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I sold Pingr. Lessons learned.

That’s it.

I sold Pingr, and it doesn’t belong to me from now.

After more than a year of working on Pingr, I got an offer from a random person who wanted to acquire it. And I accepted the offer. And decided to put all my offer to my passion

Brief Stats

  • Time spent before PH launch: ~8 months
  • Total time spent working on the product: ~14 months
  • Hours spent: ~1000 (~600 hours tracked)
  • Number of users: ~560
  • Number of paying users: ~20
  • Number of lifetime deals sold: ~20
  • Number of monitors: ~1400
  • Total traffic: ~23K according to fathom analytics
  • Revenue: negative, I spent more on servers
  • Deal price: Unfortunately I cannot disclose the price, but it turned out to be really good, it covered my development time

Why I decided to build uptime monitoring

Honestly? I just saw uptimerobot and didn’t like its UI. So I thought that I could make the same product, but better. 🤷‍♂️

Have I built it, having in mind that I will sell it?

No.

I was building it for several reasons.

First, I always wanted to make a product in the way I think it should look. At my full-time job, I have to agree on the rules of the game, meaning if a customer wants it to look some way, I have to make it as he wants.

Second, I tend to feel attached to the things I do. It feels almost like in a computer game when you enhance your hero. I thought I’ll stay with it for years.

Third, I indeed believed that I’d be able to get great revenue in the market of uptime monitoring services. And I still believe it’s possible.

What went wrong?

Many things prevented me from the successful growth of Pingr.

  1. First of all, it’s my first attempt to build my own SaaS product. A year ago, I didn’t know who indie hackers are. I didn’t use Twitter, didn’t know such abbreviations as IH/HN/PH, barely heard of Reddit. So it took some time to dive into this atmosphere, into the spirit of indie products.

  2. Second, I have a full-time job. I don’t consider it’s a big obstacle. But in the beginning, when I was developing the product most of the time, it was okay, but when I started to shout about it, I needed much more time.

  3. Third, the offer was quite good. I cannot disclose the final price due to agreement, but I’ll be able to make a living for quite a few months. Notice that at this time, I didn’t get profit from it, only expenses, even though I had some paying users.

  4. Fourth, I made a lot of mistakes in marketing. I’m a developer, and I know nothing about marketing. Many people out there were almost screaming about my weird pricing :)

  5. Last but not least: my passion is building interfaces. I’m not a designer, but I had some practice before, and I think I have potential here. I love the aesthetics of user interfaces. I hate bad interfaces both in real life and in digital life. So I announced that I’m going to write a book, but I haven’t done it. Because developing Pingr + promoting it + writing a book + working full-time = too much. Really.

How did Pingr perform?

I’ve already shared some numbers in the beginning. Now I want to share some stats. Here are traffic stats for all the time.

Pingr Stats

On the first of September, I launched on PH, so I got most visitors that month.

Pingr Stats

So as you can see, I could get some traffic from IH, PH, Twitter, HN, Reddit, dev.to, betalist. Another curious thing is that I got some traffic from productschool.com because someone wrote an article about useful tools and mentioned Pingr.

Pingr Stats

Another interesting note: 12.65% conversion for clicking on Price. So, 1 of 10 persons is interested in Pricing.

Traffic Channels

ProductHunt: ~3K uniques
I was able to take the product of the day, and it brought me the most number of signups and lifetime deals sold. So it worked well for me.

Reddit: ~600 uniques
I’ve written one article only, which got some traction (~500 upvotes) in r/webdev. It brought about ~40 signups and a couple of lifetime deals too.

Hackernews: ~1.1K uniques
I posted many times here. Show HN gave me about ~500 uniques, a few sign ups and a lifetime deal sold.

Another article I wrote got to the front page, but it was a blog post, not a frontpage of the app. So the blog post got really a lot of traffic, but only a small part of it went to the product, and I got only a few sign-ups.

IndieHackers: ~3.6K uniques
IndieHackers community is great for providing support and feedback, but it doesn’t convert well. I made this conclusion by looking at other indie hackers I talked with.

It’s indeed a really great community and a must-have for getting support, but don't expect many conversions.

However, I sold a lifetime deal here too.

Dev.to: ~350 uniques
I wrote a big article about the architecture of Pingr and got quite a few signups here, which is great.

Twitter: ~2K uniques
I cannot be sure how many signups I got from Twitter, but I think this is one of the most important channels for indie products. Along with HN.

How I found a buyer

Actually, I didn’t. He found me via the chat widget on my landing page. I’ve never thought that someone will want to buy a product with zero revenue, but it turned out that it’s possible. I asked the price which covers my development hours.

We negotiated a little bit about price and quickly agreed.

That’s it.

Lessons I learned

  1. Listen to others, but make your own decisions. After I posted on Reddit, I decided to change my pricing model, but it turned out to be a mistake. I listened to others.

  2. Every time someone will be happy with your product and pricing, somebody will be sad. It’s okay. You should make mindful and reasonable decisions. Not emotional ones.

  3. Despite many people talking about idea validation, I still think that if you start a product, and there are many competitors - then you’re okay. If you don’t have any - then you’re at big risk. Meaning, don’t stick to some super unique idea.

  4. You should focus on a small feature-set. Your MVP should be indeed MVP. I think I shouldn’t have worked on status pages since alerting that your site is down is the core functionality, and I spent quite a lot of time messing with status pages. So my MVP shouldn’t have included this and probably some other features

  5. On the one hand, you should have a unique selling proposition, the USP. On the other hand, it’s not that easy to think of something unique that competitors don’t have. In my opinion, you’re still able to grow your product without an initial USP. But you should not just blindly copy other products. I intended to make it more pleasant and easy to use, so I focused on design.

  6. It is possible to have revenue without using paid Ads, Take a look at Plausible post or the story of Webflow on HN. I almost haven’t paid for ads, and all of my users came from free channels.

  7. You should make a landing page and start collecting emails as soon as possible, I didn’t make it. I have a funny joke over this… Sadly, but true: https://twitter.com/vponamariov/status/1293717405500235776

  8. Don’t use the top-notch tech stack. Use the stack you know. However, make sure your core features work good because I had problems with it. It turned out the product was way more complex than I initially thought.

Future plans

I always wanted to make beautiful things. Even though I’m a developer, I really care about how things look.

When choosing between a cheap product that looks bad and is hard to use, and an expensive product that looks good and easy to use, I’d probably choose second.

So I decided to dive into the UI/UX sphere in detail. For now, I’ll focus on learning this sphere and share what I learned in my newsletter. Later on, it might turn into a blog with detailed use cases, but for now, I’m doing this on Twitter, getting more practice.

If you want to get tips on making your design better, especially user interfaces, I would love to share my experience in my newsletter. It's really something new for me.

But taking into account the reviews I made on Twitter, I think that I might have some potential here: many people thanked me for my job.

Special thanks

@rosiesherry for being a wonderful person
@alexanderisora for being my friend and inspiration
@stojkovic for being a nice friend with a good sense of humor
@feriforgacs for being one of the first indie hackers who I chatted with and who helped me a lot
@asitwala for being a very kind person
@brainless for helping me with the tech mess (you're not brainless!)
@jamesmkenny for making a good coffee and photos :)
@brunor for giving me awesome feedback
@kpalovic for good critics hehe ;)
@markosaric for such an inspiration!
@itsbalal for being a cool guy

and everyone else, I cannot mention everybody =(

Because indie hackers are special!

Afterwards...

I believe MVP is not equal to a shitty product. Make your products look good and pleasant to use. Let’s make the world a better place to live in. At least, the digital world.

  1. 10

    Love this, thanks for sharing. This is actually an amazing result, especially for the first product built while having a daytime job. Inspiration for all of us!

    1. 2

      Thank you, I was quite lucky I think :)
      But yeah, it was hard to go to cafes after work, all days, and weekends, non-stop.

      I even had to go to therapist: https://victor-ponamariov.medium.com/how-therapy-turned-out-to-be-my-key-to-consistency-as-a-solo-founder-dbc48e1cbc9d

  2. 3

    @Akcium Well I guess that's the beginning to a new start then!

    Even though it wasn't profitable, you learnt invaluable lessons you just mentioned above. So that makes the whole experience worth it for sure!

    Thanks for doing this post! If you do make a blog on UI/UX, do share it here! I am an illustrator myself and would love to read more of your thoughts!

    Let's stay in touch!
    All the best!

    1. 2

      Thank you!

      Well, I made a first step: https://user-interface.io :)

      I've never had experience with illustrating, it's a cool skill. But I think I'm able to design buttons and inputs, place them correctly, and research how users use them :)

      BTW!

      The main reason I joined this site is because of its pleasant UI. Everything looks so aesthetic so I just wanted to talk here

  3. 3

    Congratulations and thanks for sharing.

    Like you I actually tried to create something similar for website monitoring (soft of an alertra clone) between 2006-2008 (I owned a hosting company so thought it'd be a good fit) but failed to get off the ground as I already had a busy business.

    I'm so glad to hear this sort of service is still valuable today. I also agree with you about the free marketing channels, people totally underestimate this and I've had a few flops since my first exit that never got past an idea because I couldn't market properly and didn't have enough time or would rather spend money on ads.

    A lot of things in your post took me back to "my old days" where I built my first business 15 years ago. Thanks for bringing back memories, I'm itching to get back.

    Dumb question but what's the conversion tracking software/app your using there in your screenshot or did you write it yourself?

    1. 1

      Oh thank you for such a great comment!

      I so much liked the "A lot of things in your post took me back to "my old days" where I built my first business 15 years ago. Thanks for bringing back memories, I'm itching to get back."

      I used https://usefathom.com/, but I also recommend https://plausible.io/, they are almost similar but both are good guys. I talked to its owners and they are great guys! :)

  4. 3

    Congratulations. Server uptime monitoring is a crowded space with lots of established competitors, so this sort of outcome is a pretty big win IMO.

    1. 1

      Thank you!

      Yes I think so, and I'm very curious what the new owner will do with Pingr, I hope that he'll be able to make something bigger out of it

  5. 3

    So much great, practical, every day advice. Just shows that you do not need to be perfect. Starting, making and sticking with it is key. Action matters. Thanks for sharing and congrats! Cant wait to see what you are up to next :)

    1. 2

      Thank you! I'm going to run a newsletter and promote my Twitter, sharing UI/UX tips, articles and other stuff

      https://user-interface.io :)

  6. 2

    Selling your first business after just a year is something I never thought was possible. Most of the startup scene players will just laugh at the possibility.

    Will you be able to drop your daytime job now?

    1. 2

      Well, since the product didn't have any revenue, the price wasn't THAT big.

      I can drop my daytime job and live for 6-12 months, depending on my expenses. But I wouldn't drop it. It's not like 4 million dollars for baremetrics, you know :)

  7. 2

    Congrats! This is your first attempt at SaaS and even though you didn't make a profit out of the paying users, at least you sold it and made some money to cover for your development time.

    Plus the experience and insights you've gotten by getting your hands dirty in the day to day trenches -- is an invaluable life learning experience.

    I have no doubt things will only go better for you from here.

    1. 1

      Thank you for such inspirational words! :) woah

  8. 2

    Thanks for sharing. Very instructive :)

  9. 2

    Congratulations. Thanks for the detailed writeup. Do start on your next passion and wish you luck on building something interesting.

  10. 2

    Amazing story and thanks for the write up. I think it is great for others to get this sort of insight into someone going though a position like you have. I do get a sense of the emotional attachment from your app. So thank you for sharing!

    1. 2

      Thank you for your words! :)

  11. 2

    Well done - good to hear it sold!

  12. 2

    Wish the buyer of Pingr is on IH, and we'll see how the story evolves.

    1. 1

      Nope, he is not in IH as far as I know

  13. 2

    Thanks for the writeup, super useful!

    Curious, what was your tech stack and where did you host the app?

    1. 1

      Laravel + Vuejs, and Digital Ocean

  14. 2

    Great write-up, thank you for sharing. You make a number of great points, but it's particularly encouraging to see someone else recognising that it's fine (and actually a good sign) that your product has competition, you just need to be able to spot your opening, which for you was a better interface to the product.

    One point I would suggest from a personal marketing point of you, put an additional link to your newsletter in this post at the top. By only including it at the bottom, you're assuming the reader will get that far. Something light, like "I'm sharing some of my thoughts and learnings below, but if you'd like the full story, subscribe to [my newsletter] for extra insights.".

    1. 1

      Thank you!

      Indeed, well, I didn't want to be spammish :) I thought I'll make another post about newsletter. but since the article got traction, maybe I'll add it now

      1. 1

        Understood, and very considerate. You're giving a great deal of information in your post though, so I wouldn't worry about appearing spammy :o)

  15. 2

    Thanks for sharing! I can really take a page from your book.

    Excited to hear more about your next journey!

  16. 2

    Congrats. I like the idea of your user interface book.

  17. 2

    Thanks for sharing these valuable lessons. And Congratulations!

    May I ask why did you decide to sell this product instead of developing it further?

    If there is a buyer, the product has growth potential.

    1. 1

      Well, I've partly described this in the post.

      It's also hard to keep motivation for such a big period of time. It'd take more than a year to get the same amount of money.

      And I'd also haven't got any time for my newsletter, Twitter and everything related to UI/UX.

      Plus running such a product alone is kind of hard: you're CEO, developer, marketer, QA, designer and everything else.

  18. 2

    Great post! Thanks for sharing this story.

    I wonder what would have happened if instead of selling you had partnered up with a marketing cofounder.

    Did you ever t think that this was more valuable if someone was actually interested in buying it?

    1. 1

      The thing is, I'm the kind of person who usually doesn't like to work in a team.

      So I thought that getting some money and be ready in case of a rainy day would be better.

      And then focus on the newsletter.

      Since you know, you get money right away, you are not afraid to be fired from your job (since now you have savings), and you can focus on something you like and something you can run alone.

      1. 1

        We are too afraid of loosing our jobs. As a developer that’s unlikely to happen . And even if it did you have plenty of opportunities local or remote.

        But anyway, I understand and respect your point. Everyone’s goals, ambitions, and systems can differ, and that’s what makes life fun.

        I’m in a position looking for the next idea atm, and the fact you had a “validated” idea ready to scale up and let it go for a price per hour makes me feel a bit sad :-)

        1. 1

          I see :)

          For me it's kind of the first time I own so much money :D haha.

          But anyway, thank you, that's indeed what makes life fun, we are all different people! :)

  19. 2

    Impressive Victor! It looks like it has been quite the ride! Thanks for sharing the numbers. There´s a lot for us to learn from. 🙏

  20. 2

    Hey Victor! Nice story you have here. Congratulations 🎉

    I am happy to be involved in the early stage of pingr

    good luck with your next project, you have my support :D

    1. 1

      Your help was indeed great, you have my support too, never hesitate if you need something! :)

  21. 2

    Congrats on the sale and thanks for telling the story.

  22. 2

    Thanks for sharing this. It's definitely of great value and I admire that you had the emotional strength to decide that it was time to let go. I think you got a great deal out of it as well for what you say.

    I also find encouragement in your point about being ok when a product has many competitors. The fact that a bigger company decides to go the same route as me, tells me that there's probably even a bigger market than I thought.

    All the best in the future for you!

    1. 2

      Yeah, years will pass, and we will see new successful uptime monitorings, and we will see how existing ones will close. Same for a lot of other apps. I'm pretty sure.

      When I was developing it I got 3 competitors which currently ROCKS.

      https://betteruptime.com/
      https://www.uptimemate.com/
      https://checklyhq.com/

      These are new ones, well, the third was developed 3 years ago.

      Thank you!

  23. 2

    Congratulations, and great insight! However, it's hard to evaluate the outcome fully without knowing the price. To be fair, depending on the price, those may be very different stories.

    1. 1

      Yes, I understand. I asked a few times the new owner, if I can share the price, but he said no :)

      Let's put it like this: when I talked to a few people in private, they said that this was a very good price.

      Roughly it covered my development costs for the whole time and I can live without a salary for quite a few months.

      1. 2

        For me, a good price for a business is at least 10X of the investment (money and time). We build businesses to get leverage on our work.

        1. 1

          Yeah, but on the other hand, read this:
          https://www.indiehackers.com/post/holy-heck-this-is-hard-8ebe864174

          So it's not a bad outcome I think

          1. 1

            I love this list, but I think it's biased in the sense that there are only "Stripe-verified" accounts there. I don't accept money via Stripe, despite the fact that I'm already above 6k, and going there.

            1. 1

              hmm, indeed, but you can also manually set the income.

              And congrats, 6k/mo is fantastic for me!

              1. 2

                Thanks! I set it, but it doesn't show on that list. That's why the list is so small.

  24. 2

    This is such an awesome, honest, and transparent write-up, Victor, and I truly believe it will help other Indie Hackers facing similar circumstances! So many points in this post are relatable (marketing as a developer, other challenges that come with being a first-time Saas founder, and listening to others but ultimately making your own decisions).

    Thank you for sharing your story, and congratulations on the offer 🙌 I think a lot of the entrepreneurial journey is about evaluating trade-offs/opportunity costs, especially if you're managing multiple jobs/projects or if you want to work on something new that aligns more with your passions. Looking forward to your UI/UX newsletter and future book — best of luck!

    Thank you for the shoutout as well — I'm still learning, but I'm happy if I was able to help somewhat or at least provide support along the way!

    1. 1

      You're the best Amy :) Your support and advice are really great!!

      I hope that everything you work on will be a success!

  25. 2

    my first saas product was never completed and all the hundreds I put into it went down the drain.

    1. 1

      Sorry to hear that. Well, I was really lucky I think, it's not my merit I think

      1. 2

        Its ok. I'm still struggling to sell my software products to this day.

  26. 2

    Thanks for the useful information about your experience. pingr.io does indeed look good. I wonder why the site monitoring was so expensive since you did not have that many users. Is it something the buyer can easily improve? Did the buyer tell you anything about what they intend to do to boost the product's growth?
    Good luck with your next project.

    1. 2

      I only know that they will switch the payment provider for now, but I don't know their plans.

      It was expensive partly because I bought servers a little bit more powerful than I needed, to ensure that I'll be able to maintain 1-minute frequency checks against a big number of monitors.

      But even if I reduce the CPU/Mem, I think I'll still pay ~100-150$. 5 nodes, 1 MySQL, 1 redis, 1 main server. Plus testing environment...

  27. 2

    What was your biggest mistake and marketing success at Pingr?

    1. 2

      I think pricing model, and focusing on too many features instead of stop development and start finding customers.

      I almost did not marketing, except social.

      I also didn't have any plan, like, roadmap. Feature -> Marketing -> Feature -> Marketing. And I had feature -> feature -> feature

  28. 2

    Congratulations and all the best for the future.

    1. 2

      Thank you!

      Oh, by the way, I forgot to make a review of your site! I remember it, textunbox.
      Put this in my todo, I'll do it

  29. 2

    How many users did you get up to before the sale?

    1. 1

      It's at the beginning of the post :)
      up to 600 signed up, ~20 paying

      1. 1

        Thanks for replying anyway. I must've gotten confused because I read your other post where u were asking to sell pinger. Gl on your next project.

  30. 2

    Just subscribed to the newsletter. I would love to be more talented in UI/UX, hopefully I can learn something ;)

    Thanks a lot for sharing!

    1. 1

      Thank you, I hope I won't disappoint you :)

  31. 2

    One of the best posts I've read here since joining 👏

    1. 1

      Oh it's definitely not the best, here guys got such a big revenue and share such stuff that it's really far away from what I've done.

      Check out "All time" tab in the header.

      Thank you for your words! :)

      1. 2

        The presentation is what I was specifically referring to ;)

  32. 2

    Congrats and good luck to the next adventures!

    1. 1

      Thank you! Wish you the same! :)

  33. 2

    Congrats Vic :)
    You are the best!

    1. 1

      Oh stop it, you :D
      Thanks!

  34. 2

    Congrats Victor. I remember we discussed about the domain extention few months back. Thanks for sharing the details.

    1. 2

      Thanks!

      Woah, you have 3500 followers on IH??

  35. 2

    Congrats :) No mention thought? ;)

    1. 2

      Forgot!! Yaro! Sorry :P

      Thank you!

  36. 2

    Congrats Victor! This is so exciting. Thank you for sharing all your traffic channels and how this went for you. I love learning from your posts!

    1. 1

      Hopefully I'll make some great posts in UI/UX area :)

  37. 2

    very interesting and inspiring. You did the right thing! thanks for sharing this and awaiting for your next thing :)

    1. 1

      Thank you Aleksandar! :)

  38. 2

    This is a great journey! I believe you will reach a higher point with all your baggage of experience and received money!

    1. 1

      Will see how it goes. Josh from Baremetrics made 40+ products before he sold Baremetrics for 4 million dollars.

      And it's only my first attempt...

  39. 1

    Congrats on the sale. Thanks for sharing the story. 👍
    Did you use escrow or something for the exchange of the money & assets?

    1. 1

      Thanks!

      No. The guy sent me 70% in advance, and then 30%. So the sell was based on trust actually. Thought I signed up some papers he gave me (NDA, assets sell etc)

      1. 1

        That's nice in a way. :)

  40. 1

    My compliments Victor :)

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