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Getting to $1000 MRR in ten months

A few weeks ago the BankStatementConverter (BSC) exceed $1000 in Monthly Recurring Revneue (MRR). I figured you lot would be interested to hear the story

$0 MRR, March to July 2021

I got the idea to build BSC to help users process PDFs. I spent about a week playing around in Kotlin to see if my idea was feasible, it was. Soon after I meet up with a friend for beers and tell him my idea. “Do not do that, I’ve worked with PDFs before it’s a nightmare”.

This intrigued me, part of me wanted to build it anyway to prove him wrong and another part of me realised that if it’s such a difficult problem then a solution might not exist. I had a really clear idea in my head what needs to be built, I also had a different friend who wanted to build something with me. I meet this friend for beers and pitch him the idea.

He likes the idea and we agree to build it together, he’ll do the front end and I’ll do the backend. The two of us work together really well, we meet up on April 4th 2021 to work together on the app, a few days after that the website is live. On April 17th we buy some Google Search Ads and get our first users.

On May 6th I add in code so that users can buy credits to process PDFs. Seven days go by and no one buys any credits. I start to think “Hmmm maybe this app is a loser”. I take the day off to go on a six hour hike. Just as I’m about to start the hike I get a support email from a user

“Hi, I bought some credits but the app crashed afterwards. Please help” I have a quick look, and see that the user bought $43.99 of credits! Then I frantically try to resolve his issue on my phone.

Shortly after our first sale my business partner decides to drop out, he tells me the application is a bit too boring, but I suspect he thinks it’s not going to work out.

Revenue: $248 from 10 users

Ad Spend: $858

The sales in these two months are one off sales, so there’s no recurring revenue. Spending $858 to bring in $248 is a losing strategy, but it’s the only way I can think of to bring users to the website.

$200 MRR, July to October 2021

I decide to switch from selling page credits, to a quarterly subscription of $20. This leads to much better conversions. I also make various improvements to my processor to handle scanned PDFs and PDFs that aren’t bank statements.

Revenue: $740 from 20 users

Ad Spend: $3050

$1106 MRR, October 2021 to 23 Feb 2022

I head into October feeling incredibly low, my application is struggling to get users and I’m losing money on it every day from Ad Spend. I decide to give up and I turn off the ads. At this point, for some reason a family friend asks to meet me for coffee. She asks me what I’m up to and I tell her about the app, she is thoroughly unimpressed and persuades me to go back to working at a bank.

“Wouldn’t you be happier back at the bank?”

This actually motivates me to prove her wrong. Before meeting up with her I was seriously thinking about going back to work. Somewhere in this period I come across this article.

It convinces me to start writing blog posts. I also raise the pricing and add in monthly and yearly plans. The blog posts immediately start bringing in traffic, I get a bit lucky as well and one of my posts hits the front page of HackerNews. Nobody from HackerNews signs up, but getting to the front page got me a lot of backlinks and pushed me up the Google rankings.

At this point I learn that content marketing is a much more effective marketing strategy than paying for clicks. Good content can bring in traffic for years, whereas once you stop paying for ads, they stop bringing in traffic.

More simply, I wasn’t able to make money while running ads. It was clear to me the strategy had to stop.

Revenue: $4272

Ad Spend: $0

Conclusion

I still wouldn’t say I’m successful, the app doesn’t cover my living expenses, but I think it’ll get there eventually. This was my first experience building a SaaS application, I learnt a lot. I briefly touched on this, the hardest thing about this process has been the loneliness. I’ve really enjoyed writing the code for this app, but I massively miss working with other people.

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