Welcome to the first step in my exciting, challenging and nerve-wracking journey to building a $10k/mo SaaS business as an indie maker.
Who am I?
I'm a tech entrepreneur who has been building products on the web for ten years. Some have been more successful than others. I started off making a Pinterest competitor in 2009, which failed.
I then co-founded Get Invited, an event-ticketing platform which raised $300k of venture capital and has ticketed for events with Tim Ferris, Gary Vaynerchuk and the world's largest startup conference - LAUNCH festival.
I founded Gravity – a SaaS boilerplate for developers and is currently used by startups across the world and a lead designer at Apple.
I've had a few other failed products along the way, like Zealth: a budgeting app for couples; and Stradere – a trading-diary for cryptocurrency traders.
Although I come from a venture capital-funded background, I made the move to indie entrepreneurship a few years ago because I became very sick and it changed my life.
I am now focused on building sustainable, passion-focused products while living a healthy, stress-free lifestyle that fills me with joy (Hello from sunny Thailand!)
What is Everview?
Everview is a centralised dashboard that displays your metrics from any source, in one dashboard.
I use an endless amount of tools across my different businesses (databases, Google Analytics, Mailchimp, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Stripe, Xero etc...) and it's become almost impossible to get the insights I need.
I now have too much data, and it's inconveniently segmented across multiple platforms, so it's challenging to connect the dots.
Everview displays only the data I need, in a single dashboard – and sends me a daily email report of my most important metrics, so I'm on top of my metrics, every day.
I have a few competitors who are already solving this problem, like Power BI, Cyfe and Geckoboard; however, these are feature-rich enterprise tools aimed at big companies.
I'm positioning Everview in the SaaS niche and building a tool for SaaS businesses. I may even end up drilling deeper and targeting a micro-niche within SaaS.
Why SaaS? I have the most affinity with this market. I could build an eCommerce or digital marketing dashboard, but I understand the problems in SaaS, and I know a lot of SaaS founders, so this gives me an advantage in solving the problem and acquiring customers.
My $10k/mo Goal
I've been so inspired with the indie maker movement this year, that I've decided to challenge myself to build Everview as an independent startup – that means I won't be taking on any external investment or support.
I'll be funding the business myself and will even be handling all the design, development and marketing too with no outsourcing (I will outsource customer support, admin and accounting later).
My goal is to grow it to $10k/mo recurring revenue with a 90% profit margin within 12 months. I'll achieve this aiming for $50-$100k/mo price-points which means I'll need 100-200 customers.
Oh, and I'll be doing all of this alongside running my other two businesses
Why am I making this public?
Writing about this journey for everyone to see feels a little daunting and scary, but after a lot of consideration, it makes sense to me, for a few reasons:
- I want to document my process so other people can learn from it.
- I believe this will be an interesting and entertaining challenge to follow along with.
- I want to illustrate that there is another, sustainable path to building a tech startup and venture capital isn't the only way.
- It's part of my marketing strategy. I'm targeting SaaS founders with Everview, so documenting my SaaS journey is a tactic for generating inbound leads.
What if I fail?
There is a genuine risk that this isn't going to work, the whole thing may implode, and it will happen in public for everyone to see.
I'm cool with that – failing is part of the journey, if you aren't prepared to fail, you shouldn't be in business.
Full disclosure: I have a higher tolerance for failure because I have already failed in the past. I also have two other businesses generating revenue that I'm using to fund this fund one and pay my bills, so I have an advantage that many startups don't, so it's easier for me to say I don't care about failure. I cared more about failure five years ago.
In saying that, I've already done my time going through startup hell and I'll still be applying the same principles I would if I was doing this for the first time on a shoestring budget.
There is still a lot of uncertainty and risk for me too. Although I've built other businesses, this is my first SaaS business, I've never operated in this market, and I've never independently built and funded a business before.
Everview's Current Position
I initially tested out the concept by buying the domain and building a landing page (~2hrs work, $15 spent). I've had enough failures now to know not to sink months into a product without some validation first.
I set up Facebook & Google ads to drive traffic to the landing page, and a few people registered their interest.
Then (and this is the crucial part). I started talking to business owners and pitching the concept. I already know a lot of entrepreneurs, so at events or coffee meetings, I'd squeeze in a quick Everview pitch to validate the idea.
The feedback I received was wholly positive, and I learned that metrics are a huge issue for a lot of business. Not just tracking them, but understanding what to track and what each metric means.
In July 2019, I started working on an MVP in the evenings and weekends, and after a few weeks had a working prototype. I was able to short-circuit this process using Gravity as a boilerplate to handle the app infrastructure (authentication, user management, etc..) and allow me to piece together a beautiful UI quickly.
I then contacted my Gravity email list (mostly indie makers and startups) and told them what I was working on and offered FREE access to the first 50 beta users.
This is how I got my first ten users, and have since scaled to 62 beta users. I haven't done a lot of marketing yet, these users have mostly been acquired manually.
I want to be moving faster, but as I've mentioned already, I'm doing all the work by myself, and this isn't the only business I'm working on – I'm always pulled in different directions daily.
Alongside daily bug fighting, the next big challenge for me is validating that customers will pay for the product.
My 62 users are currently using the product for free. I'm now at the stage where I need to generate some revenue to prove there is a viable business model in Everview. This is essential before I spend another six months and start ramping up customer acquisition.
If I can't do this, then there will be no point in proceeding. I've already spoken to a group of my most engaged customers, who have affirmed that they will pay, but not the full asking rate yet because the product still has some bugs and is missing some key integrations.
In my next post, I'll cover my pricing strategy and the delicate process of moving existing customers from a free plan to a paid plan.