Hello ! Who are you and what are you working on?
I'm Felix, a full-stack maker and indiehacker from Vienna.
I am working on UpFast, an uptime & performance monitoring service that globally tracks metrics your users care about. It takes Lighthouse scores, Web Vitals & Chrome UX report information into account to show you how fast your websites actually load and warns you if anything goes slow.
What motivated you to get started with? How did you come up with the idea?
At the start of 2020 I wanted to try myself in creating my own SaaS business. I've been creating different websites on my own for many years now, but most of the time creating informational websites. I've always been a fan of SaaS businesses in general, so I finally decided to take a shot at my own.
I'm a technical person and a web developer. As such performance optimization, especially when it comes to websites has been a passion for a long time. I found myself checking Google Lighthouse repeatedly during development, but once a website was live, I've only checked it sparsely. At one point I noticed how bad my performance scores have gotten over time, due to additional scripts being added over time. These additional lines of code increased the building time of each page load but were not covered by simple performance trackers. I wanted to fix that!
Can you tell us the story of your business from idea to where you are now?
Uptime monitoring services are far from a new idea. They've been around for ages and I've used several in the past. And every week new ones are released. It's an unbelievably crowded market. Most people would immediately advise against starting another one. But this one thing that always bothered me was their neglect of actual page speed. Users don't care for fast loading speeds if the website is not ready! So, I decided to combine an uptime tracking solution with automatic performance checks focusing on metrics that matter in 2020 and beyond.
As mentioned above this was my first attempt at a SaaS, which means there were a lot of things to learn that I've never done before. I knew how to build websites, but I've never had the need to implement for example payment functionality.
But the best way to learn is doing. So, I just started this daunting task of a service business in a super saturated market. I watched some courses about SaaS development, listened to inspirational podcast episodes (huge shoutout to indiehackers at this point!) and read about the experiences of other founders. All that kept me going forward.
Now, UpFast is about to launch. I've been in beta for several weeks now, using it to check on my own projects, while improving the user experience and polishing the look and feel. I am confident now, that users will see the value it provides.
What has been your biggest failure or struggle?
One of the most important pieces of advice I read at the beginning of my SaaS founder journey was to release as early as possible and iterate the product based on user feedback. After almost a year of development, I will let you make an educated guess, what my biggest struggle is... haha.
How many hours a day do you work on average & can you describe/outline your typical day?
The time I could spend on UpFast differed over the last couple of months. Some days I was hacking away for 10+ hours, while on others I couldn't find time at all. I think that's normal for projects that you start on the side. But one thing that never changed was how much fun I have once I sit down and dive into the work.
And what has been your biggest achievement or success?
My biggest success was the constant positive feedback and support I received. There are so many great communities with supportive founders and makers that I always felt a positive rush when talking to fellow indiehackers. I've gotten great advice, compliments and inspiration from them and I want to give back much more than I've received.
What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
My business model is a subscription-based software as a service. The main reason for me to choose a subscription-based service is to have a predictable stream of income in the future. At the same time the service itself has constant running costs, which need to be covered. These projects are perfect for subscription payments.
I plan on growing my revenue by helping my customers grow. Customers will be charged by the amount the use my service. I want to make sure their business grows and therefore they need more monitoring. For me, helping them grow will help me grow.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome? What are your goals for the future?
My biggest challenge has been putting myself out there. I'm not somebody that likes drawing attention to myself or being the middle of the conversation. But sometimes coming out of ones shell is necessary. I think this journey of publicly building UpFast and seeking communities of founders and makers, has helped me tremendously.
My goal is to help website owners, businesses and web professionals with UpFast. If I manage that success will follow. But I also want to use this maker journey to keep improving myself on a professional and personal level.
Let’s talk about your marketing strategy -- how do you market UpFast and grow the service?
Growth will directly come from the benefit I can provide. The more customers I can help improve their performance, the more time I can save them and the better they can sleep knowing their products are kept an eye on, the more growth I will achieve.
My background is from the world of SEO, so content and optimization will be important pillars of my marketing strategy. My more viral ideas are still secret ?
Do you have a model to get product feedback? What’s your favorite way to get product feedback? Did product feedback help you get the results you hoped for ?
I don't have a model, other than just always keep asking customers and early-users for feedback and input. One big advantage of the project is that I myself need its service. I'm not just the founder but also my first customer and biggest critic. That's not to say that other feedback is replaceable by my own, but it certainly helps at the beginning.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I've learned that everybody struggles at some point, but the most important quality of founders is finishing.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
The most important tools to get me to my goal are: TALL stack (Tailwind, Alpine, Laravel & Livewire), Paddle (handling payments) & PHPstorm (my IDE). Beyond those are a number of super useful tools, services and resources that helped me on my journey - but the above are the foundation of every project I build.
Who’s your most inspirational CEO or founder?
That's a tough one. There are so many people I've looked up to for inspiration - that I cannot reduce it to one single person. I've read numerous books of founds, listened to podcasts of indiehackers and watched videos of great founders. All of them together have given me the inspiration to start, so they all deserve a share of the credit.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The ones I absolutely have to name are the indiehackers podcast & forum, Makerlog and its community & the Laravel community and ecosystem with all the products, tools and ideas that were born out of it.
What’s your advice for fellow aspiring entrepreneur who are just starting out?
Just get started. There's no secret to it. Start something and ship it.