Ten Unlikely Businesses that are Making Over $10K/month in Sales

Sometimes I can’t believe a business or product exists - and makes money. I realized recently that this is a mental block I have, and I need to work to see opportunities where I currently don’t.

I learned this as part of my work with The Foundation and the humble and wonderful coach Dane Maxwell.

The following is a list of businesses on IndieHackers that are generating tens of thousands of dollars per month in recurring revenue. I’ve targeted unusual (or maybe cool) businesses, and assessed the Customer, Pain, Solution and Offer for each of them.

1. HelpMonks - $50K/mo

Source: Interview on Indiehackers

Customer: Small to medium businesses with teams spread across many time zones managing shared inboxes, like customer support.

Pain: When there are many people monitoring one inbox, sometimes nobody knows who should be responding to an inbound email from a customer. Sometimes a few people reply at the same time and sometimes nobody does because they think someone else would do it. Customers complained, and said their service SLAs weren’t being met. Plus, the company looked disorganized.

Solution: A product to assign emails to team members and monitor an email’s stage along a sales pipeline. Focused on mailboxes, not users. Helps you use a company inbox as a CRM.

Offer: $19/mailbox/month, with unlimited users (because they come and go)

Launch and marketing: Invited users to an early-access program, testing it with 500 users for up to 9 months, then getting feedback and releasing a more comprehensive version. Released on ProductHunt, Betalist, Startups List, etc.

2. Instavast - $20K/mo

Reference: Pitch Deck on Slideshare

Customer: People who use Instagram for marketing their business to generate leads and provide social proof.

Pain: It’s hard to use Instagram to grow your following/leads. Nobody understands the algorithm or the best way to spend their time, and using it is a huge time suck.

Solution: An automation tool that lets you stop doing manual work on your account. Lets you DM a whole bunch of people, view all comments in one spot, follow/unfollow, etc.

Offer: $10/month for one account. (they must have 2000 accounts).

Launch and marketing: $0 CAC. They market entirely through organic search and social media marketing (I think this means DMing people and asking if they’re interested… 20% conversion)

3. Ghost - $100K/mo

Side note: I had dabbled with this before, but I liked this story so much I just moved my entire blog to Ghost.

Source: Interview on Indiehackers

Customer: Journalists and writers who want to write and publish and own their content.

Pain: Journalists and writers just want to write and create. But existing publishing platforms are either a) unfocused, tired and broken (like Wordpress), or b) amazing, but closed and inflexible (like Squarespace, Medium). Writers want to create, and to own their own content.

Solution: A simple blogging platform. Launched as a foundation, a not-for-profit.

Offer: $29/month for managed hosting of a blog, and they also give away the product for free if you want to self-host it.

Launch and marketing: Founder used to work on Wordpress. He did a blog post which got 250K pageviews in a month, and so worked on the project and launched it on Kickstarter with a $300K backing. Half the images were mock-ups. Launched it to a 30K subscribers who were interested from the initial blog post.

“We didn't employ any particularly clever marketing strategies. It was all very logical. Tell people what you're going to make, provide ways for them to be involved and to stay up-to-date on what happens, and repeat."

4. Scott’s Cheap Flights - $320K/mo

Source: Interview on Indiehackers

Customer: People who aspire to travel.

Pain: Flights are expensive. Searching for flights is really complicated… there are so many search engines and it seems prices are almost random. Nobody knows what causes the prices of flights to change, so people always feel like they’re spending too much on a flight, and hearing that other people paid less.

Solution: They will find you cheap flights, searching and sharing them, then send you an email offering you an assortment of flights that are way cheaper than usual. If you pay the premium price, you get it filtered by your local airport and target destinations, plus more deals.

Offer: $39/year for the premium package. But otherwise free.

Launch and marketing: Scott once found a cheap return flight to Paris, and an incredulous coworker asked him to tell him whenever he found another. Word spread. He started a Mailchimp account. It was a side-hobby until 18 months later when it hit 5,000 subscribers. Met a business partner - entirely online - who helped him grow it into the business today.

5. Yet Another Mail Merge - $70K/mo

Customer: People who need to send bulk emails.

Pain: Sending personalized emails to a lot of people is time consuming and difficult. Mail merge solutions mean you have to draft up a template in some arbitrary place, like in a document, in an app or on a website, and it's hard to get Google to work with that.

Solution: A script that takes an email you have saved in drafts and customizes it for each recipient, based on data stored in Google Sheets.

Offer: Free for up to 50 emails a day, and from $24/year for 1500/day.

Launch and marketing: Initially was in Google Apps Script gallery, where it was free. Google thought 'this is cool' and interviewed him, and he got some traction. When Google launched its Add-ons Store, it was one of the first in there, and was well-reviewed. Has acquired almost 1M users through search in the store. Was free for a while, then monetized based on 3% of users sending more than 200 emails a day, and added in-app referrals to help grow.

6. Fomo - 95$K/mo

Source: This Interview, and this earlier one on Indie Hackers (now down).

Customer: eCommerce marketers.

Pain: Nobody trusts an empty restaurant, just as nobody trusts a website that seems inactive. People are likely to leave a website without engaging (not subscribing, not buying) if it seems empty.

Solution: A pop-up indicator that shows recent activity. Makes a website seem busy, just as a restaurant with people seems busy.

Offer: Starts at $39 a month for one website, and 50,000 notifications a month.

Launch and Marketing: Founder acquired a business called Notify, re-branding it as Fomo and re-launching it in August 2016. Did very little marketing because he was working at the time.

7. CBlocks - $30K/mo

Source: Interview

Customer: People who want to get started in Cryptocurrency investing but don't know how.

Pain: People don't know how to get started in cryptocurrencies. It's hard to set up a wallet. And choose a cryptocurrency, and know how much to invest.

Solution: A physical device people buy that has six randomly chosen cryptocurrencies on it in a standard amount of $75-300.

Offer: $50 for set up and transaction fee.

Launch and marketing: Initially launched to friends and family, ProductHunt and HN posts fell flat on their faces. They sent emails to a few news outlets though, and that got them going.

Fun note - here's the email that got them into TheNextWeb for launch:

Hello Dearest Editors,

Me and some friends have created CBLOCKS — A mystery box for cryptos. We were inspired by the fantastic site: https://cryptoroulette.info/.

We created this art project where you pay us $75, $150, $200 or $500 and we pick 5 random cryptocurrencies from the top 300, load up paper wallets onto a USB, mount it in a memorabilia case and ship it to you via FedEx. I know what you're thinking: "This is a million dollar idea." Nope — WRONG! This is a BILLION DOLLAR idea.

This also lowers the bar for people interested in getting into crypto, without understanding for the sole purpose of owning a piece of art that could fluctuate in value.

Hahahaha JK we know this is silly but so is this crypto-craze.

The people behind it are me (Auston Bunsen), Mario Aguayo, and PK Banks.

You can check out the site here — we are doing our launch push today (Monday): https://www.cblocks.io/

p.s. I'm sending this to you exclusively, but on Tuesday, I'll try to send it to other media outlets.

8. CodeFree - $16K/mo

Source: Post on r/entrepreneur (old)

Customer: People who want to solve large-scale problems by building apps, but get stuck using the tools out there, that are very powerful.

Pain: People don't know how to build apps, and assume it's very complicated, and they just stop.

Solution: A collection of courses and video guides on how to do things like build AirBnB, putting together tools like Typeform, Zapier and Bubble.

I have a section on the site where students can submit + upvote what kind of startups they want to build (ex. I want to build a marketplace like Airbnb, dating app like Tinder, etc). Once an idea gets a few hundred upvotes, I go to work trying to build that app and then once it's figured out, record the learning process. In 8 months I've released 7 courses and recorded around 102 videos, each around 15-20 minutes long.

Offer: $49/m for unlimited access to courses to learn how to build apps using cheap utilities, not learning how to code.

Launch and marketing: Launched to a group of Bubble users who were building things but getting stuck.

9. Niptaya - 53$K/mo

Source: Interview on Indiehackers

Customer: People who want fun party gifts for adults

Pain: Party gifts are boring.

Solution: A piñata filled with mini liquor bottles.

  • Offer: Big piñatas around $100 each, shipped and delivered to you, with seasonal designs.

Launch and marketing: Initially just bought a domain, got a Typeform, and partnered with a business down the road. Told friends and family, and made the mistake of not having retargeting and lead nurturing in place. They grew through paid acquisition and influencer marketing

10. CryptoProfitBot - $424K/mo (revenue)

Source: Interview on Indiehackers

Customer: Cryptocurrency traders who make bots

Pain: There are lots of Crypto-trading bots, but lots of them are scams. Nobody knows which ones to trust, and there's a lot of arguments in forums and on YouTube (even between major Crypto trading YouTube celebrities) about what works.

Solution: A marketplace for bots to trade cryptocurrencies. They're all reliable bots. Mostly they're resellers for two products: Feeder and Profit Trailer.

Offer: Various bot products from $100-300 in price, all priced in Bitcoin. Mostly Feeder and Profit Trailer.

Launch and marketing: They asked some people on Youtube to review the product as "Crypto is a heavily personal space". They still rely on these affiliates, and recognize they need to diversify.

11. Bonus 1! The Rideshare Guy - $30K/mo (I think)

Source: Interview with Pat Flynn

Customer: The customer is squarely current or aspiring Lyft and Uber drivers (and also a smattering of Postmates and other services).

Pain: People don't know how to sign up to be a driver, how to drive well to optimize for profits, and how to access ancillary services like insurance.

Solution: Harry offers mostly content-based guidance for all of the drivers, but also provides specific training content for how to drive, sells advertising revenue to related affiliates, and sells positions on an insurance marketplace page to insurance companies.

Offer: Banner advertising is $5K/mo and can go in the email. He also makes money from driver sign-ups.

Launch and marketing: Harry first began driving for Lyft and Uber, then noticed nobody was writing about it when he went and searched for content. He started helping, going to driver meets, answering questions on forums. Eventually traffic grew and offers to monetize came in.