August 6, 2020

$2,000 MRR in one month!

Kevin Conti @Kevcon80

I publicly launched softwareideas.io exactly one month ago, on July 6th. Today, I hit $2,000 in recurring revenue! 🎉

Here's some thing's I've learned in the past month that might help you unlock the same growth:

1. 📈 When you idea has traction, it will be obvious. If it isn't obvious, you don't have traction yet.

It's so easy to focus on an idea that feels like pushing a boulder uphill. Every lead is a battle, and every sale feels like a miracle.

Once you've really nailed a problem space, it feels different. You don't really need to convince people to buy. Instead, a lot of the work is just in figuring out who fits your ideal customer persona. If they do, all you need to do is tell them about it and they'll buy.

I know it's tough to decide when to pivot, when to stay the course, and when to give up entirely. I don't have great advice on how to choose.

But if you've been pushing a boulder uphill for a while now, you should consider finding a new path.

2. 💲 Pre-sales, pre-sales, pre-sales

If you're just starting out with a new product, I urge you to build the smallest thing possible that you can get in front of people (this may just be wireframes or a google doc!) and ask for money upfront.

I think pre-sales is a lost art, and I want to bring it back. So many founders build things that people think are "cool", but they don't want to spend money to fix.

By pre-selling $200 of my newsletter before I committed to the idea, I learned who my best-fit customer was and how much they were willing to pay before I even had a product!

I think IndieHackers are a super motivated group of founders. For a lot of people, the biggest risk with starting a side-project is that they won't finish. I don't think that's the case with Indie Hackers.

For IndieHackers, the biggest risk is that you'll build something that people won't pay for.

You can do all the customer validation you want. Get all the positive responses in the world, even have people telling you that your idea is the greatest and they can't wait to pay!.. But unless they are handing you money, you won't know for sure that you're on the right track.

3. 🧮 You need more sales than you think to get to $10k MRR

How much MRR do you get per customer? For me, it's $19. That means I need to do just over 500 sales to get to $10k.

That number seems small, until you start thinking about it deeply. If you did one sale per day, which I think is great if you're able to do, it would take nearly two years to hit that goal.

To unlock growth like getting to $2k in a month, it means that I couldn't have just one sale per day. It needed to be three or four per day.

This is where the importance of having reliable channels comes in. A lot of businesses fail not because the idea doesn't solve a pain, but because they can't reach the people it solves a pain for.

You need more leads than you think, so make sure you prove those channels early on.

  1. 3

    Congrats!

    This is what triggers me:
    "You need more leads than you think, so make sure you prove those channels early on."

    That is what I'm finding out as well. How did you pick & prove your channels?

    1. 2

      Hey, thanks!

      I'm going to be doing a big write-up for it, but I have a short blog post written about it here.

      Basically, you need to test that you can get noticed at the channel. How you do this depends on the channel, but here are some guidelines:

      • For 1-1 channels, reach out and ask to do an interview for a piece of content. It's a great way to explore a customer and their pain. At the end you'll have a great piece of content that you can publish, and you'll have made some friends in the industry. Or if you don't get responses, at least you know that the channel wouldn't have worked anyway.

      • For community-based channels, post valuable content and see if it gets noticed! You can try a curated post, or you could write something original. The point is to see if, when you post something useful that's associated with the pain you want to solve, it gets noticed and appreciated.

      • Some channels, like SEO, can't really be tested. But you can predict them. I would talk to an expert in this space if you're solely relying on SEO, because you don't want to gamble your product's success without at least having confidence that the channel should work out.

      There's a lot more here and I plan to do at least three blog posts, but I hope that helps!

  2. 2

    I'm looking forward to signing up!

    Re: pre-sales, I'm always concerned with pre-selling a product that potentially over promises. What are your thoughts on that?

    1. 2

      ditto, I'm always concerned with overpromising because some feature ideas are just not feasible, and you always run the risk of nailing down a market on a mock-up that you deemed too expensive (resource-wise) to build. Congrats and would love to hear your thoughts on this!

  3. 2

    @Kevcon80 it is interesting you mentioned Pre-Sales. I tried to validate the idea only with the video, I got 400 signups, but I got roasted afterward when I showed how I did it on HackerNews.

    Honestly, I think the pre-sale tactics work, but you need to communicate it pretty clear what you are doing/plan to do. This is tricky because you want to know if people will pay for it. So you want to create context as it is live and this is how it works. We need to be cautious with this approach.

    Just my 2 cents.

    1. 2

      Hey Samuel,

      Sorry to hear about your shitty HN experience. I don't like going there because it's a lot of negativity.

      I think there's a difference, though, between pretending like the product doesn't exist and pre-selling without a product. When I pre-sold, I wasn't hiding the fact that the product didn't exist yet. I was just saying, "Look if you like this and want to get in early, you can pre-order and help shape the direction of it."

      I think there's absolutely nothing wrong with going that direction.

  4. 2

    Hey,

    Congrats!! Quick question regarding pre-sales.

    Who do you find are most likely to pre-purchase from a wireframe or google sheet? Individuals/early stage startup customers or larger, more enterprise ones?

    Being on the buying side for a long time, I’ve never felt compelled to pre-purchase a service before. I’ve always thought “show me you can build me what your promising, and then I’ll happily pay”.

    Thanks, and again, nice work!!

    1. 2

      Hey there!

      Good question. I think that this is really more of a mindset thing. If you're thinking of pre-sales as the "cheap way out", then yea it would make sense that organizations wouldn't buy.

      On the flip side, you're essentially selling consulting services when you pre-sell. You're saying, "I am making this software that you desperately want. If you pay me now you get to be part of customizing it to fit your exact needs. That's worth more than having the actual software built and ready to use, since your use case will be personally considered during development.

      I did a podcast recently on Product Journey, and @benmann did a great job of helping me clarify my thinking around this. If a Google Doc isn't enough to clearly show the value, then you should go more in-depth.

      But the point is to get just deep enough that you can get people on-board. That rarely is a fully-functional, feature-rich MVP.

      I like this section from The Foundation's blog post on how to pitch the pre-sale:

      Once they say it’s golden, it’s time to pop the question.

      “Through this process, I’ve discovered that this problem is costing you thousands of dollars a month. This software would alleviate that loss in capital and save you time and frustration. If the problem costs you $12,000/year and I offered you a lifetime solution for only $6,000 one time, would you take me up on this opportunity?

      If they answer yes, get the payment immediately, whether it’s a credit card or a checking account number. Then process it through an online payment system, which you will set up after you get your first pre-sale. If they say “no,” ask them why and write down every reason why they wouldn’t buy in. This will teach you the objections, which you will figure out how to overcome.

      1. 1

        “Treat it as a consulting service” sums it up and puts it in perspective nicely. Thanks!!

        1. 1

          Glad you found it valuable 😊

  5. 1

    Congrats on hitting $2k/month!! As one of your customers, I'm glad you're making money so you can keep working on such a great product!

    1. 1

      Thanks for the support Freddie! No plans of stopping anytime soon! Also, membership should be up within the next 10 days, which I'm hoping will eventually double the value of your subscription!

  6. 1

    Congrats!
    I’m wondering, what was your initial « followers »/« community » size before you started.
    Launching with a pre existing followers base is a great way to quickly gain visibility but everyone doesn’t spend time on nurturing a base like this (me included).

  7. 1

    That's a really nice revenue! It's an amount that in many countries would soon allow you to focus full-time on your startup and leave your day job :)

  8. 1

    Congrats dude 🔥

    That's goals!

  9. 1

    Love it! Such solid advice right here. Thanks for sharing, @Kevcon80.

    How long would you pre-sell for until you knew you were ready to commit? Did you just set an arbitrary amount ($200) and time limit?

  10. 1

    Congrats! How exactly did you pre-sale?

    1. 1

      I posted a free article to each of the communities I thought would be good sources of traffic. At the bottom, I asked people to email me if they wanted access to the second article. Once there, I talked to them and did customer discovery, and asked for pre-sales.

      You can see each of my conversations in the template here: https://www.indiehackers.com/post/my-notion-template-for-validating-ideas-bce4497119

  11. 1

    Congrats Kevin! I try to subscribe and receive this error:

    Server status
    We couldn't process your request at this time

    1. 1

      Hey Ruben,

      Is this for the free issue or for the subscription?

      I just checked and the stripe checkout seems to be working fine. Would you mind trying a different browser?

      Here’s the link for convenience: softwareideas.io

  12. 1

    Hey Kevin, I've been thinking of starting up my own service on a web app recently. Mind telling me what kind of payment your site uses? I've been lost as to where customers should make transactions.

  13. 1

    Dang this is awesome. Congrats Kevin!

  14. 1

    Congrats Kevin!
    Indeed finding your audience is the key to success

    1. 1

      Thanks Valerie! 100%

  15. 1

    Makes me wonder how quickly I should scrap ideas, if some out here are profitable in just a month...congrats on the success!

  16. 1

    Great tips and congrats

  17. 1

    Hey, @Kevcon80 Congratulations buddy! I see that you got a private community on your roadmap. Take a look at community.habitate.io, if you like it I will be happy to set up a similar community for you too.

  18. 1

    100% agree. Also, good for you chief!!

  19. 1

    Congratulations! Awesome idea and great looking site. I'm going to sign up for the free issue and check it out!

    1. 1

      Thanks Diego! Also I just responded to your email - sorry about the deliverability issue

      1. 1

        No worries. Thanks for the quick reply!

  20. 1

    100,000 startups database, impressive 😲.

    Is it only you behind all the boring work?

    1. 2

      Yep, I paid over $1,000 for access to all the data 😅

      Just me for now and the foreseeable future! My immediate goal is to grow to $10k MRR so I can go full-time on the project.

      1. 1

        How do you source a paid database like that? I'm wondering if they exist in other niches.

        1. 1

          Great question. It's been on my list to dive deeper and understand how companies like these work. Expect to see some opportunities like that in future issues!

          1. 1

            Sorry I meant how did you find the data that you bought and used as your own source for your newsletter?

            1. 1

              There are tons of companies that collect the data on companies (somehow) and then charge for access.

              Some examples are owler.com and crunchbase.com

      2. 1

        Looks like that's going to be pretty soon haha.

        Congrats man!

        1. 1

          Haha, fingers crossed! Thanks!

  21. 1

    Bravo! Very insightful and solid content on the newsletter.

    1. 1

      Hey thanks Fitz! Really appreciate that. Issue #8 drops later today!

  22. 1

    Congratulations. Nice breakdown as well.

  23. 1

    Congrats Kevin!

    At what point in this revenue curve did the traction feel obvious to you? For example, was it the enthusiasm from subscribers during the first 10 sales itself or something else at a later stage?

    1. 2

      Thanks Akhil!

      It was during the pre-sale phase. Once I started talking to people and asking for money up-front, I had 10 out of 35 say yes. I had told myself up front that I would be okay with 10 out of 100, so that was way better!

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