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I bootstrapped GrowSurf, a B2B SaaS, to $30k MRR. AMA.

Hey IH!

I am one of the co-founders of GrowSurf, a referral software for B2C and B2B tech companies.

Previously I founded a UX/UI design education company that was acquired by WeWork/Flatiron.

Ask me anything :)

You can follow me on Twitter here where I build in public.

  1. 3

    Love the story Kevin!

    What’s been your most successful acquisition channel so far? I guess the referral space holds a few competitors, is everyone scraping to win the same or similar customers?

    1. 3

      Thanks Chris!

      Most successful channels so far are SEO and word of mouth. It's pretty common for our customers to find us via Google, compare 5-10 other providers, and then eventually realize we are the best-fit for them through more digging and research.

      The referral space seems saturated, but only if you look from afar. It's in the fine details where our target customers will find out our product was built for them (from the language we use on our marketing site to the features in our product).

      For example, we are not a good fit at all for eCommerce companies. One of our initial mistakes early on was thinking we could tackle referral marketing for "all businesses" but this just resulted in an inadequate product that wasn't useful for anyone.

      Word of mouth has been ramping up for us this past year as our product has gotten more mature, is starting to fit more like a glove, and customers are sharing us with their friends.

  2. 2

    Nice work Kevin - this is impressive and I like the attention to detail with the tutorial videos

    • How many employees do you have
    • How long did the app / site take from inception to the current day.
    • What tech tack are you using

    Look forward to learning more.

    1. 2

      Thanks!

      • We currently have 3 employees (plus 2 founders, including myself)
      • We built version 1.0 in a few months, but it took us at least a full year to see any meaningful traction. I wrote a more detailed post about this here. Long story short, lots of iteration and persistence to brute-force product+customer fit.
      • Tech stack is Node.js, Mongo, AngularJS, and many other services/SaaS to make it all work
      1. 1

        Why do you choose AngularJS than other frameworks? We know about the Frameworks war out there, but to my knowledge, Angular is preferable if you have large and TypeScript proficiency team. You just answered your employees number, so what is your consideration on choosing Angular?

        1. 3

          AngularJS is a dinosaur in today's JS environment. But back then (4 years ago) it was something we (2 founders) were familiar with and could ship things quick with.

  3. 1

    Hi Kevin, Just read ur latest post, and thanks for your sharing.
    I have some questions about the product's pricing:

    1. The price is as same as the beginning, or do you rise it after you got more customers?
    2. Are you satisfied with the pricing at the moment? Any plan to change it in the future?

    Thanks :)

    1. 1

      Hi wwayne,

      1. We had very low pricing when we started because we didn't understand who our customers were. After we started to understand what types of results, value, and benefits we provided is when we started to adjust pricing to make more sense.

      2. Pricing is something we are always working on improving. As the product continues to mature, as we increase our customer success and technical support, and get better customers, we'll revisit pricing to adjust accordingly.

  4. 1

    Impressive Kevin! Started following you.

    What do you feel is still a problem to be solved in the referral space?

    1. 1

      Thanks! The problem started back when we wanted our own plug-and-play referral solution. This remains the problem we continue to solve today.

      Back then, tools like Heroku (if you want to quickly deploy a web app) and Mailchimp (sending out marketing emails) were go-to tools that every SaaS startup would know and use. We didn't quite see a referral tool for tech startups of this nature. Ideally, we wanted someone else to built it, but they never did so we took the leap instead.

      1. 1

        Awesome, story by the book! All the best

  5. 1

    A bit of a private question, so fully understand if you prefer not to answer - we're around the same place as you, just passed 30k MRR a few months ago, and we're dealing with a lot of inbound interest from PE firms. I'm wondering how you've been dealing with that, if you have specific goals / benchmarks you would like to hit (I saw you put $1MM/ARR on your twitter bio), and if you have plans for a potential acquisition in the future.

    1. 4

      Congrats! I'm sure that wasn't easy 💪

      From what I've seen and heard in and outside the Twittersphere, it's worth reaching $1MM ARR.

      Andrew @MicroAcquire would also be a great person to ask about this too!

      Acquisition in the future could be nice, but not something we're gunning for immediately by any means. GrowSurf is basically my dream job -- everything from customers/product/market/team/culture, so focusing on all that is what makes things fun.

      We get people reaching out to us every now and then, but we just tell them we're not interested in selling b/c we know exactly how much hard work we put in thus far. From my own experiences, I've learned to be much more patient through the lows.

      1. 5

        The key for ARR valuations & multiples is growth and ideally a strategic buyer. See here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rzHHBwB_wU&list=PLO30Q8WzVLKNAtUHELW4mVikad_K7UF4G&index=2

        1. 2

          Awesome stuff in the video Andrew!

          Would you agree with Rob Walling that valuation multiples tend to get higher when businesses are over the $1M ARR mark?

          1. 1

            When selling a company, $10m/ARR is the magic number, that's when you get into the 10X ARR multiples you always hear about because you've reached scale.

            However I am seeing ARR multiples for GROWING SaaS companies, ones being ran at break even / profitable. Key is growth.

      2. 3

        Hey I know that guy!

        1. 2

          Dude's a legend. I hear he bootstrapped to $50k MRR with just two people 🤯

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