60
36 Comments

Friendly crossed $10k MRR! Here are my 10 most important learnings

Friendly crossed $10k MRR! 🥳

It took us 1 year, 1 month and 25 days to get there.

Here are my 10 most important learnings from growing to 10k MRR:

1. Start with the audience, not with the idea.

This tip from @arvidkahl helped me a lot to decide which products to create.

Since I already had a large audience of marketing professionals, I made something that audience might need.

2. Be persistent.

It took us over 50 trial cancellations and 30 churns to get to the 81 active subscriptions that we have now.

3. Data protection is not a burden, it's an advantage.

We pay more by hosting our customers' data at local European providers instead of the clouds of Big Tech: https://friendly.is/manifesto

Many companies choose us because of this. It helps them avoid legal risks.

4. Find your communication sweet spot.

Talk about what interests you, what interests your audience and with what you have credibilty.

This is the content that will resonate the most.

I learnt this from @dvassallo's Twitter course.

5. Be transparent.

We've followed the example of @buffer, @nomadlist et al by becoming an Open Startup & publishing our metrics: https://friendly.is/open

This does not only create trust with buyers and employees, but also gives you a lot of original content to share.

6. Don’t go out looking for customers, go looking for partnerships.

I got this advice from Daniel Priestley. And it proved right: partners became our primary acquision channel.

Here’s how you can build an own affiliate program w/ only 30 lines of code:

https://friendly.is/en/affiliate-diy

7. Avoid building on someone else's platform

I've learned from growing Wortspiel what it means to be dependent on the goodwill of platforms like Google and Facebook.

That's why at Friendly we rely only on open standards, like the web and email.

8. Embrace open source

We got started super fast thanks to open source. We went from idea to the launch of our first product on Product Hunt in only 26 days!

And we like to give back to the open source community by sponsoring and contributing code.

9. Grow better, not bigger.

Everyone tells you to grow. Few people tell you that growing fast or even taking outside money massively increases your odds of failing.

I recommend the book Company of One by @pjrvs if you want to learn more about this approach.

10. Enjoy the process

You're probably going to have to do what you're doing now for a long time. Therefore, you should rather make this time enjoyable.

In the beginning I was too ambitious by working many over hours. Now I try to compress everything important into half a day.

The rest of the day I can do whatever I feel like: make walks in the forest, spend time with friends and family, or explore that new idea.

Thanks for reading

If you enjoyed this, you might like our newsletter 🙂

You'll get:

  1. Insights from our journey as a bootstrapped open startup
  2. Marketing best practices from our experience helping 70+ customers
  3. Friendly surprises

Sign up here: https://friendly.is/newsletter

  1. 7

    Congrats Stefan, love to see this! And I can see the need of Friendly.is

    I run /r/SaaS with ~19k subscribers — can I help you with some extra exposure?

    1. 1

      That would be amazing! Would you publish it there, or should I?

      1. 1

        If I'd post it, people will think I crossed $10k MRR 😳 Feel free to post it and let's connect so we can chat about it! Mind DM-ing me? https://twitter.com/chddaniel

    2. 1

      what kind of audience do you have some products i will love to collaborate with

      1. 1

        Our target group are SMEs that need marketing automation or web analytics software, and who value privacy.

  2. 3

    I'll second point 6:

    Nothing moved the MRR needle for Zlappo more than partnerships/biz dev.

    It's also less work to "outsource" lead generation and distribution to partners and affiliates who specialize in it.

    Win-win.

    1. 2

      Absolutely. It is a form of marketing where you only pay for results (= customers). No other channel offers this.

      1. 1

        Yes, it's awesome to just pay for results.

        Also in order for affiliates to sell on your behalf, they have to speak highly of your product/service in order to drive referrals to your site -- this results in positive word-of-mouth marketing and social signals, even if they disclose affiliate status.

        The funny thing is I've put off partnerships for so long, because I've read somewhere on Paul Graham's site that they are mostly a waste of time.

        Guess he's wrong on that, or at least his view is obsolete.

  3. 3

    Schön zu sehen, dass Indie Hacking auch langsam im DACH-Raum ankommt! Leider ist das DE-Finanzamt noch ein bisschen hinterher, die Schweizer sind da sicher weiter!

    /german-off

    Great advice, great Product!

    1. 1

      Haha yeah! The Swiss tax authorities are indeed easier to work with than their German counterparts.

      And thanks for the compliments!

  4. 3

    Great post @StefanVetter . Start with the audience is a really good tip. And you choose an audience you are comfortable with.

    1. 1

      Thank you. Yes, that tip from Arvid is great.

  5. 2

    Great piece! Running in tomorrow's newsletter. Thanks for sharing!

    1. 1

      This comment was deleted 25 days ago.

  6. 2

    Congrats @StefanVetter! And thanks for the insights above.

  7. 2

    Hi @StefanVetter, great advices!
    Do you have any recommendations on how to find (good) partners for your affiliation program?

    Cheers from Lausanne.

    1. 1

      Build a brand. They they'll come to you.

  8. 2

    Thank you for the post @StefanVetter! and congrats! 🤩

  9. 2

    This post is literally jam packed with value! Thanks for sharing the insights @StefanVetter!

    1. 1

      Thank you so much, Harsh!

  10. 1

    Love the open source learning. Would love to hear more about what went into that 10k MRR:
    https://www.indiehackers.com/post/tell-me-the-other-half-of-your-success-story-7dec3e3d17

  11. 1

    Fantastic read! Loved the photos and golden takeaways. Can I share this thread on our weekly Kern.al newsletter? Drop me a note at [email protected] if you're interested.

  12. 1

    Congrats @StefanVetter nice to see a Swiss IH doing amazingly.
    LG Semir (Luzerner in London)

  13. 1

    Congratulations Stefan!
    Do you see that most of your clients are coming through the affiliates?
    Where are you able to find the right partners?

    Do you think you are going to offer also a bundle product, analytics + automate?

    Thank you in advance :)

    1. 1

      Yes, so far most of our customers came through affiliates. This is a breakdown by subscription source:

      • Affiliates: 29
      • Personal network: 12
      • Search Engine Advertising: 9
      • SEO: 6
      • Links from other sites: 5
      • Social Media: 2
      • Product Hunt: 1
      • Others / unknown: 17

      Most of our affiliates actually saw our products through my social media postings or on platforms like Indie Hackers and reached out to us to become a partner. I acquired only a few partners manually from my existing network.

      And yes, we are definitely going to offer product bundles!

      1. 1

        Thank you Stefan for this great breakdown!

  14. 1

    Interesting read.
    It looks like you implemented multiple currencies for billing. How did you do that?

    1. 1

      Actually I coded this for myself. I have made a custom JavaScript that queries an API to get the location based on the visitor's IP address and then sets the currency accordingly.

      If you want a simpler solution for yourself, priceunlock.com by fellow Indie Hacker @chddaniel might be what you need.

      1. 2

        Thx for pointing us out Stefan! Yep @AlexBuran (btw I recognize your name from my subreddit /r/SaaS!), that's what we're working very hard to solve. So

        • AntiVPN measures put in place
        • Easy price localization
        • Flexible price localization e.g. 1) show prices in the local currency, charge in local currency, 2) show prices in local currency but charge in your many currency or 3) just show your main currency, but a different price etc.
        • Easy A/B price testing

        And many more! If you're interested, wanna talk about how it'd work for GGLot or ConveyThis? Not a sales call

      2. 1

        Which API you query for geolocation? Did you hit any roadblocks? Is there something you would warn me not to do? I am thinking to try something similar since signing up with Paddle/FastSpring and other folks seems redundant.

        1. 1

          I created an own simple API using the free GeoIP database from MaxMind.

          There are a lot of free or paid services for this available as well like https://ipstack.com.

Trending on Indie Hackers
I write Lenny's Newsletter, the #1 paid business newsletter on Substack, generating over $500k ARR. AMA. 45 comments I built advanced Stripe Payment Links 8 comments Tell me About Your Startup! + would love to learn how you use issue trackers + documentation software. 5 comments 👾 Centralised and Decentralised exchanges… what's the difference? 4 comments Considering Cold Mailing? Here's My Personal Experience! 📧 1 comment How can we improve our pre-launch landing page? 1 comment