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47 Comments

Bootstrapped a Shopify app to 500+ paying clients with an MVP. AMA!

Hey, all!

I’m Erman - I have realized not many indie hackers are into Shopify Apps so I thought an AMA would be helpful!

10 months ago, we launched our very first Shopify app: Analyzify. We knew we were solving a good problem - but we didn’t expect this much traction. We have reached 500+ paying clients and $15K/monthly revenue only with the very first version of our product.

Analyzify Shopify App Growth

A short background story ✍️
We have been offering productized services on the Upwork market for over 4 years now. We noticed that Shopify merchants always came with similar requests:

  • Fix my Analytics
  • Connect my store to Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics 4
  • My Ads conversions aren’t working, etc.

Initially, we were using some products that didn’t meet our clients' needs and had pricing that wasn’t really beginner-friendly, so we decided to develop our own app. We first thought it would be a private app and that we would only use it on our projects.

Painful first period 🤕
After the first 10 clients, I have almost regretted that we did this. As explained shortly here and there; we attracted some clients that had their own custom setup and requirements, and truly this was something I didn’t expect at all. I thought “Well, nothing is as easy as it first seems anyways!”

50, 100, 250, 500 clients 🤩
We have passed the test - and managed to make all of our tough cases happy. We started to receive tremendous reviews and more importantly - regular clients: The clients that didn’t have complex cases - and our app and support were more than enough to solve their problems. We started to gain traction. The free course we have created on Youtube helped us tremendously with the sales - and we have gotten 50+ reviews only in 5 months!

Shopify as a Market 🚀
Just incredible - especially after they removed the 20% commissions from the app store in August. It is a marketplace with 1.7 million merchants, most of them profitable - and with zero commission. We are quite happy to be here and we plan on continuing to build products for the Shopify app store.

My humble suggestions 🔖

  • Shopify is growing rapidly, and all merchants need APPs - lots of apps! Definitely consider building for the Shopify marketplace (theme, apps),
  • You can also build with no-code, there are some cool examples out there! Source: @jamesdevonport ' #NoCodeSaaS newsletter
  • Don’t rely on the App store for sales - you need to build your own channel and audience if you want to gain fast traction. Create relevant long-form content (youtube, articles, so on) (eg: A Complete Guide to Shopify Analytics)
  • Go above and beyond your product with support by guiding merchants more within the app & whenever they reach out for support
  • Hang out in Shopify community forums and DTC Twitter - merchants keep giving new app ideas
  • Don’t fear the competition! 1.7 million stores - remember?

You can follow me on Twitter @ErmanKuplu - and get more information about the product on our website: https://analyzify.app

Always happy to help and Ask Me Anything!

  1. 8

    Congrats on your success! You mentioned that one shouldn't rely on the app store for sales, I totally agree! Specific to your shopify app, how are you finding potential clients?

    1. 10

      App store still brings good amount of sales to many merchants including us. However, it would be pity only to focus on that. We focus more on organic channels: Youtube, articles, free tools such as:

      I hope it was helpful!

      1. 1

        This is great detail, thanks for share @ekuplu and congrats on your progress!

        I have a question...

        With all of these organic channels, how did you promote/get attention to each of them? For example, I notice with your YT video that you have a decent amount of views. How did you drive traffic/awareness to YT, content pillars, etc..?

        1. 2

          Thanks for the nice words - glad it was helpful.

          Youtube naturally ranked the videos from day #2. The content is so useful and actionable - I guess that helped. I was trying to distribute the videos/articles into forums/Reddit in the first few weeks - but then I stopped doing that because the organic growth was enough.

          I guess GA4 Wizard (helps Shopify merchants to install Google Analytics 4 into their stores) - the free tool (and video) we have made was the trigger for all. It probably brought us credibility/authority in the first place.

          I have answered almost every single comment - and did the classic Youtube SEO and normal SEO stuff.

          Content pillars are quite new - but we keep adding more and more content.

          I hope I could answer. Feel free to add a follow-up question if you have one.

          PS: Good luck with No-CodeQuest. We're moving Analyzify to No-Code as well :)

          1. 1

            Thanks for the detailed reply @ekuplu

            Interesting direction you're moving in with the NoCode, feel free to reach out if you think I can offer any insights 👍

            1. 2

              Thanks! I'll make sure to announce here as well once we launch with the No-Code version of the app.

      2. 1

        This comment was deleted a month ago.

  2. 8

    Great work! But why a one-time fee instead of a subscription?

    1. 9

      Great question. The core version of the app doesn't have any ongoing cost because we are just using Google toolset (GTM, GA, GDS, etc). That's why we wanted to charge a one-time fee.

      However, we are now adding a few new add-ons that provide an ongoing value and also use our servers. We'll be charging the new add-ons a monthly fee and the core version will remain as a one-time fee.

  3. 4

    Hi @ekuplu - congratulations! Thanks for writing and sharing. Couple questions:

    1. How many members on your team building / operating the App?
    2. How long did you spend to build once you identified and decided on the problem? You mentioned 4 years of prior experience, was that within Shopify ecosystem?
    3. How much time does customer support take on an ongoing basis? I understand that certain Apps can be support heavy and reviews often come from clients who have been happy with a support experience. Has that been your experience?
    4. Are there specific Shopify communities / forums you recommend where merchants hang out and talk about problems?

    Congrats again on finding and solving a problem and on the resulting MRR! :)

    1. 7

      Thanks for your nice words and cool questions.

      1. Analyzify support team is 5 people now - only one of them full time. The rest is part-time or freelancer.

      2. We didn't have an intense experience on Shopify. Not exactly sure but we have probably served between 10-20 Shopify merchants before Analyzify. The building process took 4 months - but it could have been faster. I have told the Analyzify's story more detailed here

      3. It does take a lot of time because our app still is in the first version. Our clients can't do many things by themselves because our UX is not so good. We're working in and the new version comes out much more user-friendly. As for reviews, exactly! Most reviews come from the clients who needed our support.

      4. In the beginning, I often checked official Shopify community forum, Reddit and Twitter. I don't have much time now but I still see so much DTC activities on Twitter. However, small merchants aren't there - but in community forums and in their local communities. We once we received 5+ sales from Norway in a day - then I figured they shared Analyzify within a slack group.

      I hope the answers were to the point. Feel free to add follow-up questions if you have :)

      1. 1

        @ekuplu Thanks for your answers! That gives me a good idea. All the best with Anlyzify and the new version!

  4. 2

    You launched the app as free version and later started charging? Or app was buy to install from starting?

    1. 6

      It has been a paid app since day #1. The price was $139. However, we have made a freemium version, not an app - a simple web wizard to help merchants install GA4 on Shopify: GA4 Wizard . We promoted it also on Youtube.

      However, we haven't emailed those leads that come through GA4 Wizard. We didn't have for new sales.

  5. 2

    When are you planning an exit?

    1. 7

      Frankly speaking, I don't think we will ever exit or get a VC involved. We don't have a plan or intention about it. We are happy with our growth and income - we just want to keep growing and create new products!

      I'm asking out of curiosity - why would I exit if I am really happy with the income, product, team, my life, and all others?

  6. 2

    When I see @jamesdevonport newsletter, I realized how many problems can solve with Bubble and Shopify together. After all, I would like to say that I am very happy to develop this product on bubble with @ekuplu and @jamesdevonport.

    If you want to solve the problems around you with Bubble and Shopify, you should follow @jamesdevonport newsletter

    1. 1

      Thanks for your great efforts, Enes!

  7. 2

    How can you build a shopify app with nocode?

    You can also build with no-code, there are some cool examples out there! Source: @jamesdevonport ' #NoCodeSaaS newsletter

    1. 4

      Make sure to read/subscribe to James' newsletter > https://nocodesaas.app/ We are also re-creating our app with Bubble now. It will be so much better and easier to manage.

      1. 1

        Interesting - why do you think it will be so much easier to manage with Bubble vs Ruby & Rails?

        1. 1

          The product team won't be dependent on the developers to make changes on the front-end. We want to improve the onboarding & setup flow all the time - and it is hard to deploy & test the new flows all the time. The changes we want to do are quite simple most of the time - adding/editing tooltips, videos, field names, adding new add-ons, changing prices, etc.

          We will still have the backend developed in GO language - and the Bubble will communicate it via API.

          Do you agree with me @jamesdevonport? :)

    2. 4

      Yes you can build pretty amazing things with Bubble now!

      I'm currently running https://userloop.io which is a Shopify app built entirely on Bubble, over 100 stores using it and 30k customer feedback messages processed so far :)

      1. 1

        Very interesting. Are there any resources specifically for building Shopify apps with Bubble?

      2. 1

        Didn't knew we can build and publish Shopify app using Bubble.

        1. 3

          Me neither! I saw it from James' Twit - and couldn't believe. Because it was so hard for us to make changes on Ruby & Rails. That's why we have actually stayed in the first version of our app.

          Now the V2 is coming - powered by Bubble!

  8. 2

    Hey this is awesome, thanks for sharing.

    Smart how you leveraged your client knowledge to launch the idea. Any general advice for an aspiring Shopify dev who is completely new to the ecosystem?

    Also - before you started getting traction with your Youtube course, how did you get your first customers?

    1. 2

      Thanks for your nice words!

      As general advice, the ones above - read the forums and Twitter carefully. You'll find great product ideas. And you can even make the first version with NoCode > https://nocodesaas.app/

      I guess our first clients came through the Shopify App store + Our freemium version (a simple WordPress form) that we called Analyzify GA4 Wizard.

      I hope it was helpful! Any other specific questions?

  9. 1

    Which problem needs to be solved for Shopify merchants?

  10. 1

    How to find Shopify app ideas? I am not a merchant, so I don't have much experience with it. How can I find great Shopify app ideas which can add value to merchant and their customers. I don't know any merchant and its hard to contact merchants personally and ask them.

  11. 1

    I'd ask a few questions but all of them already asked by others. So thanks for your sincere answers @ekuplu, and please share updates about your growth story. That will be really helpful for every indie hacker, even he/she is not focusing on Shopify.

    1. 1

      Thanks for your nice words, Fırat! I'll surely keep sharing.

  12. 1

    You said merchants are always looking for app X or Y. How would one go about to find out what merchants need? Directly talk to shop owners and ask them what they're missing? It's not like there's one single website we all could visit that lists all the unfulfilled needs of Shopify merchants. How would you go about this?

    1. 2

      Of course, talking to them is great - but not quite easy to do. You need to talk to 10s of them to get meaningful data.

      As suggested above - the best way is to hang out where merchants do: Shopify Community Forum, Facebook Groups, Slack groups, DTC Twitter -- many others. Merchants constantly provide feedback for app developers.

      Or just start serving them - make them your client. Then you will be quite close to them and the Shopify ecosystem. That's how we found our way.

  13. 1

    Just added my vote as well :) Such a great story and a really useful tool for Shopify merchants you guys have created. Now that you're looking to build new add-ons and also launch a new version, are you going to continue bootstrapping or is there any plan to use external funds ?

    1. 1

      Thanks!

      I don't know what the future brings but I personally don't like the idea of VCs. I am happy staying independent and bootstrapped.

      However, we needed some funding and got it from https://epsifund.com/. I loved the concept of revenue-based funding.

      I think it is great for people like me who is kind of not attractive or ambitious towards VCs, big funds or exits :)

      What's on your plate? :)

  14. 1

    Can you explain some more about the productized services you were selling on upwork?

  15. 1

    @ekuplu, love your story!! I would love to publish it on https://thebootstrappedway.com/ is that ok? 😁

    1. 1

      Hey Daniel, I donated a tiny bit for access to it. Thanks, this is a really good resource. Does this remain permanently in my airtable account ,as a database I can always access? Don't know much about airtable or whether you can download it.

      1. 1

        @coffeeMusicCode, thanks for your donation! 👏
        yes, the file will be accessible anytime in your Airtable account, and it can't be downloaded, it's just a way to protect the info to be copy-pasted and sold further ... you can reach out to me anytime if you have any questions

    2. 1

      Of course - would be glad! Thanks. Let me know if you have any specific questions!

  16. 1

    Congrats! Such a good idea. I had a similar business plan a few years back but didn't want to run a service business. Curious how you plan on (or if you already) automating the process?

    1. 1

      Thanks! Analyzify is not a service business - it is an app. However, we also provide setup support. So we do the setup for the clients if they want our help - at no extra cost. Some other apps in the market charge for this and we don't.

      We do have two setup options: Do-It-Yourself and Done-For-You. It is completely self-service as merchants wish.

      What was the domain you were thinking of? I am happy to provide thoughts if you want a second thought.

  17. 1

    Hey Erman! Congrats.
    I see the set of problems merchants have with existing shopify ecosystem are still not more than a dozen. Do you see any scope in earning potential if I start doing apps (with a better ux/results) which has 2-3 existing competitors? I hear stories that's its super hard to get thing off the ground if you don't have existing audience.

    Any advice?

    1. 1

      Thanks!!

      I have a dozen only on my list only on our domain. And I am sure there are many other problems or the parts that could be better - especially after the last unite event. Shopify keeps opening up new fields for the apps/themes. Now Shopify Hydrogen came out - and that's enough of a huge opportunity.

      As for the competition; I haven't experienced that. Our market is relatively small - and the clients aren't aware of the need. So we started educating them through Youtube.

      I think the same could apply to many other solutions. I wouldn't go for a market like "email marketing" or "SEO".

      However, when I check the "booking apps" - there are 10+ players and a new one could succeed to have a 5.0 and got too many reviews (https://apps.shopify.com/appointo/reviews?page=9). From the first look, the company doesn't seem to have an audience; they don't even have a specific website for this app.

      So probably, the "BETTER APP & CUSTOMER SUPPORT" concept worked.

      PS: I don't know this app, I started to search for examples after your message :)

      1. 1

        Thanks. This is helpful.

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