Vital Learnings from Bootstrapping and Selling a $55k a Month Business with Arvid Kahl of FeedbackPanda

Episode #140

In the span of two years, Arvid Kahl (@arvidkahl) and his partner Danielle Simpson (@SimpsonDaniK) went from new idea, to $55k a month in revenue, to selling their business, all without hiring a single employee. In this episode Arvid and I discuss the ideal market size for indie hackers to target, the importance of building with a specific audience in mind, and the vital learnings from Arvid's past businesses that contributed to his recent success.

Show Notes

  1. 3

    Great interview, and congrats on your success @arvidkahl and @daniksimpson. I am curious - why did you decide to sell? I don't feel this was really addressed in the interview (unless I missed it). Was it an offer too good to refuse? Did you get tired of working on FeedbackPanda? Have an itch to work on something else? Some combination of the above?

    1. 3

      Thanks so much! It was a mixture of “offer too good to refuse” and “got tired of operating it with just two people” for me. It elevated us into what they call a post-economic state of mind. Definitely worth it.

      I’m glad to have time to reflect and write now. I could not distill all my learnings into the blog if it wasn’t for the sale.

      1. 2

        Very cool. I just signed up for your newsletter, I look forward to reading it!

  2. 2

    The most interesting thing I took note of from this interview was that @arvidkahl created a 11 hour video of the codebase! That would be so awesome to listen to for a developer :) I learned more stuff from the interview too and wrote some notes here - https://bhumimakes.com/podnotes-05-selling-a-bootstrapped-business-ih-140/

  3. 2

    Would you start another business without having you or a close person deeply involved in the domain by trying to do customer interviews?

    1. 3

      I would be wary of that, to say the least. IF I were to do that, you could be sure that I listened to at least a hundred hours of podcasts from that industry and read the recommended books by a few leading figures of that industry. Only then would I start the interviews.

  4. 2

    Very interesting interview! Thanks for sharing the details and your experiences @arvidkahl :)

  5. 2

    Great to see a startup built on bootstrapping stack Elixir + Vue, go so far with just a single dev who was also doing support! I interviewed Arvid myself a few weeks ago, and hearing this much longer interview on IH is amazing!

    The bit at 52m20s about recording an 11 hour video of himself walking through the code base and explaining it was epic! One can only imagine how good it must have felt to email the dev hired by the acquirer a link and saying "here"!

    Hiring is hard... that along with training was probably my biggest bottleneck / pain point at my two brick and mortar businesses. To be honest, the dream of automating to increase the work I can do like Arvid did was my number one motivation to leave that moderately successful business and learn to code.

  6. 2

    Thank you so much for the interview, Courtland. It was a great pleasure to talk to you after being a long-time listener. Quite the honor!

    For everyone who wants to read more about all the things we talked about, you can find it at on The Bootstrapped Founder blog as well as in the Bootstrapped Founder Newsletter that I publish every Friday.

    If you have any questions, specific requests, or soul-crushing criticism, please let me know here on Indie Hackers or on Twitter. You will find that Danielle also often tweets about her learnings from the FeedbackPanda days.

    Thanks for listening, everyone!

  7. 1

    Very insightful interview.
    Can you share the facebook comments that you made? I would love to understand how do you share your product without being pushy.

    1. 2

      It was something along the lines of:

      "I used to have my own system using Excel and Word files because I was teaching so much. I would copy and paste the template text, then substitute the pronouns to fit the student's gender, then save it in a word file. It was so much work!

      Because this is so complicated, I created an application to do all of this for me. This tool has reduced my daily feedback writing time from 2 hours down to 10 minutes.

      I recently made it available to other teachers at feedbackpanda.com. Please check it out, it has a free trial and comes with templates pre-supplied for your most common trial lessons. No strings attached."

      The idea was to explain the problem, the solution, the product, and the non-committal nature of signing up for an account (plus the immediate usability).

      Our marketing was always aimed at showing people where they will be once they use the product. The product itself was not the core message, but their future state of having much more time was central.

  8. 1

    The book he mentioned is "Built to Sell", by John Warrillow. Has anyone else read that, is it worth reading?

    The other book he mentions is Hooked by Nir Eyal.

    1. 2

      I reviewed both of these books (and three more) on the blog if you're interested in more information what their impact was: The 5 Books That Helped Build and Sell a Bootstrapped SaaS in Under Two Years.

      Here are the summaries from Sam Davies and visme:

      1. 2

        Thats a great list. Your summaries are great! Thank you for the insights. Now I have to buy 5 books 😅

        1. 1

          Yeah that’s always the risk :)) Enjoy!