This New Privacy-Friendly Web Analytics Is Already Generating $3K MRR With 500 Customers

Marko Saric - Indie Founder of Plausible Analytics

Marko Saric, the indie co-founder of Plausible Analytics, dared to create a better Google Analytics. Marko and Uku currently generate $3,182 MRR with 509 customers as of Aug 2020 – their secret weapon: riding a wave of a growing market interest + adhering to sound marketing practices.

About This Indie Interview

This is the #3rd installment of our Indie Interviews series to help aspiring indie founders & indie entrepreneurs to get inspired by listening from those successful indie founders who are already highly involved on the startup scene and *being there* taming the waves & surfing better than ever to achieve their dream – seeking financial freedom, working on projects that matters to them, getting a sense of accomplishment (in their own eyes) and working on their own schedule.

It is also an opportunity for new indie founders to get to know other like-minded indie entrepreneurs.

I hope you will derive as much fun to read my interviews as I’m having by interviewing those awesome indie founders, entrepreneurs & businesses.


And Now the Interview With the Indie Co-Founder of Plausible Analytics

### Spotlight on our today’s indie person & his web analytics business

>> Please tell us about yourself

I’m Marko (@MarkoSaric on twitter) and I’m a co-founder of Plausible Analytics, a simple, open-source, lightweight (< 1 KB) and privacy-friendly web analytics alternative to Google Analytics.

I try to use open source tools as much as I can. So I’m running Linux on this laptop that I’m writing from. I wrote about my journey from macOS to Linux

>> Tell us about your business: the beginning, your aha moment & how you come up with the naming?

Plausible Analytics was started early last year by my co-founder Uku (@ukutaht on twitter).

He wanted to build an independent and privacy friendly alternative to Google Analytics. You can read the post he published about this moment

>> Who is your ideal customer & what problem(s) are you trying to solve?

Our customers are website owners, freelancers and agencies.

More website owners are becoming increasingly aware of the different privacy issues around websites analytics and user tracking.

GDPR and other privacy regulations have specific requirements for website owners around needing to give visitors options and get their consent.

Having a fast loading and speedy website makes the user experience much better, especially on mobile phones. It is even a signal for search engine algorithms.

Plausible Analytics provides a great and simple solution for all of the above. It is privacy-first, compliant with the different regulations and 45 times lighter than the market leader.

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>> How are you building trust to attract customers?

We are transparent and open in everything that we do, which is very important when working in the privacy-friendly industry.

We are entirely open source so anyone can view, review and inspect the code we are running to verify whether our actions match with our words.

We share our website traffic stats with the public. We share our revenue numbers with the public. We share our development work with the public and our roadmap too.

>> What is your business model – how are you generating revenue & making it profitable?

Our goal is to grow a sustainable open-source project funded solely by the fees that our subscribers pay us. We are not interested in raising funds or taking investment.

Our business model has nothing to do with collecting and analyzing vast amounts of personal information from web users and using these behavioural insights to sell advertisements. We choose the subscription business model rather than the business model of surveillance capitalism.

>> Can you share your revenue stats & traffic stats?

Revenue – As of the time of writing (Aug 2020), we are on $3,182 MRR with 509 paying subscribers.

Here is our crazy milestone:

  • May 14, 2019: Got our first subscriber
  • May 27, 2020: But then it took us more than a year to reach $1,000 MRR
  • July 6: And then things shifted quickly. $2,750 MRR in 40 days
  • August 7: And now $3,182 MRR in 32 days

Similar numbers for subscribers. It took us one year to reach the first 100 but we went from 400 to 500 paid subscribers in 15 days!

 

Traffic stats – We have our traffic stats completely open too.

Traffic Stats for Plausible.io (last 60 days as of 11th Aug 2020)
Traffic Stats for Plausible.io
(last 60 days as of 11th Aug 2020)
Top (referrer) Sources for Plausible.io (last 60 days as of 11th Aug 2020)
Top (referrer) Sources for Plausible.io

NOTE: For more in-depth insights, you can view them here.

Our fast growth kick-started when this blog post went “viral” and changed the traction of our startup.

It is much easier to promote a product if it rides a wave of a growing market interest.

And Plausible Analytics is riding a rising trend. It is privacy-first and compliant with the different regulations.

>> What tech stack, infrastructure & tools are you using to power your business?

Plausible Analytics is a standard Elixir/Phoenix application backed by a PostgreSQL database for general data and a Clickhouse database for stats.

On the frontend we use TailwindCSS for styling and React to make the dashboard interactive.

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>> How is Plausible Analytics different from Google Analytics?

Plausible Analytics is built with simplicity, speed and privacy in mind. We’ve used Google Analytics for years and understand its pitfalls.

Plausible Analytics gives you a web analytics tool that is:

  1. Fully open source with the code available on GitHub
  2. Simple to understand and get insights from in one minute
  3. lightweight script of less than 1 KB so your site keeps loading fast
  4. Doesn’t use cookies so there’s no need for cookie banners
  5. Doesn’t collect personal data so no need for GDPR and CCPA consent prompts

We believe in sound marketing practices and here are a list that we say no to at this moment:

  • We don’t do paid advertising
  • We don’t do A/B testing
  • We don’t have spy pixels from Facebook and Google so we can re-target you
  • We don’t have a podcast, we don’t do videos
  • We don’t have a fancy email sequence where we try to “nurture” you into paying
  • We don’t do any intrusive popups

For more details, see: “Why you should stop using Google Analytics on your website

>> What ONE mistake (failure) you made & which we can learn from

It’s a bit too early in my journey with Plausible Analytics to talk about mistakes and failures.

In the last few months that I’ve joined the project, everything has gone very fast and we’ve been making great progress.

It will take me a bit longer time to be able to step back a bit, zoom out a big and understand whether we have made some big mistakes. For now, I have nothing to complain about.

>> The hardest part about launching a business is _______?

If the product is not easily differentiated from the rest of the market, it makes marketing and growing it so much more difficult.

So the hardest part is to create something that stands out and that people love to use.

When you have that, the promotion becomes much easier.

>> Your best advice for indie beginners & indie founders

Everything takes time and effort. So don’t have high and unrealistic expectations that things will happen overnight.

Work on growing your startup every day, make small improvements and tiny achievements every day.

You will come a long way and see great results over a longer period of time.


5 Follow-up(s)

  1. Thank you Marko.

    I have more follow-ups below:

     

    1) For founders and website owners who want to implement a GDPR compliant analytics – how should they do this with Plausible?

    I do understand Plausible have all the checklist of GDPR covered, but how do owners need to approach this in their privacy policy?

     

    2) Since the software of Plausible is open source, do you not fear to have others using your own software to be your competition?

     

    3) A big chunk of your traffic comes through HackerNews (HN). Can you tell how this is working out for you and Plausible?

     

    4) What advice can you give founders to make the most of HN to get sustained traffic?

    1. Thanks Wasseem for featuring Plausible!

       

      1) For founders and website owners who want to implement a GDPR compliant analytics – how should they do this with Plausible?

      This really depend on the site owner. There is no requirement to do anything but I’ve seen many list their usage of Plausible somewhere on their site.

      For instance, by opening up your stats you could link to your open stats somewhere in your about page or your footer, tell your visitors about it and let them see everything you do collect and know about them.

       

      2) Since the software of Plausible is open source, do you not fear to have others using your own software to be your competition?

      We see this as a benefit.

      Our code is not proprietary and our users are not locked down so we have to be the best business running this codebase.

      The threat of forking is a real threat and if we make some evil choices or sell out to some evil corp, you can take the code and have your own Plausible Analytics. This keeps us honest.

      Imagine if you had the same choice with your favorite proprietary and closed source app. So if they decided to change the strategy, to make user-hostile decisions or to sell out to a corporation with different beliefs, the community could simply take over and keep alive the product that they love while ignoring the new development. You can do that with Plausible Analytics.

       

      3) A big chunk of your traffic comes through HackerNews (HN). Can you tell how this is working out for you and Plausible?

      Hacker News traffic on the surface can be considered low quality traffic (high bounce rate, low time on site). But I believe that one article being on top of Hacker News for a few hours kick-started our growth which still continues to this day.

      Hacker News increases brand awareness and gets your name out to influential sites/people and especially with a tech product like Plausible it is very valuable.

       

      4) What advice can you give founders to make the most of HN to get sustained traffic?

      It is pretty much impossible to sustain those kind of traffic levels so don’t worry about it.

      We’ve been on the top of Hacker News twice over the last few months resulting in huge traffic spikes but also huge 80-90% drops in traffic in the week after. It is the way it is.

      This is what happens following a record breaking week and there is no panic. Short terms traffic fluctuations are normal, especially if you hit the top of Hacker News.

      In terms of creating content that can get you on the top of Hacker News, have something to say. Take a stand for something that you believe in. Our first post on the top of Hacker News was the “why you should remove Google Analytics from your site” post.

      Or write useful posts on important topics where you go in depth with practical examples, inspirations, how-to guides and such.

      Our second post on the top of Hacker News was the one about “ways open source projects can fund their development“. It features a long list of open sources projects and ways they fund their projects.

  2. Marko, I am also curious as to why you and Uku chose Elixir/Phoenix, instead for let’s say Ruby on rails or even PHP?

    Just want to help other founders understand the rationale and may be this can also help them when deciding which programming language to use.



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