. Part of building this team included:

      i. Giving them constant trainings

      ii. Equipping them with the best hardware (I co-financed MacBook Pro for all designers, and all UI team makes Zeplin friendly designs)

      iii. Hired a local production manager that can bridge my expectations vs. the realities of the local market.

      b. I clearly scoped our services. It is more about what we DO not do rather than what we do.

      1. 💰 Money back guarantee:

      ---

      In essence, Manypixels is in the business of trust.

      We're not listing freelancers or even selling services. We sell an end result, that comes with a money back guarantee. This means that someone who comes on our website and is not sure about the end result can be comforted in the fact that we'll give the money back if not satisfied.

      1. 🎈 Social mission:

      ---

      When I arrived to Indonesia I realised one thing: They are incredibly hard working (and absolutely love working with foreign companies) but somehow it is difficult to collaborate with them because of communication and the need to build skillsets.

      We re-invest part of our profits in organising workshops at universities here (and at our office). Those workshops are covering two topics: Soft-skills such as telling designers how to market themselves better (example: Do's/Don'ts for their Dribbble account, How to write a brief with good business English, How to communicate clearly, ...) but also give them UI/UX training. In that regard we have already hired a product manager who is the founder of the biggest UI/UX community in Indonesia and used to organise a lot of meet ups and we plan to capitalise on her experience. We're planning to host 100 workshops with about 100 people until 2020 so effectively impacting 10,000 people. Of course let's not kid ourselves: We'll benefit one way or another from these workshops (could be a good way for us to identify talent) but I believe it is a win/win situation.

      We paid also more than $50,000 to our designers and pay them way higher than the average salary of a graphic designer here. Some of them went on trips to Bali with their families, some others bought computers for their families, ... The minimum salary in the capital is USD $250 and our designers receive much much more than this.

      In the future:

      ---

      1. 🖥️ Tech play:

      At the end of the day, the idea I had behind Manypixels is that it is incredibly challenging today to collaborate online for various kinds of services. We started with design but most of the digital service industry is broken. We're planning to work on our tech (tech is one of the most effective way to distribute innovation and to spread change) to help other businesses (or entrepreneurs) deliver their services better. We're currently working with a member of this community on this and will announce it soon!

    2. 1

      In my mind, it's not a "winner take all" kind of a market yet.

      Each player in this space is trying to figure out distribution. And until one player becomes the household name (like a Google), many competitors can co-exist while offering a similar type of service.

      Do push back on this though and poke holes. I try to operate from a "strong opinions, loosely held" framework!

      1. 1

        Here is how I think about the competition:

        1. Look at the market today and think of yourself: "Is it how people will do X or Y in 10 or 20 years?"

        2. Build the future today by being faster so you can disrupt the incumbents.

        The best way to beat the competition is to live in the future. As a business (especially in tech), your most dangerous competition is actually new entrants which are using disrupting technology or networks which can quickly make you obsolete.

      2. 1

        You're absolutely right. The space isn't saturated yet. However, that's not really the point I wanted to make. My question was just how they are different from what already exists out there :-)

        1. 1

          Just replied :)

    3. 1

      What are some other subscription-based design services targeting startups? (Really asking)

        1. 2

          Absolutely you deserve an upvote . As I put the update what do you thinks dont I deserve a update also :p

  2. 2

    Congrats @Vinrob! Thanks for sharing with the community

  3. 2

    Robin, congrats on your success. Just a couple questions:

    1. Where do you get your leads? Ads? Outbound?

    2. Could you give a brief rundown of what your sales process looks like?

    Thanks!

    1. 1

      Hey Steve!

      Here is the marketing strategy of Manypixels:

      1. Our strategy in one sentence is : "Show how we built Manypixels to our customers in an honest way, so that they can become more familiar to our brand and become our friends and perhaps purchase from us one day"

      2. We have two keywords that we give to the marketing team:

      a. Create valuable content that matches the needs of our audience. (example: "How Manypixels found its first 100 customers")

      b. Create entertaining content that makes our audience closer to us and that is relatable to them.

      (example: "Here is a picture of our team retreat, here are the 5 coolest activities we did during that retreat")

      We have used the following techniques to acquire customers:

      1. Posting on various Facebook groups of entrepreneurs about our service and asking for feedback. --> Very successful and it was highly targeted.

      2. Content marketing on Indie hackers/Reddit (like this post)

      3. Re-acquiring our customers / churned subscribers by offering discounts.

      4. Building list of emails and sending promotions

      1. 1

        Awesome stuff. Thanks Robin. 🙌🏼

  4. 2

    can you share some examples of sites that have actually made it into production? often times, you'll see nice designs and pretty sketch files, but would be great to see a couple real sites that you guys have done.

  5. 2

    Here you go guys...right in front of our eyes...this is how it is done. Excellent case study and example to follow.

    Good job, Robin.

  6. 2

    Kudos! Really Inspiring

  7. 2

    Congrats, this is incredibly impressive!

  8. 2

    Awesome, Robin.

    Who's your ideal customer? What kind of success have you seen from paid ads so far?

  9. 2

    Congratulations, your numbers are impressive in only 6 months.

    Do you have long-term plans to expand on different areas? development, copywriting, anything else?

    ps. Is it just me or I can't expand on the images of your portfolio?

    1. 1

      Hey @clagio

      1. We are only focusing on design. We're even thinking of reducing the number of design services we're offering.

      2. Images in the portfolio -- we're working on a v3 where you'll be able to expand them. A lot of items of our portfolio are here : https://www.dribbble.com/manypixels

  10. 1

    Great infographic design!

    Inspired by your story!

    How to motivate yourself in marketing & mange your stress?

    1. 1

      Hey Altaf!

      1. I think of something that would provide value, ask myself whether that would benefit them and just write it.

      2. Stress: I am currently bad at this. I am a very stressed person but working on it and trying to talk to a lot of people (or write) when I feel stressed.

  11. 1

    I love how you spin your PH experience as a "roasting". Makes it sounds almost fun (though I'm sure it wasn't 😬)

    1. 2

      Here is a quick timeline of Manypixels:

      1. My first "mission" for Manypixels was to fly to the country (Indonesia) and build a strong team of designers: Share the vision to them, explain them they'll be paid regardless whether they have work or not.

      2. I booked a two weeks Airbnb in that town and met 30+ designers at Starbucks one after the other. They opened their laptop and showed me their work, I told them how much they would be paid, I told them that I was already working with their friends, and we shook hands.

      3. At that time we had about 30 or 40 clients (roughly $10,000 MRR). I was managing all projects myself via EMAIL (no project management tool!)

      4. A few days after we got hunted on ProductHunt. We went from 40 subscribers to 200 subscribers in about 1.5 weeks.

      5. I was still managing all projects myself (for 10 days I mostly only took small naps 2 or 3 times a day) then took a few days off after I found the project managers.

      6. I moved back to the capital where I was recommended a girl who did a MBA and had a lot of experience in managing teams. I hired her as a head of production and we hired together 4 project managers (that still work for us today) in just 2 days.

      7. At that time we had no office, I was working either from Starbucks or from various co-working space but eventually 3 months ago we decided to open an office here and in May we decided to hire in-house staff (no more remote).

      8. Here we are today!

      1. 1

        man, you are a machine!

  12. 1

    Awesome job!

    Since you're open to sharing and you put the first steps as if they were a breeze could you elaborate a bit on it :D

    Did you post to like 2 groups where there was a large number of targeted users like already looking for designers and possibly had been an active member, or was it just spray the news around all the groups you find?

    How many subscribers did you get, what was the overall growth trajectory?

    Sorry if it's a bit too curious but you still seem fresh about it and is probably the part most people are interested in terms of just starting and not looking at stories like "we increased ARR from 10 to 20 mil".

    1. 1

      Hey Arqu,

      My motto in business is "Provide exceptional value" (whether it is your service, your content). Basically I realised that if you do not get the value proposition right in whatever you're doing you basically move slow.

      I thought that the designs we did were pretty modern and the pricing really really attractive. I coupled that with a money back guarantee and a promise that I would be extremely communicative and available. This whole packages made us sound extremely valuable and people purchased because they knew using us would make them more money.

      I think once you nail that spot: either your service will enable other people make more money, or that it will make them more awesome, then you're good to go. This was most of the hard work.

      The work itself of posting to Facebook groups was rather easy: It was just about asking a few questions whether that service would be useful for them and how they would improve it / how they would use it. Just talking to clients normally as if I was face to face with them.

      (We got about 40 subscribers while doing that)

  13. 1

    I want to use this service but last time I tried a service like this ( devy.io ) got burned with a poor result being delivered way late. People on product hunt seem to say the same about manypixels. Any reason why we should trust that ManyPixels as made the curve ?

    1. 1

      While I do not know a lot about Devy is that the early days of running such a service are hard because your services and how you deliver them are not fully scoped and fully defined. This what happened to us: We had the staff but no perfect blueprint to deliver them.

      Last June we had only 4 refunds (less than 3%) but that number was around 20-25% when we started.

      If you want to try, we have a money back guarantee and a two months for the price of 1 promotion.

      1. 1

        refund does massively reduce the risk indeed. That would be a key advantage

  14. 1

    Hello Robin, I still don't understand how that business model can make money, haha, but congrats for pioneering.

    Question:

    1. I'm close to possibly closing some funding. Is there a plan in the future where I can get better than 10 day turnarounds? I was already budgeting for nearly $2k/m in design budget. Maybe a dedicated designer?

    2. Who are your "trusted partners" that would build the html/css? Is that included in the monthly price? How good are the sketch exports?

    3. Also, is this a scalable business for programming?

    1. 1
      1. We have 24 hour design update. We are planning a premium subscription called "Manypixels Black" where you get access directly to the designers in your Slack channel + an account manager. So you get two people that you can talk to directly, as if they were next to you in your office and you have 12 hours update. DM me on Twitter so that I can put you in the waiting list when we're ready to launch this.

      2. Our designs are Zeplin friendly and we have one local front-end developers that we're happy to give you the contact of.

      3. I think if the scope is very narrow then yes.

  15. 1

    Congratulations! That really is impressive.

    A quick question. Given that your designers are based in Indonesia, do you make a feature of their culture in any way? In other words, if you have customers from outside Indonesia, is there something about the work your designers do that you can use as a USP?

    Incidentally, infographic 2: grammatical error alert (sorry but I do tend to be a little anal about such things).

    Instead of 25 employees among which of them 14 are females, this part should read 25 employees of whom 14 are female

    1. 2
      1. This is an EXCELLENT point. Actually we should stop thinking of Indonesia as just a cheap country to outsource work to but rather as a country that could deliver something unique. Something quickly that came up of my mind: They tend to leapfrog in technology. Everyone use Grab/Uber + Food delivery service and mobile phones ALL the time. Communication happen on WhatsApp/Slack ALL the time. Tech is an integral part of their life and they can probably teach us 1 or 2 things about UX that we do not know.

      You can see how important tech is here, especiallyin the capital: there are 20 million people and all motorbikes are branded with Go-Jek and Grab. When you go out of the mall you can see sometimes up to 50 people ordering rides from their phones. You do not see that anywhere else in the world.

      1. Infographic: Noted. The content was made by me and in a hurry but no excuses still -- will correct that before we put it on our website or blog.
  16. 1

    Indonesian here.. Congrats with your progress👍

    1. 1

      Thanks, Natagon! If you're ever in the capital, we'd love to invite a fellow IHer for lunch ;D

      1. 1

        did you mean jakarta ? thanks,but i live in Bali,a wonderfull island in indonesia :)

        1. 1

          Yup. Ah lucky you! I might go there end of August for a few days, will ping you if I am around :)

  17. 1

    When you decided to lunch, how did you determine the price? Did you do any math or was it rule of thumb?

    1. 1

      Pure rule of thumb and testing the prices in front of the market. However as we have more data and more intuition we'll work on a better way to price our services.

      A cool thing we did as regard to pricing: We informed all our leads (+ put a banner on our website) that we would increase the price in 5 days. This was our best week ever because everyone purchased (they feared missing out)

      1. 1

        I mean, with your flat-price approach, I would say: 259€/month, if you want to make roughly 2000€/month you need 10 customers. A customer asking for a design every 3/4 days results in more than 100 designs per month. Is it feasible for a designer to be that productive?

        Did you think about this first or you went straight on to test the market?

  18. 1

    Well done! How was your experience moving to Indonesia? Did you need a visa? And did you have any trouble adapting to the local culture?

    1. 1

      Hey th,

      1. Visa: Yup, you need a business visa. We used two companies (a coworking space that helps foreign companies set up their operations here) + a market entry company. All in all we paid about $5000 for everything so the process wasn't cheap, took long, and wasn't straightforward. However I never had to worry about researching for information, I just paid these two companies, signed papers and everything was done.

      2. Culture: They are the friendliest people I have ever met. There are also not a lot of foreigners here (Jakarta somehow has a bad reputation with all the traffic and such and there is not a lot to do there apart from malls and clubbing). To be honest I did not experience a lot on the culture yet but I am planning to + learning basic local sentences. What was the hardest for me: Probably the food + the noise of the city (traffic and mosque). However I made the decision to live here so I'll adapt ;)

      1. 1

        Cool, thanks for your answer! Could you share the name of the companies you used?

  19. 1

    Way to go.

  20. 1

    congratulations