This is a follow up story for Visa List. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hi, I’m Hari and I built Visa List a year back and it is my third successful micro start-up.
Visa List helps you find where you can travel tension free with your passport. You can find all the visa requirements, document checklist, visa application, and visa process, all in one place. It also helps you find visa exemptions, and visa requirements for couples. You can also find embassy information and travel advice. You can get flights, hotels, insurance, and everything related to travel on the visa list. I want to make Visa List a one-stop-shop for all visa-related needs.
Currently, Visa List is making $10,000/month on average with 350K Monthly Active Users, and it's growing at 20%. Visa List has helped over 8 million users with their visa requirements.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
COVID has been pretty hard on travel and Visa List took the hit. One good thing I did was pivot a little. I built covid tracking and showed warnings to all users when they were searching for visa requirements. Where users can see each country and each state in those countries, the case numbers, curve flattening.
After the next 6 months, I started building information on lockdowns in each country, this was something people were looking for. This went on for a while maintaining the COVID tracker. In Australia, we had a lockdown for a long time, so this was useful for me as well to check from time to time. Then after the third wave, people started traveling again. Now they were looking for open countries, which was different from what was normal before COVID, so I gathered all that information and showed it to users in an easy way along with their travel restrictions of those countries.
After all this, I decided to work on visas again and started adding Digital Nomad Visas. This is the first time I have added content for a new type of visa other than a tourist.
I think it helped Visa List to stay relevant in tough times. During this COVID period, I was able to maintain $5k/month of revenue.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
One of the biggest lessons I learned was, that you can never rely on one single thing. Every assumption that you may have, how true it may appear, can easily change. I never thought the travel industry would ever come to a standstill but it did with COVID. Luckily I always believed in diversifying my effort and I have been to multiple micro startups. If one thing went down, the others did good, so overall, I was doing good.
Take no more than 4 weeks and with the hackiest solution possible. If there is traction, then grow it, if it does, think objectively and move on.
Everything was going fine, but then google did an algo update in December 2020. Visa List revenue went from $6k pre-COVID to $1.7K during a pandemic. The traffic went from 450k users/month to 150k users/month. I thought to myself, this is something temporary and if I keep improving my Visa List, the interest in travel will come back eventually and it will be ready. So went back to the basics of SEO, worked on every single type of content in Visa List and after 6 months, I slowly started seeing results. Now the traffic is up and around 350k users/month.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
There are multiple directions that I want to pursue this year. The first thing would be to improve the tourist visa information. Make a playbook and then build it for other types of visas.
I see a huge potential for building a market for aggregating different visa agencies in each country. A lot of work, but I see good value. I also see another opportunity to process visas by visualizing and providing end to end experience for users.
In 5 years hopefully, it will become the default destination for anyone who is looking for any type of visa.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I watched Pieter Level’s interview on indie hackers, it's always a big bundle of gems. It's always so inspiring. You learn a lot of strategies and what kinds of bets you need to take in life to be successful. It always shows you the best way to lead a personal life while still growing your businesses.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
I would suggest budding entrepreneurs launch a solution to the problem they want to solve as soon as possible. Take no more than 4 weeks and with the hackiest solution possible. If there is traction, then grow it, if it does, think objectively and move on.
Before building anything, validate the idea first. It will save a ton of time. What I do is pitch the idea to friends and family and see how they respond while improving the pitch with every person. If at least 50% genuinely think it's an amazing idea, then I start on it or else I move on to the next idea and it saves me a lot of time.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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