In this post, we are interviewing Mike Slaats, who currently runs Upvoty.com, which he is bootstrapping at 17,000 USD per month, which is a user feedback software. Lots of value in this one, so keep reading.
[Xtartups Interviewer] What does your product or service do?
User feedback software to help build better products.
[Xtartups Interviewer] What's your product's elevator pitch?
We help you collect and manage user feedback most easily and efficiently, so you know what features to build next to build an even better product.
[Xtartups Interviewer] Tell us a bit about your team.
We're a fully remote team. Our headquarters in Holland is operating with a team of 3. The other members are working from around the globe with team members in Belgium, Portugal, Vietnam, Peru, United States, and Canada.
[Xtartups Interviewer] What motivated you to work on this product?
It is the inefficiency of existing solutions to collect and manage user feedback. We were documenting all product feedback in 1 spreadsheet that wasn't sustainable anymore. We failed to find a solution with the existing software in the market. So my team and I decided to build one on our own.
[Xtartups Interviewer] Tell us where you are in this product/company's journey?
We're at an early stage, I would say. We're now with a team of 9 and we're trying to expand with more expertise in sales and marketing in order to grow at a much faster pace.
[Xtartups Interviewer] What has been your biggest learning moment in this journey?
The validation of the product was fun and hard at the same time. We validated through multiple phases, with phase 1 being just a landing page and a sign-up form, just to see if people were interested and willing to sign up. When we launched version 1.0, which was a really ugly (haha) and basic version, we wanted to see if people would actually pay for our solution, just in order to validate the business model, and, it turned out, they did!
[Xtartups Interviewer] What has been your biggest validation for creating this product and taking it to the market?
It was charging for the product. Until users are not spending real dollars from their own pockets, you can get feedback from them all you want.
When something's free, everyone will most likely enjoy working with the product. But if you charge, you'll know if it brings value.
[Xtartups Interviewer] How did you find your first 10 customers?
I was building an audience in the SaaS (software-as-a-service) space already through my Instagram and YouTube channels. Besides that, we launched on platforms such as Betalist and ProductHunt, which brought us, customers.
[Xtartups Interviewer] If you weren't working on this product, which other product/idea would you be pursuing?
I guess I would be working on my previous product that is an online marketplace for home improvement. Although we had an amazing ARR of over $1,000,000 I said goodbye because I enjoy working on a new product so much more. I love to build stuff and see it grow.
[Xtartups Interviewer] Who is your favorite bootstrapped founder? And why?
Arvid Kahl! He has so much knowledge. He is awesome.
[Xtartups Interviewer] What book or podcast has helped you in this journey?
'Intercom on Starting Up' is the one book I always recommend for people starting in SaaS. It's a great book that explains everything from start to launch. It has a chapter about pricing that is very helpful.
I also enjoy listening to the 'How I built this' podcast or the SaaS Breakthrough show. Besides that, not to plug my things, but my podcast 'SaaS Pirates' could be helpful to a lot of aspiring or starting entrepreneurs with 15-minute interviews with founders.
[Xtartups Interviewer] What do you wish you knew when you started working on this idea?
Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Not only to understand problems they face, but also to how they work with your solution. For us, the real growth came when we launched a couple of integrations so our customers could work with Upvoty in their current workflow and software stack.
[Xtartups Interviewer] For someone who is thinking of starting a bootstrapped business, what would be the one thing they should watch out for?
Don't overthink. Just go, validate, pivot, adjust, talk to customers, and optimize. Don't predict. Listen, watch, and learn.
[Xtartups Interviewer] Are you hiring for any positions? If yes, how can people reach out to you?
We are! Take a look at https://www.upvoty.com/jobs/. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/mikeslaats), Instagram (https://instagram.com/mikeslaats), and make sure to follow my vlog where I document my journey: https://youtube.com/mikedotsaas.