As someone who is deeply fascinated by one-person businesses, I have spent over 50 hours conducting research on these unique and impressive businesses. Through my research, I have come across several examples of one-person companies that have generated millions in revenue with nothing but the determination and perseverance of the founder at the helm.
Below, I would like to share with you three of the most impressive one-person companies that I have come across in my research. These businesses demonstrate the incredible potential for success that can be achieved by individuals who are willing to put in the hard work and dedication required to turn their ideas into reality.
In 2011, Eric Barone, also known as @ConcernedApe, set out to improve his job prospects by creating the video game Stardew Valley. The game, in which players inherit a farm and must grow crops, raise livestock, build relationships with the villagers, and start a family, was a passion project for Eric.
Determined to retain 100% creative control, Eric took on all aspects of game development, including 3D graphics, animations, and music. He became so consumed with the project that he abandoned his job search and spent 8–15 hours per day working on the game.
To connect with players and gather feedback, Eric launched a website and subreddit for Stardew Valley, which quickly gained millions of visits and subscribers. This engaged community helped Eric get the minimum number of votes required for approval on Steam, a platform that typically does not accept solo developers.
In 2016, Eric finally released Stardew Valley for $15, and it quickly gained widespread adoption, selling 1 million copies and generating $15 million in just two months. Today, the game has sold over 20 million copies and generated $300 million in sales.
Several factors contributed to the game’s success, including its low price point, outsourcing of PR, marketing, and publishing, and a strong community of dedicated players. Eric has received multiple million-dollar offers from major companies like Sony and Nintendo to sell the game, but he has chosen to continue updating and improving it instead. Eric is also working on a new game, Haunted Chocolatier.
Who says farming can’t be lucrative? Just ask Eric Barone, the mastermind behind the wildly successful Stardew Valley.
BuiltWith is a company founded by Gary Brewer that helps users discover the technologies and services used by websites. With approximately 3000 paying customers and $14 million in annual revenue, BuiltWith has become a valuable resource for businesses looking to generate leads, perform customer analytics, gain business intelligence, compare websites, or find websites based on specific keywords.
Despite its success, BuiltWith operates with a unique business model: Gary is the only full-time employee, with one or two part-time contractors assisting with the company’s blog. This means that Gary handles sales, customer service, and all other aspects of the business on his own.
BuiltWith initially gained traction through promotions on various blogs and a top spot on Digg, a popular sharing site. It also received a boost from About Us, an internet domain directory, which linked to BuiltWith on every domain page. In response to customer demand, Gary introduced subscriptions ranging from $295 to $995 per month, which allow users to search for technologies, keywords, and potential customers.
To effectively run a business with no employees, Gary has implemented several strategies. He spends one to two hours per day answering user queries, most of which are resolved quickly by linking to BuiltWith’s knowledge base. For more complex issues, Gary creates articles or videos to provide step-by-step solutions. He also makes it easy for users to unsubscribe, which frees up time for Gary to focus on shipping new features based on user feedback and suggestions.
Overall, BuiltWith is a fully automated company that has achieved success through its unique approach and valuable services. Customers such as Google, Meta, Amazon, and Twitter can attest to its effectiveness.
Digital Inspiration is a company that builds Google plugins for a variety of applications, including Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Founded by Amit Agarwal, Digital Inspiration receives an impressive 5 million visits per month and generates $10 million in annual revenue. To date, over 40 million people have downloaded Digital Inspiration’s plugins.
Amit began building Digital Inspiration by promoting his blog on various tech events and convincing Indian filter blogs and other publications to share his content. As the blog gained traction, Amit started building plugins and promoting them on the blog, sourcing ideas from comments, friends, and Reddit. Today, Digital Inspiration offers over 20 plugins, both free and paid.
Some of Digital Inspiration’s most popular plugins include Mail Merge, which allows users to send personalized emails in bulk and track email opens and clicks; Notifications for Google Forms, which sends customized notifications and automatically emails responses to Google Forms; YouTube Uploader, which allows team members to upload videos to a channel with a simple form; and Document Studio, which creates documents from data in Google Sheets and Google Forms and integrates with a variety of other apps.
Amit’s success with Digital Inspiration is truly impressive, especially considering he runs the entire business on his own. While he faces some risk due to platform dependence, Amit has built a thriving company through hard work and innovation. His story serves as an inspiration to entrepreneurs everywhere.