How Rik Schennink bootstrapped a JavaScript Image Editor to $20k MRR

Hieu Nguyen (Jack)
Jul 9 · 3 min read
Pintura sales graph to $215.5k
Pintura sales. Source: Rik Schennin

The author of Pintura, Rik Schennink, shared the journey of bootstrapping his business to $20k monthly recurring revenue (MRR). I thought it was close to the journey of many indie hackers and have something valuable to learn.

Pintura — a JavaScript Image Editing library, with over 1000 customers, including big companies like Dropbox, Square, and ConvertKit. There were literally hundreds of image cropping libraries, but one thing that helped Pintura stand out is the native experience on any device.

On his own, the journey took Rik 5 years to figure things out and get to $20k MRR. Below is a short version of how Rik started Pintura, and things that helped him achieve that

Find a popular product and make it 10x better

Rik started selling plugins on the CodeCanyon marketplace in 2011. He realized building cool plugins wasn’t paying off, and decided to target the popular category on the marketplace.

After researching, he found the image cropping and uploading category were popular, yet felt he could build something better. That led to the initial version — Slim Image Cropper, which generated thousands of sales.

Because of platform-independent complications with Envato, Rik decided to create a new version — Doka, and publish it on his own. Later, he renamed the product to Pintura as “Doka” was trademarked

How to acquire customers

The initial source of customers came from his side projects. Before Pintura, he worked on FilePond — a popular JavaScript File Uploader with over 11k stars on Github. It has multiple Github repositories for different JS frameworks. On each repository, Rik embeds a small section to advertise Pintura.

Besides, affiliate partnerships in relevant space and content marketing also bring in a great amount of traffic. He was also building in public by sharing challenging situations, work in progress shots, and sales figures.

Rik’s tip for content marketing is to find popular questions on StackOverflow and write about them. “I’ll usually decide to write one if I end up on Stack Overflow instead of a site with a definitive answer”, he said.

Focus on user experience to differentiate

What makes Pintura different is its UX. He realized that similar libraries don’t optimize much for mobile devices. And companies are willing to pay $649 a year for the native look and feel on every device.

Each release is tested with BrowserStack to ensure important features are functioning on multiple devices and browser versions.

Besides, he can release hotfixes and update very quickly

Rik’s advice on launching a new product

Launching a new product is often a sweaty experient.

To maximize the result of your launch day (i.e on Product Hunt), Rik advised putting extra effort into the marketing materials. Most of the product’s marketing materials are average, having top-notch photos and copies will give you a competitive advantage. Consider hiring a designer in case you can’t design them yourself.

Besides, reach out directly to your contacts and ask if they would like to help to spread the word.

Also, enjoy the launch. If the launch doesn’t go well, it doesn’t mean anything.

Takeaways

Rik built a javascript image editing library because it was a popular category, yet the experience can be improved, especially on mobile devices. He acquires customers through side projects, affiliate partnerships, and content marketing.

If you are in a crowded market, find details that can be improved and provide a top-notch user experience can be a great competitive advantage.

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