My name is Mike, the founder of Upvoty, a user feedback tool for B2B SaaS companies. I’m also the founder and initiator of SoloHives, a worldwide community of solopreneurs, and my side hustle is Zero to SaaS, a course on how to start and grow your own SaaS product. Besides that, I’m also highly investing in building a personal brand and sharing my learnings, mainly on Twitter/X and Instagram.
Can you provide a short overview of your business and the problem it tries to solve?
So, Upvoty is a user feedback tool for B2B SaaS companies. We solve the problem of getting overwhelmed with all the feedback from users for your software product and make sure you can easily and proactively gather feedback and structure it in a way that enables you to make better product decisions and spend your time and money on the right things.
Our typical customers are super busy with building the product, but in order to make sure their roadmap is on point, they need feedback from their users.
Typically, they get emails or chat support messages, which is super valuable and helpful, but there’s not really a great way to structure this feedback.
You can add it to an Excel sheet, but this quickly lacks a good overview of what feature requests are the most popular.
On top of that, how do you inform your loyal users who are contributing by providing this feedback?
This is where Upvoty helps you: it gives your users a way to proactively and easily send in feedback and feature requests and it helps you design your product roadmap, which you can also share publicly with your users.
What’s your background, and how did you come up with the idea?
The idea for Upvoty came from my own needs when I was working on my previous software product, a home improvement marketplace, which we grew to over $1,000,000 in annual revenue.
Because of its growth, we got more and more feedback from our users, and we needed a way to structure this feedback.
At the same time, despite its growth, I wasn’t really happy and fulfilled working on the product anymore.
So when doing research to find a user feedback tool, I quickly spotted an opportunity to build one myself since I couldn’t really find one I liked and given the fact I wanted to start something new.
How did you get your first customers during the early stage of the company?
One thing I learned from building businesses is that validation is key.
So the first thing I did was ramp up a simple landing page with a signup form, design a basic logo, and launch the product to my desired target audience using Facebook Groups, forums, and other platforms.
The actual landing page:
Only after a couple of weeks, when I had more than 200+ signups, did I know I was onto something and started working on the actual beta version.
I highly involved the people from the waiting list and, with the help of my own feedback tool, built the product to its first version.
During this private beta, I introduced a plan with a payment option for users who wanted to get rid of beta limits. This resulted in some users already upgrading, and I actually acquired the first $250 in MRR during the private beta.
After the first version was done, with the help of early users, I launched publicly on ProductHunt and other platforms, resulting in growing to the first $1,000 in MRR within 3 months.
After the initial launch, I focused highly on content marketing by creating comprehensive blog posts helping our target audience answer questions and solve problems. Through those posts, a percentage would sign up for our trial and convert into paying customers.
Another thing that worked really well was ramping up competitor blog posts and “alternative to” Google Ads. With that, I was targeting the unhappy customers of our competitors, which are really easy to convert when you offer a better or cheaper solution.
The best “hack,” however, was our built-in referral. In our product, we have a “powered by Upvoty” mention and link to our site. The users of our customers, who are also interested in such a feedback tool, are clicking through and signing up for trials consistently each and every month.
How’s the business doing today?
Right now, we’re a little over $55,000 in MRR, and we’re on track to exceed $700,00 in annual recurring revenue. We’re consistently growing 5-8% each month.
I’m still doing this as a “solopreneur” with a little team of experts around me.
I deliberately choose to do so, although I could be somewhere in the multi-millions, like my last product, already if I would invest more in scaling with a team.
The thing is, I’ve been there. And it’s no fun. At least, not for me. I don’t want to manage, I want to create. I don’t want to be financially independent to a board; I want to live life and run my business on my own terms.
It’s absolutely a personal choice to stay small this time.
Presently, what marketing channels are working well to acquire customers?
Content Marketing: invest in comprehensive blog posts that help the target audience give answers to their questions and problems.
Referrals: Incentivize our users to share the product in exchange for a discount.
In-built referral: By adding a “powered by Upvoty” mention in our product, we consistently attract users of our customers.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Three years ago, I would’ve given you a revenue number I would be proud of. Right now, without virtue-signalling, I’d say it’s that I’m getting out of bed in the morning, feeling fulfilled, working on a product I love, doing the revenue I need, and living the life I desire.
What has been your biggest challenge since the company's inception?
Being a solopreneur is easy when you just start out. But when growth occurs, you must find ways to keep growth flywheel spinning. The hardest part was figuring out the systems to:
- Create content consistently
- Automate manual tasks
- Outsource the things I can’t
By figuring out these systems it really enabled me to focus on my core strengths and the things I enjoy the most, which translates into business growth.
What’s something you know now that you wish you had known when you started the company?
You don’t have to please everyone. This reflects in building a product as well. Just start building a solution to a problem of a small audience you like to help. Go talk to them. Build something they truly need and are willing to pay for. Expand from there.
What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?
Dream big, start small. All the little wins and failures will compound.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
I work with systems for my habits and routines. This literally goes to things like my wardrobe, which sounds crazy, but I only have beige pants and navy shirts. I don’t have to think about what I wear by automating this process.
Literally every aspect of my life and business is designed this way.
My calendar is designed and automated like that as well:
I block time to work on my business, my health, etc.
If you don’t claim your time, something or someone else WILL.