tadasv site

My difficult SaaS bootstrapping journey

This is going to be my second year running Simple OKR. The beginning of a new year is usually the time when I start collecting all business income and expense data and start filing various LLC paperwork with the state.

I thought I’ll share how much I made this year from Simple OKR.

Category Sub category Amount
expenses ads -1100.87
gcloud -46.02
gsuite -78.36
legal -55
office -67.67
software -348
expenses Total -1695.92
income stripe 14616.13
income Total 14616.13
Grand Total 12920.21

It’s only ~15K USD in annual revenue. Of course I’ll have to pay ~25% in taxes on that grand total number, which will probably gonna bring me down to ~10K USD in profit. The ARR is about 10% increase from the previous year. It’s a positive change, but has very little meaningful impact on my life.

It’s really hard to launch a successful SaaS on your own. I’m kinda surprised that I’m making any revenue at all. I’ve been building Simple OKR as a “side-project” for over 2 years. I remember quitting my full-time job in mid-2019 when I started seeing steady increase in MRR (~1.3K) and I thought I should focus on it full-time. Unfortunately, after I quit my job, the MRR started going down (to ~600 USD) and I did not bring in any new customers for about 3-4 months. That was a really depressing time for me and I decided go back to work full-time elsewhere. Looking back at this, I probably made the right choice to get a job. I tried to move too fast and burned.

Hmm, my major mistakes… I think there are several things I can think off.

First off, technology choice. Simple OKR is built in Go and React JS. It did not start like this. It went from simple server side rendered app to React JS frontend. I’m fairly happy with Go as a programming language, but I think I should have stayed with SSR instead bringing in React. Bringing in react just meant that I had to build out an API (complexity++) that can be used with React. It does not make HTML or CSS parts that much simpler or easier to reason about. I was still able to make a fairly big mess out of React components (complexity++).

Second issue… UI redesign 3x. I redesigned the UI of Simple OKR probably 2 or 3 times. Of course, the goal was to improve user experience and make Simple OKR for people easier to use and reason about. I’m not sure I was successful in achieving that. You can see it’s still clunky and difficult to use (waistedTime++).

Third mistake was to try and add another product to the main offering. Let me explain. I started building out a new product to complement Simple OKR – Performance Reviews. The goal was to bring performance reviews from your manager and peers and tie those back to OKRs somehow. I wasted about 2 months on this and did not see much interest (waistedTime++). I still think it’s a good offering, but only when the time is right.

I think these are probably the three big mistakes that come to mind. Mostly, all of them revolve around wasted effort on stuff that does move the needle.

Not everything was that bad. On the good side, running ads early on was a great decision. When you bring something new to the market, nobody knows you. You need to have distribution channel for your software so it gets discovered. Google ads was that channel for me. I still pay ~80USD/month for google ads just to maintain the foot traffic. Though, it’s not very sustainable approach unless you have tons of cash to burn. Though, I think without buying ads I probably wouldn’t have gotten to the current MRR at all.

At the moment I’m not entirely sure what I want to do with Simple OKR. Should I continue cleaning it up and making it better. Or should I just leave it and let it die on it’s own. I know there’s still lots of potential for this product.