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Dee Bee Vee's August micro-SaaS Portfolio Update - Issue #2

Owen McCrink
Owen McCrink
Our second month in operations - a late update!

Another Acquisition!
Happy to briefly mention here our acquisition in August of Pur Ninja - a social media scheduling tool! Lots of things to like about this for us, an attractive purchase price, decent revenue and lots of scope for improvement.
Keep an eye out for another update in a week or so with all the details about this acquisition.
A reminder: Paperplane is a high quality HTML to PDF conversion API that we acquired in July (covered in Issue #1).
Not much has been happening in the Paperplane world in terms of growing revenue. The focus has been on getting the product embedded within the team and working on the necessary product upgrades that we think are required to grow the business.
August Update
For the month, we lost $25 in MRR to $950. This decrease is expected based on some of the customers not getting much usage out of the API. I expect this to continue with a drop off a few users due to lack of product use over the next couple of months.
Once users are established and creating PDFs, switching is much less likely, but if no PDFs are created, the value is not there for the user.
We had 57 trial sign-ups, with only three creating an API key and two of those actually rendering a PDF, with none converting to paid users.
This outlines to me the product onboarding needs significant work to convert more of these trials into using the product and continuing to upgrade to a paid plan.
Support was minimal with six requests total. Two being feature requests (with both being under development), one being an issue that wasn’t caused by us and three general product queries (file size limits, code example and if we render JSON as PDF).
Pretty light load overall which is great.
Product Roadmap
We’re in active development for two upgrades that should allow us to tackle the conversion problem significantly.
1. The ability to use alternative storage providers such as Google Cloud, Azure, Digital Ocean and more.
Since taking over, we’ve had several requests for different storage vendors. And from reviewing past requests, it is a common occurrence. Right now, you must use an AWS S3 account. This is a problem for anyone that just wants to quickly test out our rendering without creating a S3 bucket, or the many users who do not use AWS at all.
2. The ability to use the product without hooking in your AWS S3 bucket details (or any storage) by using Paperplane’s own storage.
By allowing for Paperplane to work out of the box without configuring any storage service eliminates one step to getting people using the product. As it stands, it is a two step process: configure your S3 bucket, integrate with our API. By reducing the friction, we should see more take up in the API usage that then should convert better to active users.
Pricing Revamp
We’re reviewing the current customer mix, usage levels and what functions/features we could amend between plans. Paperplane right now has a two week free trial, followed by a $25 per month plan that only scales with usage, through to a $50 and $100 plan.
Two weeks to get a product integrated into a software product could potentially be a limiting factor (research/testing phase and development time to integrate). The $25 per month minimum would make it difficult to justify for early stage or low volume applications, meaning that these users would look for alternative cheaper solutions rather than integrating us.
If we can make it easier for these early stage products to integrate with us, get them hooked into our API, the less likely they are to switch away from us and continue using us while they grow and ramp up.
We’re looking at a lot of the other similar consumption type developer APIs to take inspiration, and taking a lot of inspiration from Mailgun, SendGrid and Postmark.
September is going to be about getting the development of the two features complete and likely into production, as well as continuing to assess the new pricing model. After this, we’ll need to work on the knowledge base, on-boarding and website, to try and convert these trials into active users.
Thanks for subscribing to the newsletter. As this is only my second time sending, it’d be great to get feedback.
  • Thoughts on this issue? Would love to hear if this was interesting or a bit of a bore.
  • Anything else you’d like to hear from in the future? Deal analysis? Product analysis? Detailed operational updates?
  • Any suggestions on how to grow Paperplane (or Pur Ninja)? 🚀
  • Or know someone that could use the products? Flick them an email. 💌
  • Know of any investors looking at this space? Or have capital to deploy yourself? Let’s chat.
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Owen McCrink
Owen McCrink @dee_bee_vee

The journey of buying, growing and selling micro-SaaS businesses. Expect a monthly update of any buying activity, growth, challenges, operations and more.

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Dee Bee Vee Pty Ltd, 468 High Street Preston Victoria 3072 Australia