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29 Comments

I sold my AI tool for $35,000

Hey Indie Hackers, Marc here 👋

2 years ago I was on the same site, binging solo makers' stories to get inspired.

2 months my habit tracker for $10,000, and in November, I got $35,000 after selling a landing page maker with AI. I hope this inspires you to build stuff.

Here's the story:


imigur.com

April 2023:

Just like everyone, I get massive FOMO with AI.

I played with GPT and decided to build a landing page generator with AI:

Input text and the AI prefills a template with copy and AI-generated images.

I'm working on it with a good friend of mine named Martin.

May:

The product is called LandingAI. It's an MVP but we launched and made ~$8,000.

Unfortunately, Martin and I had different visions for the project so we forked.

June

LandingAI is the name of a big corp (bummer) so I rebranded it to MakeLanding.

I ditch 90% of the code because users want a very different product:

So here I am, building an entire website builder powered with AI...

July

I launched again, but made a BIG mistake:

I swapped the one-time payment for a monthly subscription and got $20 MRR for 15k visitors...

  1. If you can avoid subscriptions, do it
  2. New pricing means new positioning—users compared the app to Framer & Webflow

August

I removed the subscription and sales came back: ~$7,000 in 3 months.

But I realized this was going nowhere...

September

  • I don't use the product
  • The market is gigantic and crowded
    As a solopreneur, nothing is more important for me than building cool stuff for people I care about.

And I didn't really care about this big market so...

October

I called my friend Dan and he said: SELL. He was right.

I bought my shares of LandingAI from Martin and listed MakeLanding on Acquire: Asking $38,000 for $14,000 TTM (3x profit)

Within hours, I received dozens of NDAs and a buyer started the process 🤯

After a few weeks of NDA, LOI, Escrow, etc. the buyer sent the money but...

Only a fraction of the transaction. Then he ghosted me. So I canceled the transition. Back to Acquire...

Luckily, in 24 hours I got another buyer!

November

Within weeks, the money was in my bank account.

The buyer and I never called, just a few messages. It's mind-blowing.


My takeaways

  1. Don't build AI products just because
  2. Don't go on a massive market you don't care
  3. Sell if you don't know how to grow the product

It's my 3rd acquisition this year. I love the freedom to build, sell, and repeat. I wrote about the process of making & selling micro-startups, if it's helpful let me know!

  1. 2

    Marc striking again :)

    Love the backstory!

    Your journey is inspiring for many indie hackers in the space, keep up the good work and sharing man!

  2. 2

    Hey Marc, congrats and thanks for sharing this!

    How did you calculate your valuation? Is it always around 3x profit for SaaS?

    1. 2

      Thanks for asking this question. I'm interested in the valuation method too. :)

  3. 2

    I definitely agree that one-time payments are better than subscriptions. simpliterms currently has a $0 MRR and I feel that is because the last thing people want is to have one more subscription, especially if it only solves a small problem.

  4. 2

    Incredible journey, @marclou! Your story is a vivid reminder that the road to success isn't linear. Wondering what is your next adventure?

    1. 3

      Thanks! All in into ShipFa.st & ByeDispute.com, and likely going to give videos a solid try in 2024.

  5. 2

    That is one of the coolest and most reachable stories I have heard here!
    Really gave my some inspiration for my products, thanks!

    1. 1

      Happy to hear that Julian!

  6. 2

    Hey Marc - great writeup! I think I read this on Reddit yesterday and really enjoyed the honest reflection of this experience!

    Best of luck to you with your next endeavours!

  7. 2

    That's a very impressive story, and your strategy felt quite intriguing to me. You made the decision to sell at the right time, realizing that you couldn't manage it. I think it was a very strategic and smart move.

  8. 2

    This is amazing! Can you tell us exactly how you found the buyer?

    1. 1

      Thanks! I listed the startup on Acquire.com and within a few hours, got dozens of interested buyers.

  9. 2

    Great work, Marc! That's an amazing accomplishment 🎉 Seeing your AI tool turn from an idea into a tangible product, and ultimately selling it is so inspiring. I'm sure you're feeling very proud right now, and deservedly so!

  10. 2

    Thank you so much for sharing your story!
    As an indie developer, it's really important to make products you'll use, and you can only make extraordinary products if you're the target user.

  11. 2

    Amazing, often these type of stories inspire me a lot, I also built a AI App and selling their source code everyday and almost 200+ people download my AI Source code - and in just few days I earned $3300!!

    by the way I built the world fastest way to access GPT-4, you just type "Help" and instant access GPT-4 on any site, if you are intersted you can watch the demo of my AI - www.helperai.info

  12. 1

    amazing bro, and good luck for your new tool

  13. 1

    Intriguing journey - I am interested in your insights about subscription pricing. Can you share more about why you arrived at the conclusion that one time payments are better than monthly subscriptions?

  14. 1

    This is incredible journey. Congrats and Hats off for you. Your journey is a real motivation for beginners. But I think man people get confuse in subscription and one time payment after flipping. But my point of view that one time is good you can invest on some other products.

  15. 1

    People talk about revenue multiples in these sales, they're the multiple from the last 12 months right? The graph says 2.1k. How did you decide what value to use as the MRR and what multiple?

    Question is open to anyone that's sold anything. I'm just curious because I had previously thought it would just be MRR of the last month before sale

  16. 1

    Amazing work, this gives so much clarity on the process of selling a SaaS

  17. 1

    Marc's journey is truly inspiring, and it's great to see how he navigated the challenges of building and selling his AI tool. His candid reflections provide a valuable insight for indie hackers and entrepreneurs.

  18. 1

    Marc you are so inspirational! Love the backstory 💯

  19. 1

    Now it's more like, I wake up, open X/IH, get inspired by Marc's posts, and then stick to building

    More power to you! 🚀

  20. 1

    Congrats Marc. Thanks for sharing this.

  21. 1

    Well done Marc! What an inspiration to the community. Thank you for sharing this.

  22. 1

    Nice journey @marclou

    We are also connected in X I believe. Thanks for sharing.

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