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41 Comments

Reached $1000 MRR

It is a little bittersweet, given everything that is going on in the world currently. But my SaaS product just reached $1000 MRR. Still not quite ramen profitable, but it's on the way there.

At around double this amount I'll be just barely ramen profitable, which is the next milestone I'm working towards ☺️

I'm continuing with the marketing activities that seem to be working so far - none of it is rocket science:

  • writing tutorials on how to use my product to do cool things
  • designing more templates for people to use
  • increasing the footprint of the marketing site

More details at:
https://www.bannerbear.com/open/

  1. 7

    Congrats Jon! Following your journey is a great inspiration.

  2. 4

    Congrats @yongfook I have been following your journey with Bannerbear and it's inspiring to say the least. I guess your pivot to API only service paid off. Happy for you.

  3. 2

    Isn’t ramen profitable meaning to earn just a few bucks a month? 🤔

    Anyway, great stuff man! Congratz!

    1. 2

      From http://www.paulgraham.com/ramenprofitable.html

      "Ramen profitable means a startup makes just enough to pay the founders' living expenses."

      So the number will differ for everyone. For me, living expenses would be around $2k per month factoring in all the basics.

      1. 1

        Oh, I was so wrong. Thanks for expalanation.

      2. 1

        hahahah I think you should find cheaper villa in Bali and not eat in overpriced keto resto in bali, and eat a lot of egg with your favorite sambal for your keto diet :)

        1. 4

          I can't tell if you're joking or not, but my monthly expenses are not just house + food. Those combined are about 50% of my monthly expenses, and not really something I would ever compromise on anyway.

          I don't like discussions about expenditure. It just gets into weird-flex territory and everyone has different priorities / needs / bills to pay.

    2. 1

      I think its “pay your bills and enough money to eat ramen noodles 3x/day”

      1. 1

        ha, interesting, is this where the 'ramen' in the phrase comes from? I'd never thought about that...

      2. 1

        Haha, similar thinking as mine but we were wrong ;)

  4. 2

    Congratulations.

    I wonder, as I think I haven't seen this before: is the "open startup" concept relatively common? Have you written something about it (i.e. the why, pros and cons) or do you know of a good place to get information about it?

    Looking forward to seeing your 2k post pretty soon :-) (and celebrating with premium ramen).

    1. 2

      It's not that common, but I didn't invent it.

      I think Buffer.com pioneered the concept. They were the first startup to have a completely open revenue dashboard on Baremetrics: https://baremetrics.com/open-startups

      Their dashboard is now here, it seems: https://buffer.com/revenue

      For Buffer, /open is part of their culture and over the years they have openly shared things like their employee salary levels, their product roadmap and more: https://open.buffer.com/revenue-dashboard/

      Here's another list of open startups: https://www.openstartuplist.com

      And of course, the Indiehackers product list is essentially a list of open startups when filtered for startups sharing their revenue via Stripe integration: https://www.indiehackers.com/products?revenueVerification=stripe

      As for why I chose to go open, I talk a little bit about that in this interview: https://www.blog.openstartuplist.com/how-learning-by-doing-helped-bannerbear-grow-500-mrr

      "My decision was decidedly un-strategic. I’ve received a lot of benefit from other startups operating transparently over the years e.g. Buffer. Those benefits have come in the form of tangible operational knowhow or ideas, or simply in the form of inspiration.

      So I figured it’s important to keep that tradition going. Like I said above, sharing knowledge is almost universally a good thing. So perhaps my numbers currently don’t tell much of a story to most people, but there might be one or two out there who find the numbers useful for their own journey."

      1. 1

        Nice, I'll keep it in mind.
        I think transparency is an improvement over "old school" companies, and I'm pretty sure it would also be a "marketing plus" to my target audience (journalists).

  5. 2

    Congrats Jon! Motorbike coming close 🔥

    1. 1

      haha... except my dream bikes are like 2x the EU RRP in Indonesia because of the import tax!

  6. 2

    Congrats! fml Bannerbear looks like such a good idea, I'm looking forward to using it!

  7. 1

    Congrats @yongfook
    I see you are hosting on Netlify .
    What CMS (and its theme ) do you se for bannerbear ?
    Just curious, it is really nice design and seems almost no code

    1. 3

      I use middleman (https://middlemanapp.com) as the static-site generator and apart from that the design and code is custom.

      1. 1

        Thanks 👍.
        Theme and design is custom. Cool

  8. 1

    Congrats, that’s awesome!! I’m also working on an API product, and your design and resources are a huge inspiration! I definitely need to focus more on tutorials, examples, and marketing. I think this would make a big difference for me as well!

  9. 1

    That's great, congrats Jon!!

  10. 1

    Hey @yongfook, congrats on the milestone, huge achievement!

    Can I ask what you meant by "increasing the footprint of the marketing site"?

    Thanks!

  11. 1

    Congratulations. While you state your metrics are half of your next goal, I'd say you have 80% of the work done to get there. Sounds like you are at point where your marketing and other systems should produce more and more benefit for same amount of work as before. Good luck.

  12. 1

    Congrats Yon! We love your service and our hypefury users use the Tweet to Instagram feature a lot :).

    You deserve many more customers! Keep it up. You will reach 2k quicker than you did with 1k MRR :)

  13. 1

    Congrats @yongfook, great to hear of your progress! Your approach to tutorial/content writing seems to be generating more and more momentum. Just rewinding the clock back a bit on how you got here. I was fascinated by some of your comments on a previous post you made about your decision making on how you iterated Bannerbear:
    https://www.indiehackers.com/product/mojosaas/reached-25-paying-subscribers--M7_ieu-YW-M3gOk-9MR?commentId=-M7eQS-n9tAIurP-58YI

    It seems, from my read of it, that the product came from challenges you experienced yourself. And then you had a sense of types of use cases it would be valuable for.

    My question is:

    How have you balanced that tension between the use cases you really would like to see Bannerbear used for (for example you mentioned doing a case study on the first time an agency started using Bannerbear for social media automations), and where different customers seem to be pulling it?

    Thanks.

    1. 4

      Hi Matt, that's a really interesting question - I hope I can do justice to it!

      As indiehackers we wear many different hats and often those different roles mean that natural conflicts occur - sometimes what is good for one role is not so good for one of the other roles. This happens in larger organizations where (badly managed) teams might be practically working "against" each other as their value / success metrics form part of a zero sum game. But in the indiehacker world this happens in an exciting internal battleground inside one person's head :)

      The Marketing / Product Hat

      At a working level, if there's a disconnect between your product's intended (or desired) use case and the actual use cases of customers then that might mean there's a problem with your marketing or the product. Perhaps you aren't attracting customers from the right target segment, perhaps your onboarding isn't friendly to that segment and so on.

      There are no agencies using Bannerbear right now most likely for this reason. I simply haven't marketed it to agencies at all - it's not popping up in their channels and there is no agency-flavoured positioning in the marketing site currently. The fact that I haven't corrected this probably means that, for now, I'm ok with it! Because... (next point)

      The Early Stage Entrepreneur Hat

      One of the best qualities of an API product is that users will use it for purposes you hadn't even thought of. Or similarly, you can suggest 5 ways to use it and the market will tell you which of those 5 is the most in-demand. From an early stage business perspective, this makes an API product somewhat "easier" to navigate in terms of user growth - as long as the API does something useful, and as long as you can demonstrate many use cases (and inspire other use cases) then you're almost guaranteed some level of customer acquisition.

      For an early stage entrepreneur, this is great as it means building cash flow and getting feedback from real customers.

      The Growth Hat

      I think the tensions start to appear once you want to move into the next phase. So now you've seen one or two clear use cases that seem to be growing faster than the others, logically it would make sense to focus on those use cases. All sorts of new challenges appear:

      • What if it moves the product in a fundamentally different direction?
      • What if that direction conflicts with your vision / ideology?
      • What if you start to alienate other use cases (which you still can and want to service)?

      Personally I don't think I'm quite at this stage yet. But I think the answer to these tensions is to focus on where you're creating the most value for customers. That's sort of the undeniable truth-compass for any business.

      If the growing use case is misaligned with your product vision but it's creating massive value for customers? Great! Your original hypothesis was wrong (or fuzzy), and you have been handed the map to success on a plate, now double down!

      If the growing use case is misaligned with your product vision and it's creating questionable value for customers (factoring in things like LTV / churn)... well then you still have an argument for holding true to your original vision or exploring the 2nd / 3rd (etc) most popular use cases for growth.

      Fundamentally we are all looking to create value for customers, so that in the end, those customers pay for our product and we can grow our business. I think looking through that simple lens will help to navigate those future tensions between product vision / popular use cases.

      ---

      Edited to add: one of the other benefits of an API product is that, with a proper versioning policy in place, you can continue to service all existing use cases even if you start to pivot the product towards a particular direction.

      API products should be somewhat general-purpose in their technical nature anyway. So I actually don't really see a scenario where you'd "orphan" an existing customer, it would be very un-API-like for that to happen. When I talk about "pivot" in this context I'm talking more about how you market the API and what kind of use cases you target and attract. But by nature, the API would be usable for many, many other use cases - which makes them quite exciting to work on!

      1. 1

        I like this approach, it's like being water!

      2. 1

        This is such an interesting reply. Thanks for taking the time on this.

        I relate to that “internal struggle” of the different hats, and I think you’re right, there are different incentives that are being traded off. That’s a helpful analogy. For me the biggest tension is the product vision vs growth tension. Part of this is, if the product that people want is quite different to the vision I had, will I have the passion to do the years of work to build the product?

        An API product does sound it has distinct advantages here.

        It’s interesting to think a bit more about a “portfolio of use cases” approach to how the early product gets traction.

        Thanks again, this is really helpful.

        Matt

  14. 1

    where are you writing the tutorials?

    1. 1

      Just on the product marketing site directly: https://www.bannerbear.com/resources/

  15. 1

    Congratulations! I've followed you for a while, and I'm so glad to hear you made it.

    PS $1k/mo + some savings is ramen profitable, just some savings!

  16. 1

    Congratulations, Jon 🙌 That’s absolutely amazing progress, and I’m positive you’ll be at $2,000 MRR in no time!

    Keep up the awesome work!

  17. 1

    Congratulations!
    I'm curious if you make anything through your affiliate program, I always found it extremely hard to make an affiliate scheme pay off.

    1. 1

      Not much has happened on the affiliate side of things. But that's mostly down to me - I have not promoted it or given it much attention.

  18. 1

    Congratulations, Great design work!

  19. 1

    Many many Congratulations!

  20. 1

    Just tried both demos and I'm super impressed. Looks f**king fantastic!

  21. 1

    It is an achievement, Jon! Really cool service.

  22. 1

    Congratulations @yongfook. Another great milestone for Banner Bear. Keep up the great work!

  23. 1

    This comment was deleted a year ago.

  24. 2

    This comment was deleted a year ago.

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