It started with Sam romanticising about startups and thinking it's easy. You can't really blame her.. you only hear about the overnight success stories.
🤩 An Indie Hacker launched another screenshot tool and crossed $1k in MRR.
🤩 Another Indie Hacker just shared their hockey stick growth and crossed $100k in ARR.
🤩 Someone in the wild just raised money for an idea that you could build in a week!
🤩 Another person in the wild is bragging about all the money they're making in their sleep..
All the while, we were stuck in a vicious cycle of starting and not finishing projects.
Well there was 1... but it never got any traction. We exhausted our network, launched on Product Hunt and even spammed communities at the risk of getting banned. If you're wondering, it was a product related to weddings... an area we had and still have nada interest in.
Turns out finding the right problem you're passionate about solving, which also happens to align with your skill set is like capturing lightning in a bottle.
Years went by and before we knew it, it was 2019 and our graveyard of abandoned projects was filling up fast. Then it happened... perhaps under the magical influence of New Years resolution — where the stars must have aligned into the shape of a dollar sign or something. Instead of another health kick, Sam finally knew what she wanted to focus on.
Sam continued daydreaming and distracting everyone at work with her idea, but Luannie who was already immuned from her BS said NO! Fair call, we were already working on an algorithmic trading platform on the side and it had even won us a free trip to the U.S.
Then in a blink of an eye Covid happened and it even went from being a hoax to a global pandemic. Our jobs were made part-time, we were trapped inside our homes and let's be honest, while the algorithmic trading platform sounded cool, it was never going to take off. Determined to turn our situation into an opportunity, Sam embarked on building a simple PoC with the goal to woo Luannie on board.
We spent 3 years building a solid foundation as a team of two. Growing the business is now our #1 priority and perhaps another learning curve.
Luannie caved in 1 week (not because she was convinced, but because she was a softie) and after burying our algorithmic trading platform into the graveyard of abandoned projects, we gave ourselves 1 month to build and launch our minimal loveable product.
Our idea was simple, turn the designs of popular websites into templates for people to plug their data into and create their own apps without writing a single line of code. If you think about it, every website is just a listing of some sort and by stripping the colours and imagery away, anyone can now re-create them with their own data and branding! Pretty cool huh?
This simple idea that we named Pory actually managed to jump on and ride one of the biggest waves on the internet (at that time) — #NoCode. Timing is king and by launching at the right time, it had attracted hundreds of people, who in turn helped spread the word to tens of thousands of people.
We were humbled to watch people from all over the world build apps on our platform. Things got even more crazy when enterprises started reaching out to learn more about Pory. We had named it after a Pokemon for goodness sake!
It also connected us with people and opportunities that changed our lives forever. Thank you Patrick for introducing us to Mozilla Builders, thank you Holly for connecting us with your network and thank you Lan for believing and investing in us. We're forever grateful.
Launching fast is a double-edged sword. The first version of Pory was hacked together in 34 days and was far from being scaleable. As a result of moving fast and getting paid customers early on, we had no choice but to continue hacking shit on top of shit until we couldn't anymore.
The foundation of our platform was non-existent, leaving Luannie and I stuck in an endless cycle of building, breaking and fixing everything we touched. Negative thoughts started outweighing the positive ones, to the point we got anxious whenever the customer live chat would chime. There's a reason why the chat bubble doesn't exist today haha..
Before we could grasp the situation, our waking hours had become synonymous to working hours — We had officially quit our 9-5 job to work 24/7. To make matters worse, we were starting to ache all over from living in front of the desk and Luannie had even put on close to 20kg.
The silver lining: Our business was now generating six figures in revenue without marketing. We must be doing something right?
The Product Death cycle is pretty simple... You add a feature, launch it, see some traction and then crickets... You justify the results with missing core features and so you kick off the next sprint tackling the next set of things your users say they need. There is always something demanding your priority, something broken and or something missing. It's like a horror movie, except instead of not being able to run away... you can't seem to finish off development.
For us, that core feature was user accounts. After all, you're not really building an "app" if it doesn't even support end users and simple actions. It also made sense from a business perspective because it would mean being able to introduce a new subscription plan and charge more money. This feature became non-negotiable and alas marketing naturally took the backseat once again.
However by this point, we were both officially burnt out to the core. Seeing that the borders were opening up and the fact that we had desparately needed a change in scenery and a mental reset. We decided to spend the next 6 months working abroad while visiting parts of the Bay Area, South Korea and Vietnam.
As for the feature? It took us at least 6 months to build, test and release, followed by weeks of enhancements and bug fixes. Yeah our company stalled this year but that's totally okay. Building a business isn't a linear journey and sometimes the best thing you could do is get some much needed rest. Sacrificing your life is the secret to moving the revenue needle forward - said no one ever.
The silver lining: Our business continued to generate revenue, albeit slowly. It's no wonder everyone wants a subscription based business.
This year, our focus is on creating every startup's hockey stick growth dream 🏒 . We're just about done with the "blade" years, you know the period where the only thing that takes off is your stress levels? Here comes the fun part - finding our inflection point and shooting for $1M in annual recurring revenue.. Woo!
NEWS FLASH: it's not just a great product.
There are great products that never reach $100M+ and there are also terrible products that reach far greater than $100M+
The future is yet to be written and we are now taking bets on whether or not we'll smash our goals by the same time next year. Until then, Happy 3rd Birthday. 🦄