I'm happy to finally announce that @daniksimpson and I sold our startup FeedbackPanda!
We built this EdTech SaaS to $55k MRR over two years, from idea to exit. We never took any funding nor did we ever hire an employee.
FeedbackPanda is now joining the existing EdTech products in the SureSwift Capital portfolio. Which is quite exciting because they know what they are doing.
We could not be more thankful for all the support and encouragement of this wonderful community. I talk about this more in the interview article linked below, but IndieHackers had a big impact on our business.
Not only is this community a treasure trove of information and guidance, but it also is home to the wonderful IndieHackers podcast (by @csallen of course), where I first heard of SureSwift Capital years before we even considered selling. It goes back to the episode with @moritz and his tales about DocParser and MailParser. A lot of serendipity here, and we are grateful for every part of it.
The IndieHackers community is a true blessing, and we intend to give back as much as we can.
Our referral system is set up to benefit the referring teacher as well as the new subscriber.
The referring teacher receives 1 month free for every 3 referrals successfully subscribed.
The customer subscribing via referral code also receives $5 off of their subscription.
Each customer is assigned a unique referral code and link to share with colleagues. After looking into some other SaaS products for the system, we ended up building out the system ourself.
The engineering effort was fairly small as we already had all the required systems in place, both for integrating with Stripe for modifying subscriptions and tracking certain data points on our own user accounts. Most SaaS options available were too feature-rich or expensive for our rather simple referral system. Within two days, the system was built and tested.
Our customers adopted the system quickly. Since the Chinese companies already encourage the teachers to refer colleagues as new recruits, it was natural for them to add FeedbackPanda to this process.
That being said, growth was still initially slow at the beginning of the year. January and February are slow hiring months since there are few classes and few new students during the Chinese New Year celebrations.
We are now starting to see our growth climb back to 10% a month with 50% of new users coming through referrals.
In December, we announced that our monthly and yearly subscription prices would increase. We decided to increase the monthly from $10 -> $15 and the yearly from $110 -> $150. All in all, we have seen that this has been a good decision and I think the adoption went smoothly based on a few strategies we used.
All active subscriptions were grandfathered in. This means that customers currently subscribed to the $10/month plan would be able to keep this price. The new pricing would only affect subscriptions created after the price increase took effect.
The price increase was communicated 1 month in advance. We communicated the increase on our website and in our weekly newsletter. At the time our price increase was announced, we had approximately 1000 users in the trial phase. This announcement was a warning to them, to ensure that they subscribed before January 1st in order to secure the lower subscription fee.
This lead to a lot of subscriptions in December! Customers were rushing to subscribe in order to save $5/month. We ended up totaling 500 new subscriptions in December with 100 created in the last 3 days of the month.
Then January got cold.. with only 140 subscriptions we wondered if we had made the right move. I understood that it was likely only because there were fewer trials since, all of the trials that would have let their free trial run its full course had already signed up in December. Even though that was what I understood, it was hard not to worry that our, so far, effortless growth was going to dry up, and we would need to start developing a more solid marketing plan.
It was important that our customers were apart of the announcement of the redesign and that they had a preview of what the product would look like before we released it.
We released an introductory video the day before we deployed the changes and this was ideal. Most customers were very excited to get started with the new version. We also chose our least active day to deploy the new version, so that we could work out any unexpected errors and to allow for a more low key day for our users to get acquainted with the new interface.
Here is our announcement the day before we deployed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hT6A4HX2WM&t=40s
While teaching English online to students in China, I realized that there was a need for a tool for teachers to keep up with the increasing volume of students and cut down unpaid work time.