Business Insight

From Side Hustle to Main Gig: The Story of Angus Cheng's $12K/Month SaaS Venture

January 22, 2024

This is the story of Angus Cheng, a Hong Kong-based developer who grew a one-man business with a "PDF file conversion service".

Today’s Entrepreneur : Angus Cheng

Angus Cheng, a self-described grumpy programmer, is a developer with 14 years of experience living in Hong Kong.

Mr. Angus is monetizing his SaaS business by creating a web service called Bank Statement Converter. The service converts PDF-formatted bank statements and card statements from banks into Excel files. There seems to be a demand for this service overseas, as banks only provide statements in PDF format.

As of September 2023, revenue from this service is estimated to be $12,000. That's about $16.45 million in today's dollars. This is monthly recurring revenue (MRR), not cumulative revenue.

(source :

The service is divided into Starter, Professional, Business, and Enterprise, depending on how many pages you can handle per month. You can pay at a discounted rate if you choose an annual plan.

Now let's take a look at how Angus came to create this service.

How the developer started his business

In November 2020, Angus, a backend developer at a cryptocurrency exchange, quit his job out of frustration. 

It wasn't because he won the lottery or made more than his salary on his side hustle - he had released a games under the company name “Baller Industries”,  but he wasn’t able to live off the money his games made.

Angus owned a limited liability company called Dragon King Creation Limited to manage his application sales revenue, and even though he didn't make much money, he still had to send bank statements, credit card statements, etc. to his accountant for an annual audit.

His bank only provided the statements as PDFs, so Angus asked how his accountant was handling the PDFs.

(source : Bank Statement Converter)

As it turns out, the accountant was copying and pasting data from the PDF into Excel. After talking to some of his accountant friends, he realized that they were doing the same thing and had tried using software to convert PDF files to Excel, but it didn't work well and was time consuming.

This is where Angus got the idea for a program that would extract important information from PDF files and convert them into Excel files. Looking at the bank statement file, there were some tricky tasks, such as locating the transaction table, identifying the bottom of the transaction table, and watermarking the statement, but Angus decided to build the program.

From launch to $1,000 in monthly recurring revenue

On February 25, 2022, Angus posted on his blog that he had hit $1,000 in monthly recurring revenue (MRR). He'd only started building the app in April 2021, so this was a 10-month achievement.

There were many challenges along the way, not the least of which was the negative opinions of those around him that the service would not succeed. Angus wasn't 100% convinced either, but he knew that he wanted to prove himself right by creating a service somehow.

  1. Running ads and still losing money

He met with a friend who had always wanted to work with him and told him about the idea, and together they started building the app. It didn't take long to build the app. They started working on it on April 4, 2021, and got their first user on April 17 through a Google search ad.

(source : Google Ads)

But after the first user showed up, his coworker decided to drop out, saying the service was too boring. That coworker probably didn't think it would be a success.

Angus ended up running the service alone, initially spending $858 on search ads while generating $248 in revenue from 10 users. It was a negative return, but search ads were the only way he could think of to bring in users at the time.

  1. After introducing a subscription model

The lack of repeat purchases was also a problem, so he switched to a $20-per-quarter subscription model. Then he saw an increase in conversion rates. However, the product was still struggling to acquire new users, and he was losing money because he was spending more on ads than we were making in revenue. Eventually, he had to shut down search ads.

  1. Content marketing success with SEO

One day, Angus read a blog post about developers and marketing that inspired him to write a blog.

(Source : Bank Statement Converter Blog)

Then luckily, one of Angus' blog posts made it to the front page of HackerNews, which boosted his SEO (search engine optimization) score. An increase in SEO means that your blog is more likely to appear at the top of the search results page when someone searches for relevant keywords. Below are some articles on Hacker News about Bank Statement Converter.

(source : Hacker News)

He ended up shutting down the search ads, writing the blog, and earning $4,272 in total revenue, while spending $0 on ads. This experience made Angus realize that maybe this service could be successful.

From $1,000 to $4,000 in MRR

In October 2022, Angus blogged that he'd hit $4,000 in MRR. In Hong Kong dollars, $34,000 is about $4,000 in US dollars.

(source : Bank Statement Converter)

He also blogged about what happened over the last seven months, and the biggest factor was time. Over time, the number of users naturally increased. Of course, Mr. Angus didn't stop improving the service in the meantime.

At the end of June, he saw a sharp spike in the graph because the product had a user who wanted to convert a large number of statements from many American banks. Angus built support for every bank the customer had a statement for. This satisfied that customer, but it also satisfied future American customers. 

Angus realized something simple: “If a user uploads a statement and it converts correctly, they’re probably going to buy a subscription.”.  

In order to increase the number of new users, he planned to translate the website and blog to attract international users, try enterprise sales, and implement an accounting service integration.

The secret to steady growth?

So, what's the secret to Bank Statement Converter's continued growth? Let’s look at the data for ‘’ through Similarweb.

(Source : Similar Web)

The data above is an estimate based on sampling, so take it with a grain of salt.

Direct traffic is the highest, followed by Referrals. Referrals are those that come from other websites. Next is Organic Traffic, which is when someone searches for a keyword related to your service and your blog content appears on the search results page. For example, if someone searches for a bank statement pdf converter on Google, you'll see Angus's service appear first in the search results.

If you check back on Similarweb, you can see that the service is getting traffic from keywords such as ‘pdf to excel bank statement’, ‘bank statement converter to excel’, ‘bankstatementconverter’, ‘bank statement converter’, etc.

(Source : Similar Web)

Earlier, we talked about how Mr. Angus started blogging after failing with search ads, and how his blog posts landed on the front page of HackNews, increasing his SEO score. Once he started writing blog posts, he started getting new customers. In the end, the blog has been an effective marketing channel for him, bringing him new customers.

The blog was published regularly until March 2023, with the early posts being mostly technical about how to implement the service's features.

Then, starting with the October 2022 blog I mentioned earlier, he started posting about its revenue/customer status, how it has improved, and what he’s gonna do next. Some days, he just summarized the sales numbers.

(Source : Bank Statement Converter)

In conclusion, Angus continued to attract new customers through content marketing with his blog and retained existing customers through continuous service improvement. As a result, in September 2023, as we saw earlier, he would achieve a monthly recurring revenue (MRR) of $12,000.

What about costs? The only costs are the servers on Amazon Web Services, the cost of OCR, and the service fees required to maintain the service infrastructure. All in all, it's about $770 per month. He made a profit of $11,230.

(Source : Indeihackers)

Solving small problems = making money

If someone has a problem, and they're willing to pay for it to be solved, it can quickly become a business. Especially in the case of Angus Cheng, he has been solving problems for specific professions (freelance copywriters, real estate agents, accountants) and making enough money to support himself.

If you can do development, you can do a SaaS business. Angus Cheng had this to say about the benefits of a SaaS business

“That's the nice thing about running a subscription-based SaaS - if you keep customers happy, your monthly recurring revenue should go up.” - Angus Cheng

💡 Pay close attention to who's having problems around you right now, what those problems are, and if they're willing to pay to solve them!

Written by Free Worker’s Club (Link)


Active Here: 0
Be the first to leave a comment.
Someone is typing
No Name
4 years ago
This is the actual comment. It's can be long or short. And must contain only text information.
Your comment will appear once approved by a moderator.
No Name
2 years ago
This is the actual comment. It's can be long or short. And must contain only what if text information.
Load More
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Load More


A community of freeworkers who work their own way