Bhanu Teja Grew Feather -A No-Code Blogging Platform for Notion - to $600+ in MRR in only two months

 
Bhanu Teja Pachipulusu is the founder of a blogging platform Feather - Notion to Blog in minutes
 

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

 
Feather is a blogging platform that uses Notion as the CMS for your blog. 
 
After quitting my job in Jan of 2020, I partnered with a friend I know, to build an ed-tech startup. I took care of all tech and dev-related things in this startup, and he took care of all the marketing-related things. Since it was my first time making an actual product from scratch, I have started learning many new things almost daily. So, I decided to start a tech blog and document my learnings. That's how I got into blogging in general. I made so many connections with other dev bloggers during this year.
 
After more than a year of working on this startup, the product was not going anywhere. So we decided to part ways with it. This is when I started my indie hacking journey. I wanted to do everything in my power to NOT go back to a normal 9-5 job again. So, I did some freelancing for 3 months and made enough runway to sustain for the next year. 
 
Then I started working on my first product called MDX.one. MDX.one is also a blogging platform built on top of Notion. I was basically trying to solve my own problem here. I already write everything on Notion, so why not use Notion as a CMS for your blog. It saves so much time and nothing can beat Notion editor. Instead of building my own editor for the blogging platform, I thought why not use Notion editor itself. It has everything a blogger ever needs.
 
MDX.one got some initial traction and got to around 30 paying customers and 1k free users, but the traction slowly faded off.
 
On top of that, my hosting bills for MDX.one skyrocketed to thousands of dollars per month. So, I closed off signups for MDX.one, only serving the existing customers, and decided to rebuild everything from scratch.
 
It took many months just to figure out all the infra. Because it took so much time for me to figure out all these things, I thought I can turn this solution into an entirely new product. That is how useNotionCMS.com was born. It's an API-based product that can help you use Notion as a CMS. You just provide it with a notion page URL, it gives out all the useful information that is on that notion page, in a neatly organized format.
 
This essentially became the backend of my blogging platform (Feather). I started building out Feather. Feather was so different from MDX.one in a lot of aspects. So, I decided to launch it as a completely new product. At that time, I did not even decide what to call this new product. I asked for suggestions on Twitter and someone suggested Feather. I liked the name so much, bought the domain, and then started calling this new product Feather.
 
That's how Feather was born.
 
 

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

 
It took 6 weeks to get my first 50 customers. 
 
My growth strategy was simple. 
 
1. Building in Public on Twitter
2. Provide excellent customer support to all my users. 
 
I used to sit for many hours to help set up a user's blog sometimes. I even helped many people to migrate from their existing blog to Feather. What this means is: that I need to manually copy everything from their old blog to Notion, set up everything, and create a blog out of it. I spent hours and hours getting every single customer at the start.
 
In the end, this helped with the word of mouth. People started talking about Feather on Twitter. They started recommending it to others and their friends. In the end, it was all worth it.
 
I had some initial momentum when I launched it. I did everything I could, to not lose that momentum. From my previous MDX.one experience, I know it's tough to get the momentum once it's lost.
 
So, I decided to celebrate every single small win. Even today, if I get a new customer, I celebrate it with a tweet. I remember the days when I struggled to get even a single paying customer. So, I like to celebrate every single customer I get.
 
 

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

 
I am using Remix (React), deployed on Cloudflare Workers.
 
 My main challenge right now is figuring out a good economic caching strategy. My server bills go to $100s of dollars even now. So, I need to do something to reduce this. Still figuring out the best way to do this. 
 
I have some ideas that I am going to implement in the coming days. Will have to wait and see how this goes.
 
 

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

 
  1. Crisp for live chat
  1. Splitbee for user journey analytics
  1. Fathom for normal analytics
  1. Umami for customer's blog analytics
  1. Paddle for payments
  1. Notion
  1. ChartMogul
  1. Cloudflare for Hosting
  1. BirdSend for sending marketing emails
  1. Acumbamail for Transactional emails (Got a lifetime deal for this one)
  1. Logsnag for payment notifications
  1. Fastmail for sending emails manually with my domain
 
I know I have missed many more. But this is all I can remember right now on the top of my head.
 
 

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

 
Everyone's path is different. We don't ever see the full picture behind a business based on just what a person posts on social media and other platforms.
 
So, it makes no sense for me to follow someone blindly or compare myself with someone else.
 
Another major insight that I learned is: Luck definitely plays a role in whether I become successful or not. If I did everything I did exactly in the same way for the second time, I am not 100% sure that I would get the exact same results. The context changed, the environment changed, and a lot of things changed.
 
 
 
I don't read books.
 
The podcasts I listen to are:
 
1. Out of Beta
2. Build your SaaS
3. No More Mondays
4. Product Journey
5. Mega Maker
6. Indie Hackers
7. Indie Bytes
8. Default Alive
 
Newsletters I read are also pretty limited. These are some of them:
 
- Ayush's newsletter (The Indie Creator)
- Arvid Kahl's newsletter (The Bootstrapped Founder)
- Indie Hackers Newsletter
- SeoTweets.io
 

What other products are you working on? (if any)

 
I have another product called useNotionCMS But I am not actively working on it. This product is internally being used as backend for Feather. NotionCMS.com currently has 2 paying customers and has around $150 MRR