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Ask HN: who started something in 2012 which is already profitable?
221 points by withinthreshold on June 9, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 193 comments
I think we are all interested in reading some inspirational success stories for summer 2012! I would really appreciate your responses, HN!

I launched a Mac utility app called DragonDrop (https://shinyplasticbag.com/dragondrop/) that got a lot of pretty good press (including getting fireballed — here's the HN discussion http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3946404).

I use DragonDrop 500 times per day. I love it! Thank you!

I've often wondered why the Mac dock did not allow items to be temporarily dragged to it, like a multi-item clipboard.

I bought your app after seeing a funny tweet chain between you and two of my co-workers, it's great!

Wow, if only we had something like that on windows.

Looks like a great app, going to give it a try

I created a push notification service called Pushover (https://pushover.net/) and wrote its iOS and Android apps. I started the project in January and launched it in March (https://jcs.org/pushover).

In contrast to some competing free apps/services, the Pushover mobile apps are $3.99 which pays for the monthly hosting costs to keep the service running. Both apps are highly rated on both app stores and so far the app sales have paid for the domain name and other tangible development costs and are continuing to generate profit. I just purchased a Blackberry phone for development and plan to create a Blackberry app for the service.

Have worked out the math behind one-time purchases supporting unlimited perpetual service? I suspect it is possible if a substantial amount of users leave the service after the purchase, but I can't see how this is not a form of pyramid scheme - new users effectively cover obligations made to eariler users. How is this sustainable with a non-trivial volume? Or do you (plan to) charge API users?

It's hard to work out accurate numbers because users can have such drastically different usage patterns. Some users have signed up with one device and have only received a few notifications, others have many devices registered and receive dozens of notifications daily from chat plugins.

The API is free, though applications are limited to a reasonable number of messages per month. That was put into place out of fear that a large company would use the app/service as a dirt-cheap platform to send large amounts of messages every day to its employees (like routing/dispatching directions, etc.) and burden the service. And rightly so, since shortly after launching, I got an e-mail from a large US company looking to use it in such a way (they ultimately decided not to use it). If such customers do come along, their API fees will cover them being on segmented servers.

there: kudos to you for executing exact the idea I had as early as 2010! By any chance you could write an article on your experience with sells and marking? This is what most interests me! I am working on a project that will utilize Pushover so soon I will be a paid customer :)

Also, about your revenue model. How did you calculate that $3.99 would be sufficient to make profit AND give service to users on "all you can eat" terms? Wouldn't it be wiser to give one year for free (thats plenty of time to see whether I need and like your service or not) and then charge $9.99 per year after that? I mean, if this grows, I can easily see people eating up more bandwidth than this one-time $3.99 payment can bring into your pocket. If your TOS (sorry haven't checked) does not explicitly saying that in the future you may charge more, I think you may found yourself walking on a thin ice.

I don't really have much experience in the way of sales and marketing, but my integration efforts so far have just been to setup Pushover applications with icons ahead of time and then e-mail admins with the API key and some explanation so they don't have to do much work. I did the Github integration and Adium plugin myself to increase visibility.

I went with $3.99 because Prowl is $2.99 and Notify My Android is $3.99. I'm not convinced that a yearly service is worth the overhead and I personally wouldn't pay to use a notification app that had a yearly fee.

The bandwidth and server overhead for running such a service are pretty low and iOS/Android push notifications are free, so I'm not really worried about monthly costs for normal users outweighing the revenue the app brings in. Right now Pushover is running on one of my servers that does other things, so it's not even really costing anything tangible. If costs start to go up, I can always increase the price of the apps to slow growth (or increase revenue if it doesn't slow growth).

I'm curious how people are finding, and then using your service. Are most of the users people who use another app that provides pushover notifications, or are they developer or power user types who want a way to push notifications to their phones? (I would assume the former, I suppose.)

Most are sending alerts to themselves. While I've integrated it into Github and my Fitbit notifier to try to pick up users that just want to receive alerts, most are using it to generate their own alerts from network monitors, BitTorrent clients, IRC clients, etc.

I pinged the ifttt.com guys to ask about integration but haven't heard back yet. I'd like to do more integration with services that currently do e-mail notifications like http://hnnotify.com (I've already contacted them) to pick up more end-users.

Thanks for the info, and best of luck!

This is excellent timing for $work. We'll be needing push notifications for a mobile app we're building over the next couple months. How do we integrate Pushover in our app? Is there an SDK we include in the app, or would users have to purchase and install the Pushover app? Our app will be free, so we'd like to avoid pushing costs on to our users. But we would have no problem paying a monthly fee to you, in addition to any usage over 5k messages. The continued survival of your service is certainly in our best interests!

My email address is on my profile, or I can email your support address if that's better.

Users would have to purchase the Pushover app. It sounds like you want https://parse.com/ which would be an SDK you can integrate into your app to get push notifications.

Thank you for the tip. I'm looking over the Parse documentation now.

Very nice and simple.

I took the opportunity to hack together a notification plugin for irssi.


I have your site bookmarked reminding me to buy it when I have a good project that would use it. Really need to come up with something, it's a fantastic idea :-)

Site doesn't load here.

Seems a rogue bot/spider was causing some trouble, it should work now.

I created a few javascript card games, most of them in late 2011, but they really started earning this year. So far have made Spades, Hearts, Go Fish, Crazy Eights, Shithead and a couple of solitaires. Revenue has been steadily rising, and is a nice little side income now. http://www.spades-cardgame.com is one, the rest are linked from there.

Haha I love the commentary in the JS source:

"Hi there

You are here for one of two possible reasons:

1. You are creating a card game yourself and want to look at the source to see how it's done.

2. You're trying to figure out how you can cheat. . . . . "


Really awesome, i couldn't think you can make money with a no-sponsorship model on games. So your revenue comes completely from ads?

Yes, I'm kind of amazed at it myself. I rank fairly well for some of the most relevant keywords now, and that's where almost all the traffic comes from.

What I think I'm doing right:

* Simple to start. As soon as you enter the page you see the table, you just need to press Deal and you've started. No "enter your name", no choosing options before starting, no nag ads.

* Single page sites. The rules for the games are on the landing page, which means it has more content and is likely to be ranked higher by Google.

* Keep it simple. As a programmer I had the urge to create high scores, multiplayer, logins, track results etc, but at the end of the day most people just want to spend 10 minutes playing, and leaving out those things also means it's maintenance free, and frictionless to get started.

Just played Spades for 1/2 hour. Fantastic work! You did the right thing in allowing the player to jump straight into the game upon landing on the homepage. The games itself are so simple that the process of starting a game should be simple, and you've done that here. Job well done!


Funny thing is that I never play them myself after I've finished them. The interesting part for me is creating the computer player, and seeing if I can make him win more than the human players, I have some stats in Google Analytics that can show me that. Since the computer plays like I would play it's kind of like I'm playing against all the players :)

When I'm testing I usually let the computer just play against itself, add ?autoplay to any of the game urls and when you press Deal you'll see four computer players playing against each other...

Why do you have different second-level domains for each game? Why not use one domain with a bunch of subdomains for each game? That way you'd build brand recognition at the same time, and avoid people running out and registering things like "cribbage-cardgame.com"...

Started by accident. First game I made was Idiot, and got the domain idiot-cardgame.com for it, since I had no plans to create more at that time. When I made Crazy Eights I couldn't really use idiot-cardgame.com for it, so I gave that its own domain. After that it was just a kind of pattern I guess. I also had some vague ideas that maybe I'd get more google juice out of having links from different domains to each other.

I have thought about changing it all to one domain, and setting up some 301 redirects, but I'm just afraid to mess up my google rankings. For the solitaire game I re-use a domain, e.g I have http://www.solitaire-cardgame.com for Klondike solitaire (or classic solitaire), and then I have http://www.solitaire-cardgame.com/freecell for Free Cell solitaire.

I think this has been the most interesting part of the thread - congrats. And I love the comments at the top of your JavaScript ;-)

Thanks. I used to pretty paranoid about the source, running it through my own obfuscator that changed pretty much every identifier to a $nr, but that kept giving me problems, and in the end I figured there aren't really any secrets in the source, so no it's just minified with the disclaimer that you can't republish it as is, although you're free to use it for inspiration.

As am aside, I think your freecell rules are wrong. As I recall, you should only be able to move a stack (pile?) of cards if there's enough free space to place them all. Another way to stay it is that you can only actually move one card at a time, but the game will assist you if there's enough free cells.

Fascinating. The site looks really polished, even the favicon. Good work.

I didn't see any ads after I paused Adblock or any other call to action.

Well that's weird. There are two AdSense skyscrapers, one on each side of the table. How wide is your screen?

Are you using adblock like I do, I also looked around for ads for a while...

So you get all your traffic from Google?

Yes, pretty much. If I look at analytics for Spades there are around 77% returning visitors, but I'm pretty sure they originally came through Google, since the sites aren't really advertised anywhere. They're linked from my own site, and I got one site that has card games rules to link to some of them, but that's it. They're not linked from any gaming sites or anything.

Beware of posts like this from what is basically a new account with only as much karma as this post has received.

Sharks and all that: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4017843

(Am I paranoid much?)

I think your point is valid, but what can i do - i am new here and i am interested to read some success stories.

What's the worst thing that could happen? It's only on the frontpage because there are obviously a lot of people interested in this, including me.

I think the OP just got lucky and asked a question in which many are interested in hearing about the answers.

I see what you're saying, and there is absolutely some risk involved, but I feel that replies to this post provide an incredible amount of value to the HN community. I hope that people will take the risk, so that we can all learn a little bit.

Paranoid much. I'm not sure that the advice that article gives 'stay underwater while raking in the $' is really possible if you have a 'runaway success' on your hands.

(Am I paranoid much?)

It isn't paranoid to try and develop good bullshit filters, bullshit abounds.

I reckon that at least ninety percent of what even the most rational and well informed people on the planet say, is probably bullshit, and the best trick for working out what bullshit other people might be talking that I have found, is to become aware of how much shit I talk myself, especially unintentionally, which is usually by repetition of something I heard that made sense at the time.

If something is truly important to you, triple check everything and test it against the real world in any way you can.

Take no-one's word on the internet, or anywhere else for that matter, purely on the basis that a story sounds reasonable. As a species we excel in storytelling.

That said, I am probably talking bullshit.

I created fruji.com, a simple Twitter Analytics service and offered $5 and $25 accounts. People just keep buying accounts! It's fascinating!!!

This was a weekend project and it performs already way better (a few weeks in) than my 1.5 year startup (which is something completely different).

That's some scary shit right there. Purely fascinating.

Also, HackerNews has seriously gotten crazy.

I am one random comment, in a LONG list. And all night, we have been seeing a new user every 15-30 seconds. WOW.

I also saw a bug prevented some of your reports to complete, which is perfect on a HackerNews day, haha #not. It's fixed, everything will proceed automatically.

As a thank you (to the community for finding that bug) and being so MANY, I've decided to create a promo code that upgrades all of your accounts to premium. I'll leave it running until tomorrow or so.

It's 'hackernews'. Wow, amazing community right here.

Did you do anything special to market it? (The site looks great, by the way)

Not really, the past few days, I've tried a few things. Wanted to see whether any ads (Google or Facebook) would allow me to calculate a solid sign-up / purchase ratio. But neither helped promoting the site at a sustainable/affordable rate, I stopped both since more people arrived at the site through pure searching on Google, friends of friends or reading about it on Twitter or a blog.

Also, I used Bootstrap as the foundation, it just helps a lot with getting things off the ground for weekend projects.

I thought you'd done a good job on Fruiji - I like the YAS factor.

Are you TwentyPeople? It give the impression you have a bunch of staff, but in fact it's just one person?

I created ExportMyPosts after the Posterous acquisition so people could export and backup their blogs' data - http://exportmyposts.com/ - it has made more revenue than it costs for the hosting and servers, but not enough to pay a salary or anything. There are a few promo codes left, use HACKERNEWS at checkout.

I also made StepStats - http://StepStats.com/ - for better FitBit data visualization; it's free, but enough people have donated money that it has covered all costs involved.

would love to know the distribution of money donated. is it a bunch of "1 beer donations" or is it more of a power law?

I launched a paid version (http://amon.cx/plus ) of my server and web app monitoring toolkit - Amon ( http://amon.cx ) back in February and have made something like $3000. It took me 2 months working full time to build it.

I started a temporary email service called Air Mail which has processed over 2 million emails in the last 3 months and is already profitable.


wish I had a cent for every email it processed ;-)

After briefly looking at your website, I think that mailinator.com looks to have superior features.

1) You don't even need to go to Mailinator to get an email address. You just know that any time you have any address you want on hand. 2) With Mailinator you just use any name when you register on some website. (generated names are suspicious) 3) Mailinator has different domains to avoid blacklisting (domain name doesn't matter. You just need to know the username to check your mail) 4) There are websites that try to you using Mailinator by trying to log is with the name of your e-mail. For these services you can use another generated name that can only be used for sending mail, not for logging in. 5) Mailinator does not retain your messages for long. Also everything is stored in memory (as far as I heard), so the messages cannot be stolen.

Mailinator has an interesting approach to solving the problem , to my taste it's not as simple to use as Air Mail but 1 and 2 are a big plus i must admit. I will see how to add these.

Number 4 I didn't understand what you meant.

Your site generates me @7tags.com email addresses, but http://7tags.com says it's run by a domain reseller and that it's for sale. How come?

not a domain re seller myself, but I do have a few short domains I use for Air Mail, as Air Mail is a disposable temporary address it doesn't really matter , if I sell any of these I will make sure they are dropped from Air Mail in an orderly fashion.

Which smtp server are you running and what language are you using?

Hey, I just saw you are looking for some help with translations. I can do the job for spanish. Is it made with PO files?

Hi hmgauna

Not a po file, but a simple javascript text file with about 50 sentences, I will be happy if you can help, Spanish translation is very important.

It doesn't work on ipad:

  - it doesn't show e-mail address
  - "random" button produces "Internal Server Error"

Did anyone else use getairmail to download the 55 page ebook below by chance? : )

Great looking service and easy to use. Do you monetize just with the ads?

Yes just with ads, but trying to keep the UX good and not fill it with lots of ads.

I really like your service and have used it a few times. I doubt the UX will be affected that much if you were to include a few passive ads. So I would say, go for it, make some money, you deserve to.

What are passive ads ? do you mean more GoogleAds ? I'm not in it for the quick dollar, I want to get this service to as many people as possible and be in it for the long run.

I simply meant non-Flash ads. But if you're in it for the long haul, then you're right in giving it much more thought than I have done here.

do you sell ads directly? might be interested in running some ads :)

yes, why not ? contact me through my HN profile (twitter).

Launched http://cull.io 20 days ago. Revenue made till now $150. Spent: appengine $10, musicbakery: $47. (I don't really know how to cost my time, it's around three weeks to build).

Just a quick feedback from my side: It "feels" to me that this website is empty - that no people use it and that I'd have a hard time finding a developer. Maybe it's just me, but if other people feel the same, you might want to do something about it and give it more "life".

You mean as in a better design? This was designed by me and I am not that good designer. Will try to make it better

Yes, I mean both. You have a traditional chicken and egg problem. And the idea of giving a testing-weekend is very good.

But also the design is in my opinion slick and minimalistic, but a bit TOO minimalistic. The design itself does not suggest that people use this website. It looks like an API description or something like that. You put a lot of emphasis on the "how it works" but I, as a user, lack basically opportunities of using the website.

I guess if you put "top 5 recent projects" or something on the landing page, people would see instantly that there are other people using this website. Currently, when I visit the page, I feel very alone.

I think he means more people using it (classic network effect)

Maybe put out ads and have as free weekend or something? The idea is that everyone arrives there at the same time for a short period until there's enough people that it's always busy

Got it! Thanks. Will try. May be eat my own dogfood and try and give it free for anyone who would solve a challenge :)

Very cool idea and implementation! Is it limited to request/response type of challenges and do candidates have to deploy to localhost?

Thanks! Yes and yes. It is limited to request and response type of challenges and candidates have to deploy on localhost. Because of this limitations though, candidats can choose any language, library or framework and you need not limit yourself to algorithmic questions. A question for example can be "Find the top article on hacker news"

I can improve my site based upon yours.

Please mail me if you want to integrate kaushik[at]cull.io

I created a simple website alert-if-down service (http://pingdipong.com), and it's just started paying for its own hosting. I wouldn't call it profitable. It's not paying anybodies wage. It's not covering the cost of advertising. It's been an interesting and turbulent couple of months. I went into it thinking there was only big name players in the market (pingdom, etc), that it would be an easy market to break into and found out much later that there are a host of similar products out there. And it's really, really hard to sell simple / boring stuff to people.

It's utterly true that the development is only a small fraction of the process. People told me before, but I didn't listen. It's also true that the funnel between getting a clickthrough and getting a payment narrows frighteningly quickly. It seems to cost me a fortune to get a paying customer.

I wanted to make something useful that wasn't built on VC money, and although it's possible, I'm not sure that there's much success to be had for small players in the web development arena. It's heartening to hear other peoples stories though. Another reason to keep trying. :-)

I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that website development is coming to the end of its homebrew phase (much like games and desktop software previously), and it's becoming almost impossible for tiny teams to make anything useful. There still seems to be some space in the mobile market, but that appears to be being swallowed by larger development teams with VC money.

And yes, I'm obviously making this post with the intention of also plugging my own service. I hope I've added something extra to the conversation though.

I agree somewhat... I tried to launch an app in a space that was attracting single digit MM investment rounds. A bit disheartening to see a company get 5mm and all of a sudden they hire a dozen developers and have prime ad space on all the big websites for your vertical.

Not that it can't be done, but it sure feels like spitting into the wind.

I partnered up with 4 other talented whizzes and started a user experience production agency.

http://hnd.sm is sincerely 'coming soon' (next week) but you can see how much work we've already done on our Dribbble here > http://dribbble.com/handsomemade

It's been a blast working with startups and existing brands creating new products, marketing them, and generally creating success through precise user experience.

Very profitable already and showing impressive growth.

Not a "web app" or socially networked, real time diet planner but we're a business and we're profitable!

Started in Jan of this year.

Launched https://planscope.io late February. Netting about $1100/mo profit after server costs.

What language was this built with?

Rails on the backend, Backbone on the front

Nice! Looks great.

This year has been an exciting one from the very start!

I've had several successful (read: awesomely profitable) new ventures this year, such as an ad network that I established and sold to a private party for a solid 5 figure amount within a month.

On one of my more established networks, I was able to grow the unique impressions by over 100k a day within 2 weeks of focusing on it. I also established a domain parking system that already has over 500+ domains parked on it and growing quickly.

During a random latenight coding session, I created a unique new channel/model of selling category related emails to advertisers bidding on a CPM basis real-time, and lining up another venture to integrate with this platform.

These are but a few of the cool things currently being worked on by myself and my growing staff. Hoping to be hiring on more talent on soon and probably getting a swanky office in La Jolla, CA soon.

Have some pretty exciting plans for the year!

Developed an iOS photo editor (http://proc.es) which keeps me from starving. Though, come to think of it I am a little hungry.

It's hard not to be hungry with a 10 bucks app that has a landing page that says nothing about it and competes with Instagram, Camera+, Hipsmatic and such.

After your comment I was expecting a homepage with irrelevant information. Maybe some's blog.

I will not spoil the surprise for others but I will say that I did not expect what I did not see.

Buying your app right now. Go grab yourself a burger.

Hi, I've launched a website in January to find all your bills in one place sponsored by big french brands and it became profitable in may http://greenbureau.fr

Ha, I realize now I've talked with you (or some other colleague of yours, Florian) for some eventual Django freelance work. Glad to hear it's working well, seems like a crowded market in France at least.

Thanks, Greenbureau is a very exciting Django project! Maybe we'll have the opportunity working together on this project in the future. Stay tuned ;)

That's really neat! So those big companies pay to be on your service? How did you get them to do that?

I would be interested in your story of dealing with large companies too. How did you get them on board?

First of all it's a long process! There are three fundamental points to get them on board. First, we offer their customers something they can't build themselves : in a competitive ecosystem, a phone company can't get another phone company send it its customer bills. Second, you have to proove that your solution won't require heavy IT costs. And last, you have to prove it won't cause traffic decline on their website (this is the toughest part). For the second point, our solution requires no IT costs for the companies to start the business. And if they want to go further in IT integration, it's their choice to develop an API. For the last point: An average customer visits its provider's website less than once a month (especially if you are speaking of utilities - water, energy, and so on...), whereas he will return 6 or 7 times a month on our website (and even more on our app). This is a new communication channel for brands to speak to their customer.

Thanks, have a look at my following answer to withinthreshold's question

Very good! So it's a sort of dashboard for a customer to see all his bills due?

Absolutely, no need to crawl 10+ websites to see your expenses anymore. Thanks for feedback

how about a mobile app for your service?! i would certainly go with it first, if i had such kind of service running myself.

Work in progress :) App coming soon

Thats gr8, looking forward, by the way, nice service! and nice idea!

Great thread! I love seeing actual projects people are working on.

I wrote a 55-page eBook on starting a profitable drop shipping business which has been downloaded over 500 times in less than a month (http://www.ecommercefuel.com/profitable-ecommerce-ebook/). I started writing in late April and released it May 15th.

Since I'm giving the eBook away and my monetization goals are mostly long term, revenues have been very minimal - less than $100 in affiliate commissions so far. But in 2.5 months since I launched the blog, I've received nearly 10,000 visits and almost 600 subscribers which I've been really happy about...

I just read your ebook; you write very well and it's definitely an interesting topic.

nice! thats something I might have to check out

I started a new social network for people who like weird socks.

i think i'll steal your idea and launch a social network for overweight hipsters who like weird socks. weird sock social networks are just too mainstream. If it doesn't work out we'll pivot into a social price comparison sock search engine. keep building, keep shipping, change the world!

Let us know when you're ready for an IPO.

Can you post a link?! :D

I started hotels.com.ng feb this year I think and it's already mildly profitable.

Excellent work. I was wondering, do you process payments on behalf of the hotels or do you simply delegate to the hotel? I have seen you have a book room link there and I don't see a payment option. If you don't process, how do hotels confirm that people are actually booking?

Very nice! So your target is an english-speaking person going for a (business) trip to Nigeria?

Target is actually nigerians who need a hotel at some location elsewhere within the country. Internet growth in Africa is off the charts atm...

Glad there are people out there taking advantage of this. How tough was it to acquire that domain?

Very interesting. Do you find it difficult to do business in Nigeria?

You do realize Nigeria IS an English speaking country, don't you?

For very marginal definitions of 'English speaking' only. By any such definition, Germany, all Scandinavian countries, Belgium and the Netherlands would be 'English speaking countries'.

Nigeria is an English-speaking country, the other countries you listed are not.


Well if we're going to play 'I'm right because Wikipedia says so' games, here's from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Nigeria: "English, however, remains an exclusive preserve of the country's urban elite, and is not widely spoken in rural areas. With approximately 75% of Nigeria's populace in the rural areas, the major languages of communication in the country remain national languages".

I'm not playing any Wikipedia games with you, I'm merely stating the facts as they are.

Yes, there are probably over a hundred other languages still spoken today, but the official and most widely spoken language is English. Almost all (if not all) newspapers are in English, national TV stations are in English, the government communicates exclusively in English, and all elementary schools teach English as a core subject.

Some Nigerians are illiterate, of course, and some never attended school. But the majority of the country, I would say over 90%, speaks some form of English. So it's not just the elite that speak English. Now in rural (and even in urban) areas you will find people that can only communicate in broken English, but broken English is still English.

So you mean to say he's missing all these non-english speaking farmers from rural areas surfing the net looking for a hotel ?! C'mon, we all know what English speaking country means, it's official language there, just the same as in India (which also has a lot of other, local languages in use). People using Internet for sure know how to speak English, so this whole discussion is pointless.

How'd you register the .ng domain? Is it possible to get a straight .ng domain with out the '.com'? All the sites that offer .ng seem very sketchy and I'm skeptical of trying.

101domain.com offers it (along with practically every TLD): http://www.101domain.com/ng.htm

Actually it's this: http://www.101domain.com/com_ng.htm

Like KingOfB, I wonder why "domain.ng" costs $50,000/year!

Edit: Apparently, they're banking on the extension being attractive for things like "im.facebooki.ng". Hmmm.


Nah, they just want Microsoft to buy bi.ng ;)

Yea, at 50k a year! Maybe that's just the market, but seems a bit high ;0

.ng = Nigeria

This is really well done, Mark. Good luck!

Not quite 2012, but I started work on CircleCI (https://circleci.com) in September 2011 and it's a real business now.

We (littleheroes.com) launched an iPad app to read kids books purchased on our site. We were fortunate in that we already had a customer base to market to.

I launched a service recently that sends people a new technical interview question every other day (www.InterTechTion.com). Subscribers are slowly growing daily and people seem to really like the service. I'm a first-year college student (so I'm new to this stuff) and am trying to figure out how to get advertisers to sign up. Any advice?

I launched the Pest Management Roundtable (http://pestroundtable.com) in February. After several months of good ol' fashioned hustling (mostly email marketing + telephone interviews and sales), I'm up to nearly $500 in monthly recurring revenue. It's not quite "ramen profitable" yet, but I've been picking up customers quickly the last 2 weeks, so at this rate I'll get it there within the month. A recent milestone was that last week I interviewed the owner of the 10th largest pest control company in the US (Joe Clark, of Clark Pest Control in California). He joined the Roundtable immediately following the interview.

I started http://boxysign.com 2 months ago. It is a way to share and sign documents with just a link! It's been profitable from the start - ableit still on a very small scale.

This is a very interesting, focused service. I like how you quietly create a phantom account so users don't need to login to start working.

btw, I think I broke your site when trying to upload two test PDFs. The first worked correctly, but second never finished processing and now every page says "Application Error". The Done button on BoxySign's Account Settings dialog does not seem to work (but the X button does).

Also, the sharable URLs seemed disconcertingly short for documents that may contain private information.

Thanks for the feedback. It's encouraging.

Yes, that is a bug I need to fix. Thanks for catching it.

Indeed, and that is by design right now. I chose to focus on the clearest solution to the end user to start, but do have plans for longer/harder-to-guess urls. I'm considering moving that list further up my todos though. (working on .doc support right now)

Dude your service is awesome! I signed and loved it. I also think the UI is kick ass!

Thank you!

When you clock on the video it should start playing automatically.

I started Resumonk.com last month and it has already started generating some revenue.

Great work! I have one suggestion though. Let users immediately start filling in information and THEN let them create an account. I wanted to try it out, but then realized I needed to put my email in and select a password. Not a bad thing, but you'll get a lower bounce rate if you save the account creation for later.

(Also, this sort of thing would work great with Facebook connect -- you could pull name, education, work history, and phone numbers automatically. Maybe LinkedIn has an API to?)

Thanks. I'll try to remove the upfront signup process. I will also try to integrate Twitter/FB connect.

There is a LinkedIn import, but it is one of the PRO features. More about that here - http://www.resumonk.com/pro

LinkedIn already has a similar service:


Good work done, congratulations!

Would like to see some stats here for this claim.

The revenue is not much. It is about 300USD. I'll post the complete stats on my blog shortly.

Launched http://www.TrickedOutTimeline.com on HN in february (see http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3522255) and have made ~$2500 on around $100 costs from advertising and hosting on google app engine. Nothing huge, but good for a weekends work with a friend!

I remember your post when you guys launched. I went to your site and spent about 5 minutes trying to figure out what the hell it was. I see now that you've greatly improved this, and added several clear examples that show it. Great work!

Do you mind answering a couple of question? I'm curious how you guys have advertised this product, and where your users come from.

yeah no problem - shoot me an email if you want. we took a lot of feedback on board from that HN post and really changed the layout since the initial launch. Most of our traffic comes from blogs and StumbleUpon! We are also now on the first page of Google for some relevant search terms

I created https://www.pageblox.com, a layout tool for web designers. I've been getting between 1500-2000 uniques a month, so when I turn on the paid version, I should be making at least a few hundred a month depending on how the conversion rate turns out...

I started Startup Threads Monthly (https://StartupThreadsMonthly.com), a subscription service for startup swag, at the beginning of the year and is profitable. Have 200+ subscribers, thanks in part to HN! Will do a breakdown soon.

My second company (Sense/Net) ran it's second ever event this year, 44Café. It was a one day event alongside the UK's biggest infosec exhibition. We didn't make any money from it (in fact it cost us about $5,000 all in) but we did the event to raise awareness of the main conference[1] we're organising for September, which I hope will bring a return in (although the olympics are doing their best to make anything in London ludicrously expensive).

I'm also working on something for our first external event (i.e. an event organised on behalf of someone else), which will be really cool if it goes ahead.

[1] - http://www.44con.com/

Wrote and launched http://app.net/emptyinbox with my wife as a spare time project over the course of a few months. It's an inbox zero assistant for Gmail on iPhone. I am my own app's biggest fan, I use it almost daily and love it to death. :)

Unfortunately a crash bug was in the first version for people running the iphone app on an ipad, which wasn't discovered until after an AppAdvice review came out which drove tons of downloads...so that led to a bunch of 1-star reviews. But reviews since the fixed version have been very positive.

Define profitable, it's extremely easy to build something that generates revenue.

The difficult part is to build something that provides enough revenue to support 1+ employees, office space, etc

To me profitable means making more money than it costs to operate. I personally wouldn't count my own time in that equation until I officially draw a salary from it.

So if I spent 100 hours making something and spent 5 hours a week maintaining it and it cost £500 a month to run, and the revenue was £501 a month, to me that's profitable.

Now obviously it's not profitable enough to keep it in its current state as 5 hours of my time is worth more than £1 but it is worth the time and money investment to make it bring in more revenue.

The economist will refer to something as earning an "economic profit" if it generates more profit than the alternative investment (of time/effort/money). This is, of course, difficult to measure, especially when you consider the worth of intangibles like "I am my own boss" or "I am stressed out and my soul is crushed by the culture of corporate conformity", but there you go. :)

"it's extremely easy to build something that generates revenue."

For some definition of "easy", I guess.

If you assume costs as follows: - $1 a month for domain - $20 a month for hosting

I'd say it shouldn't be terribly difficult to find audience enough to generate enough revenue to cover costs with even just ad revenue on even mediocre projects.

Though I should also point out that the word 'revenue' doesn't necessarily equal profit.

Are you having a hard time generating even the first penny? What's the niche? Who's the audience? What are the revenue strategies tried?

I've launched a few web apps and a mobile app but have yet to make a single penny. I've a few more as well 'in development', which I may get around to releasing some day...

Basically everything I have built is because I found it interesting rather than trying to make money, so I'm not too bothered. However if it is so easy, where are all the "Hello World" tutorials for bringing in revenue?

I think of profit as residual income (after expenses and overheads), which one can retain/invest or draw.

And sustainable revenue ;)

I started building http://www.splatsearch.com A comparison engine with big plans to compare everything in the world. One online marketer and 2 developers building it. Currently the live version is a very different snapshop from the dev version which we roll out soon and just has 14 million sample products. We bootstrapped it and it probably just about profitable even though its barely live.

Wow, i think the most difficult part is the parsing, isn't it? Are you using any open-source solutions or is everything custom-built?

Everything is custom built. The parsing is the easy bit. The architecture is what i find the hardest.

Over the last couple of weeks I created http://hipdial.com with a friend. You can buy your own, dedicated, PIN-free phone conference line from us.

We've opened doors to the public teo weeks ago and are already paying for the servers. Press launch following next week. It's all very exciting :) Once things relax a bit we'll definitely share our experience on some kind of blog.

Would love some feedback if you have a minute, too.

Edit: typo in URL, oops

Started a curated ecommerce site for vinyl lovers that's been profitable since day 1: http://vinylloop.com/

Great site! How do you think vinyl lovers are different from other niches? Do they spend more money?

I launched https://www.rootredirect.com/ in April and it's paying its bills. It provides high-availability root domain redirection for websites that use CNAME-based services like EC2+ELB, S3/CloudFront, and Google App Engine. Plus other features not offered by your DNS provider, such as cacheable 301 responses and page redirects.

I started TimePanel (http://timepanel.net) this year. I've always had the desire to build a product, and wanted a time tracking and invoicing solution that was extremely fast and simple. TimePanel is the culmination of that.

Number of users is slowly growing, and I just released its 3rd beta update; looking to formally launch very soon.

I released a service called http://www.formactivate.com where I convert form fills and web based leads to phone calls. It decreased the time between initial lead submission to when a you can get the prospect on the phone.

We started to get a ton of activity after I integrated with Wufoo.com via the webhook API.

We are looking for CRM or Form vendors to integrate with. We will be announcing a few more integrations in the next few weeks.

I started a WordPress Plugin (http://wpadpress.com) and it's now generating a close to a 4 figures monthly income. I'm working on lots of improvements and will be joining hands with Theme authors for promotion, so it might turn to something serious in the future.

By the way, I'm seeing lots of broken images on your homepage. Just FYI.


I started a business text-messaging service, and succeeded in my first two sales calls with local businesses. It was instantly profitable and is growing. Currently I am not ready to sell it nationally, as I am refining and adding some new features for a new client, or I would link it.

I created "I Want An App That" (http://www.iwaat.com), a web app discovery engine. No real business model has been implemented but so far affiliate revenue has been paying for hosting costs and other services.

I've built http://AppCod.es - a tool for App Store SEO. It was launched around february 2012, in march we got covered by Techcrunch (instant break even) and our sales were increasing month by month since then.

I launched a web site about alternative fuel LPG, mostly about fuel stations in Europe (http://www.mylpg.eu). At first it was a test to feel the market, but now I found out it has potential.

Wow, does it take a lot of (crowdsourced) manpower to keep the database up-to-date?

Wedding planning app for Mac - Weddinglan(http://weddinglan.com) About $800 per month, but hope for more profit after next version which will include also iPad version

Looks great and i'm sure enjoy using it aswell! How did you came up with Weddinplan? Do you come from the industry or was it just brainstorming?

Launched http://Pumpups.com in under 3 weeks. Have paying customers and work directly with brands.

I recently started www.Polls.io. Haven't made any money yet since there aren't any ads up but the costs are only $5/month so it's not bad.

where are you hosting that the cost is only $5/month?

Launched a free service but already started selling the self hosted version during the private beta

I recently started http://simplyhire.in/ . I started working on this about month back ( may starting ). Couple of local startup has started using it. This looks good.

But right now unable to push beyond these local startup, lack of networking etc. Let me know if guys can help.

A friendly fyi: simplyhired.com might make a case that you're infringing on their trademark.

Yeah got to realize that, will be changing the domain name soon.

The English on your site is bad enough that I would pass it up.

I launched https://boxuptext.com/ couple days ago and have yet to turned a profit. :)

I like it!! I wonder how many people will use it though! Anyway... how do you encrypt the text? sha or some other algorithm?

Not many people using it since I haven't publicized it. For encryption, it's using the high grade AES algorithm, which is a standard cipher approved by the NSA for top secret information.

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