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At 22 and 16, we bootstrapped to $200k, creating a mini-industry. Today, we went 0 → $1,500 MRR in our 1st mo + way more inside. AMA!

Hey guys, I’m Ch Daniel.

Alongside with my younger brother and co-founder David, we found ourselves at 22 and 16 making $200k/yr and having created a mini-industry — that was in 2020. What is it that we do?

We run an authentication company for luxury items: sneakers, clothing, bags, watches — Legit Check By Ch.

We tell people if their items are fake/real (and we sometimes help them get their money back from scams. We’ve even helped some ppl get tens of thousands of dollars back from scams). Basically strangers send us pictures of their items when they check out, and we write them a message.

But we didn’t set out to make a business. We just woke up one day into one, with demand knocking at our door (more than we could handle), after we’ve written guides for a bit.

That’s what made me write the piece that went around on HackerNews called “I Make $200,000/Year Writing Messages”. Over there, we describe more of the story of how we got our first $$$, the ups and downs, the emotional rollercoaster and… how scary it was to know that our documents were used in court for a bag worth $12,000+.


$1,500 MRR in our first month

Today, in 2021, we’ve recently launched a new product called the Legit Check Club and we’ve blown our expectations: we reached $1,500 MRR in the first month since launch!! 🥳🎉

I’ve documented how we got to $7K ARR in our first 7 days and we’ll see where this small sub-product takes us. That said, it’s another breath of fresh air to know we’ve divested into a recurring $1,500/mo. I know many of you have felt this, while others are working their asses off to get to a recurring income. I respect you!!!


What’s next?

Right now, we’re divesting our income into Simple.ink, a no-code website builder for Notion — and soon for other tools as well.

Please do check it out if we’ve helped you in any way, as we’ve got a lovely pre-order offer at the moment!! Can’t wait to see how the launch goes there, as we’ve got an email list of 3,000+ people (see below), and I documented how you can get to that big of an email list even if you have 0 leverage (+ how you’ll get some followers in the meantime)


Couple of other things I do:


Free goodies for you 🤑

Our strategy is pretty simple: help AS MANY people as possible for free → some will become customers, others will become friends. As easy as that.

  1. What I think is a very underplayed move: How to launch to 3,000 users when starting from 0
  2. A list of 70+ resources we’ve built as we’ve grown our traffic to 7,000,000 all-time viewers (90% on search): check out the reply tweet to access the link
  3. “How to pick a profitable Micro SaaS idea: 13 ideas + why they're good”, a free course
  4. A bunch of all the free lists of resources we’ve made on: SEO, no-coders, Creator Economy, how to grow traffic, etc. Just add ‘simpleink’ as a coupon and it’ll be 100% free

Check out our blog as well for some other valuable stuff: my guide to pre-selling SaaS (how I pre-sold $1,000+), how we reached $7k ARR in 7 days since launch, then $1,500 MRR in our first month, etc etc.


AmA, let’s go 👊🔥

P.S: I encourage you to ask more than 1q as I'd love to answer all of them! Just make them separate comments. I will answer on and off (async) even after this AmA is over 🧡

  1. 6

    Hey Ch, I'm curious if you feel any pressure at all after achieving such big numbers at such a young age? How does it feel being way ahead of most friends your age (I assume) or even most seasoned entrepreneurs.

    1. 3

      Heyyyy Dag, very glad to see you here

      I don't know, it depends. I have a feeling there might be internal and external pressure

      Externally (and also regarding "How does it feel being way ahead of most friends your age"), I try not to think about it as much as I can. I wouldn't want to be next to somebody who's super successful but a dick — that's not how humans work. Idk how humans work but I'd wager the previous sentence is true in most cases. So I try to keep my ears shut to that. Plus, another thing about humans is that we're always on treadmills. So I can, at any point, find somebody 'above' and 'below' me — but that treadmill is all in our head. All humans have inherent value, I believe, so there's no above/below. Just a relative scale of professional success

      I can't tell you if this works, because as you've pointed out I'm young, but I can tell you it doesn't slow me down toooo much — because if I don't think about where others my age are, I can focus on what matters to me: building stuff for my family and I

      Internally... it's hard to put it into words. In some moments I catch myself putting pressure and then, on my best days, snapping out. There's always some hunger inside, I don't know if it's called pressure. Drive is a word I like better, but I might be marketing this word to myself.

      Idk. I just try my best, because that's the only scale that feels less virtual — I know how I was yesterday/2y ago better than I know the story of others.

      If you mean pressure as in fear of losing it all, the answer is mixed again:

      • I'm aware it could all go away, so as to try to now latch myself to what I have now. Plus the Buddhists have been preaching it for some time, and I love those ideas
      • At the same time, I'm not flower-power about it. I have my savings, for myself and my family, and I put some serious effort into making sure I'm trading some short-term stuff to have that cushion

      Does that answer?

      1. 2

        Great question Dagobert! Had a super cool conversation with Daniel the other week and can only say that he is one of the most humble person out there 🎉

        1. 1

          🧡🧡 thanks for stopping by to drop some love Dom!!

      2. 1

        Thanks for the thorough answer mate 🔥

        I love how humble you are regardless of the achievements. That's probably why you manage to be successful over and over again. It's beautiful to see you grow and go great things 🤩

  2. 3

    Amazing stuff Ch! Mad numbers. I seem to have a problem with perfectionism (in addition to lack of time, read: day job) which is stopping me from shipping (and reaching a goal of $100/day to cover nursery costs, they're really expensive in Scotland), have you ever experienced anything perfectionism-related and if so how did you overcome it?

    1. 3

      Thx for the question Peter! Hope your 3 kids are healthy and well

      Still am a perfectionist, but the grass is not greener on the other side either — if you're the opposite of that, you need to balance it with perfectionism.

      I've got the right answer for you because I'm also a perfectionist: speed is more important than anything. My estimation is that you need to need fast at all costs — your innate tendency to make it perfect will slow you down and kill you if you let it take over yourself

      BUT

      There's a big but: you have the luxury of being able to focus only on speed, because there's always a trade. You'll always trade between quality and speed. And guess what: your natural tendency is to go all in on quality. So... how much lower can you go on quality?

      If you're usually aiming for 9 or 10 out of 10, and wanna trade some points for speed, you're not going to ever go as low as 4 (which might be your problem if you're the opposite of that).

      You'd be dying on the inside

      So keeping this in mind, and going for a 5+ (out of 10) to be able to move faster IS the perfect tempo. There's a whole other discussion about why speed is more important, and why after a certain grade on the scale of 10 of quality you get diminishing returns, but I'll just summarize it: everybody learns best by doing. More speed = more doing = you'll be faster. You also compress the pain, but your goal is to get $36,500/yr rich. So why take more months than it'd take?

      1. 1

        This is such a perfect answer, Ch. Many people have suffered from trying to achieve perfection (me inclusive), and this response greatly addresses that! Thank you

      2. 1

        Perfect, thanks mate, time to adjust the quality to set the perfect tempo! Especially with the limited time supply on my hands (day job 'n' all that).

  3. 2

    Incredible - I'm on r/SaaS a lot, was there since 5K members. Good luck with your new ventures!

    1. 2

      Thanks so much for being so early — that's a tiny bit after I took over the subreddit 😎

      Any idea for how I can make it better?

      1. 2

        I'ts a great question! The reason I like it so much is because it is really low promo, especially when compared to other communities like Indie Hackers or Product Hunt where many founders are in insider groups to push or promote each others products. Also, it focuses heavily on SaaS and more on advice sharing/QA, I rarely see someone promoting their products without giving value - let's keep it that way!

        1. 1

          All duly noted - thanks for bringing this up!

  4. 2

    Curious about Legitcheck: How have you adapted to the rising quality of fakes, since some fakes cannot be verified via an image and some are on the first look the same as original.

    Thanks D.

    Jan

    1. 2

      Hey Jan, lovely to see a fellow Twitter friend!!

      I love this discussion - it's the Ship of Theseus philosophical argument, which friends/ppl keep bringing up when they hear about our business — and I love it

      "since some fakes cannot be verified via an image and some are on the first look the same as original."

      That's partly true. It's true that you can't spot them if you only look from certain angles. But what we've found out is that there's always going to be a comprise made by fake manufacturers on some detail on the inside, which is not visible to anyone but the wearer (if they bother to look)...

      ... or to a person who's about to spend $1,500 on a pair of shoes and doesn't want to get the $100 fake :)

      That's where we come in — we expose those details in our Library, where we've written 1,000,000+ words on the topic.

      So to put it shortly:

      • There's some serious costs to produce a fake pair
      • Fake manufacturers have an upper limit when it comes to selling price, which they don't want to push too hard to find out: the retail price of the item (e.g. $130, retail price from Nike). Fakes used to be cheaper, but enough time has passed so that fake resellers have tried the supply/demand graph
      • HOWEVER, it doesn't make sense for fake manufacturers to spend the extra 80% effort for going from 95% to 99% accuracy on some obscure tag on the inside of the shoe. It won't help them sell more

      Those details on the inside, invisible to anyone but the wearer, are where compromises are made.

      1. 2

        That's very thorough explanation, thank you.
        Here is another question, this time about Simple.Ink:

        There is a lot of competition in a no-code space, especially Notion related products, if I am not mistaking your target audience is pretty wide, so general public so-to-speak.

        How is Simple.ink different and more specifically, how are you dealing with the UX side of a project?

        Wishing you all the success, fellow Twitter friend ;)

        1. 3

          There is a lot of competition in a no-code space,

          100% true — I'm betting it's also a market that's bigger and bigger, and that has a high potential. Being early on such a market pays dividends

          if I am not mistaking your target audience is pretty wide, so general public so-to-speak.

          You're right as well! See above

          What I'll add is that an audience is too wide if you can't capture it. To give a bigger example: fewer markets are too wide for Microsoft's Office Suite, given their reach

          How is Simple.ink different and more specifically, how are you dealing with the UX side of a project?

          Well for one it'll have a generous free plan, so everyone will be more than free (pun intended) to try it out to see for themselves!

          UX-wise, the focus is to not have the focus too much on us, but rather on the Notion page. We'll try to be as non-intrusive as possible, kinda like Zapier. No point in forcing you to stay longer than you have to on our page, when designing your website. People do that for WordPress, for instance, and I've never heard somebody say "GOD I can't wait to open WordPress and stay there!"

  5. 1

    Congrats Ch, we are working on a similar product https://sitefast.live/. but for a different vendor: Google Sheets.

    What is your strategy finding a product-market fit for Simple.ink

  6. 1

    I love you story CH and the blog post is inspirational!
    It looks like you kina got lucky from your reddit post, would you say that was your lucky break and what strategy did use use on reddit?

  7. 1

    Hey! Hope you're doing well (and still answering questions here).

    How do you shift your focus when running multiple projects at the same time?

    How much of your work is outsourced/delegated and essentially what you focus on a daily basis looks like?

    Thanks! Amazing achievements so far.

  8. 1

    How you going to identify 2nd copy of Nike and Adidas shoes, caps made in same factory where originals are manufactured in Vietnam and Bangladesh?

    As a person living in Asia, I know many resellers who sells 2nd copy of products which are exactly same but the prices are 3x lower. You can't identify product like these by seeing or touching it.

  9. 1

    Impressive work, Daniel! Very motivating. Your articles on the blog are a great read and looking forward to your next one. Do you work on this as a side project alongside a full-time job? What's your thoughts on just charging annually rather than monthly? Guessing your website is built using your own Notion tool? Looks very sleek!

    1. 1

      Thx so much Gareth 🧡

      Do you work on this as a side project alongside a full-time job?

      The businesses are making enough to support us, so for now no full-time job needed — I'm aware that can change at any point in life, so I'm not counting everything on it not being like that

      What's your thoughts on just charging annually rather than monthly?

      I've actually answered about the same question here! https://www.indiehackers.com/post/at-22-and-16-we-bootstrapped-to-200k-creating-a-mini-industry-today-we-went-0-1-500-mrr-in-our-1st-mo-way-more-inside-ama-357228cec7?commentId=-MlUEstf_MYGsIDJRCRj

      But short answer: do annually if you can. Sometimes you can't

      Guessing your website is built using your own Notion tool? Looks very sleek!

      Not really, nope! It's made with Webflow, simply because SI was not done when we started doing the website 🤣

  10. 1

    I'm here just to say congrats! I wish I knew and tried all these indie hacking stuff 10 years ago which is about your age now 😅 Way to go CH, keep it up!!!

    1. 1

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write this Damon!! Your support means a lot to me

  11. 1

    Very inspiring stuff! Thanks for sharing. I'm curious if you have any tips for launching a monthly membership at the $9.99 price point? We actually just transitioned our personal growth site from a free-only directory and newsletter to a $9.99 paid membership.

    I'm wondering how you guys decided on that price and revenue model vs. an annual one?

    1. 1

      We actually have a $9.99 plan! And we offer both annual/yearly

      I'd think of it this way: annual would be better (just like Microacquire does it — they experience 0 churn virtually, because it hasn't been a year since they started charging), since you get the cash upfront. Don't think of the 'discount' you give as lost money (e.g. pay for yearly and get 2 months free) — fuck the number of discounted cash. Think of it only in terms of how much $$$/mo or per year you're getting

      The only question is, though: are your customers willing to pay for yearly? In my case they weren't, because we also offer a one-off service, and we have competitors.

      In some fortunate cases, you will be able to charge yearly. In some cases, you won't know until you try it (and you might have to revert to monthly). The only way you can know before trying it is if there's information in the market from competitors or from adjacent industries

  12. 1

    I hadn't come across your YouTube channel yet but just subscribed! Thank you for sharing.

    1. 1

      Thanks sooo much John! Actually I've just reached 100 subs so now I can claim my username thanks to you 😎

  13. 1

    Just a fun question:

    How do you pronounce Ch?

    1. 2

      Hahahah, I just read out the characters — C H

  14. 1

    Just want to congrats you, Ch! You really put efforts into engaging and helping other people as much as possible, that's clearly paying off. Love your approach of "some will become customers, others will become friends".

    Oh, I actually just got 2 questions while writing this 😄:

    • I'm curious as you're achieving more success, do you feel pressure supporting your family, if yes, do you feel it slow you down in any way and how do you deal with it? I believe I'm same age as yours (born in 1997) btw 😬

    • You did an incredible job to have many awesome guests on your podcast, even right from the beginning, what would you see as your secrets to achieve this?

    1. 1

      Heyyy Phuc, thanks for stopping by!

      You really put efforts into engaging and helping other people as much as possible, that's clearly paying off. Love your approach of "some will become customers, others will become friends".

      Thanks for spotting that — yeah we have yet to see when/how much it will pay off! But it at least feels good in the short-term, so that's a win

      I'm curious as you're achieving more success, do you feel pressure supporting your family, if yes, do you feel it slow you down in any way and how do you deal with it? I believe I'm same age as yours (born in 1997) btw 😬

      Yep! Born in '97 - one of the earliest Gen-Z-ers...?

      I was asked about the same thing about pressure here, so that might be an answer.

      But to add more to your specific questions: I don't feel any pressure yet, as both myself and my brother are living comfortably thanks to this. That said, YES, I do feel the.... not pressure, but responsibility to support my family. My family beyond myself and David (although that's a split effort) AND my future family: my partner (who's a person I really respect) + the number of kids I may want to have requires a lot of resources, and I want to offer them the best circumstances. Not spoil, but offer the best platform for them.

      It's not slowing me down, quite the contrary: it's the one of the main thing motivating me. At one point that will be done and I'll have a change in priorities.

      It's motivating me because I thought of myself as an athlete. Athletes earn when they're 18 to 35 at best (broad numbers), then... they need to become financially literate, or they go broke in less than a decade. I plan to 'work' for as long as I can, and the work I do today is fortunate enough to be pleasant. But I want to compress my time and achieve escape velocity, financially, like an athlete. I won't have the mind or the lack of constraints I have now, at e.g. 40.

      I was talking to Jason Fried, asking him if he's ever meeting with DHH. His answer? Something along the lines of << After a certain age, it's not just like it was back when you're younger - it's different: our nanny, their nanny, these plans, those plans — they all have to match>>.

      I'm trying my best to trade some short-term time for some time luxury.

      You did an incredible job to have many awesome guests on your podcast, even right from the beginning, what would you see as your secrets to achieve this?

      Absolutely! Others asked as well and I explained how I get podcast guests that are above my weight category in this guide here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIb7Kqv9cOc

  15. 1

    First of all, congratulations on such a big success at such a young age!

    My question:

    Did you encounter any problems in the beginning in terms of verifying to your customers that you can actually do the authentication? Did you ever recognize any case that someone deliberately sent you a fake item in order to see how good you are?

    Cheers!

    1. 1

      Thanks so much for stopping by Misha!

      Did you encounter any problems in the beginning in terms of verifying to your customers that you can actually do the authentication?

      We can always refund if we're not sure — I'd rather leave money on the table than risk our reputation. That's always an option. It's been ages since we've done that, and it could be due to bad pics, shady background info etc, but there's always that option

      Did you ever recognize any case that someone deliberately sent you a fake item in order to see how good you are?

      Yep, people do that — and they have the right to do it. I respect it

      1. 1

        Thanks for the answer!

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