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A Countdown Timer For Videos Making $10,000 MRR

Getting from $0 - $5,000 in just 18 months

A Countdown Timer For Videos Making $10,000 MRR

Hello! Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your business?

Lukas, 34, this is who I am -> https://lukashermann.dev

Building Stagetimer.io, a web-based timer app for stage presentations, events and livestreams with synchronization between devices.

How did you start this business? Take us through the process.

On November 1, 2020, I made my first commit for what would become Stagetimer. About three weeks later, I made a Reddit post that led to my first user. Fast forward to February 2021 and I officially founded a company. I got my first paying customer in June 2021. As of September 2023 I reached a €10,000 Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR).

One day, I visited a friend who owned a studio. They used an outdated Flash app on an old laptop to time speakers. To even start the timer, my friend had to run into the recording room, hit ‘Start,’ and then dash back to the video mixer. I thought, “There must be a more efficient solution.” After some research, I realized there weren’t any browser-based solutions, just a few native apps. So, I built the first version of Stagetimer in one weekend.

I started Stagetimer as a side project beside my day job. I worked on it on some week nights and weekends. It takes long to get things done this way and can be tough at the start.

After around 1.5 years I quit and went full time. Stagetimer was at ~€3000/month then. My wife and I canceled our apartment and traveled in Asia for 6 months. By the time we came back Stagetimer made enough money to cover all living expenses in Germany. Fun fact: Traveling in cheap asian countries is cheaper than living in most German cities considering the current cost of living.

How did you get your first initial customers?

I put Stagetimer online for free. Opinions are split about this, but I say pricing is not necessary at the beginning. I labeled the app as "Beta" and observed if people actually use it and come back to it. That's the first validation I needed. I posted the link to Stagetimer on reddit and observed people using it not just once to take a look, but coming back and trying it out again.

Used for education in college

I didn't know where video and event professionals hang out, so I went on Reddit and looked for the most likely place I could find. I found r/CommercialAV and that's where I posted. In hindsight it was neither the perfect place nor time, but it worked out anyhow.

It took another 6 month until earning my first Euro with Stagetimer. Why so long? Building it out enough to justify a premium plan while having a full time job took a while. But the very day I rolled out the update I got my first paying customer. I posted the update on Twitter with little more than 300 followers. The customer learned about Stagetimer from that very first Reddit post. That was a strong sign for me that the product has value.

I contacted these first customers and asked questions like "Why do you use it?", "What do you use it for?" and "What did you use before?" These answers helped me understand what these people actually need. Then I implemented the features. It also taught me how to describe my tool so my target audience understood it. I made sure people find my product on google when they use their own words to describe it (no my words).

Since launch, what are your marketing strategies or channels to get new customers?

Every bootstrapper just throws spaghetti at the wall and observes what sticks. For us SEO, Google Ads and Word of Mouth works really well. Facebook Ads, Social Media posts and cold email outreach didn't. We also visited a trade show, but that was more to get to know our market, not so much marketing.

Here are 4 low-hanging fruit marketing tactics I always recommend that usually bring good results with little effort in the beginning:

  • Good landing page (just describe your product well, add pictures ... the easier it is to understand for your grandma the better)

  • Compare to / Alternative to pages (to the most popular other products in your area)

  • Freebies (Articles with free PDF guides, Spreadsheets, Templates and such for people to download)

  • Post in a fitting subreddit (this works especially well with a free tool 'cause Reddit hates being advertised to)

A happy customer is the best ad you can have. They usually don't expect quality customer service that actually solves their problem. Errors are okay if you react to their message and solve it. Errors are a problem if the user gets ignored and the error never solved (think about how often you experienced that yourself).

In the long run SEO is one of your most powerful weapons. Even now there are search queries for exactly your solution with no good answers. The volume may be low, but over time it will add up.

For example, we rank for a search term "timer for presentations". It only has 134 impressions per month, but 43 of them click and a good percentage of those convert in the end.

Some merch we created for a trade show

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How does your business make money?

We operate on a freemium model. This means that Stagetimer can be used for free with a limited set of features.

To access more features, users have to opt for a subscription, which comes in two tiers. However, unlike other SaaS offerings, we also provide one-time packages with a license valid for 10 days. In our industry people are contracted to run shows, so this model works well. Many of our clients opt for these several times a year. This model works well for them as they can directly forward the cost to their customers without having to split monthly subscriptions.

Right now I'm working on team billing (aka. per-seat pricing) to get some more revenue from power users. We also have several features planned specifically for the most expensive tier.

However, our app is very niche. So I don't expect it to grow as steep as other apps would.

Stagetimer recently crossed €10k MRR

We're averaging a 85% profit margin (not counting out own time) with the biggest cost factor being Google Ads.

Where can we go to lean more about you and your business?

You can learn more about me as a person on Twitter where I share regular updates: https://twitter.com/_lhermann

If you want to hear me talk, here's my Indie Hackers episode: https://share.transistor.fm/s/f614549b

Do check out StageTimer