No exit plan – Rachel Andrew – MicroConf Europe 2015 Talk Recap

The MicroConf Europe 2015 Talk Recaps can be found on the central “hub” page.

Twitter: @rachelandrew


Talk Recap

  • Have no plan of ever selling to Facebook or anything
  • What happens after you quit the day job?
    • You hit the goal
    • You don’t have a boss anymore
    • But what is next?
  • Created
    • Things were easier back than
    • Swapping hours for money
  • Launched Perch as a result of consulting work (scratching own itch)
  • April 2013 we went full time on Perch
    • “The most dangerous poison is the feeling of achievement. The antidote is to every evening think what can be done better tomorrow.” – Ingvar Kamprad
  • Goal: “Going full time”
    • specific
    • measurable
    • attainable
    • realistic
    • time-bound

What happened after we went full time on Perch?

  • we’ve launched a second product that people love (a smaller version of Perch)
  • still just the two of us
    • still working very hard – 7 days a week
    • but we love the work
  • There is no transformation moment
    • even after going full-time, you’re still you
    • you still have your weaknesses & strengths
    • you may lose a team that covered your weaker spots
  • We forgot to ask ourselves:
    • What did we want our life to look like?
    • What was the next goal for us?
  • “We have a strategic plan, it’s called ‘doing things'” – Herb Kelleher
  • What are your options? 
    • stay small
      • outsource to small team of freelancers
      • not all products suit small (customers need rapid support; mission critical)
    • hire a team
    • replace yourself
      • “get the solution right then remove yourself from delivery” – Brian Casel
    • sell up and move on
  • We’ve tried staying small
    • Perch as a business has a lot of moving parts:
      • Development
      • Ops
      • Community stuff
      • Marketing
      • Support
      • Documentation
    • We can’t do the job of 5 people
    • We could have delayed that jump
      • continue with consulting
      • would have allowed to hire sooner
      • could have self-funded first hire
  • sometimes it is OK to upset a few customers
  • Why not hire/outsource support?
    • as a self-hosted product support is often our first run experience
    • it is truly technical support
    • not the sort of support a VA can easily handle
    • support that every person with technical chops in the company is going to need to help with
  • hiring a developer: what will this give us?
    • more development capacity
    • someone to work alongside
    • focus
    • new ideas and input to the product
    • What’s stopping us?
      • Money – we’re not quite there yet
    • How are we going to get there?
      • Increase profit to hire developer
      • Working strategically on things that increase sales of Perch
      • Focus on most profitable customers?
    • Who are our most profitable customers?
      • Perch is one-off license sale
      • Recurring because people buy a license per site they develop
      • Support costs are front-loaded
    • How do we identify profitable customers?
      • Look at data
      • segmented our customers into groups: casual, committed, super-users
      • current list of top 100 customers on our dashboard
        • I never talked to some of those customers!
    • We want customers who:
      • run a busy consultancy agency
      • Are building lots of websites
      • are more interested in being profitable than playing with the newest shiny thing
    • Your sales data is a goldmine of information
      • you don’t need a SaaS for this
    • Prioritise features wanted by ideal customers
      • Add weight to feature requests based on customer profile
  • Where do our customers come from?
    • our audience
      • seen me on stage somewhere
    • Colleagues’ audiences
    • NOT our ideal customers
  • Where do our IDEAL customers come from? 
    • they have often never heard of Drew or I
      • e.g. in support they don’t know we are the founders
    • cold audiences from Google, or referrals based on word-of-mouth
    • “Our customers don’t come through the one marketing channel that I am good at!”
  • content marketing targeted at ideal customers
  • search engines
    • we do well in organic search traffic
    • which has meant we’ve typically been a bit lazy
  • Placing ads
    • choosing sites that attract our ideal cusotmer
    • using ad copy that targets these customers
    • creating landing pages that speak to these customers
    • TEST!
  • Plugging our leaky funnel
    • we love Drip!
    • Pushing our customer segments into Drip so we can target them as groups.
    • Identifying lapsed customers – those who haven’t bought a license for 6 months – and emailing them
    • Book recommendation: Watertight Marketing
  • We have everything we need to do this
    • Nothing we’ve discovered has been a shock
    • Underlined things we really already knew
    • We’re looking at data through a different lens
  • If you are stuck
    • define your vision for your company and life
    • what does it look like? What is your role? What else are you able to do?
    • “Arrival is not static” – Sherry Walling

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About Christoph

Christoph lives in Munich, Germany and is bootstrapping his own SaaS application as a part-time entrepreneur.

He likes to write on this blog about anything of relevance to single-founder bootstrapped software startups.

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