Alex Moskovski

@moskovski

My SaaS iOS App $3000 Sale Story

I made a Mandarin learning iOS app, and after four months I sold it on Flippa for $3000. Want to know how I did this and what could be done better? Be my guest. Oh, and if it’s not a good time for a story, I prepared takeaway points at the end of the article.

After visiting Beijing and Shanghai, last year I fell in love with Mandarin Chinese and decided to make my own app for memorizing Chinese characters, since most apps in that niche were not good enough. It turned out that I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed it, so I started to offer, quite successfully, some in-app products in it. I’m going to tell this story in future articles, so for now let’s focus on its selling process.

When I decided to sell it (I had too much on my plate at the moment), it was a tough decision because somehow I felt attached to this app, which is quite unusual for me.

Anyway, the most obvious selling platform was Flippa. Since I hadn’t much time (I had an urgent flight from Chiangmai to Hong Kong at 6 am) I decided not to read any tutorials and just use my standard transparent and honest approach.

I wrote a story describing the reasons I made this app, what the buyer will get, and uploaded a bunch of screenshots with various stats.

The listing

After that, I set the time of the auction for two weeks, hit the “Publish” button, and started to prepare for the flight.

Bidding and ranking

Instinctively, I set the reserve price high enough to not regret if the app would be sold while I’m not online. Also I hadn’t set any Buy-It-Now price.

While I was away, people started to put bids on my listing.

At first, when I looked at the bid values I was like “Really?” But soon I figured it out that the Most Active ranking in Flippa solely depends on the amount of bids your listing received.

So actually those tiny bids were a good thing.

As the listing collected bids it climbed higher and higher in the Most Active ranking until eventually on the 7th day of the auction it had hit the first position and stayed there until the end.

Comments

When my listing made itself home at the first place in the ranking I started to get more and more feedback.

At this point, I had already read the Flippa manual and realized that with every comment, the watchers (subscribers) of the listing got an email notification. So besides answering the questions from prospective buyers, I posted something useful in the comments from time to time.

The rule of thumb here is to post the answers to the questions you’ve been asked in your private messages.

Do not exaggerate, and do not lie here. It will come back to bite you. Karma works like a charm. As well as Flippa’s dispute settling team.

There are very few things on this planet more boring than an auction in the middle of its term. So let’s fast forward to the final hours.

Final race

As the listing was approaching its closing, I got more and more direct offers from the top buyers.

Some of them stated that the price they had offered was “the very last” price. But more often than not, just before I had any opportunity to answer them, some other buyer made a public bid that exceeded the direct price.

The flow was quite rapid:

But after the price hit $2550 the race had stumbled. I believe it was because the top bidders decided to slow down a bit and do not escalate the competition beyond a reasonable price.

At the same time, I’d gotten two direct messages from them. One was stating that this is the last bid they’d put and another one was just offering $3000 for the whole package.

Now this is where I made a huge mistake.

I made both of them a counter-offer, proposing the price of $3500, and of course it had been rejected. I never should have done this. It would have been much better if prior to making any offers, I set a $3500 Buy-It-Now price to put more pressure on them.

Why am I so sure about that? Because when I agreed on the $3000 offer of one bidder and set the BIN price at this amount I instantly got two closing!

Both of them were from the bidders I made the offers to. As one of them told me later, he would have paid at least $3200 if I were more assertive.

I perfectly knew from the countless books about negotiations I read that I should make offers only after putting pressure on the opponent. But as always with this sort of thing, reading about sex and actually having it are two different things.

The final stats

Anyway, I’m happy about this case. It’s not exactly a one-billion-dollar story, but the best thing about it is that it can be repeated by any of you. Just remember or bookmark these simple points.

Takeaway points

Every selling is different, but there are some general rules that your listing should match in order to maximize the views, the bids, and the result price:

  1. Telling a story is a must. As well as being completely transparent about anything, whether it’s the marketing channels that you’ve used or the revenue of your product. The only exception could be the prospects — it’s buyer’s job to determine whether your product worth their bid or not.
  2. Start as low as possible. The Most Active Rank on Flippa is based on the number of bids your listing received. So it’s in your best interest to amass as many bids as possible before the price gets big enough to slow down the flow of bids. It’s perfect if you can afford setting your reserve price as low as $1.
  3. Never accept any offers before the very last minutes of the auction. The middle of auction is exactly where the bid flow is almost non-existent and you are very vulnerable. Buyers know that and try to offer you a price that is slightly bigger than the highest bid in order to intercept your sale before the end of the auction, when the competition tends to be the most severe.
  4. Always try to sell a package, not just the product itself. Including things which values are hard to estimate helps to disproportionally increase the price of whole listing. Make and include the social accounts for your product. Offer your expertise on the niche. Try to get media coverage and include it too.
  5. Do not expose your Buy-It-Now price until the very last moment. The chances are that you can’t estimate the market price for your product precisely enough to make a tempting offer to your highest bidders.
  6. The best deals are made behind the scene in the last minutes of the play. Wait till the competition between the buyers is at its highest and offer your BIN price to top bidders.
  7. Whenever possible set the reserve price as low as $1. That attracts a great deal of buyers, makes it possible for your listing to be in the Reserve Met ranking, and to have the skin in the game.
  8. Be honest. Flippa has its fair share of extremely smart and sophisticated people that have been through a lot of deals. Whoever you are generally it’s not a good idea to try to outsmart the collective intelligence.

Have you ever sold any project? What would you like to sell?

By the way, I’m going to write an article about the app in question where I reveal how I created it, how much it earned, and other juicy stuff. Make sure to follow me on my Twitter or Medium to not to miss it. Thanks!

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