SaaS is the holy grail of business models for many would-be entrepreneurs. If you can get past the slow SaaS ramp of death and find product-market fit, you can have a sweet recurring revenue business that grows exponentially with minimal churn. Unlike most service businesses, you don’t need a big team to do it. In fact, many low 7-figure SaaS businesses have a half-dozen or fewer employees.
That’s the case for James O’Neill, who is the CEO and co-founder of WildJar, a call tracking analytics platform. They help businesses understand which digital marketing channels are driving their inbound phone leads and what happens on the calls and the conversations. Then, they integrate that core data into their client’s preferred technology stack.
However, most SaaS founders will never reach the revenue level that WildJar is at. And, many won’t even find 10 customers, let alone reach product-market fit.
In this post, we’re going to share some key lessons about how James bootstrapped and grew WildJar to $4M ARR with a team of 6. In addition, we’ll share how you can apply many of these same lessons with an alternative approach for non-technical founders.
Bootstrapping WildJar to $4M ARR
Founded in 2016 and 100% bootstrapped, WildJar is a product-led growth success story. They are currently doing $4 million ARR (2.8M is pure profit) with average revenue per employee of $620,000.
In fact, from December 2020 through June 2022, the average WildJar customer is paying about $1,000 per month.
Simply put, WildJar is printing money. Many business models, like agencies and other service-based businesses, can’t even fathom numbers like these because the profit margins aren’t there, and you need a larger team to run them.
Growing by acquiring smaller businesses
Because WildJar is so profitable, they are able to re-invest some of those profits into acquiring smaller businesses that they can fold into their platform. Be it for their customer list or their tech stack.
For example, they buy an extension, kill the old business’s code base, and transition that business’s customers to WildJar’s billing system and give them access to their tech stack, code base, and product.
They’ve also expanded by acquiring complementary SMS businesses. Then, they’ve bundled in SMS products off the back of voice products. So if a call goes into a business and they miss a call, we’ll immediately SMS the customer and re-engage with them. As a result, the founders add more revenue to their business as a result of acquiring these types of businesses and being able to offer these package deals.
In essence, James and his cofounder were playing to their strengths. They are passionate about the products they provide, but they aren’t necessarily great salespeople or at training. Additionally, their current product and packages—their IP—fit a void that not many other competitors fill.
Keeping churn in check
Of course, none of these growth strategies work without keeping churn in check. In fact, WildJar is currently at 122% net dollar retention.
One of the ways they do this is to waive the first month or two of invoices to onboard clients. This business move does incur a cost, but it leads to retaining more clients in the long term.
Implementing profit-sharing with his employees
Since WildJar is bootstrapped, James and his co-founder own 100% of the company. When you only have 6 employees and the average revenue per employee is $620,000, this means there is a lot of profit left over.
To give his employees more skin in the game and to incentivize them to work harder, they implemented a profit-sharing scheme where they set aside 5% of their profit each month for the team.
Team members know that helping customers efficiently increases WildJar’s profit and revenue faster, which also grows their monthly bonus.
Watch below to learn more about how WildJar did it (or read on to learn a better way).
A better way to build a million-dollar SaaS-like revenue stream
Chances are, if you are reading this, you’re a marketing consultant or agency who can’t code and is thinking there is no way that I can print money like WildJar can.
While it isn’t easy, we think many agency owners can build a SaaS-like revenue stream with high average revenue per employee numbers with the help of no-code, white-label solutions like HighLevel.
This starts by getting really clear on who your ideal customer profile (ICP) is in your business and what services you currently offer.
The key is to look for a service in your business that you can productize and something that people need often. For instance, this might be paid ad reporting or social media management.
Then, once you have proven that you can sell this productized offering repeatedly, you can automate significant portions of running it with the help of a tool like HighLevel. This allows you to scale the business much faster with fewer headcount.
For instance, you might use HighLevel to automate lead gen (including building out your own pricing plans) and client retention.
Or, you could sell HighLevel as your own white-labeled SaaS solution.
There are endless ways to grow and scale your business to millions with HighLevel.
In fact, once you hit escape velocity, you may even reach the elusive net-negative churn, where existing customers are getting so much value that they are expanding the use of your platform (in the form of either upgrading to a higher plan or adding more paying users) at a rate faster than those who are churning out.
Ready to up-level your business with HighLevel? Get started with a free 14-day trial.