TLDR: Independence 😅. Emigration & remote work 📻. $3.1M Seed round 🤑. Booming market 🚀. 58 posts in our blog 🐧. $290K ARR 🐥. 100 new features 💯. 34 new releases 🌶. 20 active partners 🤘. Fibery for Product Teams release 🎁. Some product/market fit 🍱. 4 new teammates 🇩🇰🇵🇱🇷🇺🇧🇾.
December is a good month to reflect and link the past with the future. This post is dedicated to exactly that. It is long. I will ramble about the most important or memorable events in our company. Grab a cup of something 🍶, turn on your music for concentration, and read on.
Fibery was an internal project inside Targetprocess in 2017. It was started with the goal to explore the future of work management tools and maybe find something interesting. We’ve accumulated tons of feedback at Targetprocess and it was not so hard to define a set of requirements for the dream work management software. Then around 2018 we’ve decided to turn it into a new product.
In 2021 Targetprocess was acquired by Apptio, and Fibery became an independent company with the clean cap table. You can’t imagine how hard it is to attract investors when ~50% of shares belong to non-active founders. I tried to raise a round in 2020 and got it only after 50 talks with VCs. The end of 2020 was hot for me, and Fibery was on the verge of closing. I even announced this to the team and said that with a very high probability we are done here, and the next few days were quite strange. Should we continue doing things as usual? Should we just wait? So we decided to give day-offs to the whole team till the final decision.
Fortunately, we were able to find a workable solution for all parties and Fibery got its independence 🗽. It’s hard to express the feelings and relief since we felt we just started to deliver something unique and useful. But here we are, alive!
$3.1M Seed Round 🤑
In July we’ve finally closed our first seed round lead by Altair Capital. This gave us 18+ months to focus on a product and value. I should say that Igor Ryabenkiy and all people from Altair we met are smart and easy to cooperate with. So if you’re a startup founder and raising a round, ping me for the intro :)
We also changed our motto and positioning. Here is it:
Insights are new productivity
We truly believe that work automation and organization are not enough anymore, teams need tools that help to generate insights, reveal new connections and ideas, and bake your ideas with real evidence.
We are dreaming to make Fibery such a tool, and 2022 will be a decisive year for us 🥁.
Emigration & Remote work 📻
Fibery was born in Belarus and the whole development team worked from an office in Minsk. The political situation in Belarus forced many people to emigrate to other countries.
2020 2021 🇨🇾 Cyprus 1 → 3 🇧🇾 Belarus 19 → 8 🇵🇱 Poland 0 → 11 🇩🇰 Denmark 0 → 1 🇷🇺 Russia 0 → 1
In 2021 Belarus transformed from an authoritarian country into a dictatorship. 900+ people are in jail for nothing. You can be jailed by liking a Facebook post or wearing white-red-white socks. These are no jokes. It’s a somewhat surreal experience to observe how your country degrades and ejects smart people.
We’ve closed our office in Minsk in June, and Fibery transformed into 100% remote company. We’ve been working close to each other in a single office for years, so the transition went quite well. Fibery as a product is instrumental for our remote team since we do almost all kinds of ideation, planning, tracking, and even analytics in Fibery. Fibery + Slack is our collaboration toolset for everything.
Market of flexible (no-code) collaborative tools is booming 🚀
Notion growth is phenomenal, with 10M users and a $10B valuation. Airtable just raised $735M and it is worth $11B. Coda’s valuation is more than $1B as well. Monday went public and has $12B capitalization. ClickUp raised $400M with $4B valuation. Crazy numbers, as you see!
Fibery is somewhat late to the party, but we can learn from other vendors and make fewer mistakes (or not). Here is my take on the current market.
Almost all tools above are moving in the same direction: flexible data structures, relations, views, automations, integrations, block documents, etc. Some tools work better for heavy text processes (Notion), some work better for work management (ClickUp, Monday, Coda), some for database scenarios (Airtable, Monday). However, there are more and more intersections.
Fibery major strength is that its abstractions are better and it can handle more complex processes better. No tool will match our relations in the next several years (most likely), because it’s almost impossible to do if you did not add them into architecture from the start. Fibery has the best potential to glue medium/large company collaborations. It lacks some important features and we are still catching up, but there are not so many things remaining in our backlog to finally equalize in many areas.
Fibery shines in more complex processes, but this makes it harder to adopt. From the start, you may not notice differences, since companies pilot new software in small teams. Fibery power unfolds with time and with 20+ people using it.
Market future 🔮
As I already mentioned, work organization and automation are not enough anymore. However, all the tools above are focusing just on that (Notion might be an exception, though). People don’t think in these tools, they organize stuff and track work.
In March I wrote a quite fundamental post: Augmenting Organizational Intelligence. It sets the stage for Fibery for the next several years.
I believe the future of the market is bundling. And the end game is a single tool that accumulates, mixes, connects, and visualizes structured and unstructured information in a single space, thus improving knowledge discovery and increasing insights probability for knowledge workers.
Specialization is no longer hot. We may see some successful specialized tools here and there (Linear or FigJam), but a connected unified thinking/working environment becomes more important than specialized disconnected tools. We will see more and more attempts to solve this problem. From my perspective, Notion and Fibery have the best chances here in the long term perspective. I don’t see how other tools move in this direction fully, but they will pick up some traits for sure.
We will see more features like bi-directional links, transclusions, new navigation patterns to explore information, automatic suggestions, knowledge graphs, unstructured-to-structured content transformation, built-in flexible reporting engines, advanced calculations and formulas, information queries. Many ideas from personal knowledge management software will migrate to collaborative software. Roam, Obsidian, and other vendors will be inspirational for our market.
We will see more attempts to solve knowledge + processes co-existence problems, including processes and knowledge evolution. This is hardcore stuff, but we should dig into these problems to help teams and organizations invent and build things 🧠.
Does Fibery have Product/Market fit? 🍱
Product/Market fit is a vague concept. In my opinion, you should have two properties to have it:
- Churn rate is relatively low in your target segment. For B2B SaaS it is < 15-20% (annually).
- Your users in your target market recommend the product to other people.
MRR, activity, number of leads, number of users are not great metrics to measure P/M fit. Let’s say, you can have P/M fit, but have poor marketing and don’t figure out sales channels yet. Or you have a poor conversion, but converted customers don’t churn.
This year we tried to find P/M fit in product teams and it seems we found it. Fibery annual churn rate in the target segment is 13% and we do see a flow of recommendations from our existing customers. Is it a market-winning fit? I don’t think so, we have many things to improve in our product to make it a market leader, but it’s a decent start 🚴♀️.
Ilya (designer) joined our team and we focused on website improvements. We’ve added Solutions section with several pages dedicated to Product Management, User Research, Software Development and Startups.
We’ve run several webinars and tried to have weekly onboarding webinars. Specialized webinars were quite successful with 100+ attendance, but onboarding webinars attracted 10-20 people top, so maybe we will stop them.
Content marketing: 58 posts 🐧
We’ve published 58 posts (mostly articles) in our blog. On average we have about 7-8K page views in the blog every month and it is hard to say that numbers are growing. Content marketing is always slow, but we do hope to see a positive trend soon.
Web site visits are around 10,000 every months (45% - direct, 18% - organic search, 15% - social media, 10% - referral, 10% - paid search).
We strive for high content quality, and our cooperation with the content agency was a disaster. So all 58 posts were written by us 🌶. Two posts got to the HN top page Hypertext tools from the 80s and Start with a niche. It’s impossible to predict what post will become popular :)
Fibery for Startups: 100+ active startups 🦄
We give startups one year for free if a startup ARR is less than Fibery ARR. Today if your startup’s ARR is less than $300K, we will give you a free year for the top Fibery edition. If you want to join the program, just fill this form.
100+ startups and 1000+ people are using Fibery and enjoy this program now. We consider this a success 💪.
Our Partners program started a few months ago and we already have 20 active partners. They truly believe in Fibery and are very enthusiastic to onboard new companies and help them with the processes set up and evolution. We don’t have any clear results from the partners yet, but I think this can be the most significant channel for Fibery in 2022.
Activation metric: 30 points in 3 days 🧮
We did not track activation at all till December, now we do! It appeared to be hard to define since Fibery is a very non-linear product. We end up with 30 points in the first 3 days. Point is a valuable action inside Fibery that increases system understanding (in our opinion).
Anton wrote a detailed article about how to find an activation metric. This problem is interesting, and there is almost no good content about it.
Outreach & CPC experiments: Not great so far 🥶
We’ve tried to make these channels work, but the current results are not great. In CPC we have 3-5% conversion from leads to activated leads and less than 1% to paid customers. For reference, activation of direct leads is 15-20%, organic search is 10-15%. It means CPC activation is 5 times worse…
Outreach is also hard. The first agency we tried got us zero calls. The next one is better, but still not great: 3 calls in the first months. However, we hope it will improve since it seems we found good enough target niches and the right wording to explain Fibery value.
Metrics: pure numbers 🥦
2020 2021 -- -- ARR: $80K → $290K (360%) - YoY DAU: 500 → 1700 (340%) WAU: 1000 → 2800 (280%) Accounts: 140 → 360 (250%) People: 20 → 24
Product: 100 new features and 34 new releases 🌶
In 2021 we’ve made 34 releases and completed more than 100 new features (and fixed 900+ bugs 🦐). Here is the shortlist of the most important features:
- 🔥 Automated Rules and Actions
- Integrations: Email, Airtable, HubSpot, Zendesk, Braintree, Discourse, Integromat
- Changes History and Undelete
- Burn Up/Down charts, Cumulative Flow diagram
- Full-text search
- SAML SSO & Group permissions
- Documents and entities sharing
- Hierarchical List View
- Space setup re-design
Fibery for Product Teams release 🎁
In February we’ve released Fibery for Product Teams. It’s a single solution that connects several important product development processes together.
Producthunt launch was not great, we’ve got 3rd place. However, our customers left fantastic reviews!
More than 50 companies use Fibery to run product development, and we have good retention in this segment (13% annual churn).
Product: 2022 plans
In 2022 we want to complete two remaining Fibery foundations: Permissions and Blocks. These are the last pillars of our vision. After 5 years of development, we will be able to say that all major stones are in place and relax (a little bit). We hope to release something in February and iterate for several more months in these areas.
Anton Iokov (our product guy) moved from Belarus and lived in my house in Cyprus for about two months. It was a very productive time. We talked a lot and outlined the main use cases for product teams’ intelligence augmentation. We wanted to start implementation in Fall 2021 but postponed this into 2022.
Here are the main use cases for product development companies we are starting to focus on:
- Help product managers to create context-rich specifications that mix structured and unstructured information, relate to accumulated feedback, and slice into real work.
- Aggregate feedback from everywhere and connect to work. Now it works, but not as elegant as we want.
- Prioritize work based on feedback, including segment, feedback importance and other parameters.
- Create changelogs, user guides, public roadmaps and publish them.
People + 2021
People is our most valuable asset. Fibery has 24 people on board now.
In 2021 only one person left, and four joined: Kate Gemskaya 🇵🇱 (marketing), Ilya Buyalski 🇧🇾 (design), Chris Gibbs 🇩🇰 (product), Max Grebenshikov 🇷🇺 (development).
I’m so proud of our team. It’s amazing how resilient it is. All the turbulence of local events, relocation, transition to remote, and other struggles were hard, but we survived and (hopefully), became stronger.
I asked our team about the most memorable events/things in 2021, and here are some replies (spelling and punctuation preserved).
Andrey (engineering): 6 seconds played by unknown drummers in the 60th was used as a solid foundation for music subcultures, hundreds of famous songs around the world in the 80-90. The THING is democratizing music creation with technology by composing and transforming samples.
Max (engineering) Grand final between Maru and Rogue. Maru was the absolute dominator during 2018-2019, when he had won 4 GSL Season. He had best micro control maybe in the world. But after that he had shoulder trauma because of the so hard working training and games. He recovered for 2 years. He always was one of the competitors, but always stop in one-two step to win. He analyze his game and instead of intensive micro in mid game now he bets on hard working macro with extreme optimization of resources, careful defense and use special abilities of units. And he met in Dreamhack final with his ex-team mate Rogue. Game was really something. So hard working, passion to work, never give up despite of pain, but try to balance to remove pain, burnout and find new strong side by changing life and strategy for the game.
Anton (product) 😞 I have been (sadly) impressed by the number of compatriots that have left the country in 2021 (me being one of them). 🎉 Turns out, if you create thoughtful content, nice people reach out months and years after publication — often sparking meaningful conversations.
Daria (marketing) My anxiety level really impressed me this year.
Misha (engineering) Legless guy who danced on the streets of Barcelona 👨🦽. Mountains in Zakopane 🗻. Belarus was added to Hip-Hop International (i.e. olympics for hip-hop crews). Arcane, Disco Elysium. Blocks in Fibery 🧱.
Kate (marketing) My quite nomadic lifestyle and some of the experiences it brought: hiking the volcano, snorkeling in the ocean, working from the treehouse, and paragliding over mountains. And also the fact that I thought I was not brave for all this, but I am. 🤸♀️
Ilya (design) I was really surprised how easy we start (and stop) different initiatives and ideas keeping the same level of enthusiasm and 🔥 inside.
Polina (customer success) Trying to understand the vibes of 2021 I understood that it was a year of big changes and events across the whole life And when there are so many big events - impossible to find the biggest one.
Here are some dreams for 2022:
- 🙂 Find out how to explain Fibery to human beings
- 😀 Release new permissions and blocks
- 😁 Add 300 new accounts and 5000 new users
- 😆 Hit ~$1M ARR
Thank you for being with Fibery. Thank you for believing in our product and our team! ❤️
P.S. 2022 review is here.