Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
B2B SaaS marketplaces with opportunities for indie hackers (rocketgems.com)
160 points by khuknows on Jan 22, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 81 comments

The "indie hacker" part is underselling the value of hooking into these marketplaces.

The Atlassian marketplace is how we're able to make draw.io/diagrams.net free everywhere else. We don't have to handle any licensing or billing and it's a commercial market where users expect to pay.

We generate 8 digits annually there with 5FTE people, you can build a medium sized company around just one of these marketplaces.

It’s a smart move for entrepreneurs who aren’t VC-backed to leverage marketplaces. How was your experience with the Atlassian Marketplace in terms of integration and marketing? I’ve seen many big companies advertise that they help with marketing resources but I assume it’s exaggerated. I presume you’d still have to do the legwork, which is fine.

Atlassian's ecosystem is really good. Nothing is perfect, but we tested Google, Salesforce (horrific, but a _lot_ money in there), Dropbox and MS. Atlassian just hit the sweet spot for us.

How do you feel about the platform risk factor?

Ie. Building this thing where your platform gets essentially free product research data and can decide you are a feature they will build themselves at any time?

Are there agreements in place that provide meaningful protection against this?

Funny enough, I reversed engineered your numbers a few days ago. I guesstimated at least 3 million ARR with 2 - 10 FTEs. From revenue per FTE perspective you have the most impressive numbers I have ever seen!

Thank you for keeping draw free. Love your product.

That's pretty cool. Is it scary though to have revenue depending on a low number of clients?

We have 20k in-maintenance customers. Is the Atlassian marketplace a single point of failure? Yes, that's the main risk. But this is a $2B annual company, it would take time to disappear.

We still have many fingers in many pies. If that revenue stream went we'd be able to bring up $1M a year from one or more of the other marketplaces within 12 months, which is enough to keep us in the black.

I work directly with founders of B2B SaaS (run a design a [1] UI/UX design company with a focus on dev teams) which gives me a good idea of the landscape.

The biggest opportunities seem to be in the edtech space, remote working and any other type of category which facilitates remote work.

If you are looking for opportunities, try to map out where your skills and interest can contribute in a remote / wfh economy.

I’ve seen a number of companies scramble to keep up with growth. Others doubled revenue.

[1] https://fairpixels.pro

FYI there is a typo in the CTAs. It should be "Request Availability" instead of "Request Availibility". I'd fix that because it doesn't look very professional. Otherwise the concept is nice, makes a lot of sense.

There is also some layout issue when you open on an iPad, should be easy to fix: https://app.pagewatch.dev/6cbdb96d57e36c4262076131f95335e947...

Especially for $6k/mo starting

Good to hear.

I want to build a B2B SaaS for remote work this year and next week I will start interviewing potential customers.

You mentioned remote work, I'm curious for your opinion on nomadlist?

Their numbers seem to be going up as well: https://nomadlist.com/open

As well as the numbers for Remote OK. Up and to the right.


Which is surprising as I assumed not many people would be travelling at the moment.

Although many people might be dreaming about it and hoping to do so with no real followthrough (myself unfortunately likely included)!

I work with Salesforce,so I'm quite familiar with the ecosystem. I think a lot people on HN would have a hard time believing the kind of apps that exist on AppExchange and the number of companies that are willing to spend money on them.

I've not worked with Salesforce for a long time, but it used to have the worst language I've ever used. Some sort of crazy Java/SQL hybrid. And the dev tool for it was written in Adobe Air.

Is it still like that or have they moved on?

Yes and no. Apex, the backend language,is still probably 5-7 years behind where JAVA/.Net is, but considering the type of development that is being done with it, it's not that bad. Then,on the from end it's all JavaScript and their component based Lightning framework. Tooling? I'm working with VSCode and there's some relatively recent CI/CD related stuff that makes the process better.

I work at one of the mammoth consulting firms doing Salesforce implementation work for Fortune 50 enterprises, and you would be amazed at the amount of client value derived (and the # of licenses sold) utilizing the AppExchange

I do know that the value can be huge- we are using a number of them in our org too. Heck,I even wrote some smaller Lighting components myself( working on another as I type), which boosted productivity quite a lot.

Hey, I've done a lot of work in the Salesforce owned (adjacent) Heroku marketplace. I'd love to connect and chat sometime about the ecosystem if you'd be up for it.

My email's in my profile.

Sure.Will drop you a message at some point next week.

Given the number of companies already leveraging the marketplace, do you still see opportunities for new companies to come in? And are most opportunities focused on a vertical niche?

I was looking through the Shopify marketplace a while back and I had the thought that channel partnerships/marketing is probably an amazing way to bootstrap a SaaS. Glad to see someone else had the same idea and did the due diligence to collect a good chunk of these. I'm bootstrapping something consumer facing now, but I've of course thought about "pivoting to B2B" if the opportunity plays out. It's nice to remember that these channels provide ample concrete space to help figure out the distribution side of things beyond paid acquisition. Now paid acquisition is great and all for VC backed companies, but for indie hackers, listening to and iterating /based/ off of the channel itself seems to be a real lifeline. You don't have to worry about the marginal acquisition costs that would otherwise price you out of the game entirely.

Looking at a couple of comments here, I'm seeing some eye popping figures from folks who pulled off using channel marketing for their SaaS. It's very heartening to see.

Correct me if I'm wrong but unless you're already an established brand that people actively seek out, or part of the first X listings in a category of a thing everyone wants (i.e. SEO, Ads, accounting for webshops), wouldn't you already be too late on these market places?

This is the definition of an indie hacker. They take established products/tools and then strip them to improve one area and sell it onto other indie hackers at an 'affordable' price which requires you to sell your soul for $8 per month.

Imagine having 10 paying customers giving you $80 per month. You need to provide some level of support, deal with charge backs which can get you MATCH banned so payment processing becomes near enough impossible, update the product and market it too.

The point is to have a few hundred, or thousand. If it's so niche it only appeals to 10 customers, then see if you can charge $800 p/m or move on.

The trouble with a few hundred customers is the customer service side of operations. Indie hackers are lean machines and having to support a large customer base requires more tasks. Managing churn is also another problem area as you grow which generally requires product development. You quickly lose the indie hacker feels once you get to 50 customers I would say.

One product I made had roughly a hundred companies using it, I got one email in 3 years.

So, um, no.

One of my present products has over 10,000 users (b2c rather than b2b), we get a support email every couple of months.

Really depends on your product I guess, or you've never actually done it and are pulling figures out of your ass.

There could be categories of things people want without many solutions in some marketplaces. For example, in the Hubspot marketplace, there are many WhatsApp widgets in their marketplace. Someone made one for the Pipedrive marketplace and it’s doing very well. There would be similar missing apps for Pipedrive, or there would be other platforms where a WhatsApp widget could do well.

This! It isn't hard to look at what is successful in, say, the Salesforce App Exchange and apply that concept for HubSpot. Huge opportunity there.

Yes, this is definitely something to keep in mind. Especially when bootstrapping (what the post seems to be aimed at), building integrations with a marketplace can be a significant time investment, at the expense of working on other marketing or product improvements. Established marketplaces for popular categories are going to see diminished returns pretty quickly.

For example, we were one of the first to integrate with the Google Workspace Marketplace when it launched many years ago (called Google Apps Marketplace back then). It brought us a lot of leads in the early days. Today, discoverability has become a real problem. The "luck"-component in being featured in any search result or when browsing the marketplace is now so large that I'm not sure if for new products it would still outweigh the work of building the integration and keeping up to date with inevitable breaking API changes.

Overall it can be an amazing channel for growth though, so it's mostly about carefully picking one where customers might find you, rather than just going for something that looks promising because it's big. There's a big first-mover advantage when launching on a newish platform (and as the list proves, there's many new ones).

Go find an unsolved problem that doesn't affect fortune 500 companies but smaller ones, solve it, get paid.

Better to be number #25 in a product category with millions of dollars in spend / customers than #1 in a category with nothing

No. I created an app in one of these (a year ago). I have 5 serious competitors. Each are decent apps that have been in the game longer than mine - mine is not necessarily better, just with a slightly different angle.

It has about $3.5k MRR, is still growing and I spend maybe 5-10 hours a month on it.

Also, I had no brand before that.

Sounds cool! Mind sharing what are you working on, or at least the rough space you're in?

Also, how did you start marketing it/getting your first users?

Not necessarily. Also, there are lots of big players that don't care about small clients with their 'minimum 50 licences' approach. That's where the opportunities are.

Not necessarily. A good example is myspace / facebook.

Opportunity #67: Selling backward-looking lists of successful business models.

What does it mean ?

It's what the author is doing with this post.

I don't think that's fair, the author is not selling anything - they took the effort to put together a good resource for others to use and are sharing it for free.

I don’t think I see what you mean here. Where am I selling a list of business models?

I guess the interpreted the "opportunity" as "build a marketplace like these ones" instead of "those are marketplaces you can list your product on"?

We do a lot of work with SaaS businesses helping them with product design and if needed capital and development.

Our primary work is in remote work for non-desktop people and educational/video space plus live ecommerce which seems to be the areas that are really thriving right now.

Even if covid passes organizations will still be looking for tools that makes them resillient to that kind of disruption again.

So plenty of areas to dig into.

(P.s. If you have ideas and are looking for product design or seed capital just DM me would love to talk with you)

That's interesting, could you expand on this line a little more:

"Our primary work is in remote work for non-desktop people and educational/video space plus a live ecommerce"


With regards to the non-desktop workforce: 70% of the workforce doesn't sit behind a computer and thus really don't benefit from working from home in most cases and thus we are working on a few projects in that space.

We did a test project https://www.realwork.ai which is a tool for frontline workers built for the people in the field rather than the backoffice and allow them to communicate and mange the distributed physical work they do. We are currently looking at expanding that into more of a linkedin type of network combining the tool with the ability to find work or find workers to hire.

With regards to the educational space we are building a LMS built more like an API that allow learning institutions or organizations with the need for employee education, certificate or compliance to easily manage their students/employees education. While we offer things like video and course-building tools the idea is to allow for our customers to use the best tools for the job so ex. we support not just our own video platform but also zoom, MS teams etc.

And last but not least.

Because we built a whole video platform we are looking at another area which is live ecommerce such as the whole unboxing trend with things like collector cards as we know a few people in that space.

We are then working with founders or potential co-founders in those industries and try to see where we can find product market fit.

I downloaded the app and tried to sign up, but it said "Invalid request data!" after I submitted the form.

Is it supposed to work ATM?

Thank you for the link! Really helpful.

We are already listed on Slack marketplace and I can say that it allowed us to onboard several first users and still we are getting organic installs every day.

But one should mention that in order for such marketplace listings to be efficient you still have to work on SEO and other marketing channels.

I've been curating remote jobs from hundreds of remote job boards and directly sending it to job seekers to help during their job search. I'm trying to see how can I use this data to do B2B sales. Is there a market place that I can submit the remote jobs data that can be helpful.

Create a sense of camaraderie that comes from working with real people on your team, even if all remote. I am building a Clubhouse for remote teams, Drop-in audio for work, It’s the easiest way to spark a quick conversation with a single click. https://tappy.so/?ref=rm

Hey! care to share the platform? I'm interested

Sure, here you go -> https://remoteleaf.com

I would add Bitly in Marketing as well. They have more than $100 million revenue per year. Link shortening has got a bad rap but there is plenty of demand for branded links.

I have spent last few months talking to unsatisfied customers of Bitly and following this space and I see a general disappointment with UX, lack of flexibility and high costs associated with the platform.

My service https://blanq.io has tried to address these but I feel there is plenty of space left for more players to enter in. It is relatively easy to get started and scale the service. The barrier of entry is quite low.

But you would need to differentiate your platform - there are like a 1000 clones of Bitly that pretty much do the same.

Have you got any traction with your project? What's your elevator pitch to differentiate?

Yes. As of now have a few paying customers and it covers the expenses of my servers.

I will need to double down on marketing efforts in coming days. But I do see there is a need.

I don’t get it, are they saying that making API products for these marketplaces is what to do?

They're saying making products that integrate with these platforms gets you "free" marketing exposure on their marketplaces.

This is how AirBnb grew. They took listings from Craig's list and added them to the site and then added their listings onto Craig's list (aka growth hacking).

Ah ok, not a bad idea if you're going for the freemium model

I've found for my business marketplaces are key to get exposure to your potential users.

A few more you might add are package managers, such as NPM. If you have a dev focused company and provide SDKs, those are great places where your users can find you.

I posted my add-on in Heroku Marketplace over a year ago https://elements.heroku.com/addons/knapsack-pro and did not see much organic leads from the marketplace itself.

Anyone using Heroku Marketplace as well? Any ideas how did you approach promoting your add-on? Thanks.

One of the hosts of this podcast (https://softwaresocial.dev/) is building a file upload widget and is getting most of their early trials from the Heroku marketplace. Worth a listen and maybe even reaching out to compare experiences

Cross-referencing this with interviews on Indie Hackers, it seems that people have the most success with WordPress plugins and G Suite integrations.

I heard that Wordpress and Atlassian are the most lucrative. After these, there is Slack and Pipedrive

Can someone please tell me what is an 'indie hacker' ?

Rather broad term, I think.

I once had the impression that an indie hacker is a one person dev shop that sells a software product instead of their time.

But lately, I saw many people use that term for business people on the look for the next hustle.

I think that's an accurate summary.

Even if someone starts out as a "one person dev shop", they eventually become a business person, out of necessity.

An ecosystem of people who are building bootstrapped, non-VC-funded products.

Patrick McKenzie (patio11), who famously built and sold his "Bingo Card Creator", and blogged about the process, is a "prototypical" Indie Hacker.

The ecosystem consists of communities like [1] and [2], podcasts (search for "Indie Hackers"), and conferences like [3]

[0] https://training.kalzumeus.com/newsletters/archive/selling_s...

[1] https://www.indiehackers.com/

[2] https://getmakerlog.com/

[3] https://microconf.com/

A hacker that hasn’t sold their soul to a record label yet? (/s obviously, it’s a silly term)

This site is where the term came from: https://www.indiehackers.com/

People define it differently, but generally I think of indie hackers as people, usually technical, who are building or are aiming to build smaller tech businesses. They generally either bootstrap or raise small amounts of money. A lot of indie hackers are would be happy with a business that makes 5-10k USD per month per founder

Generally speaking, someone who is starting a tech business with no intention of taking investment (esp. VC).

Many indie hackers are trying to avoid having a boss and/or trying to avoid selling time for money (as others have said), but some do want to grow relatively large businesses. I believe that DHH and Base Camp in general in its early days would have been considered “indie hackers”.

Someone who spends their free time building a single SaaS tool for other indie hackers needs. Then struggling to gain any traction and deciding to repeat the process over and over.

Wait, why is it exclusively „other indie hackers needs“?

Indie hackers generally have a low/no budget.

So other indie hackers will say that a specific part of a CRM, for example, is all that would be needed, they create that SaaS and sell it for $5 per month or free (a fraction of the price of an established brand). Rinse and repeat. It's easy because indie hackers appreciate small bugs and issues and are not as demanding as someone who is paying $50 per month, working with a large corporation that needs support 24/7 etc.

It's not exclusively, but you find a lot of "indie hackers" come up with business opportunities based on following/reading/speak to other indie hackers and then market to other indie hackers and so the cycle continues


Very useful!!

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact