Building in Public January 27, 2021

My 2 Year Journey to $10K MRR

Jon Yongfook @yongfook

Hey everyone, I've been an Indie Hackers member for a couple of years, started with zero MRR and finally hit $10K MRR.

TL;DR, I've put together a visual timeline of my journey from zero to $10K MRR here:

https://www.bannerbear.com/journey-to-10k-mrr/

It's been quite a slow burn - I started out by trying the "12 startups" challenge and didn't see much success there, but did stumble upon a sense of direction.

Then I focused on one product, but didn't quite have product-market-fit yet.

Then I pivoted that product and gained a bit of traction, and basically doubled down on the things that were working for me. In my case, that was writing more / better documentation.

There have been pricing changes, marketing language changes, and lots of feature updates in the last year. Passed the $10K mark earlier this month.

I thought it would be fun to put together a sort of timeline of events of the last 2 years. For each time period I have summarised what I was doing, with some tweets, blog posts and lessons learned.

If you're growing a startup, I hope you find this useful!
https://www.bannerbear.com/journey-to-10k-mrr/

Note: this isn't really meant to be a guide for you to follow, just look at it more as an example journey of a fellow founder :) Some lessons may apply to you, others won't!

  1. 3

    Awesome story @yongfook! Great to see the growth over such a long period (relatively long compared to other journey stories anyway)!

    Also, as a reminder, it turned out you weren't on the ramp of death ;) https://www.indiehackers.com/post/have-i-entered-the-long-slow-saas-ramp-of-death-6a8db1892d

    1. 1

      We grew 3 years to 10K in MRR. I guess everyone's story is different. Some startups require more upfront financing and feature positioning than the others. It's harder to fire up, but once on fire, it will consume everything.

  2. 2

    Congrats @yongfook and thanks for always being open about what you do!

    I'm actually writing our own "10k mrr" post but my one will for sure not be this nicely designed and cool!

    1. 2

      Haha. Getting inspiration from each other!

  3. 2

    Congrats man! What would you say was your biggest takeaways going from $0 to $10k. From what I can gather it was: going all-in on the API, getting leads from airtable, zapier. Was there anything else?

    1. 1

      hmm hard to say what the biggest takeaway is... but an important observation is that it was fricking hard to get to $1k MRR.

      But once I got to that point, everything became a lot easier.

      1. 1

        Awesome.. thanks for the reply. One more question if you don't mind. I see you offer enterprise and custom plans. How much % of total revenue do these plan generate for you? Did you have them from start or add them later? Thanks.

  4. 2

    @yongfook that has got to be one of the best writeups I've ever read. Great layout, and making it interactive with the tooltips and such made it a super fun read. Thank you for sharing and inspiring!!!

    1. 1

      Thanks! I wanted to do something a bit different. I knew that many would be turned off by a wall of text so I wanted to do something that people could skim, but also go a bit deeper (via the tooltips) if they wanted to.

  5. 2

    I love to see a product -> API-first product made you jump from ~$500 MRR to ~$5000 MRR , would you say that Zapier, Airtable and other no-code platforms were the firestarters for your growth from that point onwards?

    1. 1

      Yes - there's a reason I haven't really built any other 3rd party integrations - those two alone cover a lot of use-cases and have tons of users.

  6. 1

    Hey Jon - I have been following you since the 12 startups challenge. This is awesome!

  7. 1

    Congrats! I just wanted to say that I love your approach: I think too that our path is always unique, and trying to copy the success of others won't necessarily work for us. I think as well that slow burn is better overtime, and more sustainable, compared to a great launch on product hunt / hacker news bringing 320198384209438 people for... one day.

    I don't have that much experience in business, though. So I might be totally wrong :D

  8. 1

    Nice work! Awesome write up too.

  9. 1

    Congrats @yongfook

    I think there's a very good businesses justification for being so open with your startup. A lot of your target audience are interested in startups / startups themselves, so this ends up being great content thats starts a ton of prospects down your funnel.

    I'm personally considering signing up for an on-going product, and I wouldn't have heard about bannerbear if you hadn't been so open with your metrics.

    Great job!

  10. 1

    Congrats! The site looks super impressive. I'm sure the product went through a lot of iterations to get to this stage but did you have a lot of technical challenges along the way? I ask cause I know first hand developing and hosting Image/Video APIs as well as building a nice UI around them is no easy feat. :D

    1. 2

      Yes it has gone through a few evolutions in terms of the technology used.

      In the early days it was a monolith Rails app and probably would not be able to handle massive scale.

      Nowadays it is 80% monolith and 20% serverless, with serverless being used to handle the stuff that needs to scale horizontally. It can handle pretty decent levels of scale now :)

      1. 1

        Nice! Serverless is awesome. Cheap and effortlessly scales :)

  11. 1

    Great format and well written. Congratulations on the milestone.

    I would do one week of code, then spend the following week tweeting / blog posting about what I shipped — then repeat

    This. This is massive. Not enough people do this. I didn't do this enough last time.

  12. 1

    Congrats on your milestone and thanks for sharing your story!

  13. 1

    Thank you for the post.
    If anything, this gives me encouragement to be patient, keep on pushing, and to be able to "make it".
    What are your upcoming milestones?

  14. 1

    Looks like pricing change and positioning have contributed to the most MRR growth.
    Could you share what exactly you've done during these two steps?

    1. 10

      Hey Alex, I'd be happy to answer, but maybe before that you can help answer this...

      Why did you copy one of my previous milestones word for word? You posted it under your own Indiehackers account here (changing the MRR), got called out on it and subsequently deleted it.

      But it looks like you left it up on Reddit:

      I'm happy that I'm providing you with inspiration, but I'd rather you learn lessons and apply them in your own way, not just outright copy my posts.

  15. 1

    What is your current target market?

  16. 1

    Most of the stories from big makers are like making $10k MRR in 3 months, and that demotivates new founders as they set high expectations earlier and most of them don't see this growth easily.
    This story seems more realistic and sets good expectation.

  17. 1

    Read this when it came through the newsletter and I have to say, I’m impressed with the way you document your journey. I don’t sign up for many newsletters, but your past writing was the reason I did. This was the first issue to hit my inbox and it delivered.

  18. 1

    Awesome story, gives me a lot of hope for where we are with logology, as we're still missing tons of features for it to be really useful. Subscribed to your journey.

  19. 1

    I think Pivoting to an API product really got the gears turning for your Banner Bear.

    Congrats, Jon.

  20. 1

    Thank you for spending the time to create this and share it all openly! 🙏🙌

  21. 1

    This was very helpful @yongfook! Thanks for sharing the details!

  22. 1

    Congrats! Thanks for sharing - and nice job making this so fun to read. Usually I just skim these but this one had me clicking links, exploring your other posts, and looking forward to scrolling and seeing more.

  23. 1

    Congrats on the journey so far! And thanks for sharing. There are some powerful insights here.

  24. 1

    Nicely put together and very motivating to read, Jon 😁 Thanks for sharing this gem

  25. 1

    Really nice reflection! It must have been nice to see your old tweets worrying about pivoting and changing prices but knowing you came out on top! Congratulations on this milestone :)

  26. 1

    Great presentation of your story and the lessons learned along the way. Congrats on the milestone!

  27. 1

    This comment was deleted 21 days ago.

Recommended Posts