Christopher Grew Moderation API to $3K MRR in 12 Months

Christopher Dengsø is the founder of Moderation API - Automated text analysis using AI
 

Tell us about your product and what inspired you to start it?

Besides Moderation API, I run another company called Cueup. Cueup is an online booking platform for DJs and it contains tons of user-generated content like chat messages, profile descriptions, profile images etc. Over time, I developed a bunch of algorithms to moderate the content to prevent users from sharing contact information or posting inappropriate messages.
 
During the pandemic, not a lot of people were looking for DJs, so I had to think of something else to do. I then had the idea to productize the suite of algorithms used to moderate Cueup and sell it as a service to other marketplace apps.
 
 

How long did it take you to acquire your first 50 customers, and what was your growth strategy?

I think the first 5 customers came through tweeting openly about building the product. But now, it's primarily through organic search. The growth strategy was always SEO, hence the name Moderation API. I think in the first week the page shows up on the first page on google for its domain search.
 

Which technology stack are you using and what challenges and limitations does it pose?

For the basics, I use NextJs, MongoDB and Postgres.
 For ML it's mainly python with a long list of ML libraries. 
 
One of the main challenges has been throughput for the API. Once I started onboarding some larger customers, the API couldn't handle the required amount of operations. So, it was important to find and clear the bottlenecks. 
 
The first line of defence is the actual API. Running this on serverless functions solves the first part of the equation, but the next bottleneck was the database.
 
When using a database with serverless functions you quickly run in to concurrency issues since the db has a max amount of concurrent connections. This can be solved in 2 ways, increase the max amount of connections by upgrading the DB server or run a proxy in front of the database that pools and handles the connections. We did both.
 

What are some of the most essential tools that you use for your business?

  • Zendesk for customer support and help centre and CRM
  • Linode for VPS
  • Vercel
  • Stripe
  • Campaign Monitor for transactional emails
  • Ghost for blogging
  • Apple Music and Soundcloud for coding tunes
 

What have been some of the biggest insights you've gained since starting your entrepreneurial journey?

I think a lot of entrepreneurs start out thinking that having a good idea is everything. Then you just need to "build it and they'll come". At least that's what I used to think.
 
 Later I realized how important the actual execution is, and how 99% of the work is in marketing, selling, and improving a product after the initial launch. At the time of this realization, I thought that the idea is almost irrelevant compared to the execution.  
 
Now I've come full circle. The idea matters a lot! Sure you can sell almost anything, but your life will be much easier if it's something people REALLY want - especially as an indiehacker or solo founder.
 
My go-to podcast is "My first million" by Sam Parr and Shaan Puri. It's mostly just fun, but with the occasional inspirational nugget. 
 
For business books top of my head, I like, "Principles", "The mom test", "Shoe dog", "The almanack of Naval Ravikant", "Traction", "business model generation", "launch".
 

What other products are you working on?

Besides Moderation API I'm also working on https://cueup.io a website to find and book DJs for events and parties.