I Built A Backup SaaS Tool With 50+ Customers In Just 8 Months

Courtenay Farquharson
Founder, Backrightup
$8K
revenue/mo
1
Founders
6
Employees
Backrightup
from Sydney NSW, Australia
started December 2020
$8,000
revenue/mo
1
Founders
6
Employees
2.66M
alexa rank
2
followers
2
followers
0
subs
Discover what tools Courtenay reccommends to grow your business!
email
customer service
accounting
productivity
payments
analytics
advertising
blog
Discover what books Courtenay reccommends to grow your business!
I Built A Backup SaaS Tool With 50+ Customers In Just 8 Months

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

My name is Courtenay and I run a backup business called Backrightup. Backrightup makes it easy to backup and restore your Azure DevOps instance. We backup repositories, wikis, and all the pipelines that go with managing your code and associated DevOps.

Our customers are usually medium to large enterprises who require backups for compliance or simply want to protect against the worst-case scenarios including human error, ransomware, hijacked accounts, or malicious employees.

We’ve grown to just over 50 customers in just 8 months, having only launched an MVP in January 2021. Azure DevOps backup was the third most highly voted for the idea in Microsoft’s user feedback tool so our product validation was done for us!

i-built-a-profitable-backup-saas-tool-with-50-customers-in-just-8-months

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

My previous business Parserr was acquired in 2020 and also existed in the Microsoft ecosystem. Having worked in the Enterprise Microsoft space almost exclusively for most of my working career as a consultant, I know how important backups are for larger companies.

My previous acquisition allowed me to pay off my house and set up a calm and stable base to launch my next lifestyle business. I'm always on the hunt for great business problems to solve and it wasn’t long after acquisition that I stumbled onto the idea for Backrightup.

Post-acquisition, I decided to do some consulting work in the Microsoft Azure DevOps space. I was requested to investigate the backup of our code repositories and whether we could use a tool to do this. A little research led me to the online Microsoft Feedback tool and multiple requests for an Azure DevOps backup service.

Without any significant commitment from Microsoft to build it themselves, I realized that there was likely a good opportunity to fulfill the need. I also did a little validation using Google’s keyword tool which did not reveal huge volumes of searches but enough to establish a business on. I knew the average revenue per customer would be higher than usual which meant I wouldn't need thousands of customers to achieve my goals of running a lifestyle business.

In addition, the company I was consulting for was using Azure DevOps themselves so this was a good opportunity to test it. They were my first clients! After posting a link to it in the Azure DevOps Reddit as well as the feedback tool, we began receiving a stream of one to two customer sign-ups per day.

At this point, I still had my consulting job so I had no immediate desire to make Backrightup my main source of income. I believe not putting too much pressure on yourself to scale quickly leads to building a better business and a more stable base on which to build your lifestyle business.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

Having run a SaaS business before, I knew what would be required for the first MVP. I did choose to code it from scratch because a lot of the design patterns I’d used in my previous business were beginning to age. By trade, I’m mostly a backend engineer and I’m the first to admit that the frontend is not the prettiest! It is a backup tool after all!

The 1st version only took 12 days to build. It backed up the customer’s Git repositories only with nay restore path. Pricing the MVP was interesting: I knew it would likely be larger companies who wanted the solution and would already be paying $50k/year+ for existing backup solutions for their other software.

I decided to price it slightly higher than what felt comfortable and that has proved to be successful thus far. I’ve had some that have questioned the price point as being slightly high… but I’ve used this to grant reasonable discounts and for the most part, this has worked. The counter to this thought is the “moat” around the product - what is stopping others from entering the market and offering it cheaper? In our case, restoration of the data in a disaster recovery situation can be particularly challenging using the existing methods available and most certainly will keep newer entrants into the market out.

I also believe that you don’t need an original idea to succeed. Just because someone else has launched a similar product doesn't mean you can’t either

About 3 days after releasing the initial MVP, a large telecommunications company got in touch. We subsequently learned what was important to them and have since been led by our customers in the development of each feature. We won’t build it unless we have at least one other customer who needs it.

Describe the process of launching the business.

Launch of the product was very quiet in fact. I knew this wouldn’t resonate that much with the Product Hunt crowd and decided we didn't need a big launch party! I knew the product was niche and I knew more or less where I could find the first few.

We didn’t land our first customer until our second month. After posting in an Azure DevOps specific forum about the product (in response to a forum post requesting backup), a large multinational reached out requesting a demo. It helped that they were from Australia and I was very honest about the fact that we were new to the market. Because they need the product for financial compliance reasons, they were able to request some of the features that would be enough for them to fulfill their compliance.

Due to my previous experience of dealing with large multinationals, I knew that they would likely request a contract to be signed and security questionnaires to be answered. I included this in our “Custom pricing” plan without publishing the price - this helps to price the product based on the customer’s need and their budgets.

For instance, I knew I needed to engage a lawyer on the contract and factored that price in. Publishing pricing can have the undesired effect of customers thinking you’re too cheap or too expensive. If you can custom fit pricing to a customer’s needs, it can help the relationship from the get-go, instead of lumping them into a one-size-fits-all pricing category.

I financed the business by continuing my full-time work as a software engineer. This helped to pay for the running costs of the website which began to slowly increase once we backed up more and more data. I am a huge fan of this approach to not put pressure on oneself to earn money from the business. You begin to make bad business decisions to grab money upfront (like not hiring) instead of making decisions that will enable you to grow in the long term.

Running costs for the website initially was just:

  • $200 / month web apps and associated backup jobs
  • $20 / month storage
  • $200 / month Google Ads (subsequently paused this)

I also engaged a writer to write some content for $1000 for 3 articles to help the SEO efforts going forward.

i-built-a-profitable-backup-saas-tool-with-50-customers-in-just-8-months

Me in the early days - I do this weird thing where I walk, code, and think! Don’t know anyone else who does it!

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Naturally, Backup products are fairly sticky by nature and we have not lost any customers yet. We have failed to land a few through lack of features but we have kept in touch with those customers and plan to keep those conversations going. Because it is a highly niched product, each customer is a valuable part of growing the business.

Be quick to say no to features that will only ever enable one customer. These features have a cost in being supported and maintained.

SEO

Our main channel for signups is now through SEO. The Microsoft feedback tool for Azure DevOps has largely been abandoned unfortunately which has led to a decrease in signups. However, we have invested in SEO for certain keywords. We’ve done this by engaging a content writer to write highly targeted articles and to build backlinks to those articles. We have been focused on quality over quantity and are aiming at getting more high DA domains linking back to us as we continue our outreach. I have outsourced this entirely and it has cost us $5000 thus far.

i-built-a-profitable-backup-saas-tool-with-50-customers-in-just-8-months
Google Search Console showing an increase in traffic with SEO investment

Google Ads + Email

We’ve experimented with Google Ads but have found it to be cost-prohibitive for now.

Re-engaging cold customers via short-to-the-point emails has also worked for us. Often customers sign up but don’t always complete the purchase process. Because we receive only a few trials every day, it's easy for me to go through the signups and manually send a short email that invokes a reply. An example of this is below:

i-built-a-profitable-backup-saas-tool-with-50-customers-in-just-8-months

Leads who are keen on getting back up working will often reply and through a short phone call, or a helpful link to the knowledgebase, they're up and running and seeing value in their trials.

We haven't done any other email marketing but would like to in the future.

Warm Leads

Lastly, I have found that warm leads are the best leads. When you sell something so niche, the best way to sell to anyone is for the first to find you. In that way, you know that they are at least interested in backup. Even if it takes you a year to close, it's easier than spending thousands on cold email campaigns or Linkedin outreach to audiences that are just not interested!

To invoke conversation, I have set up our Crisp.chat support widget to pose the question (after 30 seconds on the site): “How do you currently backup your Repos?”. This does invoke some reply from potential customers:

i-built-a-profitable-backup-saas-tool-with-50-customers-in-just-8-months

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

The business is profitable in the sense that it can support itself. Hosting costs continue to rise as we back up more data, but overall the margins are above 80%.

The future looks like expansion into other SaaS product backups. Initially, we will stay with code backups as it is most common. However, backing up popular products such as Salesforce or similar CRM’s is also an option. To do this, we will look to make our first engineering hire.

The business earns 80% of revenue from enterprise customers as their risk profile usually makes them better candidates for backup. We will target these customers and increase prices on our custom plan. Larger customers with higher investment through longer sales cycles tend not to churn as easily as the upfront investment in legal and security onboarding means they are committed to the product working for their purposes. To date, we have not had any churn.

The larger customers tend to have more specific requirements. In a sense, the larger customers help pay to extend our features such that they can be offered to smaller customers. There is however a fine balance and one needs to be quick to say no to features that will only ever enable one customer. These features have a cost in being supported and maintained.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Azure DevOps unfortunately is less supported by Microsoft due to their purchase of Github. Most of Microsoft’s customers are being pushed towards Github. That said, DevOps software is very sticky. Once invested it is hard to migrate the years of work done in building out the deployment and release pipelines. This will hopefully see customers working with us for years to come.

Another insight I gained not only with Backrightup but previous businesses, is that often for larger enterprise customers, money is not a blocker in purchasing the software they require. These customers however tend to have entire procurement teams just to guide you through the months-long legal and security process. Charging these customers 5x or even 10x more to ensure you have enough funds for complex legal requirements is a must. The worst they can say is no.

The first sign of these types of customers is they would prefer to chat on a video call and are often keen to only use manual invoicing instead of credit cards.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Ironically I am a huge Google Workspace fan even though I have a long history working with Microsoft products. I use Google Meet for all business meetings and Google Slides for all presentations. I just find their platform simple to use with an intuitive interface.

On the site I discovered Crisp.chat and have been using them for all communications including transactional type emails like password resets to onboarding emails. We also use them to engage customers on the site and for their knowledge base. They have a reasonable free tier which we used in the beginning before upgrading to the unlimited tier for knowledge base and campaign support.

We of course are Azure hosted and use Azure DevOps ourselves and of course back up our own Azure DevOps instance!

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I’ve long been inspired by the “early” bootstrapped entrepreneurs such as Rob Walling and Josh Pigford. I have raised funding for a previous business and in my opinion, is very similar to working for a boss. I aimed to build a lifestyle business where I could make the decisions myself.

More recently I've been listening to My First Million podcast as I have an insatiable appetite for new ideas and new markets. I love the depth that they go into when exploring various upcoming business trends and ideas.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Think first about how you will market your product. Building the product first is a recipe for disaster. Marketplaces of apps (such as Zapier or Google Workspace Marketplace) are great places to list your app and receive free traffic from people looking to solve their issues.

I also believe that you don’t need an original idea to succeed. I know many coffee stores that make a great living by selling the same products like the coffee store 100 meters down the road! Just because someone else has launched a similar product doesn't mean you can’t either.

Where can we go to learn more?

The best place to find out more information on Backrightup is of course our website. If you’re interested in chatting further then the best way to contact me is through Linkedin.

-  
Courtenay Farquharson   Founder of Backrightup
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

Want to start your own business?

Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.

We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help you get started.

Interested in starting your own business? Join Starter Story Premium to get the greatest companion to starting and growing your business:

  • Connect + get advice from successful entrepreneurs
  • Step by step guides on how to start and grow
  • Exclusive and early access to the best case studies on the web
  • And much more!

Did you know that brands using Klaviyo average a 95x ROI?

Email, SMS, and more — Klaviyo brings your marketing all together, fueling growth without burning through time and resources.

Deliver more relevant email and text messages — powered by your data. Klaviyo helps you turn one-time buyers into repeat customers with all the power of an enterprise solution and none of the complexity.

Join Brumate, Beardbrand, and the 265,000 other businesses using Klaviyo to grow their online sales.

Try Klaviyo for free right now ➜