Karthik Sridharan Profile picture
Founder, https://t.co/BtmehrlffY & https://t.co/fB2f3RQcEJ. I share my experiences of building a bootstrapped startup, from $1mn ARR in 4 years to $2mn ARR, 4 months after that.
Rahul Saigal Profile picture Osman 🚀 Profile picture Mukesh Rathi Profile picture 4 added to My Authors
22 Jul
My startup, Flexiple, grew from $1mn to $2mn revenue in 4 months - the major driver was SEO.

I absolutely love it, yet, it intimidates so many!

So, in 9 tweets, I'll explain SEO using the analogy of a LIBRARY - guarantee you'll understand it like never before :)

Thread🧵
1/ The characters involved

👩‍🦰 Librarian = Google
📚 Books = All websites
🧔Person searching for a book = Your potential customer

I'll connect it all in the end!
2/ Potential customer searches Google

This is equivalent to the person🧔 coming to the librarian👩‍🦰 and asking her to suggest the most relevant book📘 on say "Photosynthesis"

('cause I'm a nerd :P).
Read 11 tweets
14 Jul
As the Indian startup ecosystem celebrates @zomato's IPO, here are the 5 lessons an early-stage founder can learn from it about entrepreneurial mindset, product & marketing.

Thread 🧵
1/ Don't obsess over unimportant things

Early on, founders treat every decision as being equally important.

- “What should be the color of this button?” becomes a team discussion.

- The font/ font size of the pitch deck is a serious team meeting
1/ (contd.): Zomato’s story

Even naming the startup becomes a bottleneck!

Zomato started as:
- Foodlet.in
- Then changed to Foodiebay.com in 2008
- Finally changed to Zomato only in mid-2010

Focus on important things!
Read 12 tweets
7 Jul
Beautiful design illustrations make your startup's website, app & marketing collaterals sparkle.

Here are useful websites that offer you illustrations for FREE.

Thread 🧵
1. Scale

• Free

• No attribution required

• Can change multiple colors, add/remove mask, gender filters, etc.

• File format(s): SVG, PNG

• Link: 2.flexiple.com/scale/multi-co…, 2.flexiple.com/scale/all-illu…
2. @unDraw_co

• Free

• No attribution required

• Can change a single color

• File format(s): SVG, PNG

• Link: undraw.co/illustrations
Read 16 tweets
30 Jun
With less than 1% startups getting VC funded, it is important for you to open your mindset to the world of bootstrapping as well.

Having bootstrapped Flexiple to $2mn in revenues, here are the 7 hard lessons I learned. 🧵
1/ Stop fantasizing about scale

The biggest driver of stupid decisions in an early-stage startup is to plan for scale before making a single-dollar.

You know nothing about your industry and can't identify what your scaling bottlenecks will be.

So, what should you do? (contd.)
1/ Stop fantasizing about scale (contd.)

Keep goals simple - start making money.

This will keep you in check. As you build your startup, you'll get better at deciding when to invest for the next level of scale.

Here's how we goofed up at Flexiple:
Read 17 tweets
7 Jun
"Our startup's $2 million revenue runs on a $80/month NoCode stack."

When I shared this, I got many questions around the tools used.

So, today I share 7 types of NoCode tools along with:
1. Specific use case each solves
2. Real examples
3. Alternatives

Thread 🧵
1/ Marketing websites

A) Tools: @unicornplatform, @umsohq

B) Use cases
- You can simply drag & drop elements onto a page

- Build a marketing website in less than 60 mins

- Easily edit your marketing copy & communication to customers
1/ Marketing website (contd.)

C) Example

- We built our entire website of Flexiple.com containing over 50+ pages on Unicorn platform

D) Alternatives
- @carrd
- @webflow (covered later)
Read 16 tweets
20 May
I’ve built 2 startups & tens of products and I am often asked this question - “How do you validate your startup idea?”

So, in this thread, I share:
- What a realistic expectation of "validating an idea" is
- 9 ways to a validate your idea

Thread 🧵
Disclaimer: This isn't magic!

Let's be clear from the outset: **No method validates your idea a 100% other than actually just going for it**.

If there were a way to do that, there would be no failed startups. Don't fool yourself to think otherwise.
So, what's this about then?

The goal is to:
- Get a better sense of market demand
- Acquire a first group of users for your startup
- *Improve* your odds of success
- Do all of this affordably & quickly

With this context out of the way, let's start with the 9 methods!
Read 27 tweets
12 May
After spending thousands of dollars on building a marketing website, my startup with $1 million in revenue runs on a NoCode builder that costs $10/month.

In this thread, I share the 11 hard lessons I've learnt about building a quality marketing website.

Thread🧵
1/ Good not Custom

A marketing website is important. However, CUSTOM design & development is not!

So:
- Don't waste time & money building the perfect website (doesn't exist)
- Instead, spend it on building the business
2/ Common mistake

Even if you know to code, don't think that *NoCode tools* are "beneath" you - that's just ridiculous.

You need to do what your startup needs - that's definitely not a custom coded website that looks like Stripe or Slack.

Much better to invest in Distribution!
Read 13 tweets
20 Apr
Early this year, we hit $1 million in revenue and SEO contributed >50% of our leads.

In fact, from July last year, our traffic has increased ~10 times to 40k+/month.

Today, I am sharing my secret 8-step playbook of how I did it!

Thread 🧵
Before we start, the only tools that we would be using are:

1. @ahrefs
2. Google sheets
Step 1/

- Type a relevant industry keyword in @ahrefs' keyword explorer tab

- Keep the keyword short - NOT long-tail

- At this stage, you are just defining the kind of articles you want to write

- For e.g. If I want to write tech articles, I'd just search "Javascript"
Read 15 tweets
19 Apr
To Founders & Startups,

In a month of Unicorns, I want to say:

1. Your startup's success is defined by you, NOT by random benchmarks set by media.

2. You've REAL challenges to tackle - DON'T get distracted by the noise of Unicorns.

(1/4)
When we were growing up, society decided what success meant for us.

For e.g. in an Indian society:

- Get an engineering degree from an IIT
- Work at a reputed company
- Get an MBA from an IIM

We strived to achieve that without truly understanding WHY?

(2/4)
Don't bring such pressures to your startup too!

1. If you don't get VC funding or don't want it - no WORRIES!

2. If you don't want to run the unicorn race - that's FINE!

3. If your startup makes just enough money to enable a lifestyle you want - that's GREAT!

(3/4)
Read 4 tweets
7 Apr
I reached $1 million+ in revenue at Flexiple but getting the first customer was SO HARD.

21 lessons I’ve learned over 4 years that will help you get your first 10 customers👇
1/ In the early days, you can get customers in broadly two ways:

- Launch platforms like Product Hunt, ShowHN, etc.
- Using your personal network and leading a manual effort

We’ll get into the details in a bit.
2/ Using paid marketing early on is not a good idea.

It takes time to identify your typical target audience and without an accurate audience, paid marketing can effectively bankrupt your startup soon.
Read 23 tweets
25 Mar
21 lessons in SEO after growing Flexiple’s organic traffic from 4,000 to 40,000 in 6 months & revenue from 0 to $1mn 🧵
1/ SEO is the most reliable channel of traffic & arguably also leads.

With ~6 billion+ searches occurring each day, ignoring SEO is a very grave error by any marketer - don't make that mistake.
2/ SEO is also a great validator of your startup idea! 

If search phrases related to your idea actually have volume, it naturally indicates that there is a market for your offering.
Read 23 tweets
4 Mar
SimpleSEO #3: Today, let's talk about Domain Authority (DA)!

- Google doesn't publicly share any "reputation score" of a website

- So, two companies @SEOmoz and @ahrefs share their interpretation of your website's credibility

👉🏽Note that this isn't endorsed by Google

Contd.👇🏽
2 of 3/

- It is a score out of 100 and is on a logarithmic scale => going from 20 to 21 is tougher than 10 to 11

- Getting backlinks from other quality websites improves DA

- If you've a new website OR haven't focused much on SEO, it is likely to be low (<30)

Contd.👇🏽
3 of 3/

- While unofficial, DA still reflects how difficult it is for you to rank for any keyword => Lower the DA tougher it is

- So, apart from writing content, you should focus on increasing DA

How? That's for the next thread!
Read 4 tweets
3 Mar
With 500+ likes & 100+ comments, it's clear that I should document the stories & lessons of growing Flexiple to $1mn!

So, in this tweet thread, I’ve outlined the 13 chapters (among others) that I plan to cover in the course & notion template.

Let’s go👇🏽

1/ Idea validation

Outline📘

- Finding the closest way to mimic your ultimate customer offering

- The plan is to invest the least amount of money or build minimally (ideally nothing), yet get a sense of the market

👉🏽 Also, a write-up of top case studies
2/ Finding a co-founder

Outline📘

- A co-founder isn’t necessary but very helpful

- Aligning on the “right” personality & the expectations you have of them is critical

👉🏽 I’ll also share my experience of finding my co-founders
Read 15 tweets
24 Feb
SimpleSEO #2:

SEO intimidates many!

In 8 tweets, I'll explain SEO using the analogy of a LIBRARY.

The characters:
👩🏽Librarian = Google
📘Books = All websites
🧔🏽Person searching for a book = Your potential customer

I'll connect it all in the end 🚀

Come on, let's go! Thread👇🏽
1/ Potential customer searches Google

This is equivalent to the person coming to the librarian and asking her to suggest the most relevant book on say "Photosynthesis" ('cause I'm a nerd😅).
2/ Google prepares the search results

The librarian now has to decide which books to recommend from a sea of books.

So, she does this by setting certain parameters to rank the various books.

Which parameters? 👇🏽
Read 10 tweets
22 Feb
How did we make $100k using GoogleSheets after 2 failed products?

Many asked me this. So, in 14 tweets, I cover Flexiple’s 1st year comprising:
- Product 1 & its failure
- Product 2 & its failure
- What went wrong
- Why/how GoogleSheets worked

Thread👇🏽

1 of 14/ Premise for Product 1

Our idea was simple: Connecting pre-vetted tech talent with companies.

Like most new entrepreneurs, we wanted to build for scale.

Manual processes just seemed foolish to us, so we decided that building a product was the answer.
2 of 14/ What was Product 1

The product would:

- Manage the entire onboarding flow of freelancers including tests, evaluations, interview scheduling, etc.

- Allow clients to share their requirements in a predictive fashion (just if-else conditions :P)

(contd.)
Read 16 tweets
25 Jan
SEO traffic increased 5x for Flexiple from July to December.

Here’s the 8 step framework I defined to achieve that, explained in step-by-step detail.

The only tools that we use are:
- @ahrefs
- Google sheets

So, let's get started 👇🏽
Step 1/

- Type a relevant industry keyword in @ahrefs' keyword explorer tab

- Keep the keyword short - NOT long-tail

- At this stage, you are just defining the kind of articles you want to write

- For e.g. If I want to write tech articles, I'd just search "Javascript" Image
Step 2/

- This is simple - go to the "Having same terms" tab

- You will get all results which have your keyword phrase in it

- For our e.g., "Javascript" will be included each time

- You can go back to Step 1 if you think the keywords are out of whack Image
Read 13 tweets
13 Jan
Getting started with #NoCode 101:

If you have been hearing a lot about NoCode but don't know where to start, here's some guidance.

I cover:
- Why NoCode?
- Popular tool stacks (& other tools)
- Where to start?
- Some use cases as a showcase

Let's go 👇🏽

#lowcode
1/ Why NoCode?

- Obvious: you don't need to know or learn how to code

- Anyone in your team can take up product building initiatives. No more "developer bottlenecks".

(contd.)
2/ Why NoCode? (contd.)

- Focus shifts to the goal the tech is meant to achieve rather than the tech itself: latter is a very common misstep!

- The underlying products you use also keep improving. So what you can achieve through them also increases proportionally.
Read 16 tweets
23 Nov 20
Scale went viral - 150,000 visitors in 24 hours 🚀

How?🤔

❌ Well, it wasn't @ProductHunt.

✅ It was Reddit! They totally loved it :)

Let me share the details! Thread👇🏽

Scale: 2.flexiple.com/scale/all-illu…
1/ Don't rely only on Product Hunt 🙏🏽

Got to say this:

🙌🏽 Sure, Product Hunt is great

🙄 But it is also quite unreliable

😑 Random "spam triggers", articles launched as products, etc.

👉🏽 You've got to diversify

🤦🏽‍♂️ I say this as a person who was himself too reliant on PH
2/ So, let's talk about Reddit 😍

Firstly, find the right subreddit:

😡 Most subreddits aren't supportive of link drops

🥳 But "r/InternetIsBeautiful" encourages it

💪🏽 It's massive with 15mn+ members

🤗 People are quite supportive

🎉 Many past posts had become super viral
Read 6 tweets
11 Nov 20
6 months of personal brand building on LinkedIn. Here's what I learnt👇🏽

🪙Treasure trove of inbound leads

👌🏽Needs consistent quality posts

😲Quality required, but not enough

🤕Many best practices to be followed

Let me share what those are. Thread👇🏽

#Entrepreneurship Image
1/ Quality & type of content 📰

✊🏽 Obvious, but quality is important - it defines your brand

😑 Even poor content gets loads of likes

❌ But, they are not the leads you want

So, how do you define your content? 🤔
2/ Quality & type of content 📰 (contd.)

A) Choose your niche

👉🏽Content variety is fine, if your theme is consistent

B) Your content is an intersection of:

😍What your target audience finds interesting

🤓What you're passionate about & have knowledge in
Read 9 tweets
28 Oct 20
Launched "No-VC Reports" on @ProductHunt 🥳🥳🥳

It started with a simple promise:

👉🏽 Build your startup in 6 months by reading 5-min reports.

In the past 3 months, I've written 10 reports. Let me take you through them. Thread 👇🏽

🔗 PH Link: producthunt.com/posts/no-vc-re…

#startups
1/ Idea validation by showcasing your product and driving users to it.

So, I cover:

💻 Creating landing pages with @unicornplatform

📰 Building a newsletter audience

📊 Sharing examples of how @Hubstaff & @GrowthMentorHQ validated their idea smartly.

2/ Finding a co-founder 💁🏽‍♀️

🤔 @paulg says: co-founders = critical
📊 Stats show single founders do well too

Process:

A. Define expectations
❌ Superstars
✅ Skill diversity

B. Find them
👥 Personal network
💻 LinkedIn & other platforms (in report)

Read 10 tweets
19 Oct 20
Built another workflow for Flexiple in 6 hours using #NoCode!

Stack
1. @webflow
2. @MemberstackApp
3. @airtable
4. @integromat

Workflow
1. Project approved by our team
2. Details shown in a dashboard
3. Freelancers apply
4. Our team gets the list

How? Thread👇🏼

#Entrepreneurs
1/ Showing projects

a. Airtable is the primary database. Project details are added/edited by our team here.

b. A button in Airtable triggers Integromat which transfers all these details to Webflow.

c. A simple collection list is implemented in Webflow to showcase the projects.
2/ Freelancer flow

a. Signup is powered by Memberstack.

b. First screen: Above list of projects.

c. On clicking apply, more project details are shown along with a form.

d. Filling the form triggers Integromat which stores it back into Airtable.
Read 4 tweets