Bootstrapping A $1.5M/Year Outreach Tool

Published: July 19th, 2023
Dhruv Patel
Founder, SalesHandy
from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
started August 2015
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hey there! I’m Dhruv, co-founder of Saleshandy, a bootstrapped startup based in Ahmedabad, India. We operate in the SaaS space, and our goal is to empower marketers and sales professionals with a cold email outreach tool. Our product: Saleshandy, has gained popularity amongst the community of marketers and sales professionals focused on lead generation.

Our journey began in 2015. Today we have an Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) of $1.5 million and we are 100% bootstrapped. When I look back to the eight years of our path, I can reflect on the humble efforts made by the team. It is said right, "You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.”

On this forum, I’m happy to share our story and take you inside Saleshandy.


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

In 2015, the foundation of Saleshandy was laid when my co-founders, Piyush, Arpan, and I, found ourselves working together in the same office space.

During that time, our collective curiosity led us down an intriguing path as we delved into the realm of email campaigns and productivity. While Arpan and Piyush focused on coding, I took on the responsibility of marketing our ideas and establishing connections with potential users.

They candidly shared their experiences and suggestions. To our surprise, these users became our guiding lights. This open and collaborative approach proved instrumental, allowing us to continuously refine our product based on the needs and preferences of our users.

Interestingly, as we embraced this iterative process, an opportunity unfolded - email tracking emerged as a captivating realm.


During our journey, we came to a realization - the potential of tracking and analyzing email interactions. This directly leads to empowering professionals with valuable insights into their communication effectiveness. This revelation served as a turning point, propelling us into uncharted territories and setting the stage for our future endeavors.

As circumstances evolved, our paths as founders diverged. Arpan decided to pursue a different SaaS venture, while Piyush and I remained resolute in our commitment to Saleshandy. With unwavering dedication and a shared vision, we recognized the uniqueness of our offering and were determined to transform it into a thriving business.

Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.

Being bootstrapped, we relied on our savings to bring our “vision” to life. The initial version of Saleshandy was built in a scrappy manner. We started off by developing a Chrome extension.

From the beginning, we placed a strong emphasis on user feedback. We proactively engaged with website visitors and existing users to gain insights into their pain points and requirements.

The core team involved in building the first version of Saleshandy consisted of Piyush, Pramod, and others who shared our passion for creating a valuable product. We primarily used JavaScript (JS), Node.js, and React.js as our tech stack.

Here’s an image of that time that is worth sharing (taken from our CCTV from our old office):


Anyways, once we identified the email tracking space and gained initial traction, we realized it was time to explore the cold email outreach and automation category. This required significant evolution and redevelopment of our product.

Choosing speed over perfection proved to be the right decision for us, as it allowed us to conduct product experiments and discover the elusive product-market fit.

“ In the early stages of product development, focus on running experiments rather than striving for pixel-perfect – perfection.” - Dhruv Patel

Describe the process of launching the business.

The initial traction for Saleshandy came from the optimization of our Chrome extension in the Chrome Web Store and piggybacking on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques.

We focused on driving organic growth (solution-based discovery) rather than relying on Product Hunt launches (which are focused on farming + discovery). As a starting point, we wrote content on our own, and then we hired our own dedicated SEO team.

Dipping our hands in the email tracking space marked a significant turning point for us. While it pointed us in the right direction, we still needed to narrow our focus on addressing one key value. Thus prompting us to reflect on the long-term sustainability of our venture and build a product.

We recognized the need for the cold email automation category – catering to professionals looking for efficient ways to engage with their leads and prospects.


As our business grew, we decided to rewrite the software to improve its quality and architecture.

This transition was challenging and took a painstaking nine months to complete. We encountered various bugs and issues during this period.

For instance, one of the major bugs we faced was in our mail merge feature, where all emails were sent simultaneously, resulting in our users’ email accounts being blocked.

Additionally, we faced a bug specific to Outlook in 2017-18. Microsoft had a multitude of software versions, and we had to create different extensions for each version, such as version 10 and Windows 8.

Despite the challenges, the team came through. Together we built a new version of Saleshandy. The new version emerged as a testament to our commitment to delivering the best experience to our users. The rebuilt version, known as The New Saleshandy (TNSH), embodied our collective learnings and represented a significant milestone in our evolution as a company.


Again, in 2020, we initiated a process of rethinking, restrategizing, and redesigning our product based on the shifting needs of our audience and market. We decided to expand our horizons and move towards building a comprehensive “cold email platform for lead generation.”

We pivoted from being categorized as an email productivity tool to positioning Saleshandy as a cold email tool specifically designed for lead generation.

As part of our feature offerings, we introduced an email writing assistant to guide users in crafting effective emails. The initial users of our Chrome extension became our first customers, and word of mouth played a crucial role in expanding our customer base.


We also offered unlimited email accounts and warmups, allowing users to manage multiple accounts seamlessly. To specifically cater to the needs of agencies. Customers who are in the enterprise category and have extensive demands from the platform. We introduced Saleshandy agency accounts, providing additional features and flexibility for their operations.

Another exciting feature we added was Sender Rotation, enabling users to utilize multiple email accounts within a single sequence, improving their outreach capabilities.

And most recent solution we introduced was Unified Inbox, simplifying email management for our users. With this feature, our users can easily stay on top of their inboxes and streamline their communication with effective categorization.


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

Throughout our journey, we gained traction through various marketing channels. To attract users, we have utilized the following:

Awareness through a strong focus on SEO: We have focused on targeting long-tail, high-intent, and high-volume keywords that align with our target audience’s search queries, for example, how-to queries and competitors’ alternative pages. Additionally, ensuring a fast website has been crucial to providing a seamless user experience. We identified low-hanging fruit keywords, with which we have been able to achieve better visibility and generate relevant traffic.

Product-led word of mouth: Satisfied customers have become our brand ambassadors, recommending Saleshandy to their peers and colleagues. Positive feedback and referrals from existing customers have played a significant role in attracting new users.

Affiliate partnerships: We have implemented an affiliate program to incentivize our customers and partners to refer Saleshandy to others. In this program, anyone who is part of it can share a unique referral link with the audience, and on every successful subscription, the partner earns 25% on a recurring basis. This program has helped us expand our reach and acquire new customers.

We believe that the product-led mindset helped us to build a long-term bond with our customers. To retain users, we have focused on providing valuable features and benefits:

Chrome Extension: With features like the LinkedIn Email Finder and 1:1 email tracking, our users can streamline their outreach efforts and gain valuable insights into recipient engagement. Our Chrome extension is a powerful tool that enhances productivity and efficiency for our users.

Unified Inbox: We understand the importance of centralizing communications for our users. By offering a unified inbox, we enable them to manage replies seamlessly within Saleshandy, simplifying their workflow and improving overall productivity.

Saleshandy Agency Account: To cater to the needs of agencies and teams, we provide an exclusive Agency Account option. This tailored solution equips agencies with the necessary tools and features to manage multiple client accounts efficiently, fostering collaboration and boosting productivity.

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

Today, Saleshandy has a gross margin of over 45%, a testament to our commitment to delivering exceptional value to our customers and making them superheroes. Our ARR continues to grow steadily, with a monthly customer base growth rate of 10%.

We have built Saleshandy with a specific user persona in mind – those seeking lead-generation solutions. However, our vision extends beyond this niche. In the long term, we aspire to become a complete sales engagement platform, offering a comprehensive suite of tools and solutions to cater to the diverse needs of sales professionals.

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

Throughout our entrepreneurial journey, we have gained invaluable insights that have shaped our success. In the current market scenario, being a product-led company provides us with a distinct advantage compared to our competitors.

This advantage allows us to stay agile, adapt to market changes quickly, and consistently deliver new features and enhancements. Additionally, defining the right ICP and building the right positioning became instrumental in driving our product roadmap and ensuring that we create solutions that truly resonate with our target audience.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

To support our business operations, we rely on various platforms and tools that enhance our efficiency and effectiveness:

Mixpanel: We utilize Mixpanel for advanced analytics and tracking, allowing us to gather deep insights into user behavior, engagement metrics, and overall product performance.

Stripe: For seamless and secure payment processing, we rely on Stripe, a trusted platform that ensures a smooth experience for our customers.

Zapier: Automation plays a crucial role in our operations, and Zapier empowers us to streamline and automate repetitive tasks, saving valuable time and effort.

Basecamp: Effective team communication and project management are vital for our success. Basecamp serves as our go-to platform, facilitating transparent and efficient collaboration among team members.

ProfitWell: Managing user subscriptions and billing is made easier with ProfitWell, a comprehensive platform that helps us monitor and optimize our subscription-based business model.

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

There have been several influential resources that have shaped our approach and thinking:

1) “Ikigai”: This book explores the concept of finding purpose and meaning in work, which has helped us align our vision and mission.

2) “Shape Up” by Basecamp: This book provides valuable insights into product development methodologies and has influenced our approach to building and iterating on our product.

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

In the early stages of product development, focus on running experiments rather than striving for pixel-perfect – perfection.

By embracing a mindset of continuous learning, iteration, and adaptation, you can navigate the ever-changing landscape of entrepreneurship and increase your chances of finding success.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

If you are passionate about our mission and believe in the power of sales engagement, we encourage you to explore the Ikigai careers page and our LinkedIn job postings. We are always on the lookout for talented individuals who can contribute to our vision and help us shape the future of Saleshandy.

Where can we go to learn more?

To dive deeper into the world of Saleshandy, we invite you to explore our website, engage with us on Facebook, watch informative videos on our YouTube channel, read insightful blog posts, connect with us on LinkedIn, and stay updated with our latest news and updates on Twitter.

We genuinely appreciate your interest and welcome any questions or comments you may have. Feel free to drop a comment below, and let's engage in meaningful conversations!