From 200-250 Genuinely caring for your users and having their best interest at heart pays off.
A lot of things happened since last time. Like neglecting this blog for a couple of month. Don’t worry QuickMail is still around kicking ass hard.
I still get great quotes so I may be doing something right: “I’m only writing to tell you that QuickMail is sensational and I like how you develop it !! We’re working with it now and we are selling our stuff thanks to you! Thanks for your work!”
Producing content is hard. Actually, not hard but demanding. It’s like cleaning the dishes, it’s also a never ending task. One has to find ways to produce valuable content on a regular basis.
The regular basis is not that hard. In fact, I have a friend entrepreneur who used service like http://meetedgar.com/, which is a really nice idea. It’s basically recycling content so there is always something to post at regular interval. I’m sure most high profile use something like that for their twitter account (especially the one who keep posting inspirational quotes).
Well, for the regular part, I found a rather surprising source of continuous new content for my twitter account: praise. Yep, that’s right, I get so many of them by email, that whenever I found one I like, I just paste it in my twitter account. It’s easy enough for me and does the job of showing how cool QuickMail can be. Is this valuable content? Well, not really, but it’s a clear positioning tool (people love my product). And while I was at it, I placed a widget of my twitter account directly on the home page. Voila.
Talking about the home page, I made them a bit nicer, spent a day on that. Wanted to redesign the pricing page, but I need to finish the team plan first.
Yes, team plan. It’s important to give me a better visibility on my users as well as making their life easier. For example, I found that one person had 20!!! accounts of QuickMail (and only because he told me). I knew a few companies had 3-5 but that one was an outlier.
It turned out that he was not totally alone in that game. He is owning a lead generation agency and simply use an account per clients he is serving. Got to make his life easier, he hired an assistant to manage all his QuickMail account… ho dear.
Talking about assistant, I started looking at the time I spend on support. This is significant, but at the same time, I’m super close to the users and get to understand whta problem they have with the software.
I believe too many companies put lots of walls between them and their users so they end up isolated. A lot of my competitors all have “get a demo with us”, I have a 1 button push to try QuickMail in no time and had tons of trials, datapoints and feedback to improve my software. That includes making the support for people not even paying yet. But I’m getting ton of valuable information. Information I keep in my mind.
Yet, one week, I bite the bullet and started documenting all my support emails. I found that. I did around 40 support requests/week when I was at 200 users (so about 20%). No idea about industry standards but this sounds a little high. The issues are not hard but generate frequent interruptions, which could be annoying when developing big chunk of the software requiring blocks of hours of pure concentration (rewards being 10 emails to answer in 1 go :))
So I worked a week to resolve the most common issues. For example, I had an email validation filter that happened to let a few rubbish characters slip only to cause problems when QuickMail tried to contact an invalid email address. I simply fixed this so no one can enter invalid emails any more. This solved a lot of time consuming support issues. Another one was related to CSV files, I originally added it as a quick convenience but this proved to be a pain in the ass when it comes to support, even when I mentioned that if this doesn’t work people should use the Google Drive import instead, some kept trying. It was also stressing the system as the CSV had priority import and was taking resources live rather than back running a background task. So in the end, just I ditched it. Got 3 questions about why it disappeared then done, and then no more support issues as the Google import works just great. I also took this opportunity to add better information in the result email on import.
Results were really good on support, the remaining ones were easy questions that new joiners ask about things that are not clear for them. That can be fixed with better on-boarding but it’s not my main priority at the moment and I’m still happy to support these questions so I’ll be better equipped to do a great on-boarding experience when I’ll deal with it.
One day, a friend of mine forwarded me an email announcement that one of my competitor raised $15 millions to “build sales software for closers” and I had friends telling me that if I ever wanted to raise money, now was the time.
I had many people asking me if they could invest in QuickMail. I always turn them down answering politely that I’m not raising money for now (never say never, I may sell for 15 millions after all. Given the feedback on this competitor, he could save himself the problem and just buy me for $10 millions).
So, for sure my friends are dead right, I could potentially try to raise money. But I’m building a lifestyle business. That doesn’t mean I settle for sub quality product, I want the best in class for my users and will get there but here is the thing about raising millions: while others may react because they fear for their business, I practice the subtle art of not giving a fuck. It works like a charm. For a start, I don’t lose time chasing/courting people. Then, my interest is aligned for what’s best for my users. Accepting money means racking up as much debt as possible to fuel growth in hope of big exit. Not what I’m currently after.
I have a vision and I care about having my users the best product to solve their problems. Of course all businesses tell you that so go figure.
On the picture of the $15 millions funding article, I saw a picture of 30+ people. I know I take business out of them on a regular basis and I’m ALONE (well, pardon me, here is the actual QuickMail team: https://quickmail.io/team).
In all the prospect interviews I did since I started QuickMail (and I did a LOT), only 1 customer was super mega happy with them, which came at a massive surprise to me because no one ever told me that (most were super vocal about how much they disliked them… yet they have “customer happiness” people. Go figure, but I don’t think millions will solve that).
When I talk to people, they often say “you guys are doing great work”, but I’m just a one man show really. A small guy in Switzerland, far from the Silicon Valley, with a 5% growth per week and ridiculous small fix costs (no office, no people). I just love my job, I’m passionate about it and want to give back more and more as my business grow, I guess it does pay off to do things in a non scalable way when business is small.
Being alone gives you advantages and disadvantages. I worked for 12 companies, so I experience pretty much all the company sizes possible. The bigger, the more money is wasted. Money is lost in communication, office space, fix salaries (no matter production adds value or not), … totally disconnected from the actual value created. That’s fascinating.
The biggest disadvantage for me in being alone is the time it takes to reach my vision. But I’m very impatient by nature, so I suspect this will always be the case no matter the size of my business
Marketing activities have been really low for a few months, mostly because I keep on having growth regardless. No paid ads, no promotion… , and no affiliates.
I was proposed a deal to get serious traffic (read well targeted for my niche) in exchange of 20% of the revenues recently actually, but it didn’t feel right (not based on the %, but many other personal factors). So I rejected it and felt immediately better. It’s great to be operating from a position of being able to walk away at any time. I don’t need more growth, but I’ll cover that in the next topic in great details.
Most of the new users come from word of mouth, referrals. That’s like the dream of every engineer, they can focus on product execution and delight their users.
To understand why, here are some of my favourite quotes this month:
“I’m rocking with the the software, its awesome! Gave a demo to my VP, he was extremely impressed to say the least.”
“Going awesome, thanks for asking. Your app + streak makes my life amazing. Our pipeline is chocked full of leads.”
“Great product! I had a custom solution built that I’ve been using for years and then found yours … what a relief!!”
I should add a button like “Recommend QuickMail only if you think it’s an awesome product”. I would not take much risk.
But I don’t take my current customer happiness as granted, far from it, I know it requires constant attention to stay on top of things. I’m okay with that, this will be a very dark day when a customer will tell me QuickMail product sucks. I had one close to that (my first!) sending me an email with just that: “QuickMail is stupid”. I guess I can’t please everyone after all.