Every story has a beginning. Ours had a sour one. I want to share it and tell you how we went from earning nothing to reaching 35K MRR!
Hi, I’m Nik Shevchenko. I am a founder of a now successful startup and another one, less so. A couple of years ago, I started fundplatform.io, a product that I had faith in but that ultimately failed to take off and soar to the highs I imagined. All in all, I lost more than $100K in this "little" operation that left me wondering what to do next. Currently, I am a founder of welovenocode.com that just recently achieved $35k MRR
The story about my first startup is quite educational. However, it eventually led me to the path that turned me into the founder of one of up and coming app development companies!
Then, a fateful day happened. I attended a random webinar with some no-code developers. The process looked interesting and, more importantly, always lead to a result that you can see and use! So I decided to try being a no-code freelance developer. One hour later I was building my first MVP in Bubble.
If you are not yet familiar with no-code: no-code tools allow you to build projects without writing a single line of code.
The start of my work as a no-code developer was humble. I took on a few projects from my friends and created them on Tilda and Bubble. Those are no-code platforms. It all cost my first clients about $1000 each.
I didn’t do any advertising or marketing (something that will be very important later on) and relied on the word of mouth to get orders. Here is where the first important tip comes in:
TIP: If you want to get customers by word of mouth - always focus on delivering a result that will satisfy your customer. It will bring you more work!
By the end of 2019, I finished 8 projects and started realizing that I was moving without moving. I froze in a perpetual cycle of taking and order and completing it. My projects took up to 80% of my time leaving me without any free time to improve my business model.
The same way millions of freelancers live and work. They sell their time instead of getting equity in something big.
So I asked myself: How do I get out of this never-ending circle? The single most important idea that came to me during that period was to abandon development by myself in favor of inviting people to learn and develop with me. I wanted to delegate the development process to focus solely on selling the service. It all started 8 months ago.
I found 2 guys on a local freelance platform. They were already into no-code development to some degree. They used some of the most important no-code development tools but had no idea that they were already in the no-code development business. I gave them some of my projects but ensured that they prioritized them.
What we needed now was a place for other people to find us and find out about our service. I made a landing page that told about no-code development and invited leads to book a call. I used my acquired knowledge of Tilda to create a simple site that was all about efficiency.
This is how welovenocode.com began
TIP: Use powerful tools such as Tilda, Wordpress or Webflow and learn them extensively. It will help you build landing pages and projects for your own professional and commercial growth.
The landing page contained the bare minimum of information and a contact form in a pop-up window. Again, most of the work came through good word of mouth. We get a client, make them happy, and they bring more clients.
I actually went to the time machine web archive to check how our website looked back then but only found a version of 7th of August of 2020.
It guess it looked pretty similar to the initial version.
One of the most important aspects of our service was the fact that we charged for the service hourly. We had some success, but it was nothing exceptional — a couple of bucks here, a small project here. However, we started getting momentum and some really good calls from clients.
I made a couple of very important steps as the leader of our team of devs:
So in order to scale we I understood that we need more developers. But where fo find them? We decided to educate... and it worked!
We made a landing page that invited all interested people to an intensive development course. The result would have been an opportunity to work on a project. We received 300 (sic!) registrations and chose the 100 most promising people. Out of this hundred, only 30 remained by the end and only 7 were hired to build app templates.
TIP: Leverage the power of advertising. We focused heavily on Facebook ads to ensure that we had solid traffic. It was a very successful campaign that cost me very little. We received 40 leads of which 3 ended up buying our offer. We made $ 8,000.
We needed a salesman. Someone capable of talking to clients, explaining to them our advantages, and, more importantly, selling it. We actually had special intensive courses for our salesmen as well.
TIP: One of my biggest revelations was the fact that you cannot hire people and offer them a steady salary for sales. The commission is the only way to go. Our first manager stuck with us through thick and clear, but the second one left. So, here’s another…
TIP: Always hire two people for the same position. It will prevent a situation where someone quits and leaves you without a specialist to cover their absence.
We started writing articles and shared them using Facebook and other social media platforms in an effort to quickly reach our core audience. All in all, without any additional marketing, we received about 10 thousand clicks and 20 new orders.
TIP: Creating text-based content is a long-term investment. They will be a good instrument for SEO further down the line. It is also fun to tell stories about your work. Trust me.
However, you can get a pretty decent amount of one-time traffic if you post your articles in social media groups.
Our revenue by the end of December slowly crept to $20K per month. While it felt great, the lack of time started becoming an issue. Delegating tasks was no longer an efficient strategy. Automation was the only answer. However, I didn’t want to go the route of service aggregators or become a new freelance platform.
TIP: The way to do everything yourself does not exist. People have a finite capacity for how much they can do. Look into automation options ASAP!
The December of 2020 brought something new. We came up with an idea to create a platform that would automatically search optimal developers with specific skills relative to that order and assign them to these devs. So we decided to launch it.
Our main offer was a low-cost no-code development subscription service. People can subscribe to receive no-code development services from the best, tested professionals. The product allows anyone to start a project quickly and efficiently and yet cheaply — a demand that is clearly present in the market.
The first version came out from the oven within 2 weeks. By December 19, we already had a working prototype that could be published.
TIP: Always prioritize. One of our developers concentrated on this project while others continued working with clients. It is crucial to dedicate the required resources to your prioritized goal. In our case, to the product, we were about to launch. Otherwise, you'll end up switching from project to project and will be left with nothing.
We decided that we need a huge spike in traffic before the holidays so that we could pay a salary to the developers. After thinking of the best way to get much traffic we understood - we need to launch on Product Hunt. And we became top-1 Product of the day.
In order to launch, you need 2 simple things: A product and a short video (not necessary but nice to have).
The video you can get on Upwork (I ordered it for $200) and the product should be created by you or your team members.
As for our product, we offered trial-versions so that people would know the quality of our work before they subscribe. The interest in our trial program showed us that we had the right idea and that the product is demanded.
After a couple of hours, on the worst day to launch (Sunday), and a very small launching event… We became TOP1 product of the day, got over 500 upvotes, and over $ 20,000 in orders.
TIP: Your product must be useful and in-demand. Also, you should search for a good market where even a subpar product will have a chance to succeed.
-PRODUCT HUNT gives you thicc traffic. I think that there is no better way to acquire clients early on rather than to launch your product on ProductHunt.
-You must aim to get popular. Getting into the Popular category is essential. If you didn't reach this subgoal, launch another time when you can get in this precious category!
-You DON’T need "hunters". The only free cheese is in the mousetrap. You can do everything yourself. With enough dedication and hard work... and a little luck!
-Share and send messages, ask for upvotes and feedback. Sending out a short description of your launch and asking for valuable comments and engagement is crucial!
-Don’t launch subsequent products within 6 months. It means that you should not use a single account to publish two different products within 6 months from each other. It may lead to a ban from Producthunt.
Link to our verified revenue profile: https://www.indiehackers.com/product/welovenocode
So, the service is in-demand and there is a market for it. We realized it as Christmas eve was looming on us. While others spent time with families and relaxed, we worked our bottoms off. A product won’t build itself. We invested all we had to utilize the momentum as well as possible.
I think that working hard to reach our goals was something that allowed us to succeed. We skipped Christmas, didn't take days off for the New Year celebration, and worked as hard as we could while fireworks were shooting outside. Was it worth it? Was all this hard work meaningful?
By the end of January, we had finished 20 trials to show off our efficiency. We also reached our $ 35,000 MRR goal. So, yeah... I think it WAS WORTH it. There will be another Christmas. There may not be another successful product launch.
TIP: Working through hardships may feel intimidating but the satisfaction and recognition will make it very rewarding. Don’t give up or slack off on your way to success.
Is it possible to get from zero to $35k MRR in 8 months? Yes. How? Well, it depends on many factors. But! You being a founder is a very important one that should receive the strongest focus. Here are some additional tips that I, as a founder, think may help you.
TIP 1. Look for think-alike's who will help you push the product forward.
You also must find someone capable of constantly keeping everyone agitated and engaged so that no one slacks off. This person can be a cofounder or an operations manager.
TIP 2. It is ALWAYS better to overdeliver than to overpromise.
We had a moment in our journey when we failed to deliver the product that our client "saw" and had to return the money. This is why we give our clients a trial. From 100 clients, two were unhappy with us. These two people are like a drop in an ocean, but it can be a very very negative drop!
TIP 3. Focus on tasks that directly affect your bottom line!
To do so, the founder must do what he knows best — I knew how to sell the product and I know how to teach others to delegate tasks more efficiently.
TIP 4. Everything can be done without coding.
Don’t hire a programmer. It is always a good idea to learn how to no-code yourself.
TIP 5. ProductHunt works.
End of story. It is a place where you WILL find your first clients.
TIP 6. Stop being the one responsible for operational tasks
The main goal of a founder is to stop being the one responsible for operational tasks and make the whole business model as automated as possible.
So, what product allowed us to go from 0 to $ 35,000 MRR? You can and should learn about it here: https://welovenocode.com
Also, consider a trial to check out how the system works. We will be more than happy to see more people who think like us!
And this is the full article about how we started from $0 and made it to $35k MRR
P.S. This is my first story on Indie Hackers but I spent the entire week trying to make it useful. I really hope you'll like it