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I created a price monitoring SaaS that makes $2M/year! AMA

If someone has told me back in 1996 when I started my online career, that one day I’ll create a price monitoring SaaS that will make $2M/year, I probably wouldn’t believe it. Truth be told, the circumstances in Serbia at that time weren’t favorable either. I’ll try to explain how I got to the idea of creating Price2Spy, from a very unlikely sequence of events, and make it into one of the most successful price monitoring tools in the market.

What is Price2Spy?

Price2Spy, an online price monitoring service (SaaS) was created 10 years ago, mostly out of our own necessity. Our online store TakoLako was facing a sales drop, so we started checking our competitor prices manually. Needless to say, we saw no way out of it until we figured out that we can create software that will do the hard work for us. Back then there were only 2 similar tools on the market, so you can say that we were one of the pioneers.

Today, Price2Spy is a leading online price monitoring service and analytics service that provides comprehensive and suitable solutions for more than 720 eCommerce professionals. Our clients are some of the worlds’ biggest retailers, brands/manufacturers, and distributors who we help to stay profitable in the current competitive market conditions. However, since I know from my experience how difficult every new beginning is, we made sure that Price2Spy can be used by small and medium businesses as well.

How we managed to make $217k/monthly?

The key is in the combined effort of IT development and product promotion. The clients are looking for a product that can fulfill their needs, so you always need to test the waters and work on the features’ updates. Just to tell you one secret - almost 80% of all our features actually came as our clients’ ideas! Never underestimate what clients have to say!

A great product also needs to be promoted. Due to my eCommerce background, I knew that online marketing was essential for the project’s success. Our strategy goes in 3 directions: Google Ads, Content creation, and Going public with the list of websites monitored. But, to attract enterprise clients, you should also consider attending trade shows and professional conferences. Using these strategies for the last 3 years, we’ve been growing 25-30% year on year.

About me

A Software Engineer who keeps seizing business opportunities since 1996. :) One of the ideas that turned out to be the most successful is Price2Spy. In essence, I’m the company’s CEO, but I often also act as a product owner, business analyst (all due to my technical background), and coordinator of our major sales efforts.

AMA about growing a SaaS product, finding more about price monitoring and eCommerce in general, and staying profitable even during the pandemic. Machine learning is another interest of mine, so I’m looking forward to your questions! :)

  1. 4

    Hi Misha!

    Congrats on this enormous success!

    Have you faced any specific difficulties and obstacles setting up the operations in Serbia?
    What are the advantages of setting up business in Serbia compared to some more developed markets?

    Pozdrav iz Berlina :)

    1. 2

      Zdravo Djordje :-)
      Starting up a business in Serbia:
      15 years ago: an abundance of highly skilled young people, low wages.
      Now: Job market very tough for employers, wages on the steep rise, very hard to find talent.

      One more thing which worked against us: we did everything on our own, including sales. Attracting large enterprise clients from the West is very difficult if you're a Serbian company. I believe that if we had a sales partner in the Western Europe / North America - our growth would be much faster. Actually we're still looking for such a partner.

  2. 3

    Well done thanks for sharing. Great story.

    1. 2

      the pleasure is mine :-)

  3. 2

    Hi Misha! Congratulations. 👏

    I only have one question.

    How did you reach the top 100 customers? By the way, I shared your story in my little Discord group. :)

    1. 2

      Many thanks for sharing!
      Most important clients have been reached by word of mouth, which is a great confidence boost (one important client recommends you to another important client).
      Second, organic traffic is important, since clients in our industry know that what you read in Adwords should not be fully trusted - they trust organic results much more.
      Third, there are review sites (Capterra, G2 etc)- you need to have good reviews there

  4. 2

    Thanks for sharing! I love your story.

    Question: Like you said in more recent years tools like this have become more and more popular with more competitors in the space. How does Price2Spy stand out against its competitors? Especially those that might be VC backed or have more Ad dollars to spend.

    Thanks!

    1. 1

      How do we stand out to our competitors?

      • Experience matters (we've been doing this for 10 years, much longer than most of our competitors)
      • Technical ability (we can monitor real complex sites, even ones that do not want to be monitored)
      • Versatility in product matching (we have covered both automated and manual cases)
      • Customizability - we can adapt to real complex client requirements

      How do we fight the ones which are backed by VC?

      • First of all, we have been profitable for 10 years => we do have cash reserves on our own, which we periodically invest
      • We invest into new features (not all of them are a success!)
      • We periodically invest into new projects - see https://www.justlikeapi.io ; currently we're about to start a brand new project
      • Periodically we perform acqusitions
      • We are very carefully bench-marking our marketing costs
      1. 1

        Thanks for the reply !

  5. 2

    Fellow Serbian! Cestitam za uspeh :)

  6. 2

    What was your tech stack if you don't mind sharing?

    Awesome product by the way.

    1. 3

      Thank you!

      Back-end: Java / Spring / SpringBoot
      Front-end: migrating towards vue.js
      As of 4 years ago, we have started changing our architecture towards micro-services, we do it one component after another - very big effort.

  7. 2

    Congratulations! That's an amazing achievement!

    How did you find your first customers?

    How much revenue did you make in your first and second year?

    1. 2

      First clients found me, not the other way round :-)
      They were searching for competitor price monitoring and found us via Google. Back in 2011 there was much fewer competitors.
      As for the revenue:
      2012 - 55K USD
      2013 - 167K USD

      1. 2

        Wow, it looks like you built a product that people wanted from the very beginning. It also shows that it's worth to start early when there is no much competition.

        1. 2

          Yes, but having no competition was much easier in 2011 than it is today.
          Just an illustration: When I got the idea about such a tool (summer 2010) - I wasn't able to find any competitors. We launched in springtime 2011, and at that moment I was already aware of 2 competitors. Nowadays there are more than 100!

  8. 2

    Fascinating story and great comment thread.

    I know this isn't a very tightly scoped question but what advice would you give the young IH'ers who're early in their career?

    1. 3

      Today there are so many young online entrepreneurs. Think carefully - what can you offer, that hasn't been offered yet? Once you find such thing - go for it!

      1. 1

        That's very insightful, thank you.

  9. 2

    Hi! Thanks for doing this AMA and congratulations on your success.

    My question is: How much do you think SEO helped with marketing/attracting customers?

    Have a nice day!

    1. 2

      Hello!
      SEO helped a great deal - but I cannot tell exactly how much (I wish I was capturing revenue source parameters in those early years). Looking back, thanks to good SEO, we were able to save a lot of marketing money, and invest it into development.
      Hope this helps!

  10. 2

    Hi Misha, happy to see you here!

    What would you say were the biggest change you saw in your industry the last 10 years?

    How did you adapt?

    1. 1

      Hi, Daolf!

      Well, the market got crowded, but that was something that we're expecting to happen. Besides that, there is one important thing that I would point out:

      -Bots have become a part of our everyday life => big eCommerce sites have recognized this and they have started investing a lot into blocking bots! Their anti-bot systems are constantly getting smarter.

      This makes our job much harder than before – but we’re ready for this race, and so far I can say that we're doing very good! :)

  11. 2

    How big is your team ? Are you guys funded ?

    1. 2

      Our team now has 116 employees. At the moment, we have almost 750 customers (not counting those on trial plans) so the company is financed by its earnings.

  12. 2

    Hey Misha, thanks for sharing this. In your experience what marketing tactic do you believe contributed the most to the products growth? Google Ads, Content creation, and Going public etc.

    I've tried google ads in the past, and maybe I screwed up targeting, but the results were not great.

    1. 1

      There is no simple answer to this question, I’m afraid.

      I can tell you the steps we have performed:

      • Creating a lot of meaningful content, which worked very well for our SEO ranking (especially since we were one of the pioneers in this field)

      • Adwords, but done very carefully (results revised once per week, with gradual budget increases)

      • Client reviews and success stories

      • Regular newsletters (we do it once in 4-6 weeks)

      • Periodic experiments with new marketing channels (I must say that most of them proved bad, but we need to keep investigating)

      What you can also do: identify the most successful competitors, and analyze what they are doing. Maybe you'll get some useful ideas. :)

  13. 2

    Hi Misha Krunic, Kris from France. How likely is it - in your opinion - that market places will take over classic e-commerce (are they smart enough to do so). And a second question, how likely is it that they will start with pricing "à la carte" (different prices for different (individual?) customers) ?

    1. 1

      Hi Kris. Thanks for the questions, they're very interesting ones! :) I don't think that market places can entirely take over the classic eCommerce, but yes, it's becoming some sort of a trend that more and more eCommerce sites are turning into marketplaces. Such customers have already developed a habit of hunting the products on marketplaces and not wandering around the Internet. I would expect further market fragmentation, as more and more small sellers will be able to enter the market (via marketplaces). Btw, we have noticed this trend ourselves, so we have prepared a blog post on it!

      When it comes to your second question - the practice of charging different customers different prices for the same item is fairly common among online sellers — and perfectly legal in most instances. However, this can be a very slippery field, since it can turn into price discrimination if the sellers are not careful enough. That's why I think that there are still many online sellers (or industries) that are not so open to this strategy. But, some of the biggest marketplaces, such as Amazon, are already doing this, so I think that we can expect some expansion in the near future.
      In short – it is happening already, but the results are questionable (adding complexity level which may not be justified by the gain in turnover)

  14. 1

    Congrats on making it to the top!
    What keywords you are focused on Google Ads and who are your main competitors?

    1. 0

      Main competitors: sorry I won't give them the benefit of free promotion :-)

      Keywords: tons of them, mostly focusing on pricing, competitor intelligence and dynamic (re)pricing

      1. 1

        This AMA session is a joke. You can't provide a single straight answer.

  15. 1

    Hey misha,

    1. What's your operation cost like, sever, salary, etc.?
    2. What's your tech stack ?
    3. What's the purpose of life?
    4. If you were to start from scratch would would change?

    hope you reach 10M ARR💙

    1. 2

      Hello!

      1. Confidential, sorry!
      2. Java, Java and some more Java :-)
      3. My purpose of life? Search for happiness, I guess :-) (Do you read Douglas Adams? Maybe the answer is 42?)
      4. I would make some bolder decisions, on several important occasions. But, that's in the past, lets look into the future :-)

      Thanks for the nice wishes, I wish you a great day!

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