How Ivan Built Photopea Into $1M+ per Year Revenue with Zero Employees.

Ivan is the genius behind Photopea, a FREE Photoshop-like image editor. His project gets.

  • 13M monthly visits
  • 1.5M monthly user hours
  • $100K monthly ad revenue
  • He’s solo handled 500K daily users and scaled to $1M+ revenue


Here is the Full Story

Born in a small village in Western Ukraine, Ivan‘s journey began with a move to the Czech Republic in 2001. An ordinary 11-year-old boy, he discovered his passion when his eager fingers first touched a computer keyboard, unveiling the captivating world of computer graphics. By 14, he had already crafted his first website, and an insatiable hunger for coding was ignited.

But it was in 2009, during his tenure as a computer science undergrad, that the seeds of Photopea were sown. A fascination with online games led to countless creative endeavors, marking the beginning of his passionate journey into programming. At 20, Ivan delved into the realm of JavaScript and began crafting Flash games that not only fulfilled his passion but also netted him a modest income. Those early banner ads brought in a monthly pocket change of $100 to $400.

However, Ivan’s relentless ambition was anything but ordinary. At one point, he juggled a staggering 20 different ideas, all simmering simultaneously on his entrepreneurial stovetop. Yet, it was his intimate relationship with Adobe Photoshop that illuminated his path to success.

As he traversed the complex landscapes of Photoshop, two significant roadblocks emerged.

Firstly, Photoshop’s costly subscription model rendered it inaccessible to many, locking it behind a hefty $20/month paywall. Secondly, its substantial computing demands made it unwieldy for users with less powerful machines, and its features weren’t readily available on web browsers.

Ivan, ever the visionary, recognized these shortcomings as golden opportunities. In 2012, his brainchild, Photopea, was born. Initially, he offered a simple tool allowing users to open Photoshop files directly in a web browser, providing them with the ability to download individual layers. It was an impressive start, but it was just the beginning.

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Year by year, Ivan continued to pour his heart and soul into Photopea, adding features like layer creation, deletion, and saving. His mission was clear: he wanted his creation to be immediately useful to others, while he nurtured it into a full-fledged image editor. The metamorphosis was slow but undeniably cool.


From 2012 to 2016, there was no grand plan for monetization. Graduating brought him a meager $29K, but Ivan’s commitment to Photopea never wavered. He pressed on through post-graduation studies, keeping the flickering flame of his creation alive.

In 2017, as his friends pursued high-paying jobs, Ivan made an unconventional choice. Instead of joining the rat race, he dived headfirst into Photopea, turning it into his full-time endeavor. His pursuit was not money; it was the sheer enjoyment of the craft. There were no business plans, no market validation, just the raw passion to follow his heart.

Marketing Photopea became a hurdle, especially for a one-person operation. Ivan tried reaching out to YouTubers, Reddit, and Hacker News, but self-promotion flags and financial demands thwarted his efforts.

Despite these obstacles, Ivan was a one-man army who solved over 400 user issues, created open-source libraries, and meticulously crafted Photopea into a fully-fledged image editor.

Ivan’s commitment extended to customer support, a labor of love that drove 80% of his users to join GitHub solely to request new features. Lacking a marketing degree and financial backing, he innovated by publishing blog posts with every new feature addition, nurturing a passionate user base.

Gradually, Photopea’s reputation soared. The same YouTubers who had once turned a blind eye now churned out tutorials, attracting thousands of viewers. In October 2018, Photopea hit an all-time high with 1.5 million visits, and Ivan seized the moment to embark on his first Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA). The post went viral, accumulating over 50K upvotes and 2.2K comments.


Over the next nine months, Photopea’s traffic doubled to 3 million visits, leading to yet another successful AMA. And in 2021, Ivan made his mark on Hacker News with another viral AMA.

Photopea, a web-based marvel entirely built using Javascript, operated on a shoestring budget of $50 for hosting and $16 for the domain, amounting to just around $700 a year to maintain a multi-million-dollar venture. With zero paid marketing, Ivan and Photopea found their success through the community-driven word-of-mouth phenomenon, exemplifying a timeless principle: craft a better and free alternative to an expensive product, and users will inevitably flock to your doorstep.

Ivan Kutskir, the quiet maverick from a Ukrainian village, redefined the power of passion and perseverance, emerging as the world’s most underrated indie-hacker, with Photopea as his magnum opus, lighting up the lives of millions of creative souls around the globe. A true no-brainer offer, and a revelation to all who dare to dream. 🤯

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