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How we used Open Data APIs to go from $0 to $2000 MRR within weeks ๐Ÿš€

keaeriksson profile image Karl Eriksson Originally published at mocki.io ใƒป5 min read

Why Should You Read This?

Are you in the process of starting a SaaS, e-commerce store or a local business? Then I think this story can help you develop a strategy to get your first hundred dollars MRR without spending tons of money on marketing. Lets begin.

We Had a Product Without Traffic, What to Do?

One of the first products we developed was an online preparation course for the Swedish SAT test. We created thousands of practice questions, hired math experts to write tutorials and spent a lot of time creating optimized landing pages. However, the traffic never came. This was our start.

Swedish SAT

At the stage we were at, I think a lot of developers creating their own products give up. Developers can spend an insane amount of time creating a product THEY like. But unfortunately we are not good at selling our products or showing them to users in a way that make them interested.

We started thinking what people actually search for in regards to the Swedish SAT and college education. After doing some analysis we noticed that a lot of people used search queries like:

  1. What SAT score is required to get into Law at Stockholm university?
  2. What SAT score is required to get into any Law school in Sweden?
  3. What SAT score is required to get into Computer Science at Linkรถping university?
  4. Which education in Sweden was the hardest to get into?
  5. Which education had the most applications 2015?

You see these are all related to education. And we figured out that a lot of people searching for these things are interested in improving their SAT test score. So how did we use this? We could have started writing articles like crazy about each education programme, but that would be really time consuming. Instead we approached the problem like developres and started to look at how we could actually generate one page with this kind of data for each education in Sweden.

Open Data APIs - the Golden Egg ๐Ÿฅš

This is where things start to become interesting. Open data APIs! At Mocki we are very supportive of governments and organizations opening up their data publicly. It's an amazing way to let normal companies or people develop applications that never would have been developed otherwise. Our interest in open data started that day when we got our hands on application data for every education in Sweden.

For a specific education programme we were able to see

  1. The number of applicants.
  2. The number of accepted people.
  3. The required SAT score to get accepted.
  4. The percentage of women/men
  5. The percentage of Swedish/Non-Swedish people.
  6. And a lot more...

Suddenly we were able to answer all the questions mentioned earler. We also realised that we could create a website out of this. So that's what we did. At that time there wasn't much competition for these search queries either which was great.

This is a screenshot of some of the data for med school and Lund University. One of the most popular universities in Sweden. It may be hard for a non Swede to understand what the data means. But that's not important here. The important thing is that we created pages with hundreds of words, graphs and tables all automatically generated.

Swedish SAT

Could This Be Considered Spam?

If you use this tactic in the wrong way with randomized data or just non useful information it's not good. But we knew that this was data people really wanted to find! All the generated texts were useful and provided great user value. And modern day search engine optimization really comes down to providing great value for a user.

This was all confirmed when Google started picking up the pages and loved them. We quickly started ranking on all sorts of keywords related to SAT. In just a couple of weeks we reached traffic numbers of around 10 000 users per month and it kept steadily increasing each day. All user metrics were amazing. Long average time spent on page and many interactions with the graphs. We also noticed people visiting several different pages because they got hooked on seeing all the different graphs we provided.

The Final Step

So we had suddenly created our own traffic source with relevant users. We started putting up banners on the site with the SAT data leading directly to our SAT prep SaaS. The results were great! We got a lot of signups and had to go back working on our course platform since the users discovered bugs and other problems. But we now had a steady flow of new paying customers. That's where you want to be because that is when a SaaS becomes fun.

How Can You Use Open Data Apis to Do the Same?

This strategy may not be applicable for every service out there. But I will try to create one other example where I think this could work.

Lets say you own a snow shoveling business and you are currently expanding to a lot of different cities. Then I think you could combine this strategy with using local SEO.

  1. Use an open API to get all cities in your country with more than x amount of people
  2. Try to find some weather API providing detailed data about if its going to snow
  3. Try to find historical snow data for every city.

So what can we do with with this data? We can generate something like the following text

"What is the snow situation town X right now? - Snow shoveling forecast",

"Town with X with Y inhabitants usually has around Z number of snow days per year. The temperature in September to February is between K degrees. On our snow and ice scale town X has the score of S (scould be calculated by an algorithm that you create). You will probably have to shovel snow around D days per winter."

"It's currently heavily snowing in town X, so be prepared to shovel snow the next D days."

Each page would be both useful and kind of unique. It's important to make sure to have enough variables as Google might think its duplicate content otherwise. When you have created these pages you now have a local snow shoveling page for a lot of cities. Put up your phone number or a link to your booking system and start scaling your snow shoveling business.

There are probably a lot of better examples, but I hope I gave you enough to get thinking :)

Create an Open API and Start Sharing Your Data!

If you are a government, organization or just a company with some great data set you should think about sharing it. In some cases the data is your business and then it's of course not the best idea. But in a lot of cases there is not much to lose. In Scandinavia where Mocki is founded the governments are currently doing great efforts to make data publicly available. There are a lot of applications that will never be developed by governments and state organizations but that companies or hobby programmers would love to create.

Lets say your government would release all the data on every traffic accident in your country, including the location and severity. Then you could create an app warning about historically dangerous roads. It's these types of things that become possible when the data is released to the public.

With Mocki it's very easy to create a simple API with mock data or real data. You can for example use Mocki if you want to make some of you data available to a hackathon or other event. It's a good and safe start as you wouldn't need to expose any of your own infrastructure or sensitive data sources. If that sounds interesting you can sign up with GitHub or send us a message at Mocki.io.

Cheers!

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Karl Eriksson

@keaeriksson

Hi guys! I am a curious developer currently focusing on serverless. Love to share my knowledge and discuss with others!

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