Game Changers – Rob Walling – MicroConf Europe 2016

The MicroConf Europe 2016 Talk Recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Twitter: @RobWalling

Part 1: The Early Years (2005 – 2009)

  • DotNetInvoice, WeddingToolbox, LinemanJobs, JustBeachTowels,, CMS Themer
  • no SaaS, most products were acquired
  • Why I got into products
    • Freedom
    • Purpose
      • Personal & subjective
      • For me: learning & teaching
      • I produced/started all my content (book, blog, podcasts) in just 18 months
    • Relationships
      • Having time and headspace for friends & family
    • Stability
      • Ability to not have to worry about next month’s revenue
  • Solution: Recurring Revenue


  • Took all the money I had in the bank and bought HitTail (recurring revenue)
  • Full Story here
  • grew it to $300,000 Run Rate
  • BUT…
    • low price point
    • churn was high
    • $100 LTV
    • Google would change things every other month
  • I still didn’t have Stability, because Google threatened HitTail

Part 2: Drip (2013 – 2014)

Part 3: Drip 2015 – 2016

  • Drip is making profit starting in March 2015
  • Growing companies are rarely profitable
  • Big question: how long am I willing to forego profit for growth?
  • “$25k in a checking account, no car and a rented apartment in walking distance to my office” – Rand Fishkin @ $12.5M ARR
  • My state of affairs mid-2015
    • Freedom
    • Purpose
    • Relationships
    • Stability

Part 4: Drip Acquisition

  • Lesson #1: Never leave your phone unlocked with kids in the house
  • We had many offers for acquisition/funding
    • 2-3 emails per month offering funding
    • several potential acquirers in 2 years
  • What about funding?
    • It would cut down on monetary stress within the business
    • BUT would delay profitability for years
  • All my income hinges on Drip – no fallbacks if things go down south
  • “Startups are bought, not sold”
    • You get maximum $$$ when they need you
  • Objections to selling
    • “My startup is my baby” – don’t get too attached
    • “Selling is selling out”
    • “What else would I do?” – teaching, writing books, angel investment
  • My Deal-Breakers
    • “Sunset” Money
    • Can’t screw our employees
    • Can’t screw our customers
    • Keep doing podcasts, MicroConf, etc.

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About Christoph

Christoph lives in Munich, Germany and is bootstrapping his own SaaS application as a part-time entrepreneur.

He likes to write on this blog about anything of relevance to single-founder bootstrapped software startups.

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