My Indie Hacker, Entrepreneurial, Startup Challenge to Build a SaaS Business in 12 Months

A man standing with his arms out as the sun rises.

So where did I come up with this crazy idea to build a SaaS business from scratch in 12 months?

Well… over the past couple of months or so, I’ve come across numerous people who have committed themselves to doing this 12 startups in 12 months challenge.

This is a challenge where someone would build a new “startup” project each month. So basically spending 30 days to build an idea, before moving onto the next one.

One variation of this that I’ve also seen is someone starts the challenge already with an idea that has some potential or traction. Then instead of starting a new idea/project every month, they challenge themselves to build a new feature for their only project each month.

This is definitely an interesting spin on the challenge and a better improvement than the original concept. One caveat to this is that you already need to have an idea with some traction or potential. So you aren’t starting from scratch or zero.

This is something that I don’t really like.

Now jumping back to the original 12 startups in 12 months challenge, I do think that the idea itself is overall pretty cool and interesting. But for me the biggest issue is that it is pretty much only a challenge. A challenge to push yourself and see what you can do over 12 months.

Because it is in that direction, there are a few other things that I don’t like about it too. Namely the following things…

  • The focus seems to be on getting an empty trophy by completing the challenge, rather than building an actual successful startup/business that solves a real problem or provides value.
  • One month isn’t enough time to dedicate to 1 idea, iterate on it and figure out if it has any potential to turn into a business.
  • There seems to be a lot of waste with this approach. Spending time building MVP projects that likely no one will care about and you have to “abandon” every month.

So I’ve decided to pull out the good aspects from this challenge and instead create my own unique challenge.

I believe it will be a much better approach with less waste, and more likely to succeed in terms of having a real business at the end. Of course I would not be pursuing such a challenge if I didn’t already have some business knowledge, nor if I didn’t passively follow some of the best online business and entrepreneurship communities.

For my own lack of creativity to come up with a better name, I’ve decided to call it…

My Indie Hacker, entrepreneurial, startup challenge to build a successful SaaS business in the next 1 year.

Yes… I know it is a mouthful!

If you have any better ideas for a name, please drop me an email.

Maybe something shorter like this would also work?

Build a successful business within 12 months challenge

Let’s first define success

Before I go and describe the ins and outs of the challenge, I thought it would be good to explain what “success” means, as that can vary significantly from person-to-person and is also quite vague.

I want to make it clear that it is my intent to create a for-profit type of business. This means that a successful business has to be one that makes a profit.

This is an absolute minimum!

It should also have a healthy growth rate. In this case that means that the growth minus the churn is positive.

Lastly, after all the minimum expenses are accounted for, the business should be making $500 in profit per month.

If I were able to achieve those targets within a year for this challenge, I would have a “successful” business.

What are the rules and the scope of this challenge?

This is a challenge to myself to actually build one SaaS business and not a certain amount of projects or “startups”. The focus, or the goal here, is to build something that will actually provide value to people and/or solve a real problem that people would be willing to pay for.

Compared to the 12 startups in 12 months challenge, the end goal and process is different here.

Rather than continually jumping from idea to idea each month, this challenge will be twofold.

Trying to evaluate as many ideas as quickly as possible, until you come across one that has the most potential or traction.

Then it will be investing all your efforts into growing that idea into a business.

In my opinion, this will be much more efficient and more likely to result in having a successful business at the end.

The best part about all of this is that I’ll be documenting my entire journey in public.

If you want to follow along with me on this journey, you can check out my Entrepreneurial Dreams: Build a SaaS Business in 12 Months Challenge YouTube Series.

Why is this challenge better?

I believe this modified approach will be much better since the focus is different. There won’t be any shooting for an empty trophy challenge and gaining nothing but 12 “startups” in 12 months by the end. Most likely none of which would be real businesses anyways.

Instead, it’s about finding an idea that has the most potential. Then putting all effort into that one idea to make it into a real, profitable business.

In my opinion, there will also be other benefits like the following things:

  • There will be less overall waste going on in general.
  • My time will be spent better.
  • The process is more efficient
  • It will be easier to compare and analyze several different ideas before picking one that has the most potential.
  • It gets you into a different mindset of finding traction before you start building anything.
  • The end goal is starting a real business and not simply completing a challenge.

In the end, it really boils down to this…

Would you rather get really good at creating MVP projects?


Would you rather aim to build a real business?

For me… the choice is pretty easy to make!

The Rules

There really aren’t that many rules to this challenge, but more of some guidelines. These rules/guidelines are what I will personally be following:

  • Starting from nothing, scratch or zero. So no work has been done on any idea.
  • Evaluate your ideas for however long you want, in whatever way you would like to and then pick 1 idea to go with.
  • Turn your idea into a real business that has a monthly profit of $500
  • The business must have a healthy growth rate (growth > churn)
  • If your idea sucks, you can always change to a new one.
  • You have 12 months to make it happen

That’s basically it!

I think this will be a very fun and interesting challenge for me. I know I will learn a lot, I’ll be successful and it will help move me in the direction that I want to go in life.

Probably the most challenging part will be doing the backend portion of the code, since I don’t have much experience with that. However, I do have a good introduction into GraphQL and that will very likely be part of my tech stack.

I will most likely be starting this challenge sometime in July/August 2021.

If you are interested to see what happens and how this all works out for me, then I strongly encourage you to check out my YouTube channel and watch my Entrepreneurial Dreams: Build a SaaS Business in 12 Months Challenge.

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David Nowak

David Nowak

If it is about business, investing, programming or travelling, you can bet he'll be interested. Known to be an easygoing guy with big ambitions and maaaybeee works too much.