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Turning a small mobile app into a $10K MRR business

After 10 years working as a full-stack software engineer, I started to realize that I needed a drastic change.

Hi, my name is Norbert. I’m a software engineer originally from Austria now living in the US. My indie journey started with cloud/online businesses in 2016 when a friend of mine and I built a SaaS in the ad tech industry. It was back then when I caught the cloud/online bug and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Turning point

Things really changed in 2018 after moving to the US. I needed a regular job for visa purposes and so I started working 9-5 again in the tech industry. Over the next few years I started to realize that I needed a drastic change.

Not only did software not interest me as much as in the early years, but I also realized that it would never allow me to be free (in a geographic & financial sense). Corporate culture also always felt like a burden, making me unnecessarily slow, preventing too much progress.

I wanted to get away from pure coding back into something where I could still use my tech background but also learn about marketing and sales. I also wanted to be in a field where the payoff can be 10X/100X/1000x of what I put in.

Around December 2020 I finally started putting my plan into action. I knew I needed multiple income streams so I went out to a bunch of platforms and started searching for feasible projects to buy.

Indie Hacker Diary
The master plan 😀

Fast forward to 2021. After looking around, I discovered AutoForward SMS - a small mobile app making well under $1k MRR per month. I managed to secure a deal for $7500.

It was clear the previous owner didn’t do any marketing at all. Your only chance of encountering AutoForward SMS was if you knew exactly what you had to search for. I was intrigued by the fact that a product with zero outreach had around 500 paid subscribers. This, to me, showed tremendous potential.

One small detail changed everything

After clearing up some tech debt the first milestone in terms of our marketing effort was the release of a brand new website. So far, SEO has driven all the traffic to our website which is our only point of sale.

What really helped us grow was a small change in the pricing model. The previous owner had the notion that because they were not incuring costs for one particular feature then they should not charge for it either. My perspective was different. We are a business providing a service. We decided to change the pricing tiers.

It was only a small change but the decision to remove free features and add high-volume plans was intrumental in getting to where we are now.

  • Key Stats
  • ~$7500 purchase price
  • ~$10k MRR
  • ~1000 users

We want to scale the app and make it as big as possible. For 2022, the target is to reach 2000 paying customers. There is no hard limit on how big we want this to be – the market will tell us when we’ve reached our ceiling.

Follow on Twitter: @TheHuethman, @UndervaluedProject

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