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103 Comments

I make $100K+ ARR from my micro startups. AMA.

👋 Hello everyone, I’m Hari, and I’m a serial Microstartup Maker. In the last 4 years, I made:

• ✈️ Visa List, an all-in-one visa requirements website for travelers with 300K Monthly Active users
• 📁 AnExplorer, an all-one File manager for phones, watches, TV's and tablets on android with crossed 1M downloads recently
• 💱 ACrypto, a cryptocurrency app to track and get real-time alerts with 200K downloads
• 🖥️ Simple Ops, performance, web vitals and API monitoring tool for websites with 2000 users

I started my indie maker journey to become financially independent and travel the world. I had a simple and small goal, build things I wanna use and make $100/day. It started slow, I had started building and improving while traveling, it took a while but I crossed $100, then I crossed $200/day. Then pandemic hit and I went back to $100/day, but after 6 months and building a new microstartup, it slowly picked pace and again crossed $200/day then I crossed $300/day, now I'm close to $400/day and my next goal is $500/day.

If the momentum keeps up, I will hit $150K this year.

AMA! 😊

And if you wanna know the learning that I share, follow my journey on Twitter.

  1. 11

    If you had to go all in on just one of your projects, and drop the rest forever, which would you pick and why?

    1. 12

      I would pick visalist.io but I would never drop others. One thing I learned from my investing experience is never put all your eggs in one single basket, no matter how good it is. If one is that good, put more eggs but never all.

      On why I would choose visa list is I can foresee and the potential is there to grow 10X, as it solves a deeper problem for a huge population of the world where travel is fragmented especially when it comes to visas and i think i can bring lot of innovation to that space.

      1. 3

        Congratulations on your achievements and thanks for sharing!

        Visalist could be addressing the need-gap Compare law of the land in an easy way posted on my problem validation platform.

      2. 2

        couldn't agree more and the functionality is so seamless that anyone can use it. one of the best projects I have seen. Congrats my friend

  2. 5

    Awesome accomplishment, congrats Hari!

    Were there any failed products along the way that just wasn't getting the traction you had hoped? Also, how did you go about validating an idea?

    1. 10

      Yes there were a few. But I try to always keep the cost of failure small.

      This is how I try to be frugal.

      • I see a potential problem, see if I can solve it. See if it's already being solved, if not I pitch the idea to few people. If atleast 50% got excited. I pick this idea to build
      • I set a goal on day 1 on what the microstartup should achieve once its launched. I try to take no more than 4 weeks to build it.
      • I do a public launch in IH, PH, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Reddit. In few weeks if I reach the goal that I set at the beginning, then I continue working on it to improve. If not then I will drop it and move on the next.

      You have objective in making this choice, most people cling on to the sentiment.

      This way I keep the cost of failure fairly small.

      1. 2

        Can you please expand on how you launc on Facebook and LinkedIn? Do you post on groups related to your startup?

      2. 2

        thanks for sharing your thoughts on this matter.
        I've recently been contemplating validating my idea through "mom test" question to see if the market wants my product. I saw in another comment that you scratch your own itch. It sounds like that's been working well for you. That plus you build MVPs in a month. I'd imagine that contributes to your success.

        Do you share your learnings in blog posts by any chance?

        1. 1

          I keep sharing my learnings on twitter you can follow me there. All my learnings are here https://twitter.com/i/events/886320076219072512

          1. 2

            oh nice! consolidated tweets! thanks

      3. 2

        Do you publish on all platforms at the same time?

        1. 2

          No, I usually do it in a staggered manner, so things are much easier to handle if things go viral.

      4. 1

        This is gold, thanks for sharing. I have a couple of questions:

        What are some examples of a goal you set for the project? Is it traffic, users etc.?

        About how many friends do you pitch it to before going in?

        At what point do you figure out payment/monetization?

        Thanks for sharing your process and numbers it's very inspiring.

  3. 5

    Hey Hari!

    First off, congratulations on your success. Keep up the good momentum :)

    How do you share your micro SAAS products with the world? What is your marketing like? Does it matter?

    1. 3

      I usually tweet what WIP screenshots and tease whats coming, then I do a public launch on PH, LinkedIn, Facebook groups and of course IH.

      But always before bulding a microstartup, I have the organic growth channel figured out. For example with https://visalist.io it was SEO, with https://anexplorer.co it's ASO

      1. 2

        Curious if you have any resources on organic growth, how to navigate this area? Quite unfamiliar with marketing, any advice would be helpful!

        1. 1

          Try Clickminded SEO course, to begin with.

      2. 2

        Love the second paragraph and totally agree with the approach - by now I feel like knowing that channel is a must-have before starting on these kinds of ideas

      3. 2

        Curious as to what ASO is...

        1. 2

          App store optimization

          1. 2

            Ah makes sense. Thank for clarifying

  4. 3

    Congrats! I'm curious how much time you spend maintaining each of these different apps/sites on a weekly basis?

    1. 1

      I spend around 5-10 hours every week

  5. 3

    Congratulations!

    One question, how do you deal with the anxiety at the beginning of your journey? I mean, you probably wonder if you would make enough money for living and probably during the first months that was hard to achieve.

    1. 4

      This is very important part before starting your indie makers journey.

      Before I started I had some cushion from my savings. This how I looked at it.

      • I decided that I should take a leap of faith and give it a try for atleast an year.
      • The are really only two outcomes, either I'm successful or I'm not.
      • I set a goal for success, I should be able to earn atleast what I was earning in my 9-5 job over time
      • If I'm successful, I will continue being an indie hacker and build more microstartups
      • If things don't workout then I will go back to my previous career but with tremendous amount of learning.

      This thinking made it easy where I was clear on any outcome.

      I took the leap of faith and here I'm making $100k+ / year and growing.

      1. 3

        Thanks, Hakr,

        The most important part here is having the necessary amount for living about one year (the time you decided to give it a try) without the need to go back to a full-time job.

        I think that is the part I'm struggling with, as I have a wife, two daughters and still don't have enough in my savings to try it during a year.

        And probably many people here are in the same boat, so the "only way" (hopefully not the only one but need to find out) is trying to do everything as a side project/side hustle, which eventually brings burnout much faster. That is how I'm diagnosing myself at this moment.

        1. 4

          Yes, I understand, my case was totally different from your case. As you pointed out that's the most common path. But if you really want to try, it shouldn't take more than a month to validate anything. It actually takes more than that, then that idea might not be worth the risk. Just a suggestion.

  6. 3

    What is the single most important marketing strat you've used/found to be good

    1. 4

      One thing I have learnt is through Indie hacker experience is always tell a story and tell it in such a way that you would tell it your friends / acquaintance in your groups IRL.

      Lot of people treat social media as means to an end, they promote all the time.

      But I think of it not as marketing but instead of trying to provide value.

      1. 2

        Do you have some examples?

  7. 3

    Hi Hari!

    Congrats on the success so far!

    When you say "I had a simple and small goal, build things I wanna use and make $100/day."

    Outside of visa list, there's already existing tools that compete with yours. There's plenty of file explorers, crypto trackers and web analytics/monitor apps.
    So why did you build the apps you built instead of using existing tools?

    My biggest roadblock is whenever I come up with an idea, I research and find existing competitor and I move on. Seems like I need to follow your thinking process haha

    1. 4

      So when I built anexplorer, there aren't a lot. Same with ACrypto, there were very bad crypto exchanges user experience. With SimpleOps, there weren't performance monitoring tools. So everytime I tried to build something, it was too solve a problem I personally faced. If there was an existing one which I can use, I will use that but if they missed something that I wanted and if there was good opportunity, I would instead build it.

      I always try to solve problems I personally faced and it had really worked for me.

  8. 2

    I shared your story in the community tab of my YouTube channel. :) https://www.youtube.com/post/UgzdJH8Hv8Rq6daMtrt4AaABCQ

  9. 2

    Thank you for the response. Could you talk about your monthly cost for managing your site? If not, then I understant.

    1. 1

      Currently the cost comes down to $250/ month with all my servers and the other paid services across all my microstartups

      1. 1

        Wow, that is really efficient. Awesome job.

  10. 2

    How did you get the initial downloads when you started building apps?

    1. 1

      I would try optimising ASO, try different app title in playstore, try different app icons and go the communities where they have a need for such app and engage with them.

  11. 2

    Congratz Hari, really inspiring!

    It Would be great if you answer my questions:)

    1. Any suggestions for a budding maker?
    2. How to validate ideas with the target audience? Any examples of your reach out script
    3. Have you tried any no-code tools? If no, what will you suggest to people who don't know to code but willing to build a product?
    4. How do you select the niche for your product?
    5. Have you build any communities before launching your products?

    Thanks in advance🙏🏻

    1. 2
      1. Try to find problems that you find in your work and in your day to day life, make a note of the ones which has potential/sounds promising and you think you can solve. See if you there any competitors. See if something is missing and you can provide value by building that missing piece.
      2. I would always try to do a quick launch, take no more than 4 weeks and launch it on PH, IH, Reddit, LinkedIn. The long term growth strategies are entirely different thing. But you will get basic validation. You are trying to fail fast.
      3. Not exactly but I have heard makerpad is pretty good.
      4. Its basically what I usually like, investment, travel etc
      5. Nope not exactly, I'm trying to grow my followers on twitter but it's where I can share and learn. But not to sell anything.
  12. 2

    How do you think about scaling your existing projects vs creating new ones?

    1. 1

      The growth for all my microstartups is something that I think about even before I start.

  13. 2

    Hi @1hakr, great achievement, congrats!

    How do find out how to market / promote your products? You mentioned no paid ads?

    Thx!

    1. 1

      It changes based on the platforms / distribution channels I'm going to build my microstartups on. I look at the existing competition or similar ones in related space and what they are doing. It's all about planning and executing things specifically for your microstartups.

  14. 2

    Way to go HaKr! I was wondering if you could give us some background on your skills? Did you always know how to code / went to school for it, or did you learn as you went? Any resources that you used to learn your current skillset would be nice.

    1. 1

      I'm a CS grad with design, coding and growth hacking skills. I learnt new programming languages needed for what I wanted build.

      Try any nuxt JS online course

  15. 2

    Congrats Hari! How did you deal with the shiny effect syndrome?

    Cheers!

    1. 3

      Thanks, I have learnt over time to do ruthless prioritisation, I don't dismiss the new features etc but I put them with existing features and improvements and see which adds more value. I pick the one with most cost to benefit.

  16. 2

    Very impressive !! How does your typical stack look like ? Use AWS ?

    1. 1

      Front end: Vue JS, Node JS
      Backend end: Go Lang
      Hosting: GCP
      Tools: Firebase

  17. 2

    How do you keep visa list current, up to date and accurate? Seems like a mammoth task.

    1. 1

      I have setup scripts and scrappers to get data regularly from government websites.

  18. 2

    Hi Hari, congrats on the success! Got two questions: at what point in the startup life cycle do you setup a company for those micro startups? For Acrypto, was there any legal considerations beforehand, since it deals with finance and money, which link to risks? Thanks.

    1. 1

      Basically i set up a company when the revenue started growing quickly and rapidly. I would suggest to do once you cross $3K/ month.

  19. 2

    With so much competition with API monitoring tools for websites, how are you competing? How are you getting new customers?

    1. 1

      Actually there arent a lot of performance monitoring tools, there are definitely uptime and API monitoring tools.

  20. 2

    Hey Hari, thank you for doing this AMA. It's always great to pick the brains of the highly successful indie hackers.

    Here are a list of my questions:

    1. How are you monetizing all of these projects?
    2. Are you solo or do you hire anyone out to help you?
    3. How did you know what project to build? And how will you choose your next project?
    4. When do you know to start the next project?
    1. 3

      I second this question! How do you monetize visalist for example?

      1. 3

        I think by running ads. If he gets 300k users a month it can generate a substantial amount of $. I was reading this https://alphainvestors.com/seo/100-day-traffic/ to try to calculate (although the numbers won't be exact as there's many variants)

    2. 2

      I haven't hired anyone and I did everything on my own.
      When I see a potential problem, see if I can solve it. See if it's already being solved, if not I pitch the idea to few people. If at least 50% got excited. I pick this idea to build. I start a new one when I have fully automated the current one.
      Visa List - Affiliate revenue, Ad revenue and subscriptions
      AnExplorer - App purchase, In-App purchase and Ad revenue
      ACrypto - Subscriptions and Ad revenue
      Simple Ops - Subscriptions

      1. 1

        Thank you for the reply :)

  21. 2

    Your goal of $100/day resonates with me so much. Covid hit me financially really hard, just like so many others. I was lucky that the hit was for three months only. But within the 3 months I made the resolution to learn coding, not so much to change my career, but to build something that could potentially provide some side income. I learned front-end, convinced a buddy to join me in building a startup, he is full-stack and focused on the back-end. The startup was a successful failure. Took the L, a lot of good lessons there. Enrolled into a back-end course and now I have boiled down my goals to building something that can get me $50-$100/day. I feel like this is more achievable and scalable.

    1. 2

      You are on the right track mate! Keep it up.

  22. 2

    Congratulations, @1hakr, what an amazing feeling it must be to take a gamble like this and see it work out. We're here kind of succeeding vicariously through you and these success stories are inspiring. I'm just asking the dull Q re what kind of code stack you're using for these apps and the journey to it (or them, as appropriate)

  23. 2

    Hey! Congrats on the projects, excellent work and momentum.
    Quick question, how do you discover which problems to solve with a micro-Saas product? I would say how you come up with ideas but obviously, you chase and tackle problems I can tell, which is amazing :)
    Also, do you do any paid marketing for them?

    1. 2

      That's the million-dollar question because there are so many problems everyone faces every day. I when I face a problem and if I can think of an easy way of solving it and the problem looks interesting, I make a note of it. I keep doing that and I have a list for it. Every once in a while I'm taking a break from work, I pick one and pitch it to my friends, if more than 50% of them get excited, then I feel validated and pick it as my next microstartup to build.

      1. 2

        True, it is the golden goose question hah. Im doing the problem discovery process since the 1st of Sept and I put a deadline by the end of the month to discover one worth solving. Fingers crossed.
        By the way, what tech stack do u use to build them fast? Or which one would you recommend? I do ReactJS & firebase.

        1. 2

          All the best!

          I use NuxtJS and would recommend that because its so easy to learn.

          1. 2

            Same, using NextJS which is similar I think

  24. 2

    Hi there, what advice would you give to grow a nascent Shopify app like ours: https://wonderment.com? I'd love to have your take seeing your experience in growing apps is awesome!

  25. 2

    Inspiring . how do you manage to build and grow at same time ?

  26. 2

    How do you come with ideas? Any general points you have in mind?

    1. 1

      I try to see the problems I generally face, then I think if I can solve and if I solve it, is there a good enough market to monetize it.

  27. 2

    How long did it take to make your first 500$?

    1. 1

      Two months, it was with ACrypto!

      1. 2

        Whenever I see your project names You start with A is there any reason for that?

        1. 1

          So it will appear first in your phone apps list 😉

          1. 2

            oh cool, and I think when someone list apps alphabetically the chances are high your app will be on top. mostly review blogs.

  28. 2

    @1hakr Congratulations on your success journey. You are doing in right direction. I realised recently, ha ha. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Personally I always think that I should try to focus on one thing only but here you are focusing on 4 simultaneously. How and What are next steps to make these all 4 startup? Will you choose anyone in future?
    2. Did you ever try to sell anyone or Did you get any offer so far?

    Thanks

    1. 2
      1. I don't focus on 4 at the same time, I pick one build, improve then automate and move to the next one.
      2. Yes I got many offers but none of them were worth it.
      1. 2

        Awesome! Thanks for sharing.

  29. 2

    Awesome job! Congrats!

    When working on multiple projects like this, how do you spend your time between sales/marketing and development?

    1. 1

      I would say 40% on development and 60% on growing

  30. 2

    Congratulations! Keep going with the great work!

  31. 2

    @Jopha you might find this interesting!

  32. 2

    Nice work ! How were you able get first few users ?

    1. 1

      I launched my microstartups on Product Hunt initially

      1. 2

        Cool, any other strategies you would like to share Ex Google ads.

        1. 1

          I usually don't do paid marketing

  33. 2

    Congrats on all your success!

    How did you go about getting your first 10 customers? This is currently where I am in the process

    1. 1

      Try to find where your potential customers usually hangout, Twitter, Reddit, Facebook? Try to engage and check if they have found any problems, that you are solving. If they do they tell them you have solved it using your solution. Anyways try to provide value before promoting your products.

  34. 2

    Beautiful journey, you always inspired me!
    Hope to meet you one day in real life!

    1. 1

      Thanks mate! Hopeful we will meet soon!

  35. 2

    Congrats on the success!

    Really curious on how did you learn/decide on how to monetize your apps? What key terms or resources would you recommend someone look into to create revenue in a similar way?

    1. 4

      Thanks. There are quite a few ways. But the simplest one is to think what value do you provide.

      Does it solve a problem or does it save time or does it do both? Also, think about what cost do you incur, is it on time, is it recurring?

      Based on this it can be, just as an example

      • Solves a recurring problem - subscription
      • Solves a common need - one-time purchase
      • Saves time - subscription or freemium with ads

      Ideally, it should be specific to what you are building and solving.

  36. 1

    How did you learn to code?

  37. 1

    I found Visalist super useful. May I ask where you're pulling the data from or did you put them in over time?

  38. 1

    Hey Hakr, really nice of you to share this success story, it's so inspirational.

    I sent you a DM on twitter hope we can connect there!

    Regards!

  39. 1

    Hey Hari @1hakr, first of all, congrats 👏

    I’d like to ask you about SimpleOps.
    Are you relying on Lighthouse to do the performance check?

    I’ve to admit I was tinkering with a similar project but I didn’t know about your existing solution, it looks great.

  40. 2

    This comment was deleted 2 months ago.

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