12 Months to ~ 7k Monthly Revenue: The Fact Sheet

Conference Badge
Conference Badge
Published in
4 min readNov 21, 2013

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We launched ConferenceBadge.com 10 months ago with high hopes of building a useful and quality product. Here is our ~1 year in review. We think it might interest some of you fellow bootstrappers.

The Team

4 members. 1 full-time, 3 part-time. 1 designer, 3 front/back-end engineers. @plehoux, @rafBM, @_Tristan, @EtienneLem

The Idea

The idea came after struggling to print name badges at a game jam festival I organized in Quebec City.

The Products

We have two products: PDF name badges ($0.25 each) and Printed name badges ($2.00 each). PDF is our most popular product.

We also developed a custom micro-perforated paper sheet (Avery style) which enables customers to print one badge at a time for on-site registrations.

Revenues

Keep in mind those are revenues, not profits. The July drop probably hints at a heavily seasonal market. We expect a similar drop in December.

The Customers

We’re proud to serve companies like YouTube, New Relic, Cloudera, Zillow, HTML5 Developer Conference, Mule Summit, Nokia, GoDaddy, Cult of Mac, and VMware.

ConferenceBadge.com is the best thing that has ever happened to badges. The staff is super responsive and proactively reach out to me if I have any trouble. You don’t see that anywhere else! We’re able to customize our badges by attendee type, which is a major plus for us. We make over 3k badges per year, and it takes almost no time with conferencebadge.com!

@Dan_Ahmadi — MuleSoft Inc

The Legal Stuff

ConferenceBadge.com is a general partnership between the four of us. The structure is informal, we wrote down a partnership agreement describing the equity distribution between the four of us in early January 2013.

We will transition to a corporation early next year, mainly for fiscal reasons.

The Early Boost

We owe our early traction to Eventbrite, who prominently featured us on their blog, Twitter account and help section. They contacted us, before our launch, after seeing we were developing off their API.

I saw that you were developing off Eventbrite’s API, and I wanted to reach out to inquire about the product that you’ll be building.

@Colleran — Product Manager for API/Platform at @Eventbrite

Last month, customers using Eventbrite accounted for 50% of our revenues down from 100% the first couple of months.

The YC Interview

We flew to San Francisco in April 2013 to meet with YC partners. It didn’t work out. We tried to rationalize our failure.

Filling the YC application form and going through the interview process was definitely worth it. It’s the modern day business plan. It made us reflect on our goals and on the path we wanted to take to get there.

The Code

Test It

The amount of support caused by failing pieces of code far exceeded the time it would have taken to test the code properly, period. The agility we gained from our test coverage really helped us refactor big chunks of code quickly.

Location: Quebec, Canada

The biggest disadvantage of our location is the CAN/US border. Right now we print at a local print shop, do the packaging and ship with Canada Post/USPS. The shipping is too expensive and takes too long. For many clients it doesn’t make any sense to order their name badges a week in advance.

For this reason, we are actively looking for a US partner to take care of our print/packaging and shipping needs. If you have any suggestion about a really good and flexible printing shop in the US, email me!

Accounting

In my opinion, after starting many small companies, this is the most underrated thing you can dedicate energy to when starting a business. Our philosophy in that regard was to automate everything.

We did it with the help of awesome Xero and Stripe. Every single transaction is well documented, the books are always balanced and each of us self reports his own expenses.

Marketing

Between product development, bug fixes and customer support we did not dedicate much time to marketing efforts. It is our biggest weakness.

We did try AdWords and LinkedIn ads without much success. Being good at this is a full-time job.

We sponsored Eventbrite’s Elevate conference in New York City last June. We sponsored the lanyards and name badges which was cool. Talking face to face with potential clients was really interesting. It helped us focus our development efforts towards tangible goals.

As we speak, most of our traffic is word of mouth, Eventbrite referrals and Google organic searches.

What’s Next

We do think we have a solid start, the next few months will be crucial in our attempt to move ConferenceBadge.com into a self-sustaining bootstrapped business.

We’re leaving a lot of money on the table because of the long turnaround time we offer from Canada — we absolutely need to find a printing partner in the US. If you are in the US and know a high-quality and trustworthy print shop, please send us an email!

As a team we’ve grown a lot in this adventure and are already working on other ideas and projects related to itches we experienced building ConferenceBadge.com.

There are exciting days ahead for this team and we can’t wait to show you what we’re building. Stay tuned.

Authored by Philippe-Antoine Lehoux — Follow him @plehoux

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Conference Badge
Conference Badge

Design name badges online for your next event and get them shipped right to you!