The Power of Product Focus – Janna Bastow – MicroConf Europe 2016

The MicroConf Europe 2016 Talk Recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Twitter: @SimplyBastow


  • Started in 2010 by scratching own itch
  • We quit jobs in 2012
  • Launched product in 2013
  • 2015: The year of faffing about
    • Hiring (and unhiring)
    • Some outside help
    • Let’s try advertising!
    • Events and outings
    • Founder “hobbies”
    • Should we raise money?
    • Bonus: New product version
  • Reaching $10k – $20k MRR is the most dangerous period for your business
  • Redesigns/Rewrites suck
    • Splits team attention
    • Temptation to do front and back-end at the same time
    • Mahooosive projects
    • Always more to do than anticipated
    • The unleanest thing you can do
    • No new features
  • MRR Plateau of Doom
    • around $30,000 MRR
    • a lot of products hit that plateau
    • Idea #1: Just ship the redesigned version
      • Didn’t really help, metrics were shit
      • had to still support old version
    • Idea #2: Can we throw $$$ at this problem
      • Additional work in managing investors
      • How much is enough?
      • Uncertainty about future (With funding some sort of exit is expected)
      • Why give up a good thing?
      • Lessons learned:
        • Until you can clearly define what you’d do with investor’s cash AND what the return would be, don’t take it
        • Just the process of thinking about funding showed us we didn’t need it
    • Our goal became to increase the trial-to-paid rate from 0% to 15%
      • Experiment #1: Shorten trial time
        • started with 30 day trial
        • We could say with certainty after 9 days whether they’d convert
        • shortened it to 14 days, doubled conversion rate
        • resulted in lots of customer service requests about increasing trial time
        • logical action: shorten trial time to 7 days
      • Experiment #2: Gamify the trial
        • give us your CC now –> get 5 extra trial days
        • tell us your company name –> get 3 days trial
      • Experiment #3: Persona-specific emails
      • Bonus Experiment: Playing with pricing & introducing annual pricing
  • Results
    • Back to Sky-rocket growth
    • Cash in the bank
    • lots of customer love

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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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