10 Profitable Open Source Library Success Stories [2024]

Updated: November 19th, 2023
An Open Source Library

Open-source libraries become a widely used method of software development, stories from some of the top names in the field can help you with your development or help build your confidence in adopting this methodology for your own projects.

Open-source libraries have a lot to offer the world of programming. The potential for improvement and simplification of a wide range of computer applications is huge. However, with so many options available, how are developers and architects to see which ones are right for them? Following open-source library success stories that could help you determine your best options.

Here are some real life success stories of starting a open source library:

1. Vuetify ($300K/year)

In 2016, John Leider, a former U.S. Army member and web developer, discovered the Vue.js framework through Laravel. Inspired by the simplicity and clean design of Vue.js, he decided to build his own UI framework called Vuetify. After releasing the alpha version on GitHub, the overwhelming response led him to quit his job and become a full-time open-source developer. Leider monetizes Vuetify through digital content, paid support, ad revenue, and donations, with the Vuetify store becoming the main revenue generator for the business.

How much they make: $300K/year
Current team size: 1

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I Built A $300K/Year Vue.js Component Library

Vuetify is a popular open-source user interface library, built with the Vue.js framework, that generates revenue through digital content and services such as paid digital content in the Vuetify store, direct support through consulting, ad revenue from Carbon ads on the documentation pages, and donations/sponsorships via GitHub and Patreon, generating an average income of $6,500 per month.

About
John started Vuetify over 6 years ago
Revenue
John grew the business to $25K/month
Read by 44,573 founders

2. EspoCRM ($360K/year)

Oleksii Avramenko, one of the founders of EspoCRM, noticed a gap in the market for a universal and affordable CRM solution for small and mid-size businesses. With previous experience in the CRM industry, Avramenko and his team created EspoCRM, which has since seen significant success with an average of over 16,000 downloads per year and earning up to $30k a month. Through their innovative approach and dedication to customer satisfaction, EspoCRM has become a go-to CRM application for businesses looking to improve efficiency and performance.

How much they make: $360K/year
How much did it cost to start: $10K
Current team size: 1

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How We Developed A $30K/Month Open Source CRM

EspoCRM, an open-source CRM application for small and mid-size businesses, has seen an average of over 16,000 downloads per year and makes up to $30k per month, offering efficient tools to systematize customer data, improve sales cycles, and automate routine administrative tasks.

About
Oleksii started EspoCRM over 12 years ago
Revenue
Oleksii grew the business to $30K/month
Costs
It cost Oleksii $10000 to start the business
Read by 9,849 founders

So... can you actually make money with a open source library?

Of course. There are millions to be made in this industry.

But how?

  1. Research real, profitable businesses and see exactly how much money they make.
  2. Study exactly what works, and what doesn’t.
  3. Take action, because now you have the roadmap.

Join Starter Story and build your next big thing:

Start Now

3. Plausible Analytics ($1.2M/year)

Both founders had similar experiences with Google and its products. They went from big fans, using several of their tools for many hours every day, loving them and recommending them to my family and friends, to becoming more aware of Google’s size, its business model, and how their dominance negatively impacts the web.

How much they make: $1.2M/year
Current team size: 0

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How Our Privacy Friendly Web Analytics Tool Reached $4K/Month Without Paid Ads

Plausible Analytics, a privacy-friendly web analytics tool, reached $4,557 MRR and 743 paying subscribers by focusing on content marketing and engaging relevant communities, rather than paid advertising, while positioning itself as a lightweight, cookie-free and affordable alternative to Google Analytics.

About
Marko started Plausible Analytics about 5 years ago
Revenue
Marko grew the business to $100K/month
Read by 9,410 founders

4. HollaEx ($420K/year)

Adrian, the co-founder of HollaEx, came up with the idea for his open-source crypto software startup in the early days of crypto around 2016. Starting with an app that connected bitcoin enthusiasts, the focus shifted to exchange technology as the industry grew. HollaEx has now evolved into a general-purpose crypto service, providing a white-label exchange software that allows businesses to enter the crypto world easily.

How much they make: $420K/year
How much did it cost to start: $10K
Current team size: 13

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We Built An Open Source Crypto Platform & Make $420K/Year

HollaEx, an open-source crypto software startup, evolved into a general-purpose crypto service and created a white-label exchange software with a one-day launch, resulting in a revenue of $420k per year as of 2021, with a focus on exchange technology and tackling key crypto infrastructure solutions like wallet tech, exchange hosting, and white-label services.

About
Adrian started HollaEx over 6 years ago
Revenue
Adrian grew the business to $35K/month
Costs
It cost Adrian $10000 to start the business
Read by 4,782 founders

So... can you actually make money with a open source library?

Of course. There are millions to be made in this industry.

But how?

  1. Research real, profitable businesses and see exactly how much money they make.
  2. Study exactly what works, and what doesn’t.
  3. Take action, because now you have the roadmap.

Join Starter Story and build your next big thing:

Start Now

5. GanttProject ($36K/year)

Dmitry Barashev came across GanttProject while searching for open-source Gantt chart drawing software to use on Linux. He made a contribution by implementing a command-line export feature and eventually took over leadership and administration. With no paid advertising, GanttProject has grown steadily and generates $3000-5000 in monthly revenue, with loyal customers and a low churn rate. The team is now working on GanttProject Cloud, a low-cost commercial product offering collaboration features and online project storage.

How much they make: $36K/year
How much did it cost to start: $0
Current team size: 0

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I Grew My Open-Source Software Side Project To $3K/Month [$0 Spent On Ads]

GanttProject, a popular free open-source project scheduling application, generated $3000-5000 monthly through the pay-what-you-want model, despite not spending a single dollar on paid traffic, and has now grown to over 2-3k monthly active users.

About
Dmitry started GanttProject over 11 years ago
Revenue
Dmitry grew the business to $3K/month
Read by 3,821 founders

6. Wikipedia ($157M/year)

How much they make: $157M/year
Current team size:

Wikipedia: Jimmy Wales : How I Built This with Guy Raz

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, started the fifth most visited website in the world as an online encyclopedia in 2001, which allowed community members to contribute, edit and monitor content on just about anything.

About
They started Wikipedia almost 23 years ago
Revenue
They grew the business to $13.1M/month
Read by 853 founders

So... can you actually make money with a open source library?

Of course. There are millions to be made in this industry.

But how?

  1. Research real, profitable businesses and see exactly how much money they make.
  2. Study exactly what works, and what doesn’t.
  3. Take action, because now you have the roadmap.

Join Starter Story and build your next big thing:

Start Now