This is the first in a series of interviews I'll do with founders who have significantly grown their bootstrapped businesses.
Hey, my name is Max, and I am a maker, entrepreneur, and investor. I have been building internet projects and businesses since I was 13 years old. Back then, I started making and selling websites, graphics and also went into online gaming.
My first big company was a startup in the educational space. These projects had one thing in common - they allowed me to combine my passion for building things, sharing knowledge, and enabling growth for the people around me.
Right now, I would see myself as a half-time maker and a half-time investor. With my main project, BaseTemplates, I am helping founders get funded.
BaseTemplates is a place where you as a founder can get help getting fundraising ready. We sell high-quality pitch decks & fundraising templates that save you a ton of time and money and create a vast amount of content & free tools that share the best strategies and experiences of successful founders with the ones that are just getting started.
In 2019 I was still operating my education startup, but was always attracted to test out new ideas. With one of these ideas, I wanted to participate in a contest. As I needed to build a pitch deck quickly, I searched for a great-looking and easy-to-use template. And somehow, I found BaseTemplates Pitch Deck Template, bought it, and won the competition.
Some weeks later, I found out that the guy who had initially created the product wanted to sell the whole business, and I was on fire right away. So I jumped into the numbers right away and talked a lot with the founder about what already worked.
And in the numbers, I found some exciting things. Firstly, sales were coming in every day without spending a dime on marketing, and secondly, there were two spikes in the revenue when the founder had launched the templates on ProductHunt.
After seeing that, I wanted to buy the business even more because I thought to myself: “How cool would it be to have a business that generates money while I was asleep without spending money on marketing”.
Besides that, I was always interested in fundraising and was responsible for our seed-funding in my previous companies as well. Due to that, I made an offer right away, and luckily we quickly agreed.
A lot. When I took over BaseTemplates, just one product and a small content section existed.
The first thing I did was creating a plan that made it possible to 10x the business.
Part of this plan was to migrate the website to a new CMS, develop and improve the content and finally find new marketing channels for the additional products I was planning to build.
About a year and a half later, BaseTemplates offers five paid products and several free resources and tools. Not only was I able to massively increase the number of users that are coming to the website every day, but I was also able to increase the revenue massively.
And the best part about this is that I have helped thousands of founders with their fundraising to create great things.
In my opinion, building something is the easy part, but selling it is hard. If you can do both, you are unstoppable.
When I took over BaseTemplates there was mainly organic traffic which came from a couple of blog articles. Besides that, I already had some larger websites that referred to the pitch deck template.
At that point, I decided that it would be a great idea to produce more content around startups, fundraising, and pitch decks. So, I wrote 30 new blog posts and created specific pages for long-tail keywords like “Pitch Deck Business Model Slide”.
As a second building block, I started building little freebie products and resources. The first of that kind was PitchDeckHunt - a collection of 150+ pitch decks from industry-leading startups worldwide. We launched it on ProductHunt, got over 1000 Upvotes and a ton of initial traffic. Furthermore, we acquired a ton of backlinks by reaching out to other websites that were linking to pitch deck collections. With this tactic, we managed to get a lot of links, because most of the other collections were not as good as PitchDeckHunt.
PitchDeckHunt still drives a considerable amount of traffic to BaseTemplates every day. So to bring more customers over to BaseTemplates, I additionally created the “Investor Pitch Training” and a “Fundraising Checklist”.
The third and most important thing was to leverage the power of ProductHunt. At the beginning of my BaseTemplates journey, I had never launched something myself or even know someone who had. But I tried it out myself, and it not only drove thousands of people to our page for the days of the launch but, more importantly, created backlinks and features all around the web. These helped me to increase the revenue to a new level after every launch. So, I decided to launch every product I have build, and the community loved it.
And the love of the community is the most significant growth hack you can think of. If someone loves the stuff you are building - they will be posting about it and tell their peers.
That’s what happened with BaseTemplates and is still happening. You will find us spread all over the web - from forums to Twitter posts.
The last growth strategy for me was acquiring affiliate partners. I asked myself where founders spend their time and found interesting pages like OpenVC - I reached out to the makers and cut them a fair revenue share deal. Using this technique, I onboarded five partners that account for 5-10% of the total revenue at the moment.
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I create most of the revenue by selling digital products. In BaseTemplates' case, it’s the pitch deck, fundraising, and financial model templates you can download by paying a one-time fee that is somewhere between $39 and $99.
Besides that, I also offer custom pitch deck designs for startups that need more support. These decks cost around $500-$2000.
When I took over BaseTemplates at the end of 2019, the business was around $500 in monthly revenue. With all the initiatives mentioned above, I've grown it to over $10k per month right now.
The website is running on Webflow, which was a massive game-changer for the quality and traffic. Besides that, I use Mailerlite for the newsletters and SendOwl as the shopping system.
When I was first raising money for my startup, I had no idea how the game works. And I made every mistake you can think of.
So my main goal is to help more founders get funded to change the world and pursue their dreams.
To be able to achieve this goal, more founders have to learn about BaseTemplates. I will archive that if I keep adding value to the community with my content, tools, and products.
Focus. Focus. Focus.
If you are just starting, you could easily be distracted by all the opportunities of marketing channels and features you can build. If I started something from scratch now, I would narrow down what I am working on to the minimum.
Build a fantastic product for a specific group of users and find one marketing channel you can grow with. And then push it.
Besides that, just enjoy the process. The building is one of the best things in the world.
You can read more about how to raise money for your startup on BaseTemplates.
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