Welcome to the second episode of Founder's session, where I have a chat with the founders of SaaS companies on their journey building the company.
This session's guest is AJ, Founder of Carrd.
I have known Carrd for more than 2 years now and really love the product. In fact, I use it personally for my landing pages.
Carrd is one of the most upvoted products on Product Hunt and both AJ & Carrd have a cult following on Twitter.
I have a lot of interesting things to ask AJ and let's get right into it.
Hi AJ, Thanks so much for joining us for a chat. Much appreciated and excited to hear your story on building Carrd. For our readers who might not know, what is Carrd and what is the problem it solves?
Carrd is a platform for building responsive one-page sites for pretty much anything, whether it's a profile page or a landing page for a business (or even beyond that at this point).
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background when it comes to tech and SaaS?
Built various projects in the past (including HTML5 UP and Pixelarity) and have done my share of client work in the field of web design/development. That's pretty much it 🙂
What was the primary motivation behind building Carrd? It's not an easy task to build a landing page builder. Were there any co-founders when you started?
It's a one-man project so I guess "solo founder", although I do have my business partner from other projects on board to run operations now since we've scaled up quite a bit since the old days. As to my motivation: I basically got bored working on just site templates/themes when my skillset had grown to accommodate so much more, so I decided to jump into a larger, more ambitious project and that project became Carrd.
What are the primary channels you have promoted Carrd until now? Are there any plans to expand to new channels?
Honestly, beyond talking about Carrd on Twitter, launching on Product Hunt, and doing the occasional podcast/interview, I haven't taken actually taken any steps to actively market Carrd. It's been spreading (and growing) solely by word of mouth and that's actually helped me keep up with scaling.
What is your vision for Carrd and what are the expansion plans in the next 2 to 3 years?
Just keep it going and see where it ends up! Beyond that, I generally don't like to plan too far ahead as the situation can (and usually will) change on a dime -- as we've all seen with this recent global crisis.
Who would you define as an ideal target customer for Carrd? Solepreneurs, SMB’s, or mid-market firms?
All of the above, quite honestly. It's evolved into something of a swiss army knife for getting small sites off the ground regardless of what those sites actually are.
How many paying customers you have scaled to currently?
Can't get too specific with this at the moment but it's in the tens of thousands now.
There are so many highly funded players in this market. LeadPages, Unbounce, Instapage just to name a few. How would you say Carrd stands out?
I'd say it's simply not trying to be any of those other services, but rather its own thing with its own unique set of tools, which has panned out pretty well for it and kept it competitive.
Bootstrapped or raised capital? If bootstrapped, are there any plans to raise?
100% bootstrapped. No immediate plans to raise, but I don't have any philosophical against doing that if/when it makes sense.
When I first came to know of Carrd, I was amazed at the price. I couldn't believe it was a yearly price and not monthly. How do you manage to price such a good quality product so low? Also, do you think the low price might turn a few away from trying the product?
Carrd's operating costs are extremely low thanks in part to some smart decisions early on (lots of automation) and the minimal amount of personnel involved (just me building/developing this thing and doing support, and my business partner handling other operations).
As to the low price being a turnoff: I suppose that's a possibility, but since you can literally jump into trying the product without even signing up (carrd.co/build) they can make that determination for themselves.
Integrations are quite critical for a landing page builder, particularly with email marketing tools. carrd has the most used ones like MailChimp and others covers but there are tons more. Are you actively building native integrations? If so, which are the ones you are currently working on?
Yup. Generally, if several users request integration with another product I'll at least look into it, and if it makes sense (which more often than not, it does) that'll manifest in an actual native integration of that product.
As to integrations that are in development: Can't really disclose these right now, but there are a few that are in their early stages of planning.
What is the major shift in the SaaS industry in your perspective in the past 5 years and how you see it evolve over the next decade?
Honestly, the bulk of my assertions have held up pretty well over the last 4-5 years, the biggest being that in many seemingly crowded spaces (like the site builder space) there's always room to compete if you have a unique offering and my own experiences have validated that.
I can only see this continuing to be the case going forward as more and more people spin up online businesses and grow the space even further.
Your favorite SaaS tool apart from yours and why?
Zapier and Airtable are probably two of my favorites given how simple they are in theory but how powerful and enabling they are in practice (particularly in the no-code space).
What is the team size currently both on-site and remote, and are there any plans to expand the team in the near future?
As mentioned above, it's effectively just two people at this point -- me on design/development/support, my business partner on other operations like content moderation - but I'll likely be hiring out for a few roles (such as support) in the near-ish future.
Favorite programming language? Reasons for it?
JS by far. It's C-style (which is my preference), it's everywhere, it's powerful, and it's flexible to the point where you can basically build your own meta-language out of it.
AWS or Azure or GCP? Which you used for Carrd and which would you choose if you are starting a SaaS company today and why?
The bulk of my experience is with AWS so I can't really speak to the others, but I can say any time I've needed to do something, I knew AWS would have a product or offering to service it.
Thanks for taking the time to have a chat AJ. There were some really important inputs we can take from your journey on building a profitable SaaS company without a huge marketing spend and a big team.
Thanks for having me, Yusuff.