Michael Dubakov
Michael Dubakov
Founder, Fibery.io
Startup Diary

#42. Connecting the dots in April 2022

TLDR: 🇺🇦 Ukrainian war affected our performance. $30K MRR 🐌. 69 reviews in G2 ❤️. Marketing for customer-built products is hard 🥉. 12 customer stories 👻. 2 hours downtime 🥲. New navigation ⛵️. My Space 🔒.

Flashback: #41. Solidarity with Ukraine in Feb 2022

Overview

March and April were challenging months. 🇺🇦 Ukrainian war affected our performance and affects our business as well. It’s harder to focus on work, harder to focus on life, and harder to live overall. This permanent feeling of injustice creeps in and drains your energy. The cure is action 💪. We’ve made Fibery free for Ukrainian companies, we help Ukraine with donations, and we help Ukraine with our public position.

We are not alone. It seems the war is affecting all the people. For example, here is the Fibery activation metric. Fibery activation dropped from 15 to 7-10% in March/April. These values can’t be explained by product changes, but only by external factors. Most likely people’s attention is more dispersed and it’s harder to focus on things.

Fibery activation dropped from 15 to 7-10% in March/April
Fibery activation dropped from 15 to 7-10% in March/April

🐌 We hit the $30K MRR milestone in April, but Fibery grows slower than we want. Our goal is $1M ARR till the end of the year and so far with current trends, we might have around ~$0.7M.

69 reviews in G2

We’ve set a goal to have at least 50 reviews in G2 in April, and now we have 69 Fibery reviews. Thank you so much! Your feedback and love help us to move forward and feel that we’re doing something valuable ❤️. (There is still a chance to help us with your review ;)

Marketing/sales channels

In April we discussed what to do with our marketing efforts.

Channels that do not work for us so far:

❌ Outreach (1 customer from ~20 leads, very hard to generate leads)

❌ CPC (4 customers from 1200 leads)

❌ Content Marketing (5 customers, but we still believe in it)

❌ Partners network (2 customers, but we still believe in it)

Channels that work:

✔️ Word of mouth (110 customers, ~300 of our users replied that they recommended Fibery at some point).

✔️ Organic (60 customers, but are WoM actually, usually people search for “Fibery”).

I accidentally read a fantastic article by David Peterson The rise of “customer-built growth,” or how the “no-code” design paradigm is revolutionizing enterprise software where he defines the new type of companies and explains why usual growth methods are not working for companies like Airtable (and Fibery).

There are many interesting thoughts, let me highlight some of them.

  • Traditional tools are disrupted by novel customer-built products.
  • There are generic solutions like Notion, Airtable, and Coda. All of them work for B2C and B2B cases.
  • There are niche solutions like Monday and ClickUp (project management), Attio (CRM), Fibery (product management). All of them work for B2B only.
  • For us, it’s hard to compete with generic solutions, so our focus on product management looks sane. However, there are other interesting segments that can be disrupted (game dev? digital agencies?).
  • We decided to keep our focus on product companies/startups and Fibery end game is a product company/startup operating system 🔮 that connects all important processes. That is what we learned from our customers. In many cases, Fibery contains 10+ processes in a single workspace.
  • We want to let our partners explore other segments.

market

What about channels? Some traditional channels hardly work for customer-built products, since they are relatively hard to explain via outreach, relatively hard to explain via CPC, etc. They demand patience to explore, educational content, many examples, and use cases.

However, customer-built products open new possibilities that other tools just can’t have easily:

  • Customer-generated solutions & templates. You can create and share templates in Fibery, but there is no place to aggregate all such templates. We should make a place where people can submit their own templates or even sell them in the future.
  • Customer-generated content: shared space, shared view, shared documents, public Form View, etc. Fibery missed this opportunity, but now we are working on it, and going to spend more time on such cases.

There are also many unsolved problems and questions: How to help builders build? How to help builders be proud? How to help users use? (We don’t give many tools for builders to describe the solution and make it easier to dig into). How to convert users to builders? We should find answers to these questions to ignite the growth engine.

Fibery retention is great, we lost ~4% of revenue in the last 6 months. So it seems we have a product-market fit. But we didn’t find a growth model to escape linearity.

🦄 BTW, if you have experience in product growth and want to apply your skills to Fibery, drop me an email (michael{at}fibery.io).

🚜 Our plan of actions in marketing

General vs. Niche

Focus on product management niche and use cases, let our partners explore other segments. Eventually, we see Fibery as a generic solution for any type of company, but we have no resources to pull it off from the marketing side right now.

Use cases that we are focusing on in a product management niche are:

  • Create context-rich specifications
  • Aggregate feedback from everywhere and connect to work
  • Prioritize work based on feedback
  • Public Changelogs, Roadmaps, etc.

Channels

  1. Keep focusing on content marketing and write quality articles.
  2. Help builders build and share the results of their work. We are going to make the Templates and Solutions gallery open for all builders.
  3. Focus on features that showcase Fibery to the world: sharing, publishing, Form View, etc.
  4. Keep focusing on partners and help them build cool custom solutions.

Customer stories

We’ve added many customer stories to our web site, and you can check all 12 cases: Vochi (acquired by Pinterest), PowerX, Keyguru, Conpago, ScootAPI, Anything Connected, Thundra, Tokatab, Truebrow, EduDo, Plex, Bamboo Agile.

2 hours downtime

We had our first serious downtime. The reason is unique, so you should check the postmorterm. On the positive side, now we have US and EU clusters (and set up American leads in the US cluster automatically).

New posts

I’ve set a challenge to write 100 posts about products. Check them out:

Metrics

Here are the main numbers ( sign shows the changes between January, February, March, and April):

Fibery. Build your company workspace with no code

Paid accounts:     160   → 180   → 180   → 185
Active accounts:   420   → 450   → 420   → 470
Active users:      3.2K  → 3.3K  → 3.2K  → 3.4K
Team size:         25    → 25    → 25    → 25
Run rate:          $140K → $140K → $140K → $140K/month  
MRR:               $26K  → $28K  → $28K  → $30K/month

Active accounts (not all accounts are represented here, so I add 30 manually to the metrics above)
Active accounts (not all accounts are represented here, so I add 30 manually to the metrics above)

Product Updates

In March and April, we had six releases. Here are the highlights:

DONE

My Space

My Space section is visible to you only and hidden from all users (including admins). You can put your Documents, Whiteboards, and Views here, organize them in Folders, and do whatever you want with them.

myspace

Support of many-to-many relations in Lists and Smart Folders

Dozens of users asked us to add many-to-many relations support in Smart Folders and Lists, and we’ve implemented it now. You can create a Hierarchical List and select entities linked by many-to-many relations.

For example, we have Use Cases with many Features inside, but the same Feature can belong to many Use Cases. Here is the list that visualizes Use Cases and Features:

many

Convert Field: to-one relation → to-many relation

Now you can convert to-one relations to to-many relations. It’s especially useful in the early stages when you are not sure what cardinality you need. Just edit a relation field and change the cardinality of the relation.

convert

Light Theme

Fibery went through some restyling by Alex. This theme is the new default. It reduces visual noise and makes Fibery lighter and younger.

light

Multi-panel navigation improvements

We are improving navigation, and in the last months did many things here. Now you always see State and Assignments in the main panel and can change values right there as well.

pinned

The next step here is to provide full customization of pinned fields.

You can also open entities in panels from all Views.

nav

The final step is to allow search in panels.

IN PROGRESS

Blocks in Entity View and Page

Page with blocks is released in experimental features. It has just two blocks (Text and Table), but you can try to experiment with them already.

Our next step is to embed blocks into the Entity View page. Here we have an interesting problem to solve: how to marry structured templates and unstructured blocks? There are several solutions, but so far we don’t like any of them and discussing things internally. Most likely we will go with the second approach where Blocks will be a new field in Fibery.

fields blocks

Release estimation: 1 month

Share Space to the web

Spaces can be shared to the web (set as Public), which means they will be accessible by anyone and indexed (or not) by Google.

This feature is already available in experimental mode, so you can try it. For example, here are our shared spaces. Fibery Changelog shows recent changes:

Fibery changelog
Fibery changelog

Fibery Roadmap shows current features

Fibery roadmap
Fibery roadmap

Release estimation: 3 weeks

SOC 2 Certification

We’ve made significant progress with SOC 2 Certification, including penetration tests. Soon we will produce a cool report and start the audit somewhere in June.

GraphQL API

GraphQL API will greatly simplify integration since there are many tools around it and it’s so much easier to use that Fibery original API.

GraphQL in Fibery
GraphQL in Fibery

Release estimation: 1 month

Search in panels

We’re experimenting with better search patterns.

Search in panels to keep the context
Search in panels to keep the context

Release estimation: 2 weeks

Dark theme

It is what it is.

Eye-saver
Eye-saver

Release estimation: 1 month

One-liners

Some new things we’ve added in March/April:

🥉 Random

Random video from our Slack

Random quote from our Slack

Things that are good have a certain kind of structure. You can ‘t get that structure except dynamically. Period. In nature you’ve got continuous very-small-feedback-loop adaptation going on, which is why things get to be harmonious. That’s why they have the qualities we value. If it wasn’t for the time dimension, it wouldn’t happen. Yet here we are playing the major role creating the world, and we haven’t figured this out. That is a very serious matter. — Christopher Alexander

Random image from our Slack

Fibery vs. Trello
Fibery vs. Trello

Random tweet from our Slack

Random link from our Slack

Thought as a Technology. Interesting idea that experts usually construct models or represent knowledge in their heads in a unique way that is not taught or shared. These are hidden interfaces for better cognition that are not often revealed.

Random post in Cortisol 🥲 channel

I’d like to cancel my subscription to fibery. I could not get it accepted at {xxx} due to security compliance issues so there is no point keeping the subscription open. I love fibery however and will be back. (from a guy who needs SOC 2)

Random post in Dopamine 😍 channel

As a user of a hodgepodge of apps like notion, monday, trello, and whatever else…I think Fibery is awesome. Something that I’m personally going to be checking out. (From a guy who ran penetration tests in Fibery as a part of SOC 2 certification)

Good will win in the end. Everything will be Ukraine. 🇺🇦😎

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