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This couple bootstrapped their B2C app to $40K MRR

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Indie Hackers: Maxence Henneron & Oxana Ivanchenko
Founded: Sweepy
MRR: $40,000 per month
Sphere of Genius: Collaboration

Maxence and Oxana married in July of 2019. Later that year, the couple built Sweepy, a B2C app that helps you keep your home clean and organized.

Today the app is doing $40,000 MRR, and has an unlikely audience: people suffering with ADHD.

In my interview with Maxence, we spoke about how his wife learned to code, the couple’s approach towards accessible design, and how they freelanced as SWEs while building the application.

How is Sweepy doing financially?

Maxence: Very well. We are at $40K MRR right now and every month we have more and more sales.

We are currently pivoting our marketing strategy to sponsor YouTubers, Tik-Tokers, and influencers, because we've had a few mention us.

Each time we were mentioned we experienced a huge spike in installation numbers. So we are moving more and more towards paying influences, and doing mainly affiliate marketing.

Were you always interested in technology?

Maxence: Yes. I studied computing engineering while at university in France, so I have a technology background.

After graduation, I did a few technology internships (one of them was in San Diego, California).

My wife doesn't have a technology background. She was actually a student in international economics, but taught herself to code and built the front end of Sweepy.

What led to you and your wife working together?

Maxence: We didn't want to work a traditional 9-5, it just felt boring and unfulfilling.

So when my wife and I decided to build a project together, we started thinking about tools that could improve our lives.

We decided to find a better way to assign and manage chores between us.

We researched the competition by looking for similar apps on the App Store - none of the apps we saw were well designed.

This encouraged us.

Did working as a freelancer influence your interest in B2C?

Maxence: What I noticed while working for B2B software companies was that each company had a huge marketing team.

For that reason, we felt B2C was an easier space to be in than B2B since we could sell via the App Store.

How long did it take you and Oxana to build Sweepy?

Maxence: It took us about four months to release the first version. It was really simple.

My wife and I split the work in half. I did most of the back end, she did most of the front end. We both did the design. We did not invest anything. We did not spend any of our money.

Imgur Sweepy hits 1,000 reviews on October 31, 2020

What marketing channels did you focus on?

Maxence: We got lucky. When we released the app, Apple noticed it, and they put it on the App Store first page, right away. On the first day we had ~100 sales.

It really motivated us to continue working on this project. At the time, we were still freelancing, but seeing the successful launch convinced us that we had a product that people wanted to buy.

After two weeks, however, we started to see less and less new users. That's when we decided to move to paid marketing with Facebook Ads.

At first, we decided to post content every two days, just to have an interesting account. Then we did a few paid ads with a budget of €20 per day.

We didn't break even. We were losing money every day. But we were spending the money we made from the first 100 sales, so we weren’t too concerned.

What design principles did you consider while building Sweepy?

Maxence: What was important for us was designing color indicators. For example, if you open our app, you will see, next to each of your rooms, a color that represents that state of your home.

We also wanted to encourage the user to clean with positive reinforcement. The app always motivates the user with nice messages.

We also noticed that it was helpful having an app that tells you exactly what to do. Our premium feature is just that - a schedule that you have to follow every day to keep your house clean.

We spent most of our time designing the schedule, and all the indicators, and the best way to track your home and priorities.

How have you scaled the business?

Maxence: We get about 20 emails every day with new suggestions and new features that would improve Sweepy. Most of what we've done so far is look at what the user asks us, and prioritize what they ask us the most.

As far as marketing goes, mostly what we've done is increase our advertising budget every month. Every time we raised the budget, it would bring in more sales. With more sales, we had more money to re-invest.

We've been increasing the budget every month for the last 12 months. It's been going really well.

I think it will plateau at some point in the future. Our next step would be to start doing more influencer marketing, as I said, and affiliates.

Have you found there's been a particular group that has taken the most to the application?

Maxence: At the beginning, we thought people with children would gravitate to Sweepy. But as we released the app, we noticed that more and more people with ADHD were using our app to make their life easier. They were finding it useful to have a schedule every day.

It's really interesting, because we've noticed that a huge chunk of our users are using Sweepy just for this purpose. In the first version, we didn't think about this at all.

We noticed it from our reviews on the Play Store, and the App Store. More and more people were saying that they have ADHD, and that our app really helps them.

When we saw this, we started focusing much more on mental health.

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What do you think was your biggest challenge growing this app?

Maxence: The growth started great, but then it was a bit slow. We were increasing our MRR by $100 every month, and thought it was a risk to give up on everything, and focus full time on Sweepy.

We were working on freelance work, and then we were working on Sweepy.

I remember having meetings at 2 AM in the morning here. When we stopped, it became much easier for us to manage everything.

When did you quit your job to focus on Sweepy?

Maxence: When we had four months of savings, as well as enough money to live indefinitely using the app. But it was just enough to be able to live. We did not have enough money to reinvest or anything.

How different is the B2C space from B2B?

Maxence: You'll have a lower price point in B2C, but it is also easier to find your first clients. You don’t need to be a well known brand for consumers to buy your B2C app either.

On the first day Sweepy launched, 100 people decided to buy the app, without any reviews and any reputation. While on B2B software, I would say you need to prove yourself first, before being able to sell it.

As a bootstrapper, it's much easier to start in the B2C space, than the B2B. For most B2B software, it’s my opinion that one would first need to raise money, and then have built trust with the industry, and be able to show that, "Your product will not die soon."

What would be your advice for Indie hackers?

Maxence:

  1. Do not spend all your savings on a new project, because it might fail. I now work in a co-working space, and I see many people around us, thinking that their project will not fail. That they have this idea that will work, and it is a sure thing.

I remember at the time, when we built our first B2B app, we were sure there was an audience. That we could compete for them. It didn't work. I feel if we spent $10,000 in advertising at the time, we would have lost that money.

  1. Spend as little money as possible. Get started and validate that you have an audience behind your product.

  2. Avoid any kind of software that requires a community to work i.e you need other people to be in the app too.

I talk to many entrepreneurs. Many of them don't see how hard it is to build a community, and to build something that is interesting to them. Many of them make the mistake of starting with this, and it holds their project back.

  1. 4

    What ended up working after you where losing money every day spending $20 / day on Facebook Ads?

    1. 1

      I think it's a mix of better ad visuals, better app store ranking and organic growth. At the beginning we spent some time doing ASO to ensure we had the potential to rank well in a few keywords. The ads were bringing new users everyday, that would share the app to their friends, the traffic the ads generated also made our app rank better in the store so after a few weeks we started to have a net positive everyday. Also we regularly post on our instagram account to keep in interesting.

  2. 3

    Excellent to see another Indie Hacker couple making it work.

    What's the best thing working together? 😊
    What's the worst thing working together? ☹️

    1. 2

      I don’t know if it’s related that we are a couple but the best thing working together for me is that we are both extremely interested in the success of our company and I know that Max will do everything he can in order to succeed. I’ll do the same. We don’t need to force or motivate each other to work, we always do our best.

      And the worst thing about working together is that sometimes it seems that we both have the exact same life, we are inseparable. That’s why it’s so important to have your own hobbies, own friends and own free time.

  3. 3

    Thank you for the interview! Don't hesitate to ask if you have any question :)

    1. 1

      Hi Maxence,

      I'd love to know how many monthly active users you have? Also, what proportion of them are free vs paid?

      Congrats to you both on your success!

      1. 3

        We currently have 170,000 active users and about 5% of them converted to the paid version. The app is still useful in its free version (no task limitations...) so many active users do not convert.

        1. 1

          this is really impressive. how long did it take you to accumulate this many users?

          congrats btw on your success

          1. 2

            We launched Sweepy in March 2020 so about 1,5 year :)

            1. 1

              thanks for sharing! that's great growth over the last year. keep it up!

  4. 3

    great to see an indie hacking couple having success

    im trying to teach my partner to code, then we're hopefully going to start our own app too :)

    congrats Max & Oxana!

    1. 1

      Thank you, good luck with your project! Don't hesitate to share the progress on Indie Hackers

  5. 2

    Oh, so nice to read your story. My partner and I are also working on a B2C SaaS and while we are still building the frontend part at the moment (soon starting backend), we absolutely love the journey as we inspire and motivate each other so much. As you wrote as well, we also do our best naturally. We are upskilling in many areas required as well as we go.
    Wishing you continuously growing success with your app and marriage :) !

    1. 1

      Thank you Andrea, please keep us updated on your progress! 🙌

  6. 2

    This is great guys, wow. I have mad respect for couples who build successful businesses of any kind , nature or magnitude. And your commitment makes me feel mushy inside haha. Thanks for the great read!!

  7. 2

    comepletely inspiring, specially learning to code and designing the front of sweep. congratulations on raising 40,000$

  8. 1

    Great read! I was wondering, does your app have a subscription or is it a single purchase if the user wants to go 'premium'?

    1. 1

      It is a subscription, this is mostly because we update the app often and we also have a multi-device sync feature that has monthly costs.

  9. 1

    Congrats on your success! There is a bunch of things to like here: a personal problem, a self-thought coder, nice growth - maybe even a gentle market pull(?), a great customer discovery...

    How does your revenue split: subscription (%), others...?
    Do you plan to grow by converting more free users or in other ways?

    1. 1

      Our revenue is mostly from the premium subscription but we're looking at other ways of monetizing the apps such as partnership with other brands. We will however never add google adsense or sell our data.

  10. 1

    Congrats! I love this story! What language(s) are you programming in?

    1. 1

      Thank you! The app is made in react-native, native Swift (iOS) and Kotlin (android) and the backend is in Ruby on Rails.

  11. 1

    Congratulations on your success. It would be great if you could throw some light on approx how much of your monthly revenue is invested back in ad spend?

    1. 1

      We reinvest about 40% in ads. It's actually our largest and almost only expense by far. We're however slowly shifting from traditional ad campaigns to influencer marketing.

      1. 1

        Thanks for the response. Is most of the revenue coming from US users or outside the US? I always wondered if localization helps?

        1. 1

          Hm, about 50% of the revenue is from the US, 40% from Europe ( mostly Germany, UK, France, Russia and Italy ). Localization helps, but you'll also have to handle tons of support requests in languages you do not speak. We speak fluently 4 languages so it was definitely easier for us.

          1. 1

            Thanks for the response and congrats again on your success!

  12. 1

    How do you convince customers/differentiate compared to someone using a task tracker/google reminders for this?

    1. 2

      That's a good question. From the start, we wanted to build an app that focuses on cleaning chores and nothing else, due to the repetitive nature of these tasks. I think what convinces our customers is the ability to track the current state of your home using color indicators as well as having an automatic generated schedule.

      1. 1

        interesting! and what do they gain from going from free to paid?

  13. 1

    Thanks, this is interview is pretty interesting!
    Maxence, may I ask you how you came out with the idea?

    1. 1

      I wanted to solve a problem I had personally. It came up on a weekend, after a long week, I found myself spending most of my free time cleaning the appartment. I wanted to find a tool that would help me better manage my chores at home. After some research, the only app I found didn't match my expectations and its interface was old-school but was still fairly popular. I was pretty sure we could build something better so I pitched the idea to my wife and we started working on it :)

  14. 1

    Congrats! I'm doing a side project with my partner as well. Living and working together, do you manage to switch off from work?

    1. 1

      Honestly, it was really hard not to mix our personal and professional life when we worked from home. So when we had enough money, the first thing we did was to rent an office. Now we know when we work and when we are a couple. However, I must admit that we talk a lot about our work during the weekends. But I don’t see it as a bad thing, as we both like these conversations and our projects excite us.

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