$23K MRR with a simple todo list

$23K MRR with a simple todo list
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Intend is a simple productivity app that’s doing $23K MRR.
  • Solo founder
  • Competitive space
  • Very opinionated product
Guess when all the peaks in its revenue happen?
notion image
Yea, all Januaries!
This time, every year Intend gets a huge boost of new signups. Typical for a productivity app.
But what’s different about intend? How is Malcolm (the founder) able to bootstrap and stand his own ground in a hyper competitive market like this.
With big players like Evernote, Todoist and AnyDo.

Standing Out

Intend stands out from the crowd by being weird!
And by embodying a unique philosophy.
This is an excerpt from an old interview of Malcolm. (Back then Intend was called Complice)
notion image
What does being opinionated mean for an app?
In case of Intend, it means “productizing” values in a way that no other app in the market does.
This is from Intend’s “philosophy” page.
notion image
Intend prioritises 4 core values -
  • Choosing and doing over ogranizing
  • Aliveness, instead of exhaustiveness
  • Goals over tasks
  • Proactiveness over reactiveness

Starting Up

All this is good, but how do you jumpstart an app like this?
How did Intend get it’s first 10 users?
Paid ads? Product Hunt? HackerNews?
By 1:1 outreach.
Malcolm manually sent out emails to his initial customers. No code, no software, no system.
Doing it all manually.
This also helps build a personal connection with your users. And understand their biggest pain points.
notion image

Charge from Day 1

It’s easy to think that productivity apps need a freemium model. With PLG being all the hype these days, you may be tempted to offer a toned down version of your app free forever.
But free users don’t mean much, they don’t give any useful insights, and you often end up attracting customers who never intend to pay.
That’s why Malcolm recommends charging from day 1.
notion image

Growth Channels

Intend grows via 3 channels primarily -
  1. Word of Mouth - mostly happy customers recommending the app to their friends.
  1. Online Communities - Malcolm was part of a co-working chatroom for a long time, and after building Intend, he realised that the app would be perfect for this and other similar communities.
  1. Competition Integrations - Beeminder is another niche productivity app, but its more metrics driven than intention driven. Intend gets churned users from Beeminder and other such apps for which it builds integrations for.
The goal with online communities and competitor integrations is to embed yourself in places where your ideal customers usually hangout.
Do that long enough and you will start to see people signing up for your product.

Top Lessons from Intend’s success

  • Have strong opinions or a philosophy and build the app around that. Don’t be generic and boring.
  • Start with unscalable approaches - reach out people 1:1, accept payments directly, send emails manually etc.
  • Charge from the beginning - don’t attract freeloaders.
  • Integrations, even with competitors - Integrations are like network effects for micro SaaS products.

Further Reading -

SEO is best for engineer founders

If you're an engineer / you have an analytical mind, the best marketing activity you can do is SEO
You can analyze high intent + low competition keywords in your niche
And build small tools or blog posts targeting those keywords
Passive, long term marketing strategy.
This works, without -
  • Building a "Personal Brand"
  • Posting tons of content on social media
  • Trying to game social media algorithms
  • DMing a bunch of people
  • Following a gurus "secrets"
Doing shit that doesn't align with your personality.
More in this tweet.

From the vault -

3 random post from the Superframeworks archives -

Useful links you don't want to miss -
Last week’s top link -

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Eternally Curious. Writing, Learning, Building in Public. Writing about Ideas + Inspiration + Insights for creators, solopreneurs and indie hackers | Simple tips and frameworks to help you build a sustainable solo business

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