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UniHosted - Year in review

Published onDecember 28, 2023

Alright, the year is almost over. I always use the time between Christmas and New Year’s to reflect on the previous year and set some goals for the next one.

Today, I took some time to look back on the first few months of UniHosted. We launched on September 1st, 2023, so we’re almost four months in business. It’s not a full year, but definitely enough has happened to reflect on.

Boys in Bali

Boys in Bali

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we.

Somewhere in Juli, I got a Twitter message from this weird NFT profile. He’d seen my post on renting out desk space in our office. I invited him for a day of co-working, and this is how we met Rosco.

Since we still had a few desks left, he vouched for a friend to join the office. This is how we met Dries.

I’ve marked this as one of my best moments in 2023. Dries not only turned out to be a friendly chap. He became my co-founder soon after (together with Adriaan).

Boys at the office

Boys at the office

We’ve written in depth about our origin story, so I won’t expand too much on that. You can read it here.

Long story short, Dries was playing around with a UniFi Cloud Controller. Adriaan and I were fascinated and proposed turning it into a business.

We agreed on a share split and started working on it. Dries focused on the product, Adriaan on the website, and I did the marketing part. If you’re interested in the last one, here is how I went about it.

We wanted to launch quickly, so we decided to rent a AirBNB in Friesland for a week in August. No distractions, just the boys and their laptops working around the clock.

We launched UniHosted in the car on the way back.

Lunch after launch

Lunch after launch

Since it’s a very small niche product (here is what it does), we didn’t expect full-blown adoption after launch, but somehow it was well-received on Reddit.

It was not well-received by everyone. Since our launch we’ve constantly been under attack.

It started when we noticed our customer's UniFi controllers getting flooded with requests. Luckily, Dries fixed it immediately, and our new customers were very understanding of the situation.

However, we didn’t know that this was the first of many attacks that are going on to this day.

We’re constantly playing a game of whack-a-mole. Whenever we block something, the attacker tries a more advanced method to break in. You could it has taken a toll on our mental headspace and focus on building a business, but it also fuels our motivation even more. It's the gasonline on the fire that we didn't need in the first place.

Dries everyday

Dries everyday

Especially in the first stages of a business, you don’t want to deal with attacks. We are trying to build a business. That’s difficult enough by itself. There is so much stuff to do. The last thing you want to do is think about what the attacker will try tomorrow to break our systems.

It’s the sad reality, but hey!, we are truly the most battle-tested solution out there now. Time for the good stuff!

Since launching, we’ve actually seen some real adoption for our solution. Do you know how many people launch a business every year but fail to get a real paying customer?

This is so freaking difficult, but we pulled it off.

It’s probably the thing I’m most proud of from last year: We actually built something that people are happily paying for. We built a real business. No project, but a business.

New customer alert in our telegram chat

New customer alert in our telegram chat

From the start, we got a few customers right out of the gate, and since then, we’ve grown steadily, adding a few paying customers every month (and almost all of them are staying as well).

From that point, we started to believe in the viability of UniHosted as a business. Even so much so that Dries quit his job to work on UniHosted.

It’s a bit more nuanced though. When building UniHosted, Dries was working full-time as a software engineer. We (Adriaan and I) own another company called Simple Analytics. We proposed that Dries come to work for us two days a week instead of working full-time.

When Dries agreed and quit his job, we decided to go to Bali and work from there. It meant for us the start of a real partnership. We spent the month of November working from Bali and did some really cool things.

We launched UniHosted AI (that went viral on Reddit), focused on improving conversion by updating the homepage, and got our content marketing workflow up and running.

Launch UniHosted AI on Reddit

Launch UniHosted AI on Reddit

In December, back in Amsterdam, we reached the milestone of $500 MRR (monthly recurring revenue). It doesn’t sound much, but it’s a really big and important milestone for us.

We reached $500 MRR within three months in a really small niche market. We have multiple paying clients from different countries and are growing faster than Simple Analytics (my other business) at that stage.

Here are our numbers. Keep in mind everything was zero on the first of September.

💰 $510 MRR

😍 15 paying customers

✌️ 163 active free users

🛜 1270 connected devices

📈 13K Website Visitors

Here is our Google Traffic over the past few months

Search traffic to UniHosted

Search traffic to UniHosted

Last but not least: Next year. Where 2023 was the year of getting from zero to one, we want to go from 1 to 10 in 2024.

With our website traffic increasing, more users entering the door, plus our ongoing marketing efforts, we’re creating a little flywheel that should push growth into 2024.

Our ultimate Goal: 5K MRR.

Yes, it's ambitious, but I believe we can pull it off. The most important part is focusing on what is working and double down on that.

Everyone is looking for the golden key to growth, but this doesn’t exist. It’s key to show up every day and make small improvements. If we do this, I’m 100% sure we’ll see this growth compounding.

One final thing, I read a quote somewhere that stuck:

The measure of success is not money. It is whether you would do it again

So, would I start UniHosted again the way we did? My answer could be nothing else than: Hell yes!

Building this company with Adriaan and Dries is a privilege. And I’m super happy to be part of it. Thanks boys!

And a Happy New Year everyone 🥂🍾

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