Making $114,238 in 15 days: WTF Just Happened?

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ai generated image of a rocket ship launching from behind some mountains with a giant moon behind it

Yea, I know, quite a headline to start with. I promise I’ll tell you all the nerdy details. But first, I need to give you a little backstory.

In 2020, I exited a business that I had co-founded, which was moderately successful. The exit gave me about 18 months of financial runway to build my next business.

Thankfully, I had a few ideas of what I wanted to build next. Never lacking in motivation, I got to work right away.

I’ll summarize the last 2 years for the sake of time: I did nothing but fail over and over again.

Each new product I attempted to launch never got off the ground. Despite having two very promising products that attracted investors, I ended up working my tail off only to find myself having wasted $65,000, burning through all my savings, and staring at a bank account with $230.17 left.

I was at my wits end; lower than I’d ever been in my life.

My mental health was spiraling into the darkest places one can go. The only things that kept me going were the unrelenting encouragement of close friends and family—most prominently, my wife. She continued to remind me that if God still has me here, He’s not done with me yet.

When ChatGPT was introduced to the world in November, I realized that it was going to change everything.

After playing with it for about a month, there were some clear friction points with how the native ChatGPT app was built. As an entrepreneur + long-time content creator, I immediately saw the ways it could be improved.

So I built Magai in 8 weeks. By myself. Start to finish.

The minute I started sharing the app with people, I knew I had a winner.

Finally, after years of failure after failure, I had an idea that was providing real value to people—and they were loving it!

It only took 30 days to reach $1.5k in monthly recurring revenue (MRR). It was at that point I got in contact with my friend Charlie.

The conversation

Charlie and I had known each other for years—we can trace it back to the Google+ days. We reconnected in 2022 when he was interested in doing a partnership with one of my other (failing) products on his platform, RocketHub.

At the time, I knew the product was going nowhere fast, and didn’t feel comfortable putting any sort of partnership behind it. Charlie understood, and we just decided to meet again when I had something worthy of partnering over.

Magai was a clear winner out of the gate, and it was the kind of product that could do well on RocketHub. So I contacted Charlie, and we decided to meet to discuss the potential deal.

Now, I have a natural skepticism when it comes to lifetime deals (LTDs). Having known many SaaS business owners who have regretted partnering with big LTD sites, I understood the risk involved. The idea that a customer will pay one time and be able to use your product for life is a bit scary from a business perspective. This is especially true if your product incurs significant cost when users actually use it.

Being that Magai is built on the idea of utilizing AI Model API’s, which come with direct cost for using them, it was crucial to ensure that a lifetime deal was not going to turn into a liability too quickly down the road.

Charlie and his team were great at understanding these concerns. They are SaaS founders themselves, and have a heart for fellow SaaS builders.

They worked with me to come up with a set of LTD plans that would:

  • Be sustainable
  • Be limited in supply
  • Be of ultimate value to the customer

So with great care, we agreed on the deal parameters.

The deal parameters

The LTD would be available for only 15 days, exclusive to the RocketHub community, and only allow for a maximum of 450 plans to be purchased. The plans were:

  • Personal Plan: $99
  • Professional Plan: $199
  • Agency Plan: $399

We created 150 redemption codes for each plan level, which means only 150 customers per plan level.

Unlike other LTD partner sites, RocketHub treats its parters as equals. The revenue split is 50/50. Other sites will often want 70-90% of all revenue, leaving the product creators with a mere fraction of the sales.

Not only that, but RocketHub is incredibly generous in their follow-up after the fact. They package up all the marketing assets (videos, images, etc), marketing copy, paid ad results + analysis, and give you all the insight they gained over the course of the campaign. This alone was worth thousands of dollars, and they don’t have to do it (no other LTD sites do). But the fact that they do shows just how much they actually care about their partners’ success.

Launch day

We launched the deal on June 5. The RocketHub team requested that I do my best to keep an eye on the questions coming in to the product page and (if possible) their Facebook group.

Now, I’m a social guy and have run large communities on the internet. But I was not ready for the amount of discussion in these Facebook groups!

There were tons of questions being asked—many of them easily answered. But some of the questions the community was coming up with were things I didn’t expect.

A good portion of the feedback was regarding the sustainability of the product with doing a LTD. This just goes to show the level of knowledge this community attracts. Most people wouldn’t have any idea about the intrinsic cost of using AI APIs. So the fact that this community was aware of it showed deep understanding.

Then there were loads of comments comparing Magai to other apps that have similar goals of making ChatGPT better. This also showed that they’re actively aware of the emerging space, and following it closely.

Access to this kind of feedback is a great gift to any smart founder.

It’s important that you never take feedback personally, though. Try to understand the deeper need behind the feedback. It may not always align with your vision, and it may also reveal that the person giving the feedback is not the right target customer. But understanding the meaning and intent that is driving that feedback can help you gain valuable insight about your product direction.

All-in-all, I probably spent close to 4 hours that first day just answering Facebook comments.

It was exhausting. Not all of the comments were positive (imagine that), so I was emotionally drained as well.

Day 2 was worse, but better

The amount of Facebook comments escalated on the second day, naturally. Now that I was actively engaging and the deal was spreading, more people were asking questions.

I spent close to 5 hours on day 2 just answering questions, comments, and feedback from various Facebook groups and communities I was now getting tagged in.

And I’ll be honest… I wanted to quit. I started to regret launching this deal because I had no idea it was going to take this much time/energy just engaging with the community. And there was nothing wrong with the comments or people (for the most part 😜). It was just exhausting trying to keep up.

But then I logged into RocketHub’s partner portal and saw the sales numbers from that first 24hrs…

We had made >$20k that first day. 🤯

After seeing that I thought, “Okay, I can keep answering Facebook comments for a while.” 🤣

Things slowed down…

The next 12 days were actually pretty slow. After a huge initial rush, it seemed to come down to a much more manageable rate of questions coming in. Sales also showed a significant slow down.

But that’s exactly what Charlie told me would happen.

Since the deal would be running for 15 days total, there is a natural reverse bell curve that happens. Huge rush at the beginning, slow in the middle, huge rush at the end.

All the while I’m seeing significant activity increases on the app.

Now up to this point, Magai only had about 200 active subscribers and had reached ~$4k MRR, so the daily app usage wasn’t huge. Once the RocketHub deal went live, however, I saw a clear increase in daily usage. This was likely a combination of people who purchased the LTD as well as people who were testing the app first before buying the LTD.

Then things got crazy 🦇💩

The last few days of the sale were kind of insane.

As the campaign neared its end, sales started pouring in like crazy. Surprisingly the first plan to sell out was the Professional (middle tier) Plan. And soon after that, the Agency Plan (highest tier) sold out. Most people didn’t want the lower tier plan.

So I ended up chatting with Charlie and Karan (also with the RocketHub team) about adding more Professional and Agency plan redemption codes for those who didn’t get to purchase before they ran out.

After careful consideration, I agreed to produce only 50 more of each plan.

And then those sold out within a day… and people were begging for more! 🤯

So I agreed to one more batch of Professional plan codes, but that was it. No more redemption codes would be made after that.

I would say close to 70% of the sales came in the last 2 days of the campaign.

It was absolute insanity.

Give me the results already!

You know, patience is a virtue. So just chill, Mr. Impatient.

Here are the results of our 15-day LTD campaign with RocketHub:

  • Total Revenue: $114,238
  • 50/50 Split: $57,119
  • Total Sales: 475
  • Total Refunds: 45
  • Unique Visitors: 11,371
  • Conversion Rate: 4.2%

The team informed me that this was one of the top-selling deals in RocketHub history.

Guys, I made $30k in all of 2022. This is insane.

To say that I’m overjoyed at the results would be an understatement.

And while Magai’s MRR was already growing rapidly, the revenue from this deal will allow me some financial wiggle room to get some things done that I hadn’t been able to before.

As a responsible bootstrapped founder, much of this revenue will strictly go into maintaining a healthy cash reserve to ensure the app continues to run smoothly. But some of it will also be funneled into hiring some help and funding some paid marketing initiatives.

By no means are we rolling in cash after this—I know full well how quickly $50k can dry up when building a SaaS. Safe to say though that with the experience I’ve gained over the last few years, this LTD campaign has given me some much-needed product validation as well as financial buffer.

ai generated image of a rocket ship launching from behind some mountains with a giant moon behind it

Would I do it again?

The decision to do an LTD was absolutely the right one at the right time for Magai.

But if the question is will I do another lifetime deal after this? Not any time soon, if at all.

That might sound strange coming off of such a huge success. But the truth is that these types of deals are most valuable when trying to validate an idea and gain some quick traction.

The nature of Magai’s business model is that a users activity (generating AI content) has a direct cost that I have to pay to the AI Model providers. So the more users actually use the app, the more it costs me. For someone with a monthly (or yearly) subscription, this cost is accounted for. But for someone paying one time, there is long-term liability risk involved.

So until I can properly understand the long-term affects of the deal on my overhead, I won’t be entertaining any sort of lifetime deal in the near future.

But if I do, you can bet it will only be with the RocketHub team.

Thank you to everyone who continues to support the growth of this indie app. It means the world to me, and I am honored to serve you.

If you would like to follow along with my #BuildInPublic journey, you will want to follow me on Twitter as I share regular business updates.

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