How I made £3k monthly revenue on Medium, Eventbrite & Doodle
Here’s the story of how Sanctus got to it’s first few thousand pounds in monthly revenue, with barely any costs.
It’s a story of doing what you can and following the pull.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a story about how I was given £20,000 from two people to work on Sanctus for a year. I had no business and no product, but Doug & mills believed in me enough to believe I could create something.
I had about 12 months to figure out how on earth I was going to turn the idea of a mental health gym into reality. All I had at this point was the name Sanctus and an e-mail list of people following my journey with mental health.
From the off I was bullish about making revenue from day one and creating something that people would pay money for. As a solo founder, I needed people to pay me money to prove I was creating something of value, I needed that validation for my business and for my mental health!
My goal was clear, to be profitable by the end of 2016. Sanctus was never set up to be a hyper growth business propped up by gargantuan sums of investment. I firmly believe in building a sustainable healthy business that people can trust. It’s important to me that people believe we’ll still be here in 50 years.
The Big Launch
First things first, I needed a website for Sanctus. The domain name, https://sanctus.pantheonlocal.com was £35 and that was the first money I spent. I then set up a Sanctus publication on Medium to link it to; 1) Because it’s easy and you don’t have to be technical, 2) Because it looks great, 3) Because it’s free to run.
I code in Medium.
So I had a beautiful website for £35 that I could easily upload regular content to and people could also easily contribute to.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
I then started to put together the MVP (minimum viable product) of the Sanctus mental health gym in the form of “Sanctus Groups”. Sanctus Groups were a bit like a group mental fitness class, they were a space to really say how things were going, like really say.
So here I had my first product; it was an Eventbrite page and a circle of chairs in a borrowed boardroom in Shoreditch. We had a format for a facilitated group and a great coach (Shayan).
Spaces were £20 and went up to £30 eventually. So in a group of 8, we’d make between £160 — £240 and I’d then split the revenue with one of our coaches. So from each group Sanctus was making about £100.
People were finding the groups incredibly valuable; people had never experienced a space like it before. A space where you could be completely yourself. You could be honest, vulnerable and express all your emotion. People came away feeling lighter and we’re loving having a space to share without fear of being judged.
After a few months of doing everything I could to get groups off the ground we were making between £500-£1000 per month from them and it was incredibly hard work.
Getting 8 people in a room together to talk about their mental health is not easy. I had dropouts, I had groups where nobody turned up and I had times when I sat their alone waiting for people to turn up. Nobody turned up.
Eventually I felt a pull, from businesses. The founders who were coming to Sanctus wanted us to come in and speak to their team about mental health. They wanted us to create the space we’d been creating outside of the office, inside it.
I was just saying yes to everything at this point and knew I needed to make some more recurring revenue to have any chance of lasting more than a year, so I said yes.
Before I knew it I found myself sitting in the meeting room of a 150 person startup as an in-house coach. I don’t know how it happened but I’d sold the idea of Sanctus 1:1, where people could book onto see me throughout the day and chat about anything.
On my first day, 10 people turned up and I really felt that people needed this space. The company had paid me £500 for the day, as a space for their team to talk about anything.
The space was valuable, but I knew I was out of my depth, so Ben (Sanctus coach) took over from me and I paid him for his time. This was the beginning of what Sanctus has become today.
From August to November we signed up 4 more businesses in the same way and had 5 paying customers. Ben was travelling from Reading to Lichfield coaching people and loads of different people were using Sanctus as a space to open up at work. Victoria, who had been coaching me personally, also joined us to do Sanctus Coaching in another business. It was awesome.
We now had a second product; in-house coaching. This consisted of a meeting room, a great coach and a doodle form to be sent around the business. Oh and google calendar invites, always remember to send google calendar invites.
So at this point our revenue got to about £3,000 per month with about half of that going to coaches.
I could personally make enough to live (barely), but I could just about do it.
As a business our operating costs were me and a Mailchimp subscription, absolutely nothing else. The Sanctus product was a concoction of Eventbrite, Doodle, Medium, Google Calendar, Mailchimp and Whatsapp.
At this point I didn’t need anything else, Sanctus could survive, just. Breathe.
In 2017 you can start a business pretty much for free, you just need the luxury of time, something I was very fortunate to have.
You have to take risks and hope that people will take risks with you too. I couldn’t have done it without Ben & Shayan who took a leap of faith with me to be part of Sanctus and our early customers who helped us create something new.
I also couldn’t have done it without the people around me who believed in me and supported me; George, Sarah, the ustwo community and my mates who’d like all my posts no matter how bad they were.
If you’re not afraid of putting yourself out there, of releasing things that look shoddy, of facing rejection, of looking and sounding stupid — it can be done.
The hardest thing is just getting started.