Thinking back 3 years ago when I started the company and it was just me working from my apartment, I thought this day would never come.
The best part is I have an amazing team that I get to celebrate with now. Reaching this milestone is the result of many people's efforts, both internally at our team and externally with investors, advisors, and friends.
There is still a long road ahead of us to achieve our vision, but this is an important milestone along the way!
We hate tracking success by team-size, but this feels like a huge accomplishment for us. To be able to employee 10 amazing folks is no small feat.
Kienan and Matty joined the team as Junior Account Executives putting us at 10 fulltime employees and 1 intern, 1 consultant, & 1 agency.
Here's the structure of the team:
Kienan - Junior Account Executive
Matty - Junior Account Executive
Becca - Sales Development Rep
Andrew - Senior Account Executive
Heather - Frontend Software Engineer
Fritz - Lead Software Engineer
Casie - Customer Success Manager
Anya - Marketing Manager
Tuff - Marketing Agency
Luis - Intern
Caitlin - Consultant
Ross - COO
Ryan - CEO
We're actively hiring for a fullstack engineer in Boulder, CO:
With social media being such a visual industry, good design has always been extremely important to us.
But, up until this point, Ryan, a backend engineer by trade, was designing the entire product. Having a dedicated UX designer and frontend engineer will help us provide a better experience for our customers and make the product more intuitive to use.
Within the first month, Heather, our new designer shipped one of the most requested features -- Instagram Grid Preview
After almost 3 years of Ryan being our CEO and only engineer, we finally hired a lead software engineer, Fritz, to take ownership of most of the codebase.
With the team growing quickly 3 --> 7 employees over the past 6mo, Ryan was finding his time split between many different tasks, causing product development to slow down.
With Fritz, and soon another engineer, on the team to help, we'll be able to accelerate product development and deliver much more value to our customers.
We achieved a $.5M run rate ($42k MRR) with a full-time team of 4!
While in and of itself it's an exciting milestone, it shows that we're on track for our larger goal for 2020. Continuing on this trend, we are positioned for very healthy revenue growth over the next 12 months.
While not the typical path for Indie Hackers, we're extremely proud to have raised a $1.5M seed round to continue to deliver on our promise of helping marketing agencies scale.
Along with the capital, we have some amazing investors joining us on this journey.
Becca left WeWork to join Ross and Andrew in our Portland office as our first Sales Development Rep.
She will be screening inbound leads and setting demos for Ross and Andrew. This is a huge milestone, adding more structure to our sales org and increasing efficiency.
Cloud Campaign was birthed from the Indie Hacker community so it's only fitting that we came back to tell our story on the IH podcast.
We've grown our business in one of the more crowded industries to reach $25k MRR and are growing revenue by about 30% month over month.
Give the episode a listen if you're interested in our journey!
From getting fired from his software engineering job
To launching and acquiring 400 users in first couple of months
Then struggling to monetize the product
Which lead to finding a co-founder and doing customer research
Almost running out of money and considering shutting down the business
In the last moment, finding a scalable customer acquisition channel
To now generating $25k MRR and growing quickly (32% MoM)
You always hear folks say finding the first 10 customers is the hardest, but getting from 10 to 100 is much easier.
This couldn't be less true for our journey.
I agree that once you have a repeatable customer acquisition strategy, landing new customers becomes substantially easier and more importantly, by definition, repeatable.
But, there are many ways to get 10 customers without having a repeatable or even thought-out acquisition strategy.
Our first 10 customers came from BetaList and Product Hunt launches and accordingly, they weren't our target customers. Their feature requests, their budgets, and their usage did not match that of our target customers. So while it was a nice boost of encouragement early on, that's about all that it was.
Finding a Repeatable Sales Strategy
Given our pricing model, we knew that we would have to find a repeatable acquisition channel to build an interesting business.
We started with cold calling our target customers. In the first 6-months or so, Ross called about 500 marketing agencies to better understand their needs and land our first pilot customers. The pilot customers weren't going to pay the bills, but they did teach us what features they cared about which informed our product and marketing efforts.
Knowing what our target customers cared about, we hit the ground running to find a channel where we could reach them. This is what we tried over the next 9 months:
While we did land a few customers from a handful of the channels (conferences, posting on forums, FB groups, AdWords), it was unpredictable and fickle.
We ran as many micro-tests ($20 - $50) as our tiny budget would allow until we found a channel that worked.
After many iterations on the copy and the objective, we finally found a Facebook and Instagram ad set that started delivering results.
Almost overnight (from starting the ad), new inbound leads started flowing in and we were closing a new customer a day.
This all happened around October of 2018, one and a half years after starting the company. With Ryan's savings quickly dwindling, we had agreed to take a step back and reconsider the project if we didn't have noteworthy revenue (more than $2k) by the end of the year. So, finding this new channel couldn't have happened at a better time.
Now that we had a source of leads, we started optimizing the rest of the sales funnel. Capturing the leads, screening prospects, scheduling demos, and onboarding customers.
We had an unreal conversion rate, 87% from some sources, but we were losing customers out the backdoor due to activation churn. About 20% of our customers wouldn't use the product and would churn within the first month.
After meeting with a handful of mentors, we decided to strongly incentivize integration calls, which has reduced our churn to about 2.5%.
With a solid source of leads and a good retention rate, we figured it was time to scale things up a bit. In June (2019), we hired an account executive, Andrew, and really ramped up our advertising spend ($4,500 --> $9,000/mo). We're now adding about $4k - $5k of new MRR per month and grew by 32% last month!
We're excited about the journey ahead and are even more excited about all of the small business owners who get to claim their day back by using our product.
Cloud Campaign helps marketing agencies scale social media management so they can increase the number of brands they manage and charge a higher retainer with a leaner team.