This Full-Time Jazz Musician Runs Multiple Profitable SAAS With No Team

Indie Founder Mike Rubini

Meet 29 years old Mike Rubini, from Italy. He is binge productive + runs multiple profitable SaaS business alone. His systemic ways of working/thinking are mesmerising.

About This Indie Interview

This is the #4th 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 Founder With Multiple SAAS Business Revenue

### Spotlight on our today’s indie person

>> Please tell us about yourself + what your workstation looks like + any productivity tools you use?

Hey, I am Mike, 29-years-old guy from Italy. I run multiple profitable SaaS in parallel by bootstrapping, and with no team! You can find all of them at https://rubini.solutions.

In fact, I am a full-time jazz musician. I do business so that I can get more time to play and play in situations that I like. Here is me playing with my quartet in Perugia, Italy years ago:

Mike playing with his quartet in Perugia, Italy
Mike playing with his quartet in Perugia, Italy

So far, my SaaS products have allowed me to quit the “safe” job I had as a music teacher in a public school here in Italy, which I did not like.

Usually, people say I’m very productive, and that’s true. In my mastermind groups, I often achieve 5x-10x more than my peers. I do that by keeping things boring: I believe we don’t need 99% of the things we think we need, at whatever stage we are in.

For example, my workstation is just my computer. I don’t have a dedicated special desk, I don’t have a mouse – I just have my computer.

Then, I shift my focus from inputs (consuming) to outputs (producing). That usually involves some kind of isolation. We can spend all day thinking that we are learning by listening to podcasts, reading blogs, talking to people, watching videos – but at the end of the day, we are going to make it if we are producing.

That’s why I believe in working as a monk: I’ rather isolate myself from all inputs (including people) and just do the work I need to do.

Learning is, in a way, the new entertainment. If I have to learn something new, I make sure that I need to learn that thing in that precise moment because otherwise, I can not progress. I don’t learn just to learn.

Moreover, I am not afraid to work many hours if I have to, and I optimize everything for velocity.

>> Do you have a routine to start your day off  + how do you keep yourself motivated?

No, I do not have a routine. I get up and go straight into work mode. Then, every two weeks I get burned out. So I am forced to take some time off.

I don’t do anything to motivate me. Hope, inspiration and motivations are for losers. Systems and processes are for winners.

Let me make another music comparison here so that I can convey my message.

If you have to write a song, you can wait for motivation or inspiration: maybe it’s a great day or a beautiful girl. Or, you can write a song every day relying on what you know.

That is what separates amateurs from professionals.

### The Indie Person as an Indie Founder/Entrepreneur

>> What change are you seeking to make to the world?

I think trying to change the world with your little startup, is not possible. You are not going to impact many people at this stage.

At this stage, I am trying to change myself – not the world. Moreover, although it’s not pretty to say, the first change should be financial. Every business should serve the entrepreneur first.

No entrepreneur = no business.

Jeff Bezos can put customers first. I put me first – and by doing that, I am able to serve my customers better.

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>> The books or material you recommend + The must-read blog/platform?

I do not follow a lot of blogs (as per my monk-style way of working).

I do like Ryan Kulp’s work (@ryanckulp on Twitter), and then if I had to choose a book to recommend, I would probably choose Profit First by Mike Michalowicz.

>> What ONE habit played an important part for you?

I do not consider myself successful in any way. But I would say that lately, what helped me is taking care of myself a little bit better.

For example, I go running or cycling every day.

As I mentioned, no entrepreneur = no business (especially when you are a solo founder like me).

So much work for me is keeping my mind straight and keeping my body in check.

## The Business of the indie person

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

My business is going to market and running as many profitable SaaS products as I can. A lot of people (hello gurus!) tell you to focus on one thing. I’m here to tell you that another way is totally possible.

You can go 0-10 with one product, or you can go 0-1 with multiple products, and eventually, they will add up to 10. The latter is what I do.

By building SaaS products over and over I discovered that I’m a starter (vs a grower), I’m fast and I like data collection. So, all of my products are now around that.

I didn’t start with SaaS, though. At the beginning (around 2011), I started with services. I had two marketing agencies that catered to different niches.

At first, I was doing everything – finding clients, delivery, communicating with clients, etc..

Then I discovered outsourcing so I started an arbitrage model where I would take projects, outsource the delivery of the projects and pocket the difference.

Those days helped with learning about SOPs and managing VAs. I also learned about dealing with clients and scope creep.

In 2015, I decided to shift to SaaS. I could always code since a young age – the first programming language I learned very well was PERL.

However, I was afraid to do it because I did not have enough credentials. Eventually, I decided to go for it and capitalize on my skill.

Today I run 8 SaaS products in parallel, all profitable – here are some of them:

  • usecart.com – an e-commerce competitive intelligence tool 
  • treendly.com – allows customers to discover new rising trends in different industries and countries
  • groouply.com – allows customers to get notified for keyword mentions in Fb groups
  • dealflow.microacquisitions.com – allows customers to curate a micro PE deal pipeline
  • fastlien.co – a centralized place for tax lien research
  • and more!

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

So, my customers vary from SaaS product to SaaS product. Generally, what I’m trying to do with my products is having a much better way for my customers to have data in one place.

We are definitely in an age where there are much information and many data. Data is scattered all over the place. So it’s not convenient for customers.

Moreover, through our tools, our customers can do research and competitive analysis so that they can find unique insights for their business.

>> How are you building trust to attract customers + Your promotion strategies?

Again, this depends on SaaS products. But generally, I’m not doing paid advertising. I really like to do the grunt work – things that do not scale, which include doing the things that my competitors wouldn’t because they are too time-intensive.

For example, replying to each Twitter relevant conversation. Another example is commenting on relevant blog posts and articles.

One of my SaaS has thousands of requests, and all I did was commenting on a post on growthhackers.com.

Another thing I do is looking at alternative traffic channels like Quora, Reddit and Pinterest.

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

The business model is SaaS – software as a service.

Usually, it means having customers pay a monthly subscription to access software, and they can cancel anytime.

I really like this business model because it is very honest. If you are providing value, customers stay. If not, they cancel.

I keep it profitable by having very low expenses.

My current expenses for all of my SaaS are about ~$800. But my target is to get to ~$500 by the end of the year.

Another thing to keep an eye on is, having low taxes.

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>> In the context of this business, what does success mean to you?

Here are some of the things I value the most, in order of importance: free time and location, profit, net worth, number of profitable software.

That’s success to me.

The first three things are aspirational because I can only control how much profitable software I put out in the market.

That is what I focus on.

>> Can you share your revenue stats & traffic stats + How do you do your market research?

Yes, one of my core principles is transparency.

Stats

So if you go to {my_app_domain}/open to any of my SaaS, you will see app and revenue data.

For example: http://usecart.com/open where you will see stats under different sections: stores stats, products stats, sales stats, app costs, users stats and revenue stats.

usecart.com open statistics/metrics
usecart.com open statistics/metrics
Revenue

Last year my revenue was €51,489. 
This year (as of now Aug 2020) my MRR is: €4219.

This month’s churn is: 1.08% while the growth rate is: 3.03%

Market research

If you are interested on how I do market research, I encourage you to read this article on my blog: “how I built a successful SaaS product using microdata.

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

My current tech stack is highlighted here!

## Key Learning Points

>> Tell me about your failures & what can we learn from them?

I now bootstrap all my ventures, and I do it alone.

The first SaaS I did was with investors, and that did not work out for me. I really do not get entrepreneurs that celebrate investments. They are debt, after all.

Also, having a team (especially a team of devs) did not work out for me.

There is a cost to communicate what you want to do to a team – that cost is usually higher than me just doing the thing myself.

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

Keeping your mind straight.

>> Your best advice for indie beginners

Go to market as soon as possible. Focus on producing.

>> Your advice for indie founders in general

You already know what to do.

Ask yourself questions. I think that in 99% of the cases, you already have the answer.

## Sweet Self Promotion because the indie person deserves it!

>> Your project(s) that you want to share + where can you be found online & best way to reach out to you?

All of my business can be found at https://rubini.solutions.

I also blog (https://blog.rubini.solutions) and have a podcast (https://rubini.solutions/podcast).

I’m pretty active on Twitter at @mikerubini


2 Follow-up(s)

  1. Hey Mike, I have some follow-up questions..

    1) You have mentioned that you are part of mastermind groups. Can you list some which you think could also be helpful to us?

     

    2) You are now 29yrs old. If you don’t mind me asking, since what age did you start creating your SaaS products?

    You mentioned you started with services in the year 2011, so that would make it at the age of 20?
    That is a remarkable journey!

     

    3) From what I see, you do have a minimalism approach to living life – is that correct? Would say that being minimalist, helps a founder in being more productive and have a clear mind?

     

    4) In the context of the below quote of yours, how do you manage to create so many products alone? I mean you code, you research, you market..etc. How you achieve all this with an incredible pace?

    My business is going to market and running as many profitable SaaS products as I can. A lot of people (hello gurus!) tell you to focus on one thing. I’m here to tell you that another way is totally possible.

     

  2. Hey, replying here to your questions:

    1) I can recommend this mastermind I’m part of: https://startupsauceacademy.com/

    2) I started in 2011 offering services through the agencies, as I mentioned. I started SaaS around 2015, if I remember correctly.

    3) I don’t know if I’m a minimalist but there are definitely a lot of things we don’t need or entertain just because we have heard about them in a podcast or read about them on Twitter – that’s the thing: I have my own problems that I’m trying to solve and I’d like to focus on, and I don’t want someone else’s problems (unless they are just-in-time for me as well).

    4) This is a broad question. There’s no one thing, and doing all the things that I discussed in the interview and adopting the mindset I’ve written about definitely helped me.



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