14 months to $5,000 MRR

I looked at 20 startups in the MRR range of $5,000-$40,000 to see how quickly they reached their initial $5,000 MRR.

The result? It takes a median of 14 months. Not that bad, isn't it?

I posted my results to Twitter, and people started to point out that we should also look at when founders started their first project:

This is great - but there's heavy survivorship bias. It would be interesting to not only look at the successful startups in isolation but look at when their creators started their first indie project. – Fabian

Hah, kinda true, what you aren't seeing is the year before that I was working on the product and not advertising it well. And the 10 years before that of working on other products and figuring out what works and what doesn't! – Jesse from signature.email

What else did I notice?

📈 There's a steady growth month after month for most startups
🥳 Overnight success isn't real (but I hope this is already widely known?)
😊 It takes time, work on something you enjoy

Here's the full list: https://microfounder.co/blog/20-micro-saas-startups-to-5k-mrr

  1. 5

    This tracks pretty closely with the businesses I've been close to over my 15 years in and around the bootstrapped software world. We hosted a boutique event series for bootstrapped biz's between 2013-2016 and based on those attendees we found that people reported an average of 2 years to $100k ARR.

    That said, there are also a handful of things that tend to reliably accelerate this timeline, including:

    • Selling to B2B/Professional customers (vs consumers)
    • Having some pre-existing relationship, understanding, and/or trust with customers. Paths to this include education/writing/podcasting/screencasting, building for audiences you belong to or work with closely
    • Shipping small - EXTREMELY small - and early
    • Learning/practicing persuasive copywriting
    1. 1

      Thanks for a thoughtful comment, Alex! I think you have very good points here.

      B2B vs B2C

      It's easier to spend company's money than individual's :)


      We see again and again these stories about how they pre-sold something for $500,000 in a few days. Like Josh Comeau's CSS book or Tailwind UI.

      But they spent some years building their audience. It's like you give stuff to your audience for free and then on the launch day you cash it in.

      Shipping small and early

      I've been there myself and see others do the same. This is maybe programmer's problem. We like to spend time rather coding than marketing, but really:

      marketing > programming

      1. 1

        You're welcome!

        Worth noting that while Josh and the Tailwind crew have had OUTSIZED success, moderate success is extremely common and attainable by normal people too!

        The folks who focus on the audience first approach we've taught in 30x500 (for more than 10 years!) routinely see 4 and 5 figure launch days to relatively small audiences as small as 500 email subscribers.

        And more importantly that's a first time launch, which can be repeated and learned from and improved as the audience continues to grow, new products are created, etc.

        And those effects compound quicker when you're actually shipping stuff - happy customers tend to attract more customers!

  2. 2

    "📈 There's a steady growth month after month for most startups" - I wish this were true in my case haha.

    I'm at 2k after 1.5 years, so maybe in 5 years I'll get there!

    1. 1

      Working on Pallyy? Looks great!

      1. 1

        Yep, that's right. Thanks!

        1. 1

          I shared it on MicroFounder! Do you have Twitter so I can link it?

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