Over ~10 years running SaaS apps I generally managed to pretty consistently find ways to spend 40% of revenue.
Also worth noting: as you get further from "things which are made by devs-running-businesses-as-hobbies-for-devs-running-businesses-as-hobbies" towards "business inputs sold by businesses to businesses" costs skyrocket. You're going to spend plural thousands of dollars on bookkeeping and tax compliance every year. You will eventually need a contract reviewed; that will probably cost you a few hundred bucks. You're going to get a business insurance policy; you'll find the bidding starts at a grand. etc, etc
I don't see any third party Stripe dunning service, did you build something similar yourself? Otherwise it might be worth looking into, it's one of those things that pays itself back in no time.
We've tried a few different solutions and were a little apprehensive at first because it looked a bit clunky but it's actually one of the best bits of software I've used. You don't realise the number of features a subscription billing platform needs until you use something like chargebee and discover how wonderful it is to have someone do it all for you. What's really great is before changing anything they give you a pop up showing what's going to be billed now, what will happen in the future etc. We used stripe before switching and I was a nervous wreck before ever pushing any buttons.
My co-founder and I were saying just the other day that we think it's one of the best investments we've made as a company.
We've been with them through a big few tasks now (like when they added Xero integration - which is also an amazing feature) and if there's any confusion with mapping data or whatever they'll always jump on a video call to make sure everyone is 100% clear on what's going on.
Regarding Heap Analytics, their pricing model is quite confusing. I'd like to know how many users/visitors to your website are you getting that allows it to be free.
To you, is the almost $5k you're spending on Intercom worth it? How much does it come to per user?
You moved away from Baremetrics to Chartmogul, something with not as good a design. Why?
In all honesty, we're way over Heap's free limit, but they haven't throttled us or reached out, so shhhhhh.
Intercom is so worth it. We wouldn't be in the same position without it. The reason it's so high (as I mentioned in another answer) is that we also use it for sending our monthly newsletter. We could definitely get the cost much lower, and we're planning to, but I just need to sit down and do it. We've got our hands full with our current roadmap, so I haven't had the chance to move everyone to a more affordable email marketing service, but sooner than later.
When I used Baremetrics, they were changing their pricing a lot and experimenting so much with growth tactics that I don't agree with, like removing the ability to cancel on your own—you now need to contact them.
I tried ChartMogul and they've been absolutely wonderful. The team is so kind, helpful, and responsive. They also don't make drastic changes, which is refreshing since I only need them to track my Stripe metrics.
Founder of ChartMogul here...thank you for the nice comments, you made our success team's day! <3
We tried Baremetrics originally but when we dug into the nitty gritty of the numbers, there was a lot missing. To be fair, this was 2 years ago so I'm sure it's changed a lot.
I cam across Email Octopus and I found setting them up easy. You may want to check it out. https://emailoctopus.com/
You should save as much money as you can.
Any idea the new cost if you stop using Intercom for newsletters?
i know they have a small team but their inexperienced tech/backend team has costed them dearly (again i know they probably have worked hard but you can tell them they are inexperienced)
Wanted to touch on a couple of things in this sub-thread on Baremetrics.
It means a lot that literally _anyone_ has ever used Baremetrics. I started it over 3 years ago to scratch my own itch and hot dog it kinda took off. So, I'm grateful...certainly for the nearly 700 happy paying customers, but also for the others over the years who's experiences were less than stellar.
We've had some growing pains, but the majority of the painful ones are far in the past.
I did want to address the specific things folks brought up here, just to clear the air.
* Regarding changing our pricing "a lot"...we've changed pricing just once in 3 years. And that was based directly on customer feedback.
* Regarding us being "notoriously slow for the past 2 years"... We had some temporary scaling problems over a year ago, but that's just not the case any more. We've got a whole suite of server monitoring tools that show we have, in fact, not been "notoriously slow for 2 years".
* Regarding us being "inexperienced"...busted! I've never built a complex analytics platform storing and processing in near real-time terabytes of data! ;) Every single entrepreneur is winging it. You'll make some good decisions and some bad ones. That's life. :) But to be clear our team is very equipped and extremely talented. We're just solving a complicated problem...much more complicated than anyone who's never built this sort of thing before realizes.
At the end of the day, though, there are obviously some people who haven't had the experience they wanted with Baremetrics. I hate that that's the case, but we're constantly improving and innovating...most of the time for the better.
If anyone has had a less-than-positive experience with Baremetrics, please email me. I'd love to chat: email@example.com
Thanks again for all the feedback!
I wish we had cushion.com, but last I checked, it sold for $120k in 2012, so that's off the table. :)
(Disclaimer, I work for Google).
Also, lol at "marketing team". I am marketing team. :)
Also on the marketing team, I got head-faked by the growth freelancer, and assumed you went with a dynamic CMS to get more help. But man impressed with how much you still do!
Obviously not all months are equal, but that's about $517.45 per month.
Look like an awesome tool!
You guys definitely spent a lot where it doesn't count ($2k for a cool secondary domain, $1-2k for fonts and SSL, ...), but if you've made it all back then good job forget I said anything.
appname+app.com was probably not the best idea. Domain name hacks are confusing, and you are now indirectly working for appname.com
A startup's name means everything and nothing. All that matters is that it's short, relevant and memorable. clownmaker.com will always be better than clownapp.com
Alright I'm done with the unwarranted advice. Really good job.
Here's our pricing page (with paid tiers - you have to scroll down): https://www.profitwell.com/pricing
If you're curious around the science/data that went into this (the longer story), you can check out a talk I gave at our SaaSFest conference: https://pi.wistia.com/medias/jdywlrpowl. We used our Price Intelligently software to determine market willingness to pay/feature value before writing too much code.
As always, let me know if you have any questions. Happy to help.
Thanks for the info!
We recently reviewed how much it was costing our business, compared to the value we were getting out of it, and switched to a cheaper (and simpler) solution.
Well don't leave us hanging.
My point is that if you're not making the most of what Intercom offers, then it's pretty damn expensive.
In that light, the grandparent's post might not be a fair comparison, since he/she might be only talking about customer support functionality. In that case, there are far cheaper alternatives. Even heavy weight companies like Zendesk will likely be cheaper by comparison, but you won't get the marketing part built in.
On the other hand alternatives like Drift have been mentioned above which seem more like a fair direct one-for-one comparison with Intercom, and will usually come out cheaper.
Disclaimer: I'm the founder of Reamaze, which competes in the helpdesk (not marketing) space.
Even though I consider myself more of a developer, I went to school for design and it’s a big part of my work, so the look and feel is just as important to me as whether the app works or not. Sure, we could’ve saved $500, but I wouldn’t enjoy using the app as much, or working on it.
I also got to support two type foundries that I really respect. (JAF & Dalton Maag)
Since then, I am very intentional about using fonts consistently and intentionally. I could definitely see us "upgrading" our fonts when we do a design refresh.
There exists a whole class of apps/services that could gain a lot of traction by providing a freemium model. By becoming one of the best solutions AND having a free version (for limited use), I think you have a better shot of becoming part of a new bootstrapped SaaS business' "default stack".
This is why we gave HelpSite.io  a free version that includes features that I consider "necessary" for any business no matter how small, even when most of our competitors are charging for some of them. The more you can align with a startup's own business model (e.g. they need lots of light services up front even when they have no revenue; later they will have revenue and use those services more heavily) the better off you will do.
On the other hand it probably contains everything I could think of and it's still only ~$1000 a month, which is not a lot if you work as freelancer and run your SaaS on the side.
I use a service that sends me a bunch of fairly trivial Google Analytics data. It costs $10/month for the equivalent of fifty lines of Python.
I know I could spend maybe two hours writing a replacement for it and set it on an EC2 host and probably never worry about it again, but those two hours are still non-trivial amounts of time: two hours of my time pays for more than three years of that $10/month. Plus, the API may be brittle, there may be edge cases I haven't thought about, and I don't want to add yet another thing to monitor and worry about.
Sometimes, yeah, you can automate things and roll your own dependencies -- and sometimes the calculus works out and it's a no-brainer. But I've found that homebrewing a $XX/mo dependency is rarely the best use of my engineering time.
Would you mind sharing which service that is?
S3Stat (who another commenter mentioned) is also a great example.
It really depends on what your turnover is, where you make the most money, and what your time is worth (objectively, rather than ideally).
We use Let’s Encrypt for the SSL certificates for both the marketing website and in.vc. Eventually, we’ll migrate our other SSL certificates to Let’s Encrypt. It’s free and easy.
Cushion took no funding to reach profitability, and is growing at a rate that Jonnie seems to enjoy.
Here's his portfolio site, in case you wonder what no-name unknown companies worked with him before: