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$270k ARR from a Notion form app

$270k ARR from a Notion form builder

Julien Nahum caught my attention on Twitter by pulling in $22k MRR with his Notion form app, Notion Forms. Back in August he was at $10k MRR and he's more than doubled that already! I've mentioned him a few times in the High Signal newsletter so I thought it would be great to interview the man himself about getting to $270k ARR by building in the popular Notion ecosystem.

Can you tell us about what Notion Forms is and your achievements so far?

NotionForms is a SaaS company that offers a form builder integration to Notion, a productivity software. Users can create custom forms and surveys that are linked directly to their Notion databases, making it easy to collect and organize data.

Since launching in May 2021, I have gained a total of 42k users, with 1120 paid subscribers, and an ARR of $270k. Our revenue model is subscription-based, with revenue over $22,600 per month. Our growth has been steady and we are now being used internally by several huge tech companies.

We’re now a team of 3 (one of us working part-time) working on NotionForms. I am proud of what we have achieved so far with NotionForms. Our product is filling a gap in the market and we are seeing steady growth in both revenue and user base. I am excited to continue developing and improving NotionForms to provide even more value to our users.

Why did you create Notion Forms?

The inspiration for NotionForms came when I discovered Airtable, a no-code tool that allows users to create collaborative databases. Airtable has the form feature built-in, allowing users to transform databases into forms in seconds. I realized that Notion, which I was a huge fan of, didn't offer forms at all. Some users were using other form builders and then routing the data into Notion via Zapier, but I wanted to simplify the process by offering a dedicated form builder integration with Notion.

As soon as Notion released a public API, I developed the idea further by building an MVP, focusing mostly on the Notion part of the product to validate the fact that Notion users would be interested in having a dedicated form builder. During the first 2-3 months, the product was entirely free, and I managed to get quite a lot of early users despite the product being pretty ugly and buggy.

Julien leaning out of train

Do you have advice for founders who want to quit their job to work on a startup?

I had savings from a previous (small) exit, and I was doing some freelance work as a software engineer. Creating a business is stressful, and I wouldn’t recommend putting yourself in a stressful monetary situation.

Maintaining a good work-life balance is also important. In the beginning I struggled to work normal hours (I was mostly working at night) which had an impact in my personal life. If you can afford it, I think it can be a great addition to find a coworking place where you can work and meet new people.

How did you attract early users?

I attracted the early users by posting on social media Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook groups. On both Reddit and Facebook I tried to find communities around Notion. My Reddit post was not very successful in terms of user acquisition, as it only obtained 26 upvotes. On the other hand, a video posted on Reddit by someone else about using NotionForms led to a spike in user registration.

I also built the project in public from day one on Twitter, but at the time I had less than 100 followers so it did not really help. Facebook is probably where I got the most engagement. I posted a video and people were excited about the product. I was talking to many of the early users, which helped me understand the users' needs, but also showed them that I cared. So word of mouth also played a role in the acquisition of early users.

What have been the best marketing channels for growing Notion Forms?

The best marketing channel for growing Notion Forms has been a combination of SEO and word of mouth. The product is viral in nature, with users creating forms and sharing them, which leads to more users discovering and using Notion Forms. Users also add links to their forms from their websites, creating backlinks that help with SEO and domain reputation.

Additionally, offering great customer support and having a "Powered by NotionForms" watermark on forms has also been effective in driving growth. It's also important to note that creating a product for a niche audience, in this case Notion users, with an existing and active community, has made things easier for initial traction.

twitter ghost writer

Can you talk about what your stack is?

Sure! The technology stack used for NotionForms includes:

  • Back-end: PHP framework Laravel
  • Database: PostgreSQL
  • Front-end: Single page Vue.js app
  • Styling: TailwindCSS

The app is deployed with a serverless architecture on AWS, which allows avoiding any scaling-related issues. We also use many other tools to run the business such as:

  • Notion for organization & CMS
  • Crisp for customer support
  • Stripe for payment
  • Slack for communication
  • Amplitude & Google analytics for product analytics
  • Figma for design
  • Profitwell for subscription analysis & churn prevention
  • Sentry to track exceptions
  • Rewardful for affiliates

Do you recommend SaaS founders use freemium pricing?

I launched NotionForms as a free product without any usage-based limits. Three months later I launched a paid plan with a flat price of $15 per month. I did not like usage-based pricing for form builders and I wanted to keep things simple with a unique flat price. While there are pros and cons to both freemium and flat pricing models, it ultimately depends on the business and target audience.

Freemium pricing can be a good way to attract new users and build a community, but it can also be difficult to convert free users to paid subscribers. If you have a viral product, then having a free plan makes even more sense because your free users end up doing your marketing. That being said, I can only encourage people to try to charge for at least a part of their product as soon as possible. You don’t want to realise one year in that no one is willing to pay for your product.

Who are your favorite founders that inspire you?

There are many of them, and I found them all on Twitter. Some names: Pieter Levels, Jon Yongfook, Damon Chen, Pierre de Wulf, Noah Bragg and many more!

Where can people find out more about you and Notion Forms?

Definitely on Twitter, which is the only social media I use.

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