Francois Mommens is the founder of Linkody, a tool for taking control of backlinks. He developed it in three weeks and used word-of-mouth marketing and free SEO techniques to boost the SaaS’s yearly income from $0 to $145,000. The company is constantly growing and currently brings in $140,000 in ARR from several hundred clients.
Due to Francois’s struggles tracking backlinks for his prior business, Linkody was developed. In three weeks, the MVP was made available, and the idea was quickly confirmed. Francois was able to boost the SaaS’s yearly income from $0 to $145,000 using word-of-mouth marketing and free SEO techniques.
What are you currently working on and who are you?
Francois Mommens, the founder of Linkody, here. Although I presently live in Amsterdam, I have plans to soon go back to either France or Spain.
When I’m not working, I like to spend time in nature and go climbing, hiking, cycling, and ice skating.
My first job was working for the startup Echo Interactive as a backend developer before France Telecom bought the company. I was a part of a small group that built one of the first search engines (many years before Google). This excursion was thrilling. After that, I worked for a number of businesses in other nations, but I gradually lost interest and decided I wanted to run my own business.
The essential tool for taking total control of your backlinks is Linkody. You have access to all the information you require to understand your link profile, manage your current links, and build new ones. SMBs use it for their own SEO needs, while SEO services use it to handle the link building initiatives of their customers.
The company is constantly growing and currently brings in about $140,000 in ARR from several hundred clients.
What is your background, and how did you come up with this idea?
I created a previous business with a friend before Linkody. This project, however, was a failure, so we quickly gave up on it (this may be a story for the failed part;).
That’s when I had my first lesson. Just because you are friends with your peers doesn’t mean you should start a business together.
My inspiration for Linkody came from working on that initial project.
I used to simply be aware of the importance of links when it came to SEO. I needed a tool since I was exchanging links with other people and wanted to be sure they didn’t take them down. There were several existing programs that produced broad reporting on new and lost connections, but none allowed for the daily human addition and verification of links.
I opted to develop a minimum viable product since I thought it would be good to put some work into this notion.
How did you turn a concept into a finished product?
The first version was released three weeks later. This version’s design was helped by a friend who founded the immensely successful Lovehabibi.
At the time, I worked as a backend Java and Perl developer. On the other hand, PHP and Symfony appeared more suited for quick web development, so I decided to explore them.
I had to limit my stay to three weeks because I was unemployed. I didn’t work on the tool again until it started to get traction (even though it was still the MVP in the screenshot below) after I released it and started my new full-time job.
I made the decision to invest some time in creating a version with premium options in order to see if I could sell it. I made use of my free time, including weekends, nights, and holidays.
I decided the possibility was good enough to quit my job and commit myself to the business full-time once I sold my first membership. Fortunately, I had enough money in savings to get by until I could find a job.
After that, I kept improving the product utilizing the agile startup technique, combining user input with an analysis of the products supplied by the industry leaders and concept testing. I have always made an effort to keep the interface clear, logical, and coherent. This led to a lot of acclaim for the instrument. and giving outstanding assistance.
What marketing techniques did you use to grow your company?
I was obliged to know all there was to know about marketing and promotion. I rapidly came to the conclusion that SEM would not be practical in such a cutthroat sector and with so few successful keywords. I focused on SEO, link building, and content marketing on the blog.
I am knowledgeable about a wide range of subjects, however writing is not my strong suit. I thus hired a person to provide constant material. The blog acquired popularity, and traffic grew steadily. However, the conversion was incredibly unsatisfactory. It was costing me money for nothing, so I had to stop.
Once a site gains enough authority, you start to get enough requests for guest posts to keep up a regular posting schedule. But it takes some time. I receive a ton of offers and spam, and I eventually delete 90% of all communications.
Even if the blog does not bring in customers, I still devote effort to it since it is helpful for building backlinks and giving authority to the website that brings in money.
The alternate plan called for giving away free SEO tools. I started utilizing a Backlink Checker that offered bare-bones information for free. This functioned reasonably well. In fact, it works so well that every SEO tool at the moment offers a substitute. I had to branch out and make new, cost-free applications like the Google Index Checker.
Although it’s challenging to measure, word-of-mouth also has an effect; some customers stated that the instrument was suggested to them.
Finally, I have a few brand evangelists who routinely mention the product or specifically advise their partners to use it.
What are you doing right now? What are your long-term goals?
The device is now quite advanced and complete in its own field. SEO backlink tracking and acquisition responsibilities are all taken care of. The program would need to be expanded outside the backlink area and made into a full-fledged SEO tool if I wanted to advance more fast, but given how fierce the competition is, I don’t want to do that.
So, even if it’s for the same sector, I’m now working on something unique and different. A very small number of businesses provide the service I’m creating, and I think they’re not doing them very well, perhaps because the technological issue is rather challenging to resolve.
Oh, I recently created JobboarPlugin as a side project to learn a few technologies, but it could have some promise.
In terms of my own goals, I’d like to go back to France or Spain, buy some rural acreage, grow a food forest, and maintain some animals.
Since I am a rock climber and my girlfriend teaches yoga and meditation, we had this crazy idea to start a yoga/meditation/rock climbing retreat. But I don’t see how I could do that while also managing two (or three?) web businesses. Unless I sell them.
What have you learned most significant while starting Linkody?
It’s difficult to run your own business. I have the impression that I am carrying out the tasks of five different people.
User experience, frontend/backend programming, marketing, product design… I will answer if you use the chat widget to ask for help.
Additionally, it might be difficult to make all of your decisions by yourself. It’s not the same as having partners to have partners, but I have a few business colleagues I could ask for help from as well as internet groups.
There is a reason venture capitalists and company investors only invest in teams with a varied range of complimentary skills rather than solopreneurs (something I also discovered the hard way).
In any case, I focus on how exciting it is to have total control. It’s empowering to take full ownership of my decisions.
I also discovered what a challenge getting feedback is. Getting customer input is a key component of the overall lean startup technique that is widely promoted. The difficulty level is not stated. Nobody has the chance to reply. The last time you gave feedback on one of the ten items you use every day was when? Right.
What were the toughest obstacles you overcame? What were your biggest mistakes?
My main obstacle has been the degree of competition in the SEO market. New instruments are released onto the market every day. I surely compete for organic traffic with the best SEOs as well.
Being solely dependent on Google for traffic is already risky. I was recently hit and lost a considerable amount of money. After conducting some SEO analysis, I was able to pinpoint the issue’s primary source with the use of my own SEO analysis tool, Linkody. I lost two connections that were incredibly powerful, one from Fox News and the other from a significant national gateway. This happened right before the hit. There is no way to prove the causation, but I’d bet on it (you can’t be sure of anything on Google; do not trust people who say you can). I’m now back to making new contacts (by paying someone to do it) in order to make up for the loss.
What equipment and sources would you recommend?
I can arrange my tasks and free up half of my brain thanks to Workflowy. I keep a list of everything I need to do there. Every day at the end, I rearrange the things based on what I managed to get done and create a mini-to-do list for the next day.
For further information
We gather unique business case studies from all over the internet, to inspire you with a wide range of business ideas. This case study was supervised by our team and it definitely caught our interest. You can find other inspiring business stories here.