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I was a lawyer, taught myself to code, bootstrapped Wavve to $150,000 MRR, and we just sold it. AMA!

Hey 👋 I'm Nick.

I'm a lawyer turned software developer, turned SaaS founder.

Started Wavve.co a few years ago with @BairdHall, bootstrapped the business to $150,000 MRR, and just sold!

From being saddled with $250k in student loans and living paycheck to paycheck, to being totally unequipped to write software when I started... I can relate to the uphill battle that many IndieHackers face. I've had an unconventional path and am happy to answer questions and share whatever I can.

  • Switched from law to code in (2012-2013)
  • Enterprise software cubicle job (2013-2015)
  • Started an agency in 2016
  • Founding team at Bitcoin startup 2017
  • Built Wavve nights and weekends from 2016-2020
  • Sold the business in 2021

Anything is free game. Ask away

  1. 14

    Hi Nick! Why sell the business instead of continuing to grow it? And what's next?

    1. 16

      Haha, the hardest question first 😂

      A few reasons:

      1. Our decision to sell ultimately came down to what would be best for the business. By the fall of 2020, we were tired of running the day to day operations at Wavve and needed some fresh blood and new ideas. We were also starting a new business, Churnkey.co, and wanted more time to focus on it.

      2. Growing families. We've got infants and toddlers at home and our children demand more of our time/ attention these days. COVID was a true test of this as we were without childcare frequently.

      3. After 5 years, it felt like time to take some risk off the table. While it's true we could've hired someone else to manage the day-to-day operations of Wavve, we were also very aware of how much personal net worth we had tied up in the business.

    2. 2

      I had the same question in mind Courtland :) Plus are you allowed to share your growth and retention rates?

      1. 3

        In addition to the rationale I gave Courtland, I'll also add that we believe we can do this again. We love building businesses and Churnkey is our latest attempt at bootstrapping another successful SaaS company.

        As far as growth and retention rates, I'm probably not able to share numbers from the latest quarter or two but you can look back at some of my past writings to get an idea. I discuss many of our successes, struggles, and stats here:

        https://nickfogle.com/tag/startup-life

        1. 2

          Perfect! Thanks Nick, Congarts again :)

  2. 4

    Could you tell me how did you start learning to code? Lawyer here too and want to become a developer.

    1. 2

      Welcome to the party!

      It kind of depends on how you learn. If you're someone with a tendency to teach yourself new things, then one of the best things you can do is just decide on a project to build and google your way to building it.

      When I started, there was an app idea I'd wanted to build for a long time and I couldn't afford to hire anyone so I set out to teach myself.

      I used a few free tools like codecademy for some super basic stuff, and would just google the rest with each step of the way. It might be helpful to pick a language beforehand (choose JavaScript) and then pick a simple website or tool you have in mind to start. This helped me to internalize everything I learned and commit it to memory bc I knew I'd need to use it later. If I had decided that my goal was “learning to code” it would've taken me much longer.

      I wouldn’t have known what to learn, when to learn it, or why it was necessary to learn a given topic. I've got a more thorough explainer and video if you'd like to go further into this https://bootstacker.substack.com/p/bootstacker-volume-1-is-ready.

      Also, I really believe that your legal training can give you an edge. So much of code is taking separate pieces of language/syntax and figuring out how they work together, what could go wrong, etc... I wrote a short post on why I think learning to code is more like learning language (and doesn't require you to be mathematically minded). more here: https://nickfogle.com/code-is-just-language/

  3. 4

    Hey Nick, thanks for sharing this. Very inspiring.

    Quick business question. Seeing as though you bootstrapped wavve.co and then ended up selling it, did you guys do business under an LLC or a C-corp? Not sure if you ever had plans to sell it but I’ve read that if you plan to sell a SaaS business down the line or take outside investments than you should set things up as a C-Corp. Just curious for someone getting ramped up on a SaaS product how the business formation process went for you guys. Thanks!

    1. 5

      We actually got that advice from an old advisor when we were first starting out. "Oh, you have to incorporate as a Delaware C-Corp if you want VCs to take you seriously."

      Turned out to be waste of money, time consuming, and totally unnecessary. We dissolved the C-Corp and went back to being a vanilla LLC once we realized we weren't interested in fundraising.

      The Wavve transaction took the form of an asset sale, and I imagine the mechanics are easier if you're doing this through an LLC compared to C-Corp. I think (it varies by jurisdiction) there are fewer statutory and corporate formalities required with this approach.

      1. 1

        Hey Nick, I was told by an accountant that if you sell it as a C Corp (vs. LLC) you aren't subject to the first $10m in capital gains taxes. Did you encounter this?

        1. 1

          I guess it depends on your situation, state of incorporation, and other things, but there are some situations where this could make sense. For the vast majority of small businesses, I think the LLC asset sale is superior due to its simplicity, lack of double taxes (corporate and shareholder level for C Corps), lack of franchise fees, etc...

          DISCLAIMER: I'm not qualified to give tax advice. This is just my opinion as a finance/ tax nerd.

    2. 3

      I have to jump in here after seeing this post in the IndieHackers newsletter and engaging with Nick on Twitter. A few things here - there is a HUGE reason to be a C Corp and it doesn't relate to taking in money from investors (although this will be a hurdle if you aren't one and will likely have to reincorporate). If you think you will ever sell your startup then you should be a C Corp because of Section 1202 and 1045 of the tax code. What you want (and likely have) is QSBS (qualified small business stock) if your company is a C Corp (there are a few other rules to follow to make sure you have QSBS). If you hold that stock for 5+ years before an exit then you can exempt $10 million or 10 times your basis from your taxes - meaning zero federal taxes and zero state taxes in most states (California is a huge exception here with a clawback that they have).

      I talk to founders about this ALL the time because time on the clock as an LLC DOES NOT COUNT towards that 5 year timer. I'm happy to talk to any founders here, one-on-one or as a group, to walk through this. You should do your own research and understanding because I am NOT a tax attorney but I have used the Section 1202 exemption a number of times to achieve 50% and 75% exclusion (it was those levels before it was raised to 100% - thanks Obama!).

      BTW, Nick argued on Twitter that an LLC makes more sense because most startups will fail. Well, if you're optimizing for failure then you probably shouldn't be doing a startup anyways. Me? I optimize for success. What Nick proposes here is, in my opinion, a very bad take and I caution all of you from following this advice. That said, you should double check me too.

      1. 2

        Sanjay has reason to caution founders from picking an entity based on the random advice from some guy on the internet, and he highlights an important point about huge tax savings if you exit 5 years after incorporation and issuance of QSBS.

        For those reading along, it's important to know that you have several entity choices and your choice will have major impacts on setup, recurring costs, formalities, and tax treatment of profit distributions, as well as tax treatment in a liquidation event. This is why it's critical to understand your goals and consult with an attorney (tax attorney would be ideal) familiar with startup law and incorporation.

        I've been part of this community for several years and in my time here, I've come to realize that most people are working to build a side-hustle, passive income source, or lifestyle business of some kind. Many here are starting service companies, communities, newsletters, etc and for these bootstrappers and IndieHackers, it's my opinion that an LLC can be the better choice.

        But again, please don't listen to some random avatars in this forum. This isn't tax or legal advice. Talk to an attorney or tax professional licensed in your jurisdiction who can walk you through the details and tradeoffs.

        1. 3

          So now I have to walk back a little of my "bad take" comment. I agree with Nick that if you're just doing a side hustle to generate passive income, etc. and are never planning on exiting then you probably should do something like an LLC so that you don't have to file separate tax returns, etc. But again, you should check with a COMPETENT lawyer and/or accountant who understands the differences between LLC/S-Corp/C-Corp as well as the implications of Sec 1202/1045 and what your goals are for your venture.

  4. 4

    Hi @nickfogle, first, awesome story and congrats on the sale!

    What were some keys to Wavve's initial traction, from 0 to around $10k/mo?

    PS. Churnkey looks AWESOME. We had to custom-code a cancellation flow like this but if I had known about Churnkey I would've just done that. Still might, because I like seeing the dashboard and being able to edit it more easily on the fly.

    1. 4

      And you hit the nail on the head. It would take weeks or months of engineering time for a company to build their own, and after spending so much time building it for Wavve, we decided to start a company and make this super simple for other SaaS companies. Shoot me a DM if I can give you a demo or help at all. I'd love to hook you up with Churnkey!

      As far as Wavve, I'll share some of how we hit each key milestone $1k, $10k, and $100k

      The first $1k came Baird directly reaching out to podcasters and asking about the tool. I created an RSS scraper that would let us grab emails for any podcast and he was able to just sort of run with that.

      The first $10k was more network effect. We had a nice first-mover advantage as the first company to commercialize audiograms, so any time someone saw one on Twitter or Instagram, they'd ask the person sharing how they made it (eventually we added a watermark). Then we'd get another customer. This was a sort of viral loop.

      Getting from there to $100k was mostly due to years of organic content. While it takes forever to payoff, but eventually you'll start dominating the rankings for certain search terms. I'd say we released a new blog post 1-2x per month like clockwork for years.

      1. 3

        Thank you @nickfogle, awesome advice for each stage! I like the scrappiness in the beginning, then the virality, and finally dedication to SEO and content marketing which paid off huge.

        I will definitely be reaching out to you about Churnkey in the near future! I'm fascinated by the retention side of things from watching Profitwell / Price Intelligently share data on how Monetization / Retention are more important levers than simple Acquisition (which every company is too focused on).

        1. 2

          Awesome! I should add that building Churnkey was critical to getting Wavve past its previous revenue ceiling. It's truly amazing how much revenue compounds over time if you reduce churn by a single %

  5. 3

    Hey Nick! First off- Congrats!

    Were you approached by a company to get acquired or were you looking for companies who were interested in buying you? How did you position your company there?

    1. 3

      Thanks!!!

      We were first approached in January of 2019 by a broker (on behalf of an interested buyer). That sale didn't work out, but we were aware that this was an option for a few years before deciding to go forward. We stayed in touch with this broker over the years, and met once or twice a year to check in. When we made plans to sell at the beginning of 2021, we expected to take the broker route.

      To our surprise, we received quite a few cold inbounds in December about buying Wavve. Those inbounds turned into calls and we eventually received letters of intent to buy Wavve from quite a few.

      We've always been pretty transparent about running Wavve. I've written about it on my blog, Baird and I have written about it here on IH, and we've also shared some of our business metrics publicly. I think this helped to get us on the radar of those looking to acquire businesses.

  6. 2

    Awesome to see this Nick! :)

    Very excited to see what you guys do with Churnkey!

  7. 2

    @nickfogle

    1. How do you see risk as having with lots of student loan debt I can't take risk. You took multiple risks in your journey buying bitcoin investing in stocks and other job risks? How do you view it as I am in hole my risk taking capability is gone and I always worry about future?
    2. How do you manage multiple startups and jobs and founding team with family?

    Sorry for multiple questions but I want to learn from you as much as I can.
    Thanks

    1. 1

      I can totally sympathize with this position. When you have no financial safety net and all that debt, it can feel even more intimidating to take additional risk. It's a very lonely experience and very few of your friends and colleagues will have any idea what it's like to shoulder this kind of burden.

      At the peak of my student debt hole, I had $250,000 in loans accruing $52 per day in interest. It was absolutely soul crushing. I'm probably going to get some hate for this, but what worked for me was one thing. Getting angry. I realized no one was coming to rescue me, and I decided to do something about my situation. I worked like a maniac and placed a bunch of different bets.

      I wrote a quick thread on how to think about this here:

      1. 1

        Wow @nickfogle you had amzing journey. I am really happy you get out of this. Your story gives me hope. Thanks a lot for sharing.

        @nickfogle I am building this app and will launch soon. But I always have doubts what if things don't workout, what if no one buys etc. I spent 6-8 months on this app on side of my job and will be launching soon.

        What was your mindset in 18 months of failed startup and initial start of wavve? How did you deal with all those negative thoughts, disappointments, self doubt (what if things don't workout, what if no one buys)? Could you share some advice?
        Thanks a lot

        1. 2

          Mostly through hedging my bets and knowing that something would pay off eventually. Wavve was just one of several bets I was making and over time I came to terms with the idea that it might not work out. At the same time, I was sure to put a lot of irons in the fire: contracting 30hrs+ / week at an agency, investing small sums in investments with high asymmetric returns (BTC & ETH), and working the other 30hrs per week on Wavve.

          After that 18 month period, I was totally burned out but kept pushing because I didn't have another choice. If we hadn't started to get positive market feedback around our video generation tool, I would've probably leaned in harder to contract work and pivoted to a different idea after a few months off.

          1. 1

            Thanks a lot for holding AMA. I will get out of this.

            1. 1

              Sure thing! Happy to help.

      2. 1

        Also, here's a free ebook I wrote on the topic of student loans. Hopefully it can help others who are in the same situation https://www.indiehackers.com/post/i-wrote-an-ebook-to-help-you-tackle-debt-it-s-free-b850bf9054

    2. 1

      This comment was deleted 3 months ago.

  8. 2

    @nickfogle - thanks so much for doing this AMA! This thread is a goldmine of useful info - any questions I had have already been answered 🙏

    Best of luck with Churnkey - we don't have a cancellation flow yet but when we do this will be the first product I look at! 👍

  9. 2

    Congrats on the journey you've been on :) After you felt you were 'financially secure' somewhat (not living paycheck-to-paycheck), what was the driving force behind a) 'doing your own thing' and b) building Wavve?

    1. 1

      haha, I guess financial security is kind of a moving target. While I got out of the paycheck to paycheck routine a few years ago, I didn't actually leave my 9-5 salaried job until last summer... mostly due to how long it took me to get rid of my massive student loan debt.

      https://www.indiehackers.com/post/quitting-my-day-job-during-a-pandemic-d236cd27b8

      1. 2

        I did wonder that as I typed out the words 'financially secure' haha... "safety" - and financially safety - is an interesting thing. (Btw, Leisa's book is a fascinating read for folks, wherever they are on the wealth spectrum). I hope you have a chance to re-calibrate following Wavve before you dive back into things. Congrats on the sale and cheers again for answering questions here so honestly.

  10. 2

    Hey Nick, cool story! Why did you decide to sell your business that seemed to be super profitable? Anything you would do differently if you had to start your career again?

    1. 1

      Haha, I'd get back 3 years of my life and $300k by skipping law school and going straight for something I was passionate about -- working in technology. Hell, I might even have skipped out on undergrad.

      When I was in undergrad (2005-2008), I didn't realize this was an option for me. It seemed like the best thing I could strive to be was a doctor or a lawyer. I was young, naive, and didn't realize I was letting other people's standards define my own.

  11. 2

    Hey Nick, your story is very inspiring.

    When learning to code, how did you choose what to learn and why?

    1. 2

      Thanks Carlos!

      My best advice would be to think of something you want to build and just start! In 2012 I was fed up with the antiquated legal system and wanted to build a technology product for lawyers. It turned out that no one wanted to work with an unknown founder with just an idea so I taught myself to build out the idea.

      It started with learning some basic no-code prototyping tools so I could design what was in my head. Then I found an interactive no-code builder called Hype by Tumult. As I started understanding the logic more, I started dipping my toes into JavaScript. Within a few weeks I realized I needed to focus more around learning code bc of the no-code tool's limitations.

      Here's a better explanation of the strategy I'd recommend for anyone new: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJo8Y_uQqw0

  12. 2

    10 years in the making. As the saying goes 10 years of trying will make you look like an overnight success

    1. 1

      100% agree.

      This quote defines me.

      "Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade."

  13. 2

    Hey Nick, I don’t know if this is some random weird coincidence that I just signed up for indie hackers and this was one of the first post I saw but I just interviewed Marty and David from Calm on my podcast and they discussed Wavve as one of their brands!

    Love to see the other side of the story of how you grew things. Super awesome. Congrats! I think it could be a cool connecting story to have both builder and buyer episodes given our podcast is called buy and build. Let me know if you’re interested!

    1. 1

      haha, small world! David and Marty have been awesome.

      Great idea for having both buyer and seller on for an episode. Happy to join and share more from our point of view. Feel free to DM me on twitter @nickfogle and we can get something scheduled.

  14. 2

    Super inspiring, thanks for sharing!

    1. 1

      Happy to share! Thanks!

  15. 2

    Hi Nick ! Massive congrats on selling the business - great story. In terms of ChurnKey do you have any plans outside of Stripe ? We run on an old version of PayPal’s Website Payments Pro product but have a real need for a good Churn tool such as yours. Thanks, Mike

    1. 1

      Hey Mike! We're definitely planning to expand to other providers like Paypal's Braintree soon, but I haven't looked into what's required for "Payments Pro." I'll add it to my list.

  16. 2

    Hey Nick, very insipring! How did you validate your idea when you started? How did you now there was need for such a tool?

    1. 1

      Haha, we actually spent 18 months building something that sort of failed. We built this really cool product called uTalk -- it was likely an early version of Clubhouse and tried to raise venture money. The only problem, VC wasn't interested and we couldn't find a way to get our existing users to pay us.

      The silver lining of this experience was we learned a TON about podcasters, content creators, and were in close proximity to what would become Wavve's market. Wavve started as an internal tool to help us promote our users content, and people were actually willing to pay us to use the internal tool if we let them.

      IF you'd like to read more about how this happened and how we approached validation after wasting 18 months on something that failed, I've written a more detailed account here https://nickfogle.com/lessons-building-wavve/

  17. 2

    Hey Nick, killer story! Do you have a good resource for sourcing all of the legal documents associated with buying/selling a biz? First time business buyer here and it's easy to get overwhelmed with all the legal stuff

    1. 1

      It’s going to vary based on the transaction. If you’re looking for a simple way to structure it, I’d recommend and asset sale instead of transferring ownership of the entire business entity.

      Also, if you’re in the position to buy a company, I’d definitely earmark a few thousand dollars to consult with a transactional attorney in your area. Even as an attorney myself, I was sure to hire outside counsel for help.

  18. 2

    Congrats on the sale!! Awesome stuff!

    What was your customer acquision strategy? What worked? What didn't? What do you wish you knew around getting customers when you started?

    1. 2

      Thanks! Its evolved over time. At first it was mostly all direct outreach. As we grew, so did the viral impact of others seeing Wavve videos shared on social. We added a watermark to all 'free' user videos which really helped. Later on, much of our consistent, heavy growth came from organic content that was laid diligently years before. We also introduced an affiliate program which helped (but maybe not as significant as one might think). We didn't start spending heavily on paid ad channels until 2020.

      My co-founder Baird joined Courtland on the IH Podcast last year and went into it in depth if you want to go deeper.

  19. 2

    Hi Nick, congratulations for your achievement. Can you tell us how did you arrive at the idea? How did you validate that there is a market for it?

    Also considering audio to video conversation application has low barriers to entry, what is the moat of this business?
    Thanks

    1. 2

      Lots of IH'ers (and engineers for that matter) think technical complexity or exotic features can give you a moat. I used to assume this as well. Given today's pace of innovation, I think it's fair to assume any technical edge will be commoditized over time, so it's crucial to stay focused on building a great product that customers love (your customers should be your moat).

      Back in 2016, we were the first ones to commercialize this product because it was extremely difficult to do this at scale. So I guess we had a bit of a moat at first, but technical moats are hard to hold on to. I remember being so worried when our first competitors came online a year later (one was VC funded with like 10 people), but the best thing we ever did was ignore the noise and keep executing on the best product we could build for our customers.

      As far as the idea... it's a long story but basically we worked within the space (social audio) for 18 months on the wrong product. After that failed, we learned what not to do and how important it was to validate before building a crazy complicated product. Here's the full Wavve origin story if you'd like to read it.

      https://nickfogle.com/lessons-building-wavve/

      1. 2

        Thanks for answering. I like the idea of customer experience and customer service being the moat of the business.

        All the best for your future endeavors!

  20. 2

    Thanks for sharing this info, Nick! What was your journey like from law school to learning to code? Did you join a bootcamp?

    1. 2

      Haha, people thought I was crazy. We were broke and I had six figures of law school debt to pay off, so any sort of paid program wasn't an option for me.

      I posted a housing wanted ad on craigslist, we moved to a cheap part of my area, I drove a shuttle bus for about 9 months, and used every idle moment I had to teach myself to code. Back in 2012, I think Codecademy was probably the only tool I used that's still around today.

  21. 1

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  22. 1

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  23. 1

    Thanks for sharing this story .

    Did you at the beginning of your saas service, try to cut costs with cloud/hosting services while you were trying to get customers
    .. and then have to scale up using either the same hosting/cloud companies.. or move to other better cloud provider companies, when revenue increased?

    Any problems during that process?

    1. 2

      Yes, yes, and yes. 🤣

      Early on we had some free AWS credits which helped as we experimented and started up. The problem with these credits is you don't do anything to optimize costs, and then you suddenly realize they're gone and you have ton of unexpected costs for things you're no longer using. Plus you get complacent with your actual service. Video rendering was still pretty complicated in 2016 and 2017. I had about 12 large instances running at one point in order to handle the load.

      Our old infrastructure got us to about 1,000 customers before we hit scaling issues: servers started running out of memory, the job queue would get backed up, and customers were waiting longer and longer for videos to finish. This was something we put off for as long as we could.

      Then in 2018 (I think?), we spent two months rewriting our entire backend and immediately started to see the benefits. Our AWS bill decreased by more than 50%, video wait times dropped by several minutes, and the system became much more robust with increased logging visibility and retry logic.

  24. 1

    Unrelated to Wavve but, how did you get that contracting job at Fount?

    1. 1

      Charleston, SC is pretty small so I knew some of the others from the tech scene here. There were about 5 of us who made it our full time gig back in January 2016. The other partners have kept running things when I transitioned away to help launch Casa a while later.

  25. 1

    Hi @nickfogle I want to ask about competition and vcs money.
    Headliner free plan is very cheap and they are also vc funded. The other players in this space like Audiogram etc have similar plans as Wavve. Headliner is capturing huge market and their product is comparable to Wavve.

    1. How did it impacted the wavve growth?
    2. How did you compete with Headliner?
    3. If a Indie developer has a product what advice will you give them to compete with Headliner like companies.
    4. Transcribing cost make it difficult to have good profit margins . Does waave uses home grown algo for transcribing or you were using AWS/third party APIs for transcribing.

    I am asking this because in my product is also facing lots of competion suddenly. So how do you approach it. As product grows competition comes. How do indie developer or bootstrapped developer fight this.

    Thanks

    1. 2

      This turned into a long rant and should probably be a separate post... so I'll just lead with my advice.

      It's annoying to have companies come in and take some of your market share, and it's easy to be angry or feel defeated when this happens. Instead of wasting energy on negative, unproductive emotions, think of this as a good thing. Capitalism is working and competitors probably mean you've found an actual market to serve (something many never find). Instead of worrying about competitors, talk to your customers and learn what you can do build the project people actually want. Whatever you do, don't become a feature factory to chase product parity with competitors.

      I'll share a personal anecdote and attempt to answer your other questions below:

      We were the first company to commercialize audiograms, and I think we had a 5-6 month head start before competitors came online. Funny enough, my co-founder actually chatted with Sparemin's founder (product before they pivoted to Headliner) in the spring of 2017. I was shocked when they dropped Headliner a few months later.

      There we were just sort of grinding along, growing through organic word of mouth and thinking we were operating in this tiny little market. Suddenly Sparemin/Headliner came rolling in like a steam engine. They seemed to be a well-funded company, with multiple employees and several engineers (we were just two people who were contracting on the side to survive). The worst part, they were happy to give away their service for free.

      We were freaked out because as bootstrappers, we didn't have venture money to just throw away to support free plans for the sake of growth (i imagine they were burning cash to offer free subtitles and all that video generation). At the time, Wavve's free plan was only a minute and we'd been really focused on growing our paid users rather than just going after total user count.

      Eventually we learned to just ignore the competition and focus on what we could control: listening to our customers, delivering on what they wanted, and continuing to improve our products in the areas where the potential for ROI aligned with what our customers wanted. As video technology became more ubiquitous and audio to video became more commoditized, we built our own custom runtime to make video generation faster, more reliable, and most of all, cheaper.

      By 2019 we started to see new services pop up much more regularly. Since we were very public about what we'd built, I fear that we may have influenced many of these copycats to enter the market. I don't think we were ever really worried about competing against the type of founders who copy an existing business. If you think about the type of person who copies a product with the hope of making money, it's unlikely that they're hardworking and creative enough to sustain that business in the long run.

      I'd guess that 90% of these businesses will fade away as people realize how hard it is to turn a product into a business. Our product was a very small part of what made the business successful. For years we talked to customers, built what they were asking for, invested in tutorials, social marketing, went to podcast conferences, built an affiliate program, and wrote well over 100 industry-specific blog posts.

      In hindsight we were fortunate to have the first mover advantage. We were also smart to set very low time preferences when it came to growth strategy. The blog alone represents over one thousand hours of time spent writing content, and while this investment can take years to pay off, it helped us optimize the business for longer term, sustainable growth (and cheaper).

      1. 1

        Wow, thats really helpful and relatable. I would love to listen to this rant more. I get so many things from this. Thanks a lot.

        1. Do you mind sharing what stopped users from switching?
        2. Why you did not have same freemium plan for wavve as Headliner? (I guess it did not make sense)

        I am in same boat but every time a user churn and tell me they are going for competitor it really pinch.
        I am getting in more and more pressure to compete them on pricing where I have to take hit on my margins.

        Thanks a lot for sharing @nickfogle. Your success is well deserved 👏.

        1. 1

          Happy to share.

          Would you mind sharing your business or industry? You've got me curious.

          Most of our users were already familiar with our product and didn't want to start fresh learning a different product. We also made that a core goal of Wavve... making it super simple to use. Our editor and video creation steps were designed to be intuitive sense our customers don't like the "After Effects" style of timeline editor.

          It's also important to note that our plan started at $10 so it's not like the benefit of switching to a free plan somewhere else was going to save you much time.

          1. 1

            I built Saas product and is B2B mainly. I am solo founder and bootstrapped the product. Just like wavve I was first in industry and grinded and made the product successful. After product did well lots of copy cat came with VC money and burning huge VC money so competition has increased.
            Needed advice on that.

  26. 1

    Hey Nick

    Been following your journey since '16-'17 tbh and full congrats to you for building such a fantastic business!

    I wanted to ask / get your 2c on the main growth engines that helped you explode and grow as your inbound numbers / SEO looks great

    Was content and SEO the main plan here ?

    1. 1

      Thanks!

      Yeah, organic content and SEO was the most critical part of our growth engine. My co-founder shares some stats from a while back here:

      Other channels/ strategies that played a role to a lesser extent:

      • affiliate program
      • early viral growth
      • paid ads (later stages)
  27. 1

    Nice Questions, Nice Answers, Great Story. I'm proud of you

  28. 1

    "In addition to the rationale I gave Courtland, I'll also add that we believe we can do this again. We love building businesses and Churnkey is our latest attempt"

    Hi @nickfogle
    Whats the secret (you can do it again :D) and what advice you give to new founders? Lots of us struggle.
    How to get the customers?
    Thanks for holding AMA

    1. 1

      Haha, I hope it works out. We've only been public with Churnkey for a few months and it's already clear that B2B is totally different beast that the market we went after for Wavve. We're still hunting for a repeatable acquisition channel and have been doing direct sales too. I'll probably write a Churnkey update soon to explain these recent learnings.

  29. 1

    Hi @nickfogle

    1. How did you deal with doubts while building the product intially?
    2. How did you manage to build product and job same time?
    3. How did you manage to travel and job and startup same time initially ?
    4. Any advice on student having huge debt(Not much as yours) and same spot as you (job with debt with building startup with no secure future path )?

    Thanks for AMA

    1. 1

      At first I was so naive, I just assumed it would work out. By the time we'd sunk 18 months into a failing product, I was much more deliberate with how I invested my time and I think this forced us to find better market fit.

      It wasn't easy balancing a full time job and startup. I pretty much gave up my twenties and early thirties working 60-80 hours per week. I used nights, weekends, and even my vacation weeks to work on building Wavve.

      For student loan debt, I wrote a short, free ebook to help others in the situation. https://www.indiehackers.com/post/i-wrote-an-ebook-to-help-you-tackle-debt-it-s-free-b850bf9054

      1. 1

        Hi Nick Thanks a lot for sharing this e book really needed this, Your story give me a lots if hope thanks for sharing.

        What was your mindset in 18 months of failed startup and initial start of wavve? How did you deal with all those negative thoughts, disappointments, self doubt (what if things don't workout, what if no one buys)? Could you share some advice? How did you handle that.? (Really need that)
        Thanks a lot

  30. 1

    Hi Nick, congratulations on the move. May I ask how you found your cofounder?

    1. 2

      Funny story.

      Our wives were friends and introduced us.

  31. 1

    Congratz! The Wavve homepage is beautiful too.

    My questions:

    At a technical level, how does it work? (Notable libraries / Tech stack)

    Also, considering you were relatively new at coding and ops, how did you ensure the whole thing is secure (handling user data, keeping hackers out, etc)?

    1. 1

      To be fair, I'd had a few years of professional software experience under my belt before I started hacking on what became Wavve. After learning to code in 2012-2013, I landed an internship at an enterprise software company, Blackbaud. I busted my tail through the internship and landed a full time job and gradually moved up through the ranks over the next few years. I worked under some really senior engineers and learned a ton from my time there (particularly how to deal with sensitive data).

      As far as tech stack - I need to remain somewhat vague on the technical / server side, but I can share that we use AWS heavily and on the front-end we use Vue.js. Web app is pretty standard Vue + Static S3 + CloudFront.

  32. 1

    How much did you sell it for? and to whom?

    1. 1

      While I can't give exact details about the transaction, I can say we sold to an awesome buyer, Calm Capital, and it was for a very healthy multiple of TTM EBITDA. I talk about the whole sale in detail here

      https://nickfogle.com/selling-wavve/

  33. 1

    This comment was deleted 21 days ago.

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