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A Simple Website Making $11,000 MRR Doing Just One Thing

Making $11,000 monthly without doing much running a simple website

"Once again I did not do much... You see, I am living the dream. More and more money goes into my bank account while I do whatever the hell I feel like doing."

This was the exact post made by Angus Cheng, when he just announced that his simple website / SaaS business had just hit the $10,000 MRR.

In just 2 years, Angus has managed to grow a simple website doing just one thing, into a one-man SaaS business bringing in $11,000 in monthly recurring revenue.

Let’s dive in to see how he pulled this off.

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

My name is Angus Cheng I live in Hong Kong and I'm 35 years old.

My business is a web application that lets users extract transaction data from PDF bank statements: https://bankstatementconverter.com/ 

It does one simple thing: converts your PDF bank statements from 100s of banks world wide into a clean Excel (XLS) format.

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

Between 2010 and 2013 I was an indie game developer. After that I got a job as a mobile game developer. Then I moved to mobile app development. After that I worked as a backend developer at an investment bank. After that I joined a crypto exchange.

At the end of 2020 I got frustrated with work and quit my job to work for myself. Soon after I created Bank Statement Converter.

I had just quit my job was looking for something to build. A friend of mine wanted to work with me on something so we were both on the look out for ideas.

One day I wanted to analyse my spending so I logged onto my online banking account in search for a CSV feed. They didn't have one, all they could give me were PDF bank statements.

I downloaded all the statements, then wrote some code to extract the data I wanted. It was incredibly fiddly. I thought it would take about an hour, but I think I spent 10 hours on the script.

I thought "If I have this problem, maybe someone else does".

So I pitched my friend the idea "Let's make a web app that extracts transaction data from PDFs". He was keen. I went over to his place a two or three times and we hacked out an MVP and got it into production.

I think the website was live within a week. The first version had no registration and no payments. I think the only thing we spent money on was the domain ($10) and the Amazon EC2 server ($10 monthly).

How did you get your first initial customers?

If you count a customer as someone who signs up, then the first 100 customers came from Google Search Ads.

Here’s a diary of the ad spend vs revenue from Angus’s blog:

$0 MRR

Revenue: $248 from 10 users

Ad Spend: $858

“Shortly after our first sale my business partner decides to drop out, he tells me the application is a bit too boring, but I suspect he thinks it’s not going to work out.

The sales in these two months are one off sales, so there’s no recurring revenue. Spending $858 to bring in $248 is a losing strategy, but it’s the only way I can think of to bring users to the website.”

$200 MRR

Revenue: $740 from 20 users

Ad Spend: $3050

“I decide to switch from selling page credits, to a quarterly subscription of $20. This leads to much better conversions. I also make various improvements to my processor to handle scanned PDFs and PDFs that aren’t bank statements.”

$1106 MRR → Stopping ads spend

Revenue: $4272

Ad Spend: $0

“Somewhere in this period I come across this article.

It convinces me to start writing blog posts. I also raise the pricing and add in monthly and yearly plans. The blog posts immediately start bringing in traffic, I get a bit lucky as well and one of my posts hits the front page of HackerNews.

Nobody from HackerNews signs up, but getting to the front page got me a lot of backlinks and pushed me up the Google rankings.

At this point I learn that content marketing is a much more effective marketing strategy than paying for clicks. Good content can bring in traffic for years, whereas once you stop paying for ads, they stop bringing in traffic.

More simply, I wasn’t able to make money while running ads. It was clear to me the strategy had to stop.”

Interested in more growth strategies?

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What are your marketing strategies in getting your initial and current customers?

I've tried lots of different marketing strategies. I'll go through them one by one:

1) Google Search Ads

Quite good, we got people using the app immediately which helped me improve the product and resolve errors.

I ran these ads for about six months and spent about $1000 USD a month on the ads. I was spending $1000 on ads and getting back $200.

After six months I shut down the ads because I didn't want to continue losing money.

2) Cold Emailing

I hired someone to collect email addresses for accounting firms. Then I used a tool called LemList to template and schedule the emails.

So you could say to LemList "Send out ten emails a day, to users in this list and send one every thirty minutes between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM".

I did this for about three months. I think I made two or three sales. I haven't run the numbers, but I'm fairly certain the return on investment was poor. Something like $0.05 for every $1 spent.

After a while I got banned from Google Workspace because I was sending out too many emails.

3) Content Marketing

I started writing blog post, really just because I heard that it works.

My strategy for blogging is pretty simple. Write something that people will enjoy reading, and hopefully they'll read it.

I think people get really cynical with content marketing. They go after certain keywords, then ask ChatGPT to vomit out some garbage. That strategy might work, but it's kind of against my principals.

It's really hard to calculate a return on investment for this. The blog posts I have created have led to good backlinks and that should be pushing the website up the Google search rankings.


If you're starting out, I recommend buying Google/Facebook ads to get people using the product. I also recommend creating interesting content blog posts, Youtube videos or whatever.

How does your business make money?

We sell monthly and yearly subscriptions.

We have various plans ranging from $30 per month to $100 a month.

Here is a revenue chart showing the progress of the business:

As of today monthly recurring revenue is at $11,000 USD. It costs about $1000 USD a month to run.

These are the tools that I use to run my business:

- CrispChat: for on page messaging

- IntelliJ: for coding

- Grafana: to track business metrics like "how many sales are coming in".

I don't use a web based issue tracker. I log issues and feature ideas into a text file named TODO.md, which is checked into the root of my git repository.

I really dislike web based issue trackers like Jira, Asana, Trello and Todoist. They massively break my flow when I'm working. They're also slow as hell.

Take us through a typical day in your life running the business as a solo founder

At the moment I dedicate one day a week to the business.

Users email me or send me support messages on Crisp Chat. If I can deal with the issue quickly I respond to them immediately.

Often users will tell me about some sort of glitch with a document. They'll say something like "The dates are cut off when processing this Kotak Mahindra Bank document". That requires me to create a configuration file for that document so that the results come out correctly.

Often I work from home, but I also rent a hot desk at a co-working space. Sometimes I go in there.

I only really talk to users who have sent me an email or a CrispChat message.

Before you go, what advice would you give to another who wants to start a business like yours?

1. Go to YCombinator's YouTube channel and copy the links to about thirty videos you think are relevant to you. Convert them to MP3 and put them on your phone. Go for a walk and listen to the MP3s. Their advice is excellent and I learnt a ton from them.

2. Get your product live immediately.

3. Talk to your users

4. Keep the product simple.

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

Bank Statement Converter: https://bankstatementconverter.com/

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