Software Social

Colleen is ready to go all-in on Refine... and that means moving on from Simple File Upload.

Show Notes

Colleen is ready to go all-in on Refine... and that means moving on from Simple File Upload.

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Creators & Guests

Colleen Schnettler
Co-Founder of Refine, Founder of Simple File Upload
Michele Hansen
Co-Founder of Geocodio & Author of Deploy Empathy
Cory Stine
Audio Editor
Meghan Coleman

What is Software Social?

Two indie SaaS founders—one just getting off the ground, and one with an established profitable business—invite you to join their weekly chats.

Colleen Schnettler 0:00
Hey, Colleen. Good morning.

Michele Hansen 0:03
I'm looking outside at a dark sky. It is the late late hour of 5pm.

Colleen Schnettler 0:09
Okay, good evening. Good evening, Michele.

Michele Hansen 0:14
Good evening. How are you?

Colleen Schnettler 0:16
I'm great. I am having a lovely day. Happy to be here with you on this podcast.

Michele Hansen 0:23
So can I ask you about something that I think you kind of mentioned we kind of talked about, we haven't actually really talked about it, do it? Selling simple file upload. done done.

Colleen Schnettler 0:38
Yes. So I have, you know, we have taken this investment from tiny seed for Hammerstone. And so I am seriously considering selling simple file upload.

Michele Hansen 0:50
And so I mean, I guess that makes sense, right? Like you took the money from tiny seed. So you can focus on Refine Hammerstone, full time. Totally makes sense. And I think I think you've you've kind of felt for a while now that you were sort of, like, pulled in too many directions. But I'm curious, like, how did that like, how did you finally get to that point where you like, like, what was that tipping point where you decided to sell it?

Colleen Schnettler 1:17
Okay, I love the story. So I don't actually think I've told you this story before. So I was at rail SAS, that was in October. And leading up to rail SAS, I had to put a talk together, in one of the things I decided to do in my talk was pre record instead of live code. This is relevant because putting a talk together with good screencast is a tremendous amount of work. I don't remember if I told the story here. But I recorded all 15 screencasts. And I gave them in a to a group of friends and realize that they were not recorded at the ideal resolution. And so I went and I found the egghead guide and I had to like, download, buy new software and download the software that unlocks this crazy screen resolution on your Mac, it doesn't matter. The point is, it was a ton of work. So going to rail SAS, I was simple file upload, I was my job, I was getting prepared for this talk. And we were onboarding the first refined customers, it would be I was stretched incredibly thin at that time, and I was very stressed about it. And that's not how I want to live my life. Something you and I talk about a lot on this podcast is building a business to serve your life, not the other way around. And that's just not it was not awesome. And that was I was like, This is not what I'm trying to do here. So I go to rail SAS, it goes great, I have a great time, I have dinner with two very successful founders. And I'm talking to these people. And I'm just kind of brain dumping on them a little bit like here's, here's the deal. Here's what's going on, I don't know what to do, I have simple file upload, which feels like it is working. And it is so low effort. So I just want to keep it going because it's printing money for me. But I have this other thing that's bigger, it's more ambitious. It's a whole different, it's kind of a whole different ballgame. And you know, it was just I was at this dinner with these people. And they were just it's interesting, sometimes getting and these aren't people that I'm particularly close, like we know each other socially, but we're not super tight. And so looking at it from the outside, they were like, Why? Why? Like, this doesn't make any sense. Like if you're splitting your time and attention. And you have a family like there's there's no way all of these things are going to fail. None of it's going to work. And it was just kind of one of those light bulb moments, you know, when sometimes, you know something is true. But you're lying to yourself about being true. And about it being true. Has this ever happened to you? Yes. And you're just scary moments. And yeah, and someone says something to you that you know is true. But you have not wanted to admit to yourself. And that is what happened to me. When these people suggested that maybe I shouldn't have simple file upload or maybe it was a distraction. It kind of like was a light bulb where I was like, yeah, it's almost like I was I was waiting for someone it was like I was waiting for permission from someone. These people are much more successful than I am. Objectively speaking. I was like, yeah, maybe that. That's right, maybe I'm holding on to this thing, because it's my first thing, and it's working. And I'm scared to let it go because someone else could grow this to a million dollar business. Like there's so much opportunity there. That's a little bit scary to think I could be walking away from that opportunity. But I have to focus and I think with where I am in my life and my family and my time. I have to focus.

Michele Hansen 4:57
So I guess that context on the Preparing the talk and focus and everything really puts into context you around that time and like, I mean also explains why even at one point you were like, should we even keep doing the podcast? Like, do I have time for it? Like, I need to focus on Hammerstone and refine and like you came back from real Sass like 1,000%. In on Refine?

Colleen Schnettler 5:24
Yeah. And I think for me, I mean, and that's true. You know, it's funny, too, because Aaron, Aaron and I are bring potentially bring you back the Hammerstone podcast, and I was like, Okay, we really need to think about how we're spending our time and what is value added, because we don't have a lot of time, and it takes a lot of time to get a business off the ground. So I need to focus, I need to take a risk, right? Like, this is what this is about. It's risk taking, I have to pick, I have to pick a horse to back, as they say. And they're both good horses. But you know, I think refine is what I want to be doing right now. And so I'm I am exploring what to do with simple file upload.

Michele Hansen 6:05
And it sounds like getting the tiny seed money was almost like that last little bit of validation that you needed to be like, Okay, this is the thing I should be focusing on rather than simple file upload?

Colleen Schnettler 6:14
I think so. And I've thought about that, too. I was like, if we didn't get the tiny seed money, is this still the decision? But yeah, I had made this decision after rail, SAS. I mean, then that was before we had the tiny seed money. So this decision had already been made. But absolutely, like getting that external validation certainly helps to be like, Oh, okay, this is, this is the right decision for me right now.

Michele Hansen 6:35
So I mean, talking about selling a business right now. I gotta say, I don't know if you read the news.

Colleen Schnettler 6:42
I do not read the news economy.

Michele Hansen 6:45
The economy has seen better. Yes. It's hair is a little messy right now could use a shower. How are you feeling about selling a business in this environment? Well,

Colleen Schnettler 6:59
man, it's bad timing, isn't it? I mean, I don't know what to say. Except it's bad timing for me. I should have sold six months ago. I am not on any timeline. So I am. Yes, it would be great if I could sell it tomorrow and you know, have a lovely transition and not have to worry about it. But I'm not on a timeline. I mean, the business is so low stress. It's low support, it's growing. It makes money. I mean, so it's not ideal, but I'm also not concerned. I guess.

Michele Hansen 7:35
I honestly, that's that's a pretty great pitch for selling a business right there. Like just put that in your description. It makes money. It's low stress. It could be a million dollars if you put you know, time into it. So buy it. Yeah. So I'm curious, like, did you like are you going through a broker? Are you just like putting feelers out there? Are you putting it on micro acquire? Like, how are you actually selling it?

Colleen Schnettler 8:06
So I listed it on Microsoft buyer. Okay, so that is my first and of course, I haven't tweeted about it. This is the first time I'm talking about it on the podcast. So I haven't news breaking news. I haven't tried to use. I don't write. We're bad about that, aren't we? Like, get to the good stuff once you're in the podcast? Um, yeah, I think I haven't even tried to utilize my network to see if there are people interested. I did listen on micro choir, it's hard to tell with micro choir, because I got a lot of air quotes, interest. But the air quotes interest looked like for me emails. So I don't really know like the protocol. So I've had several people send me stuff that's like, oh, we do this. We buy businesses. Can you tell me a little bit more about your business? And I look at that. And I'm like, Well, you could just read the description. So this feels like a form email. So I'm actually not responding to all of them, which maybe is not the right way to handle it. I don't know.

Michele Hansen 9:05
Feels a little bit like, like, I don't know, if you've ever posted a job posting and had to read it. That's what it feels like. Yeah, like, you get a lot of stuff that's like, they didn't even read read it.

Colleen Schnettler 9:19
Right. So if they sent me, if they send me a request, I want to say, like five or six. If they send me a request, and they clearly didn't even read the job or the job description. They didn't even read the listing that I didn't I don't respond. Because the key with this whole thing is I don't want it to take up more of my time to try to sell the business like I don't care right now. I mean, I want to I want to eventually but it's still growing. So I'm just going to make be able to sell it for more as time goes on. So I don't want to put a ton of time in if people aren't serious. And if someone comes through that serious I absolutely would put time in because I think it'd be great. But it's just like, honestly, when I look at my list of priorities for the next six months selling it is, is low. But but definitely something I am considering for a serious buyer.

Michele Hansen 10:18
I mean, I guess all it really does for us just makes you money, the more it sits there, like it's just what I'm saying, like collecting knowledge or any way like you and you just, you know, kind of do what you have to do to maintain it, but you just keep, you know, getting what is it? 1700 bucks a month? Oh, babe. 1850 Oh, sorry. Okay. Oh, yeah. month from right. Yeah, um, like to, I mean, that's at least a good thing. Like, if you were, you know, six months ago, for example, and we were talking about selling it, and you got to the point of seriously selling it, I imagine that your goal for selling, it would have been to basically sell fund yourself going on refined full time, right. And now that you have, you know, that little bit of investment from tiny seed, you don't have that pressure as much. Right. And so, I mean, in any kind of negotiation, not feeling pressured about the price or time is an extremely good source of leverage, right. Like, that's when people are kind of forced into a deal that is less than ideal for them. But the fact that you have the luxury of time, and of, you know, financially, I mean, that plays in your favor. I mean, you know, statistically speaking, recessions are what, like 18 months. So, you know, worst case scenario, what's, you know, 18 times 1850. And you just kind of ride it out, but I doubt it'll be on microcar for that long, I mean, yes. Again, there's, there's there are people out there with dry powder. And in this kind of environment, like the businesses that suffer are the ones that have users rather than customers, and aren't charging anyone. But if you have a business that's already throwing off cash, even, you know, 1850, if it's shown that you can grow it and that the customers are sticky. Yeah, that's really valuable, especially to someone who, you know, knows how to do content and marketing and stuff. And I think you've shown with all the content investments that you've made that if you put the time in, it'll grow. You just haven't had that time.

Colleen Schnettler 12:33
Yeah. And that's been a very, very clear correlation. Because if you look back at the history of it, are we going on a year now? I don't know. Two years. What if I had this? Oh, yeah. Wait to you launch? 2021? Like February? Right. Yeah,

Michele Hansen 12:48
you got it. I think you got it into the Heroku. Marketplace, like for like the whatever the baby step was in November of

Colleen Schnettler 12:58
2020. Yeah. And then I started selling it in February,

Michele Hansen 13:02
have you? Have you stepped back and looked at yourself, and realize that you have been running a SAS for two years now?

Colleen Schnettler 13:09
That's amazing. I love it. No, that seems crazy. That just wow, that's kind of hard to wrap my brain around. It's true. It's true. Yep. I think I started charging in February of 2021. So almost two years. Wow. That's cool. Look at you. And, and when we started this podcast, I had zero businesses. So this is pretty cool.

Michele Hansen 13:33
Now you have too many businesses, that's a very

Colleen Schnettler 13:37
good, a very, very good problem to have. It's very good problem to have. Yeah, I think that. So if you look at the history of simple file upload, like it went up really quickly, then it was stagnant for a while. And then as soon as we put some effort into marketing, as soon as we put some effort into marketing has started growing again. So I think there's a clear correlation between marketing effort and growth of the product. Like I know exactly what I would do if I kept it. I feel like I have, like, good actionable plan for growing the business. So yeah, I think it's a great opportunity for someone but I also think because of the price point, it's a little bit too expensive for your indie dev, like I've had a couple of people reach out, like, are you gonna sell it like, and I send them the listing and they're like, Ooh, you know, not quite what I was trying to do. And it's a little too small for like, a, you know, a little bit of a bigger shop. So just finding that sweet spot will be interesting to see if, you know, perceive if people are interested and if I can sell it. And if not, like I said it's, it works great. Pretty much runs itself. Low support, basically just makes money. So it feels like a win win, no matter what happens, I guess.

Michele Hansen 14:54
I mean, there's also people out there who have portfolios of small bets who right you know how have tons of like karmi, like five companies that are under 10k each, for example, yeah, and then they're just, you know, trying to, they're sort of spreading their money out. So I'm sure you'll find someone.

Colleen Schnettler 15:12
Yeah. And one of the things that is very important to me is to take care of my existing customers, I have a handful of customers, maybe like five ish, who have been big supporters of me and this business since the beginning. And they are the kind of people that I would not have made it without them. And so that's really important to me to make sure that when and if I do sell it, whomever I sell it to, is committed to providing the same level of customer support and care that I do with these people, because they and they don't even know me, right? These are people that found me through the podcast, or found me through Twitter, who have just been phenomenal supporters. And hopefully, they all know who they are. And I just appreciate them so much. And so it's really important to me that, that everything is good for them.

Michele Hansen 16:05
Yeah, I mean, I think that's a that's a concern a lot of people have when they're selling and I mean, to what you said earlier, though, you're probably too small, like in terms of revenue for like, you know, a big like PE firm. Oh, yeah, who would buy things and then just sort of jack up the prices as much as they can? And right, like, Yeah, I'm not worried about probably too small. For for them. I mean, realistically, I have a feeling that your ideal buyer is somebody who already owns another small SAS or two. Yeah, has some familiarity, you know, with with the space, right, probably, you know, is the developer themselves, so can can manage the product themselves.

Colleen Schnettler 16:46
That's what I'm hoping I think that would be ideal. And like I said, I think there's so much room for growth, like I even I should put this in my listing. But like, I literally know exactly what I think you could do to

Michele Hansen 16:55
Yeah, you should like make a Google Doc or something. And I'm like, Yeah, collude, that when you sell it, and the same way you like you, you know, you sell a house and you're like, by the way, like, here's how the sprinklers work like.

Colleen Schnettler 17:07
So that's one of the interesting things too, about selling it. So part of the reason I would sell it is because it would just be nice to, I think not have the mental overhead of it, even though it's very, very low mental overhead, I think there's always some kind of background processing, or as I see it growing, it's hard not to be like, oh, man, if I could just launch my no code, you know, my no code, white label. Or if I could just redo the onboarding, like, we could probably double revenue. So that stuff is kind of always like swirling around. So if I didn't own it, I think the mental kind of background processing would dissipate. So that's one of the reasons but also, again, like, it's, it's working great. So not in a rush.

Michele Hansen 17:52
It seems like it all hangs over your head like a chore, right? It's like something you should be doing. But it's not necessarily the thing you're excited about doing. So I'm

Colleen Schnettler 18:02
excited about doing it. But I had the time for it. But I feel like now I really need to focus. I mean, I love working on it. To be fair, like I love file uploading way more than most people will you love like working

Michele Hansen 18:13
on the product and the software side. Yeah, but yet, I just feel like as we've talked about it, like the the content and the marketing side was not where your heart was as much as the software side. But I mean, I think this is a kind of a difference that we've sort of seen develop in you over the past six months is that you are more of a salesperson than you are a marketing person.

Colleen Schnettler 18:37
Yeah, I'm in by the way. So so excited to get into that. Yeah, oh, I know what I was gonna say about that where I was going with that was Microwire does have this landing page that's basically like how to be a good seller. And like, oh, well, you should have everything written down and you should have the business should be ready to sell. And you should have a transition plan. I don't know of any of that stuff. So I was looking at that. And I was like, maybe now isn't a great time to sell. Because if I have to spend, you know, weeks putting together documentation for you, then although I do have pretty good documentation, like, like server side documentation, it would actually be more work than just not tell you.

Michele Hansen 19:20
Yeah, I mean, there's an amount of work but like, if you're gonna sell a simple file upload for what if I casually said six to eight times?

Colleen Schnettler 19:29
Yeah, go ahead and casually say that, like,

Michele Hansen 19:33
you know, just like that would be nice. Right? So I mean, I'm talking what I'm just like doing this off top my head, like what, like, somewhere in the range of like, 80 to $100,000. Right, very conservatively, probably higher.

Colleen Schnettler 19:45
Well, hold on. Let me let me do the math like, Okay, go ahead and keep talking while I do them.

Michele Hansen 19:51
Like, maybe spending, you know, a Friday with a big pot of coffee in Google Docs, writing all that down. Like maybe it's work Did for like, you know? Casual at $100,000? Yeah, no, exactly. Yeah. And if someone, I mean, every, every chore has a price, right? And that's, that's a pretty nice price for one.

Colleen Schnettler 20:11
Yeah. And if someone was serious, of course, I would put the work. And I guess what I was saying with that, as I was looking at that, I was like, I should probably have that. But I'm not going to make that right now. Right? Like, I'd rather have that external forcing function of a serious buyer. Someone already offered me 80k. And I turned it down. So anyone listening? Oh, not going to take 80k? Why don't you turn it down? Cuz that's not look, look at this. If I'm making 1850 times 12. times if we say multiples are four to six. So let's do times five. That's $111,000. Right in the middle. And it was my first offer. So yeah, maybe that was an overshare for the podcast. But anyone can look at the listing on microalgae wire. So yeah,

Michele Hansen 20:57
so what is it listed for? Is it? Like, is there like a price given or is it? Yeah.

Colleen Schnettler 21:03
I listed for 120. I think that's reasonable. I do too. It's like I think that's a totally reasonable. You know, I read the micro choir, thing you thinking Ababa, they put out a quarterly, what are things selling for? Now? I expect the next one to be lower, because the last one came in fourth world, right. But in the last one, I want to say it was like four to six, I forget the average. But yeah, so so we'll see. Again, it's only been listed for like, three, four days. So

Michele Hansen 21:34
we'll see. I haven't even told anyone.

Colleen Schnettler 21:38
So it might work out for me. Check back check back and I'll let you know. But where I was going with the amount of work is, is I was looking at that. And I was like okay that they're suggested Doc's you should have and I was like, yeah, that's all really good. But I'm probably not going to put that together unless someone gets really serious.

Michele Hansen 21:57
Yeah. So can we talk about something else really quick? Yeah, of course. So speaking of things, imploding, Twitter. Oh, so yeah. So with everything going on on Twitter, it made me a little. It made me feel like we shouldn't put all our eggs in one basket with talking to our listeners, and this kind of community that's developed around the podcast, sort of unintentionally. And so I set up a sub stack for us. Okay, and the cool thing about having an unsub stack, is that like our Yeah, I guess I didn't tell you

Colleen Schnettler 22:36
about this. You did not surprise us, right.

Michele Hansen 22:40
Yeah. So um, is it like automatically pulls everything in from transistor or from the RSS. So it creates a post every time we have a new episode. But then people can comment on that. And there's also a chat thing if you have the substack app. So like, you know, because we have the little community on Twitter, and also our account. And so in case like, I don't know, I mean, Twitter has been killing features left and right, like, they're gonna kill review, which is the newsletter platform I used for my book. And so I had to switch that over to substack this week. So if they kill the communities thing, then we still have a place to talk to each other. And I was like, with all the mastodon stuff, and everything is like dot social. I was like, Oh, my God, if we could get software dot social, that would be amazing. And you know, of course, it's taken. So you know. Yeah. But anyway,

Colleen Schnettler 23:32
so I don't use substack. I don't know what it is. Is it like a forum? It's like newsletters. Okay, where's that? Where's the chatting happen?

Michele Hansen 23:40
How does on the substack app? Oh, so you have to get the substack app. It's like medium, basically. But better. Oh, okay. Cool. Newsletter free. Yeah. Okay. And the other thing I think I told you about this is that I ordered software, social stickers, no. Okay. I've been doing a lot of stuff and not telling you. I love it. Tell me more. And they are actually apparently sitting in my mailbox right now. And I was like, oh, it'd be fun if we like mailed them out to people, before I realized, you know, just how much that cost and everything. But then also, it's like, wait a minute, I ordered 300 stickers, and then I went to check transistor. And we have over 400 subscribers. So I was like, I didn't even order enough.

Colleen Schnettler 24:23
We can get mad at the next conference. We're at my

Michele Hansen 24:26
Yeah, maybe I'll mail you some. And, you know, sure. You get to go to so many more meetups and yeah, that's true. Yeah, that's true. And I didn't you know, so. Yeah.

Colleen Schnettler 24:40
Cool. I like stickers. So

Michele Hansen 24:41

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Colleen Schnettler 27:02