A Bootstrapped SaaS
Journey to $10K MRR

Bannerbear has hit $10K MRR — this page documents the decisions and pivots that got me to this milestone

I'm Jon (@yongfook) the founder of Bannerbear.
$10K MRR is considered something of a SaaS Bootstrapping milestone so I thought I should document how I got here.

This is not a secret formula / growth hack, it is just a personal account of growing a startup.

I hope this is useful if you're bootstrapping a SaaS — good luck!

January 2019 ~ August 2019

Figuring Things Out

$0 MRR

😫

After leaving my job I spent almost a year burning through my savings as I attempted the 12 startups in 12 months challenge

💸

I launched 7 startups but earned no direct revenue — none of them had a revenue model... which probably didn't help

💸
💡

One thing it was good for though, it helped me discover areas of tech that I was interested in exploring further i

Links from this period

Tweets from this period

Closing Thoughts

  • 🚢 Learning to ship consistently is a good muscle to exercise
  • 💎 I was able to ship fast because I used tech that I knew well rather than fancy new tech
  • 🔥 I had 2 years of savings but only got serious after burning 1 year of it

September 2019 ~ December 2019

Focus

$400 MRR

🎯

Juggling multiple startups wasn't working so I focused on one area that interested me — image generation

🚀

The new product was called Previewmojo and generated open graph-size images based on a narrow selection of templates

🚀
🐢

The response was still a bit lukewarm, but I had some sense of a North Star I wanted to reach, so I kept going i

Closing Thoughts

  • 👨🏻 Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.
  • 💰 Pricing is indeed HARD
  • 🆙 Charge More ™

January 2020 ~ February 2020

Rebrand

$472 MRR

🐻

I rebranded to Bannerbear and redesigned the marketing site — although the app itself stayed largely the same

📈

The rebrand helped to drive some traffic and renewed interest but this ultimately did not translate to many sales

📈
🤏

I decided the product was aimed at too small a market — sometimes niching down is good, but not if you are too niche to be useful i

Closing Thoughts

  • 🤏 The advice "Niche Down" means niche down your target market
  • 😓 It doesn't mean niche down the pain point you solve

March 2020 ~ April 2020

API Launch

$488 MRR

🤓

I decided to go all-in on Bannerbear as an API product and launched a new template editor and a REST API

This opened up many new use cases, but meant that Bannerbear was aimed at a different target user than before i

🛒

At the same time, I decided to pull out of the Shopify app store as I was not getting traction there i

Closing Thoughts

  • 💖 I started to really enjoy work from this point
  • 🧭 It was clear now that I could achieve something similar to my North Star vision i
  • 😎 I didn't have a grand marketing strategy, but "here are cool things you can do with my API" would suffice for now

May 2020 ~ October 2020

Getting into a Rhythm

$6109 MRR

💪

Over the next 6 months I divided my time into 50% coding and 50% marketing, shipping many new features and integrations

🔁

I would do one week of code, then spend the following week tweeting / blog posting about what I shipped — then repeat i

🔁
💯

I use a kanban system to manage my user stories and assign story points — this helps keep my output consistent

Closing Thoughts

  • 💪 Find out what works for you then do more of it
  • 📝 In my case, I found that the more documentation I wrote the more conversions I got

November 2020 ~ January 2021

Positioning Change

$10,455 MRR

🤖

Inspired by Jobs to be Done I repositioned Bannerbear around 2 jobs that it performs: automating / scaling your marketing i

✌️

These represent two different users: one uses Zapier to set up automations, the other uses the API for high volume integrations

✌️
🌎

The keywords Automate and Scale are everywhere on the marketing site, the pricing plans, the categorisation of tutorials etc

Closing Thoughts

  • 🎯 Knowing your target market is good, knowing your target's Job to Be Done is better i
  • 💬 Jobs to Be Done is only something you understand after talking to users
  • 🔥 Upgrade your user, not your product i

I hope that was useful!

I tweet about bootstrapping my startup @yongfook


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Hello I'm Jon, the founder of Bannerbear — every 2 weeks I send a newsletter with updates from the Product, Marketing and Business sides of my startup, subscribe below to receive it!