Our Startup’s Wins, Fails and Lessons From the Last 6 Months




Our Startup’s Wins, Fails and Lessons From the Last 6 Months

We’re halfway via the 12-month startup boom plan we launched in June of 2014. Here’s how things are going…

Six months ago, we made Groove’s one-yr growth method public.

We spread out approximately our technique to advertising, our top-acting channels and the assessments and strategies we planned to execute on over the subsequent yr.

But in commercial enterprise, plans are hardly ever, if ever, set in stone. The high-quality plans are fluid and adapt to effects and comments at some point of the process. A 12-month plan shouldn’t be evaluated in one year; it must be reviewed and adjusted a ways extra regularly to make certain you’re going inside the proper course.

So at the same time as we’ve been tweaking and adjusting as we’ve gone, we’re midway alongside now, which I assume is a superb milestone to step lower back and clearly replicate on our huge-photo progress.

Just like our original method record, this became an inner process that I’m sharing due to the fact I assume it’ll be valuable to different companies working to execute on their personal plans.

I hope you find it beneficial.

A Bit of Background
Our approach was constructed on 3 pillars — our key objectives — for the employer:

The Three Pillars of Our Growth Strategy
1) Leadership in the SMB Market

We’ve gotten here by means of serving small corporations and marketers. Unlike a number of our competitors, we’re no longer going to move upmarket. Our product, our blog and our different efforts have all helped SMB’s grow, and we’re going to keep doing that. As you’ll see beneath, we've plans to growth — via a huge margin — the amount of value we’re handing over to our network. Our assignment is to grow to be the preeminent useful resource for small corporations with regards to help, increase and commercial enterprise approach.

2) Building the Groove Brand
As we’ve visible oftentimes in the SaaS space, an excellent product isn’t sufficient for long-term boom. We need to build a lasting brand that people like to do commercial enterprise with. We’ve begun to do this with the 100K weblog, however there’s plenty of paintings left to be performed.

3) Becoming Even More Data-Driven
There’s no question that accumulating, studying and the usage of the proper facts can help us make smarter business selections about our time, our finances and our roadmap. We’ve visible it with our own successes. We want to do a better job of this. We want to get to some extent in which we will deal with our efforts — advertising channels, product features, crew hours and consciousness — as levers; when we push or pull one, we recognise what end result to anticipate. We can’t rely upon success; this will be the only way to make our boom systematic.

Everything we blanketed in our plan needed to skip a easy check: does it move us toward one in every of our 3 goals?

Below, I’ll overview what we’ve completed, what’s worked, what hasn’t worked, and the way our plans have changed.

Overcoming Growth Challenges
In June, we diagnosed four key worries and challenges that stood in our way. Here’s in which we stand on the ones these days:

Building the Right Team
Being a faraway crew, we’ve had our own challenges with collaboration and boom. We’ve needed to parent out how to conquer them, however doing so organized us for our next hires, which joined us from midway around the world.

In the final six months, we’ve employed  new developers (Matt, who lives in Berlin, and Ryan from Cape Town, South Africa), and Serg, our St. Petersburg-primarily based front-quit developer who had been with us for numerous months, joined us full-time.


Our crew is stronger than it’s ever been, however now our demanding situations are new and exclusive: the talents you need to go from 0 to $one hundred,000 in MRR are specific from the abilties you need to head from $one hundred,000 to $1M. Figuring out what new roles need filling, and locating the proper humans to fill those roles, might be our subsequent step.

Doing More Faster
Six months ago, I had some issues that we weren’t shifting rapid sufficient on the development the front.

To cope with that, we implemented structures for monitoring and handling insects that help us prioritize higher and lose less time from being disorganized. And of path, having three greater complete-time builders helped us in a massive manner.

I’ve been giving numerous thought to Gary Vaynerchuk’s technique to hiring beforehand of your wishes. Skip to a few:44 in the video under to peer what I mean, however the quick version is: as long as you could financially swing it, usually be hiring for folks who will help you down the road, even if you don’t want them right now.

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This is one of the training I hope to apply more over the next six months to help us meet our dreams even quicker.

Bugs and Infrastructure Debt
Our infrastructure had been weighed down by way of technical debt for a while. It precipitated consumer revel in issues, bugs and left us uncovered for catastrophic meltdowns.

Much of the primary half of last 12 months changed into committed to resolving those issues, and by the time we launched our 12-month plan, the app turned into sound and lots of them were gone. However, some nonetheless lingered, and that become unacceptable.

We’ve carried out nicely, although, in tackling them over time. I’m happy with the performance and balance of Groove, but maintaining it strong will always be a concern.

How We’re Doing on the Execution of Our Growth Strategy
In June, our intention turned into to have 5,000 paying customers at the quit of 365 days.

Six months later, we've 2,900. That’s 1,one hundred greater than when we commenced executing on this plan.

Why saas companies fail
Paying Groove Customers
We won’t hit five,000 at that rate, however our new signups consistent with month are gradually growing, so 5,000 is well inside attain so long as we don’t gradual down.

Here’s how our numerous growth efforts are going:

Content Marketing
This is wherein the majority of our recognition has been for the last six months. It’s also in which the bulk of our development has been made.

In September, we launched our new customer service weblog, which quick grew to extra than 10,000 subscribers (some of whom opted in from this weblog’s listing). This has been huge for us, as the readers of the assist blog convert slightly faster — and at a slightly higher charge — than readers of this blog. It’s an addition to our content material presenting that I’m actually enthusiastic about.

We also hit a fork in the street with this weblog while we hit the $100K MRR milestone we started out aiming for. The milestone gave us the possibility to make some modifications to the blog, which include resetting our points of interest on a new, bigger ($500K) milestone and introducing guest content. Plus, we’re launching an interview series; our first interview submit, with Hiten Shah, is in enhancing now, and I can’t wait to launch it. I think it’ll be exceedingly treasured for any entrepreneur.

While we’ve made a number of development in content material, we also have huge goals, inclusive of doubling our subscriber base to 60,000 this yr.

To accomplish that, we’ve were given a few matters in the works:

  • Testing new signup forms and channels.
  • Even more visitor running a blog.

Valuable choose-in content material. While this blog will usually be publically available for all of us, we’re operating on some excessive-value assets for entrepreneurs, marketers and customer support folks to incentivize signal-ups.
In truth, we’re starting today, with one in all our maximum-requested content material portions ever: a collection of each win, fail and lesson we found out on our journey from $0 to $a hundred,000 in monthly revenue.

We’ve edited and put together each submit into an smooth-to-navigate eBook that you can download and examine anywhere. If you’re fascinated, snatch it right here:

Social Media
This is one vicinity where things haven’t gone quite as deliberate.

After quite a few idea and inner dialogue, in October we deleted our Facebook page. It sincerely wasn’t a high-ROI channel for us, and we didn’t need to waste any greater of our resources — assets that could be going towards things like blogging, that we already know to paintings — on it.

With that stated, we’re no longer leaving behind social media. We’re operating now on recalibrating wherein we’re going with social, and plan to put together a brand new, greater targeted strategy in the coming months.

While from a intention-attaining viewpoint, this a part of our strategy has been a fail, I assume it’s more treasured to be brutally sincere with ourselves and admit that than it's far to fake matters are tremendous. Social has been a weak point for us, and we want to get higher.

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Organic search engine marketing
In the original submit, I wrote:

[Alex note: to date, we’ve largely ignored SEO. While it’ll never change the way we write, it will help us figure out the best ways to add value in ways that more people are looking for.]

Since then, we’ve made a far greater aware effort to remember of SEO. While I admit I was once frightened of it — taking into consideration it as a spammy advertising and marketing tactic — I’ve learned a lot approximately how moral search engine optimization can truely assist you write extra treasured and greater exciting content material.

Many of those classes are on this post: How We Got Over Our Fear of search engine marketing and Improved Conversions 20% within the Process

We’ve gone from not even thinking about search engine marketing to rating high for among the search terms we’ve attempted to optimize for, so search engine marketing has been a win for us. However, we’re nevertheless very early along within the system here, and we’re operating tough to get more state-of-the-art and clever approximately how we technique SEO.

Referrals
If we’ve failed (or at the least no longer but succeeded) at some thing to this point inside the execution of our plan, it’s social media and referrals. We’ve failed to do some thing in any respect on this the front. This stays excessive on our list of development priorities, and I’m itching to assault it within the next few weeks.

Expanding Integration Partnerships
With an elevated improvement team, we’ve been able to aggressively build partner integrations and develop the footprint of Groove. In the past six months, we’ve integrated with Slack, Olark and SnapEngage, all of which have been treasured partnerships for us.

We have extra than ten integration releases deliberate for Q1 of this 12 months, and at the same time as I can’t say some thing just but, we commenced beta testing an extremely good new integration nowadays — our biggest one yet — that’ll open the door for Groove users to decorate their assist desks in a massive way.

Product Improvements

  • In addition to shoring up the performance of the app and building new accomplice integrations, we’ve hit quite a few our product development desires over the last six months:
  • We eliminated the Live Chat feature, releasing us as much as attention on middle features that we are able to do higher than everybody, whilst letting our users get first rate chat products from dedicated companies like Olark and SnapEngage.
  • We released our Developer API to permit all people construct Groove functionality into their app. More than  dozen teams are already constructing on it.
  • We’ve made middle enhancements to Reports to help clients higher measure customer service performance.
  • We’ve driven huge user experience upgrades to core ticketing (with a slicker New Ticket form) and search (changing our vintage seek feature with responsive ElasticSearch).
  • We’ve delivered junk mail management to hold person’s inboxes smooth and block undesirable senders.

These are just a few of the ways we’ve made Groove higher. As any tech group can attest to, this is an area wherein the work is never carried out.

Improving the Marketing Site
Another vicinity that I’m very happy with our progress on.

Since June, we’ve:

Added patron case research to assist people see the specific use cases of Groove.
Added an often-asked All Features section.
Released contrast guides for Groove vs. Zendesk, Groove vs. Desk and Groove vs. Email to help capacity customers make their buying decisions.
We’ve also seen marked upticks in conversions from our new product video.

The Next 6 Months
Looking back, we’ve completed simply properly at some of the matters we set out to do.

We’ve additionally absolutely failed at some of them.

But that doesn’t dissatisfied or alarm me. For one factor, the health of the enterprise, normal, has benefited noticeably from us setting these goals and the usage of our strategy roadmap as a guideline.
Monthly Recurring Revenue
Reflecting like this has helped us plan better for the following six months, and after this exercising, we recognise squarely where our priorities lie.

How to Apply This to Your Business
Just as I desire our put up on increase method helped you create a plan of your personal, I wish that no matter what your method is, this publish serves as a reminder to step back, assess and recalibrate your making plans and execution as you go.

It was a precious workout for us, and I suppose it could assist each person as they look forward to a successful 2015.

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