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Founders share the challenges of running a tech business (indiehackers.com)
158 points by ChanningAllen 4 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 47 comments

enjoy how there's perspective given from the responders with their current MRR as well. as a founder of a bootstrapped tech-enabled service startup with $135k+ MRR is cash flow. Accounts Receivable is a PITA and it still hasn't been solved (even with the likes of bill.com, harvest, stripe, paypal, qbo, etc...) - i'd almost pay for a company to outsource our AR to completely to represent us on initial AR, 30-90 day AR, collections, demand letters, and ultimately lawsuits if needed. bleh.

When I worked at Xero, AR automation was by far the most common partner / integration to approach us.

There are thousands of solutions in this space, focused on every niche imaginable, with a huge range of products.

Everything from simply reminders, to outsourcing, to discounting / incentives, to debt collection.

I’d be very surprised if you can’t find a suite of tools that automate / optimise the portions of your AR process that you’re having difficulties with.

https://apps.xero.com/au/function/bills-expenses (Most of these are multi-platform, or completely independent applications, they do not require using Xero)

These manual back office tasks is exactly why I hired an office manager.

She chases down invoices and handles back payments for all of our clients.

The mental overhead of handling these things was significantly hampering my technical work, and the moment she took over, a huge weight lifted off my back.

Part of the aggravation is that you can't automate chasing down invoices, yet. As a person who likes to automate all the things, this would just not do. So I sourced it out.

This exists; invoice factoring companies make this process relatively straightforward.

Invoice factoring doesn't solve the root collections issue. It's just a really expensive bandaid...

at that size, would it be better to just hire an in-house accounting/book-keeping person?

I was going to recommend the same thing, but I also know there are plenty of AR companies out there. YC even funded one called YayPay. I know my accountant will chase down invoices for me if I asked him (for a fee of course), thankfully QuickBooks Online handles this reporting, and has a one click solution to resend Invoices. I don't do $135k/mo, and only send a handful or two of invoices each month, so I cannot comment on how well it scales.

wow, love the honesty of some of these, killer compilation

really liked this --> "From the start, I was aware that I was taking on a huge project that other companies have devoted entire teams to, but I chose to look at it as more of a mental challenge than a technical one. I knew I had the skillset to pull it off, I just had to keep myself motivated and on track."

Heh, that's mine and about my Sciter project.

Sciter is pretty full implementation of HTML5 and CSS, has scripting engine on board, etc. So, indeed, I am personally competing with teams behind WebKit, Trident, Gecko, V8 (JS Engine), Chakra (MS JS Engine) and bunch of others.

And recently with ReactJS (Sciter got Reactor - native implementation of ReactJs), Angular and others.

And that is really a fun project to work on - many different paradigms on the same code base.

that’s the one project in the list that caught my eye - looks pretty neat. shame it doesn't gain the attention of the electron hating mob on HN - they all want people to work for free and give them stuff for no money but in the name of foss. keep up the good work, your project is an example of going against what the mob wants and building a successful product.

> The biggest challenge was a very naive understanding of how the modern internet economy works. The idea that good software is easy to promote is just as silly as the "good software sells itself" myth. I would definitely spend more time learning marketing.

This resonates for me as a bootstrapped founder in the early stages with my company. Cutting through the noise and getting the attention of my leads is hard work. Way harder than coding.

I’m running into these challenges right now. After my last job, I’m finally trying to turn a 10yr+ project into a product.

I’m currently serving a bit over 2 million requests per day for the free service I’ve run for years.

Now that I’m focusing on turning it into something more I’m realizing how slow it is to build a product by yourself.

For example, I’ve been working on transitioning to a much more scalable k8s architecture for the last few weeks. While I’ve had some experience over last few years as a developer, I’ve never had to set the whole thing up from scratch. It’s been tedious and draining but I am making progress.

The biggest issue is not having anyone to talk to on a peer basis.

In January I completely revamped the product website from being a crap page running on Launchrock to a self-hosted site with a new design and incorporating Mailgun to handle email.

The issue with that is I get people every day submitting their email addresses to sign up, but to date no one has clicked the confirmation link in the emails being sent to them to confirm the signup.

I researched this heavily before writing code and the consensus is that double opt-in is the correct way to go. So I did that, but no one is following up with the confirmation part.

Last week I found a minor bug that was preventing confirmation signups and I fixed it asap and manually sent emails to the 3 people that I would manually add them to the confirm list and remove them if they wanted. But I’ve had more signups after that who also did not complete the signup process. I’ve tested the flow heavily and it works.

But since I don’t really have a coworker environment anymore, I don’t have anyone to do peer review right now. Very frustrating.

I guess overall I’m used to building services very rapidly but being responsible for the entire thing is someone time consuming. I’m still adjusting to the process.

I would encourage you to try to find a low-cost developer in the developing world (perhaps via Fiverr) who could serve a QA function for you. It might take you 4 or 5 tries, but you might be able to find someone very low cost who would be able to work with you on QA and debugging.

Check your email deliverability that your emails aren’t going to spam.

Also is it worth trying higher touch engagements? Book a demo type thing where you ask for a phone number and get to speak to some of these people that are signing up.

Lastly, are you sure the signups legitimate signups and not spam bots?

I can definitely relate to this. No colleagues for peer review is tough.

I'd recommend sticking with the managed k8s services unless you have a team. In my experience as a solo dev k8s has been a huge help and very hands-off once setup. It was a bit of a struggle at first but IMO worth it.

With respect to each company, what do the numbers in the parentheses mean? Is that profit, revenue or something else per month?

This is almost always (and frustratingly!) Monthly Recurring Revenue.

Good to know, thank you!

Frustrating how?

Revenue is close to useless if you’re selling dollars for quarters. Hard to gauge the efficacy of businesses without the full picture.

IndieHackers are usually self-bootstrappers, they wouldn't sustain long by selling dollars for quarters.

I can’t think of another single metric that tells you more about the size of a saas company than MRR.

Is IndieHackers completely fucked for anyone else right now in Chrome 80.0.3987.106 on MacOS? The js and CSS static assets are getting blocked for some reason, even after disabling all my extensions and refreshing the page in incognito and without cached assets.

edit: Works fine in Safari, but the same thing is happening in Firefox.

I had the same issue with the link on both safari & firefox, I used the readerview on firefox as a workaround.

I'd add the struggle / time it took to really deeply comprehend what 'build, measure, learn' means in practice. And realizing that there is a more scientific approach to building good products. For example by using Hypothesis-Driven Development [1]. We wasted lots of time (and money) at the beginning with our own stupid assumptions.

[1] Hypothesis-driven development (HDD) https://teamsuccess.io/hdd

Wow, a coffee company is now a tech company. I didn't bother with the rest of the list.

well the 9 to 5 you work in js probably selling some non tech products as well, yet it may be called a tech company.

A tech company’s product is tech. A plumber that accepts payments using square isn’t a tech company.

so your company sells apis, software frameworks or hardware? or does it leverage these to sells some other non tech product?

Yes, the company I work for in particular sells software that runs on hardware for datacenter traffic management.

All of those could be applied to non-tech businesses with very minor modifications.

The site is not working/rendering properly in both Chrome and Firefox.

love the honesty

This site is top notch, thumbs up

It weighs several megabytes and downloads and runs scripts from multiple domains. All to serve a text page.

God's sake it even has its own reimplemented loading bar...

Never trust anything that comes from indiehackers, this is a community of professional indie astroturfers and manipulators of everything from renaming the same product and launching it every couple months on ProductHunt and buying upvotes, to baiting HNers with "How I made $X by doing Y". It's a pump and dump scheme on sub-million dollar levels.

How can it be a pump and dump if they’re not public companies and generally rely on subscriptions?

Indiehackers is a great community that produces a lot of useful content for other bootstrappers. Sorry that you think it’s all a fraud, but I suspect you’re throwing out the baby with the bath water.

I’m not sure you can lump all of IH together into one big undesirable thing. All platforms have bad apples but there’s plenty of good information if you look closely.

Not sure why a coffee company is a “tech startup”.

(Though TBF Amazon didn’t feel like a tech company in the 1990s)

It has a live chat and five different tracking solutions implemented. What about this doesn't look like a tech business?

That’s just table stakes for a generic retail store Just because I drive a car wouldn’t make me a car business.

I think of tech businesses primarily as those that develop novel technology and secondarily as those who use technology in a novel and unexpected way. In both cases technology is the differentiation.

The only novelty of this business is its message and while that might make a perfectly respectable business (I am not part of the target market so I can not judge) there’s no “tech” in their business plan. Think of it more like Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein: the clothes are made in the same factories by the same workers; the only differentiation is market positioning. Nobody would criticize them as not being “business” or even “clothes business” but their differentiator is marketing.

I'm pretty sure Wordball's response was meant as sarcasm.

Hah, whooshed over my head! Everybody wants the pixie dust these days.

well google is an ad company, what’s your point

Read my response to wordball. Google differentiates itself with its tech.

Note what I said about Amazon: it didn’t look to me like a tech company when it started, but actually it was (for its time). And since then has continued to aggressively differentiate itself through investment in tech development.

yeah but its selling ads, not tech. tech is the facilitator but google mainly monetised ads. sure from a worker’s perspective it sells tech, but it doesn’t.

hmmm, odd that you're getting downvoted...

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