A SaaS Boilerplate Making $3,000 MRR

Making $3,000 monthly selling a boilerplate to build SaaS products

โ€œI work from home most of the time and some times in my camper-van. If I don't have plans in the weekend I like to work on Saturday or Sunday mornings as well. My days start with waking up slowly, a coffee and then meditation, if time permits I also like to get out for a walk on the beach.โ€

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

I'm Eelco, Dutch, 37 years young. A self-taught software engineer with a passion for design.

Been a nomad for about 10 years now and currently looking to settle down somewhere in Europe. I started out as a freelance software developer almost 20 years ago, mostly working for SMB in Netherlands, but also abroad.

A little over 10 years ago I started building my own SaaS products and so far had one successful exit.

I've built a lot of B2B apps in my career with many different frameworks and always wanted to use this experience to help other developers and founders build better products. After exiting my last successful SaaS, I decided it was time to make this reality and started with Saas UI.

1.5 year ago I started Saas UI, which is a premium component library for B2B SaaS app and dashboard tools.

It's something I've been wanting to build for a very long time and reached ramen profitability within 6 months.

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

I was fed up with building products for other people, most of them failed and I really just wanted to be my own boss and build a life-style business.

That's when I started a new company with a colleague/friend of mine and we started bootstrapping ideas. We tried out a couple of ideas that didn't work out, eventually we ended up building a webrtc tool for e-commerce that connected data from webshops to voice calls. We got interest fairly quickly, but it took many years before we were profitable, we really underestimated this and it was a long journey with many lows and struggles.

A big problem was (but at the same time a strength in the long run) that we only focused on the Dutch market, which is MUCH smaller than USA / global market. My partner was living in the Netherlands while I was living in South East Asia, it was quite a lonely journey at times, a lot of my friends and family also couldn't relate or understand at all what I was doing (they felt like I had an endless holiday).

But I also met a lot of great people and have some very good friends still from this time. If you can travel together with your co-founder I would really recommend it, I really missed this part. During Covid, the product really got traction, as people had to start working from home and at that point I built a complete all-in-one customer service platform, with voice, livechat, social media, email and what not, which was exactly what companies needed. That was the moment for me that we went from bootstrapping to running a business and along with other reasons I felt like I had to move on, so I exited.

Looking back it was a far too large project for a single dev/designer and we should've hired much sooner. After exiting I took time off to think about my next steps, I really learned a lot during these years of bootstrapping and wanted to solve some of the problems we ran into.

I wanted to build a no-code API integration platform, but after starting and researching this would result me being in the same position as my previous company so I didn't continue with this. Then I had an epiphany, I could build a SaaS without running a SaaS by selling a component library and boilerplate, this is where Saas UI started.

How did you get your first initial customers?

I started working on Saas UI while I was traveling around Europe in my campervan.

I didn't want to fall in the same trap again of years with enough revenue, having to freelance on the side, and live from very little, so the first thing I did was launch my website and at the same time I started posting my progress on Twitter.

People liked what I was doing and soon after opened up a pre-sale to see if there was enough interest in the paid version.

Within one week I made the first sale, this was the best motivation I could get to continue. This is basically what I'm still doing, with the exception that I'm working with a content marketing company that writes blog posts for me.

It got the first paying customers just a week after going public, which validated the idea for me and it took me another 6 months to get to 50 paying customers.

My strategy is to build on open source and leverage other popular frameworks that I love working with to promote my tools. I launched a beta version of my open source component library and a basic website with an early access form and pricing tables that link to my Gumroad page before my product was ready to test the waters and started sharing the progress on Twitter (#buildinpublic). Which got me to where I am right now.

Marketing / growth doesn't come very natural for me, but I'm really happy with the result.

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

Twitter, content marketing and website.

In meantime I've also done some interviews like this one and my first podcast a month ago.

Other channels that I've used, but not extensively yet are Reddit, Indiehackers and Betalist.

I like writing content, but I'm not very efficient at it and I have very little time for it at the moment. However it's important for SEO, growing awareness and ultimately my revenue.

So I'm working with a company that writes blog posts for me about Saas UI. They write about examples, comparisons with other libraries and other topics for important keywords. This frees up time for me to focus more on what I'm good at, writing code.

How does your business make money?

The business makes money by selling licenses for individuals and teams.

For example: โ‚ฌ200 per developer or โ‚ฌ699 per team of max 20.

Next to that I also have a membership service that starts at โ‚ฌ2000 a month, where I help companies with custom build components, project setup, advice, etc.

Right now, revenue is about โ‚ฌ3000 per month and currently I'm spending โ‚ฌ1000 on content marketing (working with the company that I mentioned earlier), which I think is really good since it's not my primary focus at the moment.

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

I'm currently working at WunderGraph. I decided to join them because they are building a product that I initially set out to build for myself (the no-code API integration tool), so it aligns really well with my future goals.

During the day I do my work at WunderGraph, at night I help out my Saas UI community, fix bugs and if I have the energy and time I work on improvements. Fridays are reserved for Saas UI, so I get the whole day to work on my own project.

I work from home most of the time and some times in my camper-van. If I don't have plans in the weekend I like to work on Saturday or Sunday mornings as well. My days start with waking up slowly, a coffee and then meditation, if time permits I also like to get out for a walk on the beach.

After that I usually start out with the hard stuff that I like to procrastinate on since early in the day your willpower and focus is highest.

In the afternoon I manage my community, make calls and currently I'm helping out with the Chakra UI v3 release. Tools that I use are:

  • VSCode

  • Discord

  • Github

  • Slack

  • Twitter

  • Linear

  • Iterm with zshell

  • Orbstack

  • React / Chakra UI (obviously)

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

Try to monetize as soon as possible with the minimal amount of effort, definitely don't go into stealth mode for month before talking to potential customers, you will waste your time.

Keep your product small, especially if you don't have a team to support you, otherwise you really risk burning out yourself.

Patience. It's super important to have patience and not give up too early. We see a lot of 'overnight' success stories or products that have enormous growth in a short time, but the fact is most businesses need at least 5 years to become profitable. I believe this applies to startups and indie founders as well. Don't expect to be a unicorn and know that slow and steady growth builds a solid foundation and comes with a lot of other perks as well, like less stress about scaling.

Ignore competitors. I always worried (and others shared this opinion as well) that well funded competitors would compete us out of the market. While in practise this never happened and in fact was more confirmation we were onto something. This doesn't mean you should just copy something in an already saturated market. Besides that small/medium sized companies really value being able to be in direct contact with founders, which is an unfair advantage.

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