Bootstrapping from 0 to $225k revenue in the first year.
It’s been 365 days since we launched the first version of Postpace and today we have reached nearly a quarter of a million-dollar revenue. 6 months ago, I wrote our first open building report and shared our whole process of ideating, building and launching a SaaS minimum viable version (MVP) and growing it to $146k revenue without any funding. Today, I am excited to publish our second open building report and share everything about what we are doing to find a product-market fit for our SaaS startup. To introduce myself, I’m Muntasir. Along with my co-founder Moin and colleague Mohiuddin, I’m building a productivity platform for content writers, marketers and teams with end-to-end workflow automations. My motivation to write this and all future articles is to share our journey of building a global SaaS company (both wins and failures) in a very transparent manner. So, without further ado, let's start :) ✅ TL;DR 1. Validating a business idea is just the start, it doesn’t necessarily mean the business is sustainable and repeatable. The next step is, finding product-market fit which ensures the business creates recurring value for its customers. 2. Customers' needs are diverse and will often lead you to build the wrong overall product. Identify the persona who needs your product most and focus on solving their problem first. Building for all is a recipe for disaster. 3. Product management is an underrated skill for founders. Customer feedback and suggestions should not be literally translated into product features. Using customer suggestions to identify their pain point and then designing a viable solution is the right way to do it. 4. Celebrating a feature launch is a great way to build community and traffic. Break the cycle of boring feature announcements and actually treat every feature launch as a product launch. Trust me, when it comes to SaaS, you can’t launch enough times. We have launched more than 80 times so far 😉 5. Raising prices gradually doesn’t hurt conversion rates. Lower price is never a competitive advantage, frictionless user experience is a competitive advantage for SaaS. 6. SaaS is easy to launch, hard to grow. Keeping the process simple and giving the idea enough time to mature helps. Let's start with the numbers. First I would like to clarify that 95% of our $225,000 revenue is from the single payment offer we launched. Our monthly recurring revenue is still very low, we are selling licenses while building the product. So we haven’t really focused on monthly or annual customers. So after 365 days of launching our first version, our: Total revenue is $225,000 Total customer is 2100 Annual recurring revenue is $7200 Total unique visit to our landing page is 91,000 Total signup user is 6400 Capterra review is total 78 with a score of 4.7/5 Number of Facebook group member 1150 ✅ Now let’s recap a little from the beginning in order to understand our growth process. We are two founders working full time and remotely. We have been friends since our university days and in the past 10 years, we have launched several SaaS businesses together. When the covid-19 lockdown started back in March, 2020 and I had all the time in the world between my bedroom and my makeshift office in my guest room, I decided to solve my own problem which has been bugging me for a very long time (at least 5 years). We set out to build a productivity platform for content writers, marketers and teams to centralise their content ops in one single dashboard and automate tasks with end-to-end workflow automations. We launched a super lean MVP and grew it to a full version while generating $146,000 revenue. I have documented the whole journey in my previous article, here. ✅ Our journey to find the product-market fit Product-market fit is one of the overused terms in SaaS entrepreneurship. I read it in every book and blog post regarding growing a SaaS company yet I never really understood it till I started talking to my customers. I knew all the theoretical explanation of what is PMF and how it is essential to build the unicorn or go to moon (yap, i’m toe-deep into crypto 😂) But I was clueless when it came to setting a definition for our product-market fit. Without a definition, a plan can not be designed and without a plan, we are not going to find product-market fit. Then all of a sudden everything changed when I changed my approach to find the definition. I asked, which SaaS tools do I pay for monthly and why? And the answer is simple, I pay for a SaaS monthly when it creates a recurring value for me. So, to find product-market fit for Postpace, we have to reach a point with the product and the experience where it creates recurring value to a certain group of customers. And as soon as we defined our PMF goal, everything was clear, we knew exactly what to do. And in the next part of this article, I’m going to share everything we are doing to reach that point with full transparency and a little humour :p 👉 Understanding our customers and their use cases Like it said in our definition of PMF, we needed to identify a particular group from our customers who has the direst pain point and need our product most. It may sound weird as we are segmenting our customers, not users and trying to identify a group who we want to provide more and help better. Targeting one persona in early days is a life-saver. Customers' needs are diverse and will often lead you to build the wrong overall product. Identifying the persona of who needs your product most and focusing on solving their problem first helps you recruit all your energy and resources into building a world-class solution. Building for all is a recipe for disaster. We have made this mistake before and I’m glad we are not repeating it anymore. Once you are set on this mindset, the rest is easy. Analyse your usage data and find the most active group of customers. Schedule calls and talk to them to learn their use cases. Put all the survey data into a spreadsheet and data will tell who needs your product most. 👉 Building actually useful features Now that you know who you want to build for, you have to start building useful features. This is where you need to sharpen your product management skills. Product management is an underrated skill for founders. It will save you from wasting time and money in building the wrong feature. Customer feedback and suggestions should not be literally translated into product features. Using customer suggestions to identify their pain point and then designing a viable solution is the right way to do it. The earliest users are the most engaging ones, they are very vocal about both what they like and what they don’t. This is the perfect crowd to establish a feedback loop and use to evolve the product. We have live chat on both landing page and dashboard. This was phenomenal. I talk to 5-10 users everyday on live chat. We have also set up a public trello board with our entire product roadmap so that users can participate in the co-creation. Before building a feature, we discuss it thoroughly in our Facebook group and understand the sentiment before even writing a single line of code. We have set up a system to collect feedback and organise them. It’s a simple one but has been pivotal for our product growth: Step-1: We take a screenshot of any kind of feedback and save it in a folder. Step-2: Before starting a sprint, we go through all the collected feedback and categorise those according to modules. Step-3: We convert the feedback into user stories and prioritize using the RICE scoring model. Step-4: We wireframe the idea and start a discussion in our community to understand it in detail. Step-5: We run a sprint for no more than 2 weeks and ship the updates. This simple feedback loop and development method helped us revolve our product from 1 single module to 5 full featured modules in less than a year. 👉 Building the feature-led marketing flywheel When it comes to feature release, we blow our own trumpet. If we don’t, no one else will. We are a super young startup with no-funding yet. So tech magazines, newspapers, podcasters are not going to celebrate our launches. We have to do it ourselves, we launch every feature, every medium to large update as if it is a new product launch. Celebrating a feature launch is a great way to build community and traffic. Break the cycle of boring feature announcements and actually treat every feature launch as a product launch. Trust me, when it comes to SaaS, you can’t launch enough times. We have launched more than 80 times so far and not done yet 🤩 👉 Measuring usage data and net promoter score (NPS) So, we have defined our PMF goal, identified our target customer persona and released useful features. Now, how would we know if we are progressing towards our goal of finding product-market fit? The answer is pretty simple. If we are doing things right, 2 things will happen - our product adoption will improve and result in increased product usage. Secondly, the net promoter score will increase as customers are getting more value out of it. We continuously measure our usage data and it is increasing. The total number of topic reports created on our platform is increasing every month. We are also seeing changes in our customer feedback. I talk to customers almost everyday and we periodically run NPS surveys. I can’t tell definitively that we have found product-market fit for Postpace but we are getting closer everyday, our system is working. ✅ Methods working for us We experiment a lot, especially with marketing and sales. I've been building the startup openly since day 1 and during the last 6 months we have experimented with price increment, upsell offers and few other methods. Some worked, some didn't, here are my favorites. 👉 Building in public fuels growth I publish everything about our journey in social media like Twitter, Linkedin and write a growth report every 6 months. This is the 2nd report. I published the first article exactly 6 months ago and till today it has been read more than 10k times on medium. It is still helping us with acquiring customers, getting VC interests (some so well-known, it was a pleasant surprise receiving their intro emails 😉) and helping us to grow our community. You don't have to be a genius growth hacker with the greatest growth story of all time. Our's is not, all I did is, document all our failures and wins 🙏 Follow this format: Keep doing 👉 Keep telling 👉 Increasing price regularly In the last 12 months, we have increased our price 3 times and our conversion rate remains the same. Raising prices gradually doesn’t hurt conversion rates. Lower price is never a competitive advantage, frictionless user experience is a competitive advantage for SaaS. Hiking prices not only contribute to higher revenue, it also attracts the right group of customers. 👉 Upsell works with the right offer We have launched 3 upsell campaigns with the same offer so far and generated $24,000 in expansion revenue. We noticed per capita usage is increasing and users need a higher usage limit. So we designed a top up campaign and promoted via email and dashboard notification. With a frictionless checkout and the right offer, it worked great. ✅ What’s next with Postpace.com? After building and growing Postpace for a year, my opinion is, SaaS is easy to launch, hard to grow. Keeping the process simple and giving the idea enough time to mature helps. It’s also clear, we need all the help we can get. So I’m applying to a few accelerators which don't take equity (I’m tired of working from home 😿). While staying focused on finding our product-market fit and growing our subscription revenue, we are also preparing to raise our seed round 👋 I’m really enjoying the open startup movement and the community. I’m leveling up our building in the public process and open sourcing our marketing strategies. Writing this article has been super fun and I plan to publicly share all our growth experiments and results. I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. Feel free to share, recommend, clap, upvote and connect 🙏 Connect me on Twitter 👉 https://twitter.com/muntasir_rashid Connect me on Linkedin 👉 https://www.linkedin.com/in/munt...