SaaS: 25 Years Old and $250k+ in MRR, Here’s Trick to Starting With No Developers

Ian Blair

In Episode #822, Nathan interviews Ian Blair. He founded BuildFire while he was in college and has grown up to become one of the most successful app builders with 30 employees and close to 10K apps in the app store. His expertise is online marketing and growth hacking.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Good to Great
  • What CEO do you follow? – David Skok and Jason Lemkin
  • Favorite online tool? — Ahrefs
  • How many hours of sleep do you get?— 7.5
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – Ian wished he would have taken a crash course on how the world actually works

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:55 – Nathan introduces Ian to the show
  • 02:37 – BuildFire is a mobile app building platform that allows non-technical people to build their own app with no coding required
  • 02:50 – BuildFire is like the WordPress for mobile app
    • 03:18 – BuildFire allows customization
  • 03:36 – Ian started BuildFire in college
    • 03:40 – BuildFire has a reseller program
    • 04:18 – In 2013, they were making $300K a year
    • 04:32 – It was just for white labelling
    • 04:42 – BuildFire was officially built with the technology in 2014
  • 05:02 – BuildFire has raised $2.5M so far in a convertible note
  • 05:46 – It was in 2015 when BuildFire broke their $1M a year mark
  • 06:20 – In January of 2016, BuildFire 2.0 was launched where they added customization
  • 06:48 – Since then, things took off
  • 07:05 – In December 2016, BuildFire was doing a little less than $300K a month
  • 07:33 – This year, BuildFire is developing
  • 07:59 – BuildFire has an ongoing subscription fee and upfront payment
    • 08:20 – BuildFire is getting close to $200K a month for their SaaS side
  • 08:33 – BuildFire is now leaning more into their professional services
  • 09:15 – Total number of customers
  • 09:25 – Customers pay starts at $59, $149 or $499 a month
    • 09:50 – Average a month is around $400 per customer
  • 10:40 – Team size is 40
  • 10:57 – Ian self-funded BuildFire initially
    • 11:11 – Their current CTO started the initial development for BuildFire
  • 12:00 – BuildFire gets customers mainly through online marketing
    • 12:20 – Paid ads spend is around $10K a month
  • 12:30 – BuildFire also has a lot of organic traffic and they’re going to tradeshows as well
  • 13:48 – Monthly logo churn
  • 14:25 – Revenue churn
  • 14:50 – BuildFire is on its way to a more predictable revenue model by the end of 2017
  • 15:31 – CAC
  • 17:00 – SaaS businesses are capital intensive
  • 20:00 – The Famous Five

3 Key Points:

  1. Listen to your customers and make adjustments to your products depending on their needs.
  2. Online marketing is a necessity for every business.
  3. College won’t teach you how the real world works.

Resources Mentioned:

  • Simplero – The easiest way to launch your own membership course like the big influencers do but at 1/10th the cost.
  • The Top Inbox – The site Nathan uses to schedule emails to be sent later, set reminders in inbox, track opens, and follow-up with email sequences
  • GetLatka – Database of all B2B SaaS companies who have been on my show including their revenue, CAC, churn, ARPU and more
  • Klipfolio – Track your business performance across all departments for FREE
  • Hotjar – Nathan uses Hotjar to track what you’re doing on this site. He gets a video of each user visit like where they clicked and scrolled to make the site a better experience
  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • Host Gator– The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for the cheapest price possible
  • Audible– Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5-hour drive) to listen to audio books
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives