Some of you might know my story, but I’m the founder of Starter Story. Over the past year, I’ve been working on a product called Pigeon.
Anyways, Pigeon just hit $1K MRR, and for me, it’s been a pretty crazy and unexpected journey, and I learned a lot.
Not all revenue is created equal, and for me, building a SaaS was a new type of challenge and I feel like $1K is a good milestone to reflect! And not because it’s $1,000, but because it equates to about 40 paying customers, which feels like a lot (for me).
DISCLAIMER: If you’re looking for a case study about how to grow a SaaS fast, this is probably not the one. This is mostly a look back at how I slowly reached 40 paying customers, what worked, what struggles I faced, and what I learned.
It also feels like a big milestone because I worked so damn hard to get here. Every customer felt like a big win, and every churn, lost opportunity, etc felt like a loss.
So, I wanted to write my thoughts while they’re still fresh and show you the real truth & honesty behind the last 10 months.
Here's a few takeaways, maybe it helps someone else building a similar product and just getting started:
Growth was a lot slower than expected.
In the month after I launched (June), I only added 1 paying customer!! 1 CUSTOMER!! It’s pretty crazy to be working so hard on something and you only have 1 person sign up in 30 days.
And the next month after that? 2 CUSTOMERS!! Haha!
I've never built a SaaS before, so I never really experienced churn first-hand.
Personally, every churn felt like a gut punch, especially in the early days, when things were less validated and I associated the success of the product with my own self-worth (I do that less now).
Eventually, I got better at dealing with “rejection” though (mostly). Some things that help:
Mentally, I also went through some hard times. Not all bad though, but there were definitely some days... Being a solo founder certainly doesn’t help here either.
I got a YC interview that completely sidetracked me, and getting rejected from that felt like a gut punch because of all the work I put into prepping. I didn’t expect to get in, nor do I regret applying, but the interview process consumed my mind for a 2-3 week period back in October. Not much work on the product got done during those weeks, and when I look back at that "YC time" I remember feeling very stressed and unhappy.
In general, the “slow growth” got to me, at times. Compared to Starter Story, it felt like I was working double overtime to make a nickel.
But I did find some coping mechanisms for this self-doubt, here are a few:
Don't want to bore you too much in this milestone, but I wrote a bit more about my journey, and also what worked, such as:
You can check out the full post here.
I want to thank everyone that helped me along this journey - looking back it's amazing how many people I've met through this IndieHacker community over just a couple of short years.
If there's anything I can do to help you guys, please don't hesitate to ask.