How Mac Martine Grew His SaaS Business to $60K MRR Before Selling

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How Mac Martine Grew His SaaS Business to $60K MRR Before Selling

Entrepreneurship can be a grind, and that was certainly the case for Mac Martine. Mac started working on his own SaaS projects in 2011, but it took him years to find a winning product.

When things finally fell into place for Mac, success came very quickly. He launched Castanet, a LinkedIn-based lead generation tool, in 2018 and grew it to $60,000 monthly recurring revenue (MRR) in just 2.5 years before selling the business.

Mac’s story is certainly inspiring, but it’s also insightful. After several years of failed projects, Mac changed his approach in one key way, which led to life-changing success.

The Foundation for Success

Mac has a background as a developer and engineer. After gaining several years of experience, he started experimenting with his own side projects. For the first few years, all of his projects centered around his hobbies, trying to turn his interests into a profitable business.

Before creating Castanet, Mac decided to change his approach. Instead of creating something based on his own interests, he was determined to figure out what people truly wanted and then create the solution.

At the time, Mac did consulting and freelance work building SaaS minimum viable products (MVPs). Most of his clients were entrepreneurs who had a previous exit or owned other businesses that allowed them to self-fund a new project.

“I would help people take an idea, hone it, develop it, and take it to market,” Mac said. “During this time, I got really good at knowing what should and shouldn’t go into an MVP.”

The origin of Castanet involved countless conversations with executives and decision-makers. Mac reached out to everyone he knew who fit into that category and asked if they were willing to meet with him. His goal with these conversations was to get familiar with the challenges they faced and validate the need for a new SaaS product.

Launching the MVP

Mac’s conversations with these executives and decision-makers helped him to identify an area where most companies struggled. “Quickly, I honed in on sales teams,” he said, “realizing that they have money they’re not afraid to spend. I then discovered that lead generation is incredibly valuable. Over time, the idea got narrower and narrower until I knew exactly what I needed to do to get going.”

After clarifying the concept, Mac spent four weeks developing the MVP version of Castanet. Of course, the MVP had some bugs and wasn’t perfect, but Mac wanted to get to the next phase of validation as quickly as possible.

Mac already had a warm audience, which made it easy to launch Castanet. Since he’d spoken with so many people before creating the product and used their insights to guide its development, he reached out to the same people once his product was ready. Several of those people became Mac’s first customers.

Based on the excellent reception and people’s immediate response to become paying customers, he knew the business had significant potential. The initial users were also essential because they provided feedback that allowed Mac to iterate and improve Castanet.

As Castanet grew, Mac gradually took on fewer consulting and freelance clients until he could focus completely on Castanet.


Growing Castanet

Coincidentally, Mac used Castanet to generate leads and get in touch with potential customers. After the initial outreach, he guided demos via Zoom to show prospects how Castanet works and what it could do for them.

Things were going well, and the business was growing, but Mac quickly found himself stretched thin by the number of Zoom calls.

About five or six months into the business, a Castanet user asked Mac if he’d create a white-label version for resellers. Initially, Mac declined because it seemed like a lot of extra work, and he was already struggling to keep up.

A few weeks later, still struggling to scale the business due to all of the Zoom calls he was leading, Mac realized having a reseller might take some of the sales burden off himself. With that in mind, Mac got back in touch, and they worked out a reseller deal.

“Before I knew it, a few other people asked to become resellers,” Mac said. “In the end, I had four of them. This is what really enabled me to take sales off my plate and focus more on product and business.”

Essentially, the resellers gave Mac a sales team without the need for employees.

The Exit

In late 2020, Mac started to think about selling the business after running it for a little over two years. “I had never planned to sell it,” he said, “but I got to the point where I was completely maxed out. I felt in a way like I had waited too long to hire anybody because the thought of trying to get someone up to speed on what they would need to know, on top of what I was already doing, felt like too much.”

Mac weighed the options of hiring to grow the business or selling and decided to sell. Part of the decision involved a desire to return to the early stages of honing an idea and finding product-market fit, which Mac enjoys more than growing and scaling an existing business. “I truly love and enjoy those challenges,” he said, “so I wanted to get back to that.”

Mac listed the business for sale with FE International. It took about 6-8 weeks to find a buyer and a couple of months to close the deal.

Although the selling process went very well, it wasn’t stress-free. “The biggest challenge for me was just dealing with the uncertainty of it all until that final close date,” Mac said. “Somehow, these things feel very fragile at times, and it’s hard not to get your hopes up when you’ve got your mind set on something and it feels uncertain.”

But despite the natural concerns, the acquisition was completed as expected, and Mac closed that chapter.

After the sale of Castanet, Mac and his family have been living as digital nomads. He and his wife have two boys in elementary school. The family of four spent the first school year in Croatia, and this year they’re in Valencia, Spain. They travel as much as they can on weekends and breaks, visiting 15 different countries over the past two years. “It’s been a blast,” Mac said, “and we’ve all learned so much.”

Leveraging Relationships

Today, Mac is working on several different projects. He’s the co-founder of Aware, a LinkedIn engagement tool for creators that launched a few months after the Castanet sale. He’s also working on ViralBox, a SaaS growth tool, and The SaaS Bootstrapper newsletter.

Mac’s experience with Castanet taught him a valuable lesson about the power of leveraging relationships. “In the case of Castanet, it was resellers,” he said. “In what I’m doing now, it’s influencers and turning our customers into advocates to create word-of-mouth marketing.”

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