Mike’s Insights on Growing Upvoty To $35K MRR in 36 Months
Mike Slaats is the founder of Upvoty - User feedback Software

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

Upvoty is a user feedback software product (SaaS) that has been built for and by a software team. The idea came from scratching my own itch actually. My previous company, an online marketplace, needed a solution to collect and manage user feedback. When doing research online, we couldn't find a good fit, and since I was in the process of selling that exact business anyway, I decided to build the software as a side project. At first, mainly for its own use, but with a potential market launch in mind.
While building the product on the side, I came to the conclusion that I loved working on Upvoty so much more than I was working on the current business, I decided to create an exit plan for that one and go all-in on Upvoty. This turned out to be the best decision I could make. Not revenue-wise, but certainly happy-wise.

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

The first few paying customers actually came before our official public launch. I was highly inspired by Dropbox's launch story actually. We launched a simple landing page with an explainer video of what the software would look like. Before writing a single line of code for the public version of our software, we could then manage the potential and interest of the market. In a couple of weeks, we managed to get over 300 people to sign up.
Given the fact we wanted to use such software for ourselves, we now also knew there was potential in launching it publicly. The initial launch was a private beta in which we gave away our product for free for at least 3 months. The product quickly became so good (by listening to the feedback of our users by of course using our own software), that some of the early beta users already started paying for the product.
Our official public launch on Product Hunt in February of 2019 was a success, and from here, a combination of word-of-mouth, FB groups, Twitter marketing, and our content marketing did the trick to gain the first 50 paying customers. Resulting in an MRR of over $1,000 in just a couple of months.

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

As a non-technical founder, I don't know the exact tech stack to be honest. And this is by far the most challenging for me as a founder. I do understand code and tech to some extent, but I'll have to trust our dev team on many fronts. Which is not always easy, but it does make room for me to focus on other core parts of the business.

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

We're a remote team, so we're highly dependent on software and tools. For user feedback, we're using Upvoty. For team communication, we are using Slack, Google Meet, and Notion. For customer support, we're using Crisp, Front email, Calendly, and Emailoctopus.

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

Don't worry about the trivial things and just start with building a solution for a real-world problem of an audience you love to serve. My previous product did over a million a year, which was great, but I wasn't fulfilled because it was operating in a market for an audience I didn't really like.
I live by the rule: Passion For Problem (PFP). If you don't have passion for the problem you're trying to solve, forget it. That's why I'm now super happy with building Upvoty. I really have a passion for building products and our user feedback software helps other software teams gather valuable feedback from their users in order to build an even better product. To me, that's having a real passion for solving a real problem for an audience I really love to serve.
The one book I always recommend is 'The Obstacle is the Way' by Ryan Holiday. Definitely a book every founder should read. It helps you think in perspective and to be calm and have a good headspace.
Some of the podcasts I enjoy: Indie Bites, Indie Hackers, SaaS Pirates (I'm the host - but I really love talking to SaaS founders and learning from their journeys), and The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday.

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