A powerful network or an engaged audience is vital for success as an Indie Hacker. Otherwise, it can be hard to get eyeballs and feedback on your project.
Especially in the early days.
A network helps you understand the problems of the users and build the right product from the start.
These are 3 very different examples of how founders leveraged their network to build successful businesses:
1. Ben Orenstein | Tuple
Ben is the founder of Tuple - A pair programming app for developers. It filled a huge void in the market when Screenhero was acquired by Slack and then shut down.
Developers loved Screenhero, and wanted an app that would help them code in pairs.
Before Tuple, Ben had worked on multiple SaaS apps as part of his full-time job at a product studio called ThoughtBot.
He was writing blog posts, building info products, and small tech products for many years during his full-time job.
He was living the mantra of - “Be useful on the internet”
Over time he had built an engaging Twitter audience and an email list. Most of his audience members were software developers.
At the time, he didn’t even know how that audience would help him.
But eventually, when he launched his startup, it was perfect for the audience he had accrued over time.
There were 5000 people on Tuple's mailing list before the app launched.
And most of them were willing to give them money even before there was a product.
Tuple made $8000 in revenue before the official launch!
2. Molly Wolchansky | The Agent Nest
Molly is the founder of the SaaS app called The Agent Nest.
It's an app that lets real estate agents access marketing content for their property listings.
At a higher subscription price, the app also lets its users schedule and post this marketing content to various social media channels.
And they can also use these content pieces to run FB, IG, LinkedIn ads.
It’s the perfect tool for busy realtors.
Molly knew the exact pain points of her users because she had been freelancing as a marketer for them for years.
She even ran a marketing agency that served real estate agents.
Over 6 years of running the agency, Molly had built up an email list of over 1000 real estate agents.
It may not feel like a big number, but all of them knew her personally and had met with her in real life. So she had a strong relationship with her email list.
When she launched The Agent Nest, she sent one email to her list, started 1 FB ads campaign targeting real estate agents, and within the first month she had 7 paying customers.
The Agent Nest is doing close to $9K MRR today.
3. Arvid Kahl | Feedback Panda
Arvid is the co-founder of Feedback Panda - a software tool that helps English teachers provide feedback to their students in a convenient manner.
He started the company in 2017, took it to $55K MRR and then eventually sold in 2019 for a “life-changing” amount of money.
Feedback Panda has a very specific audience.
Large Chinese companies hire native English teachers for young Chinese kids.
Freelance English teachers can make a living through these gigs, working from home teaching English.
Arvid’s partner and co-founder Danielle was one such teacher.
She knew the exact pain points of these teachers, was an active member in the various FB groups where they hung out.
The biggest problem they faced was providing personalized feedback to every student on every lesson. Teachers would often teach 20 students in a 10 hour day, and then would have to spend 2 hours just to document the feedback.
Feedback Panda gave them the template engine to speed up the process of providing feedback.
It reduced their efforts by almost 2 hours everyday.
Arvid & Danielle promoted the product authentically in the FB groups she was already a part of. They started by just replying to people in the comments and sharing links with people who were already facing the problems Feedback Panda would solve.
Danielle’s network helped the product immensely to achieve early growth. And then it spread through word-of-mouth.
Eventually, after 2 years Feedback Panda reached $55K MRR, and was sold to SureSwift capital.
Arvid deployed the same lessons later when he wrote his book - The Embedded Entrepreneur. He wrote it in public, for (and with) his audience of bootstrapped founders.
Hope these examples help you see the value of a network and an audience. As an Indie Hacker your breakout success will come from the communities you are already a part of and contribute to.
Being active and contributing, and “being useful on the internet” can have an infinite upside for solo founders.
An audience will help you build the right product that your users actually need, and it will also help you market it when the time comes.
It may seem daunting, but it’s effective.
Read more about the stories of these founders and their startups:
- $8,000 in revenue without even a product 💸| Tuple
- Freelancer's path to building a SaaS with $10K MRR 🏡| Agent Nest
- Idea To Exit In 2 Years | Lessons From Selling A SaaS At $55K MRR | Arvid Kahl
- How to build an audience-driven business👨👩👧👦 | Arvid Kahl - The Embedded Entrepreneur
Thank you for reading🙏