Marko Shares Insights On Growing Plausible Analytics to $100K+ MRR in Just 25 Months

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Marko Saric is the founder of Plausible Analytics - Plausible Analytics is a simple, open source, lightweight (< 1 KB) and privacy-friendly alternative to Google Analytics.
 

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

Plausible Analytics is a simple, open source, lightweight (< 1 KB) and privacy-friendly alternative to Google Analytics. Plausible was built with GDPR and all the new privacy regulations in mind. 
 
Both my co-founder and I have had a lot of experience with Google Analytics. Me from the marketing side of things while my co-founder from the development side of things. We both used to use and share their products with our family and friends but eventually the company changes and some of those values they had early on where replaced by optimizing the shareholder value.
 
So we thought more people had similar feelings. We thought there was space and a need for a different type of an analytics tool in our brave new world of GDPR, Snowden revelations and Cambridge Analytica scandals. More people increasingly care about privacy on the web and more people are increasingly aware about the downsides of surveillance capitalism and are looking for a way out.
 

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

It took about 6 months or so. My co-founder started as a solo founder. He's a developer so the growth strategy in the early days after he launched the beta version was mostly based on build in public.
 
 He was sharing updates, posting work in progress and other day to day details about building a product. This was mostly posted on his personal Twitter account and on Indie Hackers which is a nice and friendly community. All the early users and customers came from these efforts.
 
We switched a little bit to focus more on content marketing, search and word of mouth after I joined but we still try to share as much as possible.
 
Our web stats are open to the public, we share our MRR/ARR numbers in social media, all of our code and development is fully open to the public too.
 

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

We're using a PostgreSQL database for general data and a ClickHouse database for stats. We're a web analytics startup so technology and infrastructure is a big part of our day to day. Currently we're handling 2 billion pageviews per month collected on more than 60,000 different websites and we're growing very fast.
 
We're now a team of 8 people and a lot of our time and effort is spent on making sure that we're running well, we're tracking things, everything is fast loading, the service is stable and so on.
 

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

We use Plausible Analytics itself for all of our web stats.
We use GitHub for all of the development work which is open to the public where also all of our code is shared (we're fully open source).
We use Basecamp for all the internal communication.
We use Help Scout for customer support emails.
Postmark for transactional and other automated emails we send.
Paddle is our payment processor.
For our analytics product itself, we use EU-owned cloud infrastructure only:
Bunny for our CDN and
Hetzner for our servers.
 

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

We're bootstrapped and are not looking for investors which we've also made clear in several places in social media and on our site. But we still get daily emails and DMs from venture capitalists looking to invest in us. 
 
So one of my lessons learned is that in most cases (unless you're going to Mars or something advanced like that), you should actually ignore investors. Focus your time on other things even if you actually want to have investors.
 
Build your product, speak to people, publish content, grow your audience... when you manage to do those things well, you won't need to waste time trying to catch the attention of the investors having coffees and doing presentations. They'll be coming to you instead and you'll be able to pick.
 
It's pretty common for founders in the early days to spend most of their time chasing investors and it's some though odds they're up against. So building something first and sharing it publicly with the world opens you to the investors and opens their eyes to you.
 
Rework by the Basecamp team is my favorite book about startups. It's just such a refreshing take on running a company and I've reread it several times. Many of the things we do with Plausible are inspired by the Basecamp approach.
 
This Is Marketing by Seth Godin is my favorite book about marketing. It's just a great and refreshing take on what marketing means in the modern world that I wish more people in the business world would read and consider.