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Recently sold a bootstrapped B2B SaaS for more than $500k. AMA.

Hi hackers,

It's Arsen here 👋 I've been building online businesses for the last decade. Recently, we sold Restpack, a B2B SaaS that we bootstrapped in 2017. I cannot disclose the exact price, but it was upper 6-figures in USD.

Some quick facts;

  • We had no employees.
  • 5-figure MRR with 90% profit rate
  • Our ad budget was $100/mo
  • Required only few hours per month

I wrote a short article on how we found a buyer and briefly explained the whole process.

AMA. I would be happy to help.

  1. 4

    What influenced you to sell? Was it just the size of the final price or other factors as well?

    Did you look for a buyer or did they find you?

    1. 1

      We sold it because we couldn't allocate time to this project. I wrote about this in my article here https://kovan.studio/selling-saas-after-running-it-for-4-years/

  2. 3

    Hi Arsen, congrats for the deal!

    I would like to know:

    1. How do you acquire the first 20 paid users
    2. Pricing strategy for B2B SaaS
    3. How do you determine when should do a customization according to client's request ( I believe it's common in B2B sales, or maybe I just sale to wrong client 😂)

    I'm working on a B2B SaaS as well, basically it's a highly interactive virtual event SaaS. What we are facing now is client consider it "interesting", but not about to pay for the monthly charge.

    It would be great to see the advice from you!

    Wish the best.

    1. 4

      Great questions!

      1. I really don't remember how we acquired the first 20. It was 3 years ago :)
      2. Never be cheap. We had many leads that complained about pricing but at the end they turn to our clients. If you have a reliable solution and solve their problem, they will pay.
      3. I can talk days about this one but i will keep it short :) At the beginning, we did customization for free, only to catch a client. Later we realized that big clients don't care to pay more for custom development. It's more expensive for them to do this customization in-house. We started to charge additional $3-5k for custom feature requests.

      About your case; I dont have any idea about your product, forgive me if I am wrong. But sounds like they don't actually need your solution. It's something "nice to have".

  3. 3

    Nice! How did you validate your idea and get the first users? Did you reach out to B2B businesses or just launched
    Thanks:)

    1. 4

      Actually, we pivoted with the product. We started as an API marketplace (like https://promptapi.com/) with many useless microservices :) We almost had no customers for a year and coulnd't manage that much different API's. Then we decided to stick with HTML to PDF API and Screenshot API.

      My quick idea validation technique is looking for competitors :) There were few competitors in this area, so it means there is demand for it. The most effective acquisition channel for us was Google. We also did some Quora marketing which ranked at top 3 results on Google. There is low search volume for our keywords, but they converting very well.

      1. 1

        Awesome! Quit a journey haha
        Thanks:)

  4. 2

    Hi, Congratulations!

    How would you advertise your product if you'd start over again with such small budget ($100/month)?

    1. 1

      thanks! it totally depends on the product and your audience. in our case $100/mo was enough since the search volume was very low.

  5. 2

    Congratulations!

    My questions are:

    Which of the two products was more successful and what was the split?
    Was it a challenge having two products?
    Did you consider focussing on one of the products? Or even adding more APIs?

    1. 2

      Thanks Ramy.

      • It was 60/40 in favor of HTML2PDF
      • Nope. Actually, both of them use the same backend. We split them in terms of marketing since they have different use case.
      • We had plans to add Content Extraction API but couldn't find time to invest.
  6. 1

    Arsen, I think I know you from your previous posts. But I don't know which one. Congrats! 😃🎉

  7. 1

    Fantastic to read this @arsen I'm building something on very very similar lines. How did you get the first 10 customers?

    Also, if I have a few more specific questions, which I think would be better answered in private. Would you be kind enough to share your email id?

  8. 1

    Another question, do you use proxy's as part of your app?
    And if yes with what vendors do work?

  9. 1

    Great read , can you please share the technical details on how did you build it ?
    What was your tech stack , and how did you
    Managed to low cost the aws bill ?
    Thanks

    1. 1

      Headless chrome on Nodejs. My co-founder was in charge of tech, I dont have in-detail knowledge :)

      You get huge discount on reserved AWS instances.

  10. 1

    Hi Arsen, congratulations!

    My question are:

    1. What were the biggest "pains" of working on the startup (For example marketing, management, etc.)?
    2. If you solved them, how did you do it?
    3. If you could modify something about how you set up your startup, what would that be?

    Thank you!

  11. 1

    Hey @arsen congrats on the sale. I'd love to talk through your blog post https://kovan.studio/selling-saas-after-running-it-for-4-years/ on our new podcast called "Fund Stuff" all about micro acquisitions. I'm at andrew at xoxo.vc if you're down!

  12. 1

    Hi Arsen. Great news!
    Question. Do you know how to handle PDF files to make language translations preserving the original layout? I am now seeking for a solution and you seem to be the one who knows!

    1. 1

      Our product did browser based HTML to PDF/IMG conversion. If your input is in HTML, yes. You can use something like https://www.npmjs.com/package/headless-google-translate

      If your input is PDF, I don't have much experience in it ¯\(ツ)

  13. 1

    Thanks for the guide.

  14. 1

    What kind of tax did you have to pay on this income, were you able to sell your company in a tax efficient (obviously and legal) way.

    1. 1

      We made an asset sale, so we will be taxed at the end of the year after we deduct the expenses.

  15. 1

    How long did it take you to build the 'MVP' and how much more development have you put in since?
    It's an impressive simple idea, with a very clean story - like it! Just wondering what the development curve was like.

    1. 1

      We did it the old-school way. Passed the MVP and released the final product :)

      2017 - Initial Release
      2018 - Pivot (terminated other APIs)
      2019 - Rewrote whole backend from scratch
      and nothing major done since then. Only updating chrome version and small bug fixes.

  16. 1

    Hey Arsen, congrats on the deal, and thanks for this AMA!

    How did you find the idea of your product?
    How did you acquire users? What was the main growth channel?
    What was your go-to-market strategy?

    1. 2
      • We pivoted with the idea. We started as a API marketplace first.
      • Our main and most effective channel was Google.
      • Quora was ranking very well those days. We answered every related question on Quora and indirectly ranked on top results on Google.
      • Google Search Ads also worked well.
      1. 1

        Cool! Thanks for your reply!

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