Upvoty · Mike Strives

See how Mike has built his SaaS company Upvoty to $40K MRR with 10,000 monthly web visitors and 0 employees.

May 18, 2023
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Table of contents

  • Founder - Mike Strives
  • Location - Netherlands
  • Started in 2018
  • Bootstrapped
  • $40K / month revenue
  • 10,000 /month website traffic
  • 3000 newsletter subscribers
  • 0 employees
  • upvoty.com

What's your backstory?

I started my first entrepreneurial journey when I was 6 years old. The business was thriving with a 100% margin. Never had such a healthy business again. The business? Stealing frozen chickens from my neighbour's fridge and selling them door-to-door. Until I got caught by my parents.

I guess they saw it early on. I was destined for entrepreneurship. They supported me when I started a new side business at the age of 16, working from my parent's garage. They let me buy all the stuff I needed and even did some renovation. Just to make sure I had space to operate.

It was also obvious that school wasn't for me, as I preferred skipping school to work on my businesses at home. I started many different side hustles, such as printing t-shirts, building websites and doing SEO for customers.

At 21, I left school and decided to go all-in on entrepreneurship. It was right then when I learned my first lesson: don't half-ass. When I needed to go all in, I gave it my all and tried, failed, and learned the hard way. But I learned quickly, persevered, and succeeded.

I ended up building a successful online marketing agency, but pretty soon, I knew I wanted to build my own products.

I started working on a side hustle, a marketplace for home improvements called Vindy. We generated leads and sold those to local contractors. Within one year, the business was doing more revenue than my agency. Thus I decided to quit the agency and go all-in. Within three years, we scaled the product to over $1,000,000 ARR with a team of 5.

What's Upvoty and how did you come up with the idea?

Having built such a successful business, you'd think I was happy. But I really wasn't. It was right around this time I learned my second big lesson in entrepreneurship: build something for an audience you love and care about. I wasn't really interested in working with contractors and had no affinity with the home improvement market.

Luckily, I have already found my new side hustle to work on. Because of the marketplace's growth, we were starting to look into feedback tools to better manage all of the feedback from our contractors and users.

While doing research, I quickly noticed there weren't that many out there which were purely focusing on getting feedback for a software product. The ones out there weren't good or too expensive. That's when I smelled the opportunity to build a new software product called Upvoty.

After validating the idea by launching a landing page and a signup form and sharing it on Facebook groups, online forums, and other channels where my potential audience was active, I quickly came to the conclusion this was, in fact, a really good and valid idea.

And thus, we started building the product.

How did you get your first 10 customers?

We actually launched the software in private beta. Having acquired hundreds of interested potential customers with the landing page (the "MVP"), we could quickly launch it to an audience and start working with them on building the product.

We actually used our own product, the feedback software, during this process. It was super valuable to ask customers to share their feedback and requests in order to cost and time-efficiently build the product rapidly.

During the private beta, the product got shaped. And some customers were already willing to pay for the product and some additional features which required data from our end, such as the API or some integrations.

Launching privately, and working with a "small" group of potential customers who were excited to bring this product to success, was one of the best decisions I've made.

How did you validate product-market fit?

After the initial MVP launch, which proved our hypothesis, we kept on listening to user feedback from our own customers in order to decide what to build next.

I also always like to keep an eye on competitors and the market we're operating in. When you're on top of movements, you can quickly adapt and proactively release features, such as 3rd party integrations with up-and-coming software products, and surprise customers and keep them happy.

How did you reach your first 100 customers?

After the private beta launch, we launched publicly on Product Hunt, Indie Hackers, and a couple of other channels, such as Facebook Groups, where I knew my audience is active. This sparked the initial user growth.

Which distribution channels were unsuccessful?

We tried advertising on Google, which was a big fail because of 2 reasons: the CPC was too high, and there are just too many different ways a company would like to use feedback.

Our software is very specific, and thus we get more ROI from customers that are coming in through content marketing and are serious about learning how to handle customer feedback when explaining our product and how it can help them. They're hopefully signing up and sticking around.

What tools helped grow your business?

Our own feedback tool was really essential. Knowing what our customers needed made us build the product cost-efficiently and kept customers happy.

Besides that, Crisp chat was indispensable as well. With their chat widget and knowledge base, we could help connect with customers, start conversations, connect with them, and provide great customer support.

The third one would be to build 3rd party integrations. By doing so, we not only made a better product for our existing customers since they could integrate Upvoty in a better way within their existing tool stack and workflow.

But, by building 3rd party integrations, for example, Intercom, Zapier, and Jira, we got our product in front of a new audience through their marketplaces, and this actually resulted in exponential user growth.

How did you make the transition from a side hustle to full-time entrepreneurship?

Building the product simultaneously and slowly transitioned into working on it full time.

What drives you to do what you do?

Helping people build better products was the main reason why I built a feedback tool for software companies in the first place. Now keen on building the best community and course for SaaS with Zero to SaaS :)

Any quotes you live by?

Every journey begins with a single step.

Who do you recommend for business growth advice?

I'd recommend following Yannick Veys, who's building one of my personal favourite software tools, Hypefury.

I can also recommend my newly created course for building and scaling a SaaS. I've put my heart and soul into it, sharing my 15+ years of experience in building online software products.

You can find it at zerotosaascourse.com, and I can offer a 10% discount for founderoo readers by using 'founderoo' as a coupon code.

Any special offers for our readers?

I can offer a 10% discount for founderoo readers by using 'founderoo' as a coupon code when they buy my course at zerotosaascourse.com

Your links + socials

YouTube (Mike's vlog)

Twitter

Instagram

zerotosaascourse.com

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