Hello ! Who are you and what are you working on?
Hi, I'm Ganapathy. I recently quit a developer job to become an independent developer. You can learn more about it in this blog post - I manage my daily expenses with the income I get from the add-ons I have built in my spare time when I had a job. Now, I'm working on a new project that can help people who sell things online. I hope to launch it soon.
What motivated you to get started with? How did you come up with the idea?
I have always wanted to be independent and do stuff that I love. Being in a job constrained me to specific technologies, timings. Back in 2018, I decided to work on something that brings me extra revenue enough to cover my daily expenses, so that one day I can quit my job. At first, I tried to blog and earn advertisement revenue.
Soon, I realized that blogging is something I don't enjoy much and finding unique ideas to blog about is a bit difficult. For one of the blog posts, I had built a simple JS tool to generate direct download links of Google drive files. It had a limitation, you have to copy-paste file links one by one to get the download link. I wanted to simplify the process and do it for any number of files at a time. I leveraged the Google Apps script and built an add-on to solve the problem. That's how I built Drive Explorer.
Can you tell us the story of your business from idea to where you are now?
At first, all of my add-ons were free to use. I didn't think about monetizing at all. I had some active users who were using my add-ons daily. In the middle of February 2019, I limited the functionalities of the free version and released premium. Those users bought it right away. To date, 212 users have paid for my add-ons.
What has been your biggest failure or struggle?
Customer acquisition. I have tried to reach out and sell to potential customers. It hasn't worked out. All of the paid users I have got came organically. I have no idea how to reach my target audience.
And what has been your biggest achievement or success?
Last month I experimented with pricing. I increased the price by 150%. It worked and I earned more than what I used to.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Listening to the customers, providing top-notch support. I have always helped my customers on priority, whenever they had issues with the product or wanted new critical features. You don't have to implement every single feature your customer requests. But, you have to add the features that resonate with most customers.
Describe the process of launching the business.
For me, this business started accidentally so I can't comment on this question.
Did you use Betalist or PH or other Startup Launching Platform for Launching ? How was that experience ?
After a year, I launched Drive Explorer on PH. It did decently and was #6 product of the day. Sure, it helped me gain some traction but, I don't think I got any paid user from PH. Maybe, PH users were not my target audience.
What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
At first, my add-ons only had annual checkout plans. Last year August, I changed it to annual subscription model to ensure automatic recurring income. Last month, I increased the price and introduced monthly plans. It brought additional revenue. But I think, it's too soon to comment. Let's see what happens this month.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome? What are your goals for the future?
Implementing the payment system was a bit challenging. Choosing PayPal made it more difficult. Their documentation is complicated. But, PayPal will increase your conversion rate as you don't have to enter your card details manually you just have to log in to your PayPal account to complete the payment. My first goal is to hit $2000 in MRR.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I have completed all the backend work of my new project. I have to start with UI. I am hopeful about the future.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Providing great support to customers will help always. Your customers can bring in new customers. They can be your best free advertisers. Take care of your customers, they will take care of your business.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
VS Code - Code editor
GCP - Servers
PayPal - Payment service
Who’s your most inspirational CEO or founder?
Amit Agarwal (https://www.labnol.org/about) from labnol
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I am not much into books or podcasts. I recently stumbled upon an e-book called Micro SaaS (https://tylertringas.com/micro-saas-ebook/). I liked it and it made a lot of sense.
What’s your advice for fellow aspiring entrepreneur who are just starting out?
You don't have to build the next Facebook or Google to become successful in life. If you can, try to work on a business idea that has less expense/investment (in terms of both time and money) and more return of investment. Build a great product, give awesome support to your customers, you can never fail.