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How Noibu Bootstrapped a Seven-Figure ARR Business
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How Noibu Bootstrapped a Seven-Figure ARR Business

Published on

Catherine Daly
Content Strategist
Noibu Team, Ottawa, ON

TIMIA Capital provided a $5 million debt facility to bootstrapped SaaS company Noibu in August 2021. Since then, the company has experienced incredible growth while retaining exceptional gross margins. We caught up with Robert Boukine, Co-Founder and CEO of Noibu to learn more about his business, growth path, and plans for the future.

Noibu’s Early Growth Story

Noibu began life in March 2017 as a virtual shopping SaaS application for retailers. For the first two years, the company didn’t gain much traction, however, the relationships founders Robert Boukine, Kailin Noivo, and Filip Slatinac built within the eCommerce space led to the ultimate creation of Noibu 2.0.

“By spending time with directors and vice presidents of eCommerce companies, we uncovered a deep pain point that was preventing them from succeeding to their full potential,” explained Robert.

These non-technical eCommerce roles often struggle to solve customer issues that interrupt the checkout process on their websites. Developers can’t reproduce the issues so the problem persists, affecting conversion rates and increasing cart abandonment.

Noibu made the decision to sunset its original product, conduct deep discovery in the eCommerce space, and launch a new minimum viable product (MVP) to solve this pain point.

Noibu’s new company vision is to enable eCommerce without frustration. Upon launch of its MVP, Noibu immediately began acquiring customers and grew the business to hundreds of thousands in ARR within the first few months. In 2020, Noibu grew 6x to seven figures in ARR and the team expanded to 18 employees.

Kailin Noivo, Filip Slatinac and Robert Boukine

Building a SaaS Business with Customer Cash

When Noibu launched its new product, it started with monthly fees. While this worked quite well due to Noibu’s low CAC payback time, the team decided to flip to annual and multi-year contracts in an effort to collect more money upfront to reinvest it in the business. 

“By collecting 12 months of payments upfront, we had plenty of deferred revenue to grow off of. That was a big hack for us as a bootstrapped company. The deferred revenue and collection on a quarterly, semi-annual, or annual basis allowed us to hire ahead of our actual revenue bookings and postpone the need to raise capital for a very long time,” said Robert.

Noibu saw no impact on conversion or close rates when it switched from monthly to annual upfront payments. 

Noibu Team, Ottawa, ON

Growing a Bootstrapped Business

In 2021, Noibu experienced breakaway growth. It wanted to maintain its capital-efficient ethos while also ensuring it had enough cash to support its high growth rate.

“Our top-line burn was increasing every month because our MRR was growing rapidly. And although we were very capital efficient, it came to a point where we needed to bring in some risk capital to ensure we could sustain the burn if we had a poor quarter down the line. We also wanted to expand our sales team,” explained Robert.

The team explored options and sought a non-dilutive growth capital partner to enable it to operate comfortably. 

In the summer of 2021, Noibu engaged TIMIA Capital following an introduction by a local entrepreneur of a high-growth SaaS company. TIMIA provided an interest-only loan that allows Noibu to preserve cash in the business without amortization and principal payments throughout the life of the loan.

“Working with TIMIA was an amazing experience. Everyone on the team is super helpful and supportive. They understand SaaS businesses and are happy to discuss funding options or help us with connections,” said Robert.

Expanding Sales and Marketing to Drive ARR

TIMIA Capital provided the Noibu team with the ability to hire sales reps a little ahead of when they would have in the past. 

“We comfortably started deploying the TIMIA Capital facility, with a rate of deployment that felt comfortable to us as bootstrapped founders,” said Robert. “That was an important transition point for us as we went from founder-led sales in early 2020 to a full-fledged go-to-market team where there was little influence from the founders. Our scalable engine continues to accelerate today.”

In 2021, Noibu achieved 3X growth and went from low millions in ARR to several million in ARR.

“The goal was to grow Noibu’s growth rate and ARR so that it would be in a strong position to raise equity financing down the line, and that’s what TIMIA really allowed us to do.”

Creating a People-First Culture

Noibu’s first core value is being people-first. This drives the whole founding team. Robert and his co-founders invest a lot of time each week discussing ways to make team members’ lives easier and happier.

“Although we’re very ambitious and we’re growing really quickly, as founders, it’s really important for us to create a working environment where people feel fulfilled, develop friendships, and feel a strong sense of community. We spend most of our time at work so we may as well make that portion of our lives enjoyable,” said Robert.

Noibu Team, Ottawa, ON

Noibu’s Advice to Bootstrapped Founders

Robert shared some key requirements for other entrepreneurs building bootstrapped, capital-efficient businesses:

1. Strong founding team

Noibu had a very strong founding team that covered all the core skills required by a SaaS startup: product management, software engineering, finance, and go-to-market. Co-founder Filip is a 10X engineer—this saved the company a lot of money in research and development costs as it built its MVP. This enabled the team to extend its runway significantly before adding employee headcount, skipping a pre-seed and seed round.

“We hired our first set of employees when we had several hundred thousand in ARR. The new employees just compounded our growth since we already had a commercialized software product in the market,” explained Robert.

2. Solid understanding of SaaS metrics

Noibu’s founders had their ideal metrics figured out early in their journey. They aimed to have:

  • CAC payback within the six to eight-month range
  • LTV to CAC ratio of at least 3:1

Each of these metrics enabled the team to maintain a capital-efficient operation

3. Product-market fit

Since Noibu took the time to research its addressable market and its persona’s pain points, it was able to pivot early on to deliver an MVP that had a really good market fit. The team continued to iterate with customer feedback and eventually had all the features to solve the problems it identified back in March 2019. 

“You have to have a product that is sellable. We learned that early on and continue to validate our product-market fit as we go along,” said Robert.

4. Understanding of government programs

Canadian fund programs like IRAP and ITA were really helpful to Noibu in the early years. It’s always wise to explore options for government funding for new startups—especially bootstrapped ones.

5. Efficient go-to-market engine

Pretty early on, Noibu figured out how to acquire leads efficiently with an outbound BDR motion. Instead of hiring sales reps or BDRs, however, it outsourced to a business development company to run messaging tests with low risk. 

For just $5,000 per month, Noibu had access to BDR contractors and, once it saw traction with messaging, it hired a BDR in-house. Before long, the team was booking 10 and 15 SQLs per month. 

“Having a founder who knows how to build a go-to-market engine is ideal. You can outsource part of your outbound sales but you can’t outsource your closing or your entire go-to-market function efficiently,” explained Robert.

6. Non-dilutive capital

Robert has an accounting background and his co-founder Kailin has a finance background so they have always operated in a capital-efficient way. “We saw some other companies raise a little bit too early, pre-product-market fit, and tried not to make the same mistakes,” said Robert. 

Once Noibu began getting traction with a properly validated idea, it saw the benefit of staying lean, focusing on customers, and really figuring out the product-market fit before exploring any financing options. Once it required some capital, non-dilutive was the natural choice for Noibu.

“I highly recommend TIMIA Capital to any founder, particularly those who run capital-efficient companies that either want to extend the time before they make their first raise or extend the existing runway of a previous small raise,” said Robert.

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What’s Next for Noibu?

Today Noibu is approaching 70 employees and plans to have 120 by the end of 2022. The team also plans to hit $100 million in ARR over the next five years and is well on its way. Robert and his team intend to continue operating a capital-efficient company that maximizes its growth rate with strong SaaS unit economics. 

“We want to build the most memorable Canadian software company that ever existed—a place that people are proud to work at,” said Robert.

TIMIA Capital is proud to be helping to facilitate the growth of such an exciting company in the Canadian technology ecosystem. Watch this space—Noibu is heading for the big leagues.

Noibu Team, Ottawa, ON

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Catherine Daly
Content Strategist

Catherine joined TIMIA Capital as a freelance copywriter and social media manager in January 2019. She has 15 years experience in marketing and held senior positions at a number of technology companies including Hootsuite, Absolute, and Avnet Technology Solutions. Catherine is an expert writer and marketer and holds an executive Masters in Marketing, a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Journalism, and a Diploma in Digital Marketing.