I was a month into building Magic Sales Bot. Things were going well - I had hit $1k MRR as a one-man army. All the code, sales, support, and marketing were done by yours truly. A tweet from a business builder I respect had struck me and wouldn’t leave me.
If you call yourself a CEO you'll grow into it, but if you're an Indie Hacker you'll always be a one man shop— Reilly Chase ☁️☁️☁️ (@_rchase_) February 10, 2021
Magic Sales Bot had its issues (and still does). It could be faster. The sales emails it creates for smaller businesses could improve. I could find a way for users to get the value of the tooly without having to log in. But could I do it all alone?
I had offers of help on the table. A reputable development firm wanted to partner up. Another sales AI tool wanted to purchase Magic Sales Bot. A few other founders of sales tools reached out about joining forces. They all had something in common that didn’t sit well with me: giving up my sovereignty, so to speak. Without the ability to call my own shots, how far am I from going back to the employed life?
Partnerships, acquisitions, and venture capital were out of the question. But there was this one firm that had been needling on my subconscious for two years: Earnest Capital, the same backers of the aforementioned Reilly Chase.
Not a single Earnest Capital founder reports to a board of directors that can fire them.— 🥾 Earnest Capital (@earnestcapital) March 11, 2021
The version of VC that I knew had so many strings. Board members, expectations of rocketship growth, and eventual IPO. It sounded like a deal with the devil and like getting a job, but with extra steps. Can you tell I felt strongly about this?
So I surprised myself when I let Reilly’s tweet marinate. I began considering that working with Earnest might be the way to graduate from indie hacker to something more. But I was seeing Earnest do things differently. First, their GP Tyler Tringas had been there, done that with his SaaS Storemapper.
Second, they approached their terms differently. No board. I can opt to give them equity or share my earnings with them to a certain point.
Lastly, the mentorship. Between having mentors like DHH and their own communities like Founder’s Summit, it seemed like a huge bonus for me to have some camaraderie and guidance on this journey.
This is the part where I’d tell you about the huge roadshow I had to do raise funding and the huge amount of trouble it was… except it wasn’t. I shared the straight facts about Magic Sales Bot along with the polish of what I’m trying to build. I had one call with Tyler, and he sent me a term sheet a week later. I had the money in the bank the same day we signed. It was that easy.
Working with Earnest gives me the breathing room to try new things that will take me from indiehacker to successful SaaS founder. First off, I’m bringing on dev help, about 10/hrs a week to start (interested? Come work with me!). My main focus is on the product, the experience my users are having, and the value they’re deriving from the product.
Because of that, it’s important for me to stay close to things like sales and support. Bringing on dev help will free up the time in my day to work on those things. Plus, a developer who knows what they’re doing will do far better work than a sales guy who learned to code from youtube.
Going forward, I’m hoping that gaining some space and perspective in my day to day will help me aim higher and be able to plan out how to get there. I see Earnest’s community being a huge part in that.