TLDR: Some Round A 🤑. Time for bundling! 🧶. Market demands profitability 🐻. $500K+ ARR 🐕. 200 new features 💪. 40 new releases 🌶. 150 active startups 🦄. Marketing wins and losses 💎. SOC 2 (almost) 🦒. 5 new teammates 🇨🇿🇵🇱🇨🇦🇵🇱🇵🇱. Full remote ✈️. Dopamine and cortisol 😁😨.
It’s 2022, but December is still a decent month to reflect and link the past with the future. This post is inevitably long. I will ramble about the most important or memorable events in our company. Grab a hug from someone, turn on your music for relaxation, and read on.
NOTE: Read Fibery in 2021 review if you like continuity.
Round A 🤑
A super short section. We’ve done it, but haven’t announced it yet 🤫. Wait till January. I will not spoil anything here. We have enough money to feel secure, improve the product, grow and expand our marketing team!
Market trends 🔮
The future feels uncertain in 2022. Markets are shaking, humanity is shocked, and technology is advancing at full speed. I have very mixed feelings about all that, let’s try to split this into sections.
Profitability FTW 🐻
Many companies in the productivity space experienced layoffs. They were not huge, usually around 10-15% of the staff. It’s a response to uncertainty and a risk mitigation plan.
People % -- -- Airtable 250 20% Asana 180 9% ClickUp 60 7% Productboard 100 20%
Companies cut expenses to have more cash in the bank. 2 years runway is what every startup needs these days since 2023 is unpredictable. Fibery has nothing to cut, so we got round A instead.
Most tools are strugling, while Notion became a clear marked leader this year. Notion is doing great and growing fast.
Profitability becomes the new trend. I really like it, since fast pumped growth always was unnatural to me. You can grow fast, but you should have a stable base to stand on. Profitability is the base. Fibery is not profitable yet, but this is our goal for the future.
Time for bundling! 🧶
Bundling is hot. Fibery has been betting on bundling from day 1 and now I see more and more vendors doing it. For example, Obsidian added cool whiteboards in their recent release, and now you don’t have to use a third-party drawing tool in your notes.
Here is an interesting trend:
SaaS apps used by an organization (on average): 2015 - 8 2016 - 12 2017 - 16 2020 - 80 2021 - 110
Companies typically use an average of 110 SaaS solutions in 2021, a 38% increase over the past year and a 1,275% increase since 2015 source
This trend begs for bundling. An all-in-one company work and knowledge hub is the goal. This is happening on the market right now. We have tools moving into the same hotspot of content + data + work management. Coda and Notion are moving from content space, Airtable and Fibery from data space, ClickUp and Monday from work space.
All tools are adding similar features and solve similar problems. Fibery is not an exception, but we try to carve a niche in this huge market by focusing on startups and product development companies. Fibery’s end game is to transform product companies’ work and knowledge management processes, help them invent better solutions and build things faster 🐌 → 🦉.
There is one major missing piece in the diagram above — communication. Modern companies use Slack or other chat tools to communicate, but I feel that chat should not be a separate product, but a feature in the work + knowledge management tool. The golden standard of the future bundled productivity tools is work + knowledge + communication. We are thinking deeply about replacing Slack with Fibery and will share our ideas soon.
GPT-3 was cool, but ChatGPT looks magical in some scenarios (not all). Many tools added AI assistance already, including Notion. We’re stepping into a phase of rapid experimentation on AI use cases in productivity tools.
AI assistance will be a mainstream theme in 2023 and I bet we will find many cool use cases. I did not believe that generative AI would be helpful ‘til 2030, boy I was wrong! I played with ChatGPT and was amazed. We will see more and more specialized services that focus on narrow problems, like creating text writing, product/feature specification writing, test cases writing, etc. Now we have a general tool that can do something clever already, but with specialized AI assistances, productivity tools will change dramatically.
We don’t want to miss this gold rush and are experimenting with Fibery + GPT already.
Does Fibery have Product/Market fit? 🍱
It looks like it has. We lost 19 paid accounts in 2022 and added 142, and we have 250 paid accounts in total. So the churn is < 10%, which is good for a B2B SaaS company.
Retention of the fresh accounts is also getting better and better, and this is a sign of a better product/market fit as well.
Marketing effort 💎
We have a nimble marketing team, but it should change in 2023. Kate and the design team did wonders, so here are some wins and losses of 2022.
Win: We have 83 reviews on G2 with 4.8 average score. We always ask our users to write honest reviews and we are happy with the results. If you use Fibery and want to write something honest, go for it.
Not-a-win: We launched the Special pricing several months months ago. Fibery is 100% free for open-source projects, Ukrainian companies (till August 24, 2023). We provide a 50% discount for nonprofit & educational organizations and Ukrainian companies (until 2030). So far around 20+ accounts have applied for special pricing, mostly educational.
Loss: We experimented with PPC again (Google). Activation was better than last year, but conversion to paid accounts was still extremely poor. From the last batch, we have a dozen of active accounts and a single purchase for a small account. We’ll stop PPC again and wait (again).
Loss: Outreach sales. We tried a third time with the third agency and failed again. No more.
Win: We launched a Digital Agency solution and got some good accounts via it. Check the webinar and see some value for yourself.
Win: Some educational videos we created were good. Especially Build Your Company’s Brain with Fibery and How Fibery uses Fibery.
Win: We launched the Open startup page. It was fun to create and it reflects our culture, thus attracting people who love it.
Not-a-win: Our Partners program started at the end of 2020 and we have several dozens of partners now. We have 13 active accounts from partners and 7 paid. It means the partners’ channel is still very small. We did not pay enough attention to it, but now we have Petr on board who is focusing on business development. I hope in 2023 we will have a more positive line here.
Win: Customer stories are doing great. We’re adding more and more of them since our customers are super-responsive and kind to share the value they got from Fibery. We have 20 stories already and several more are in production.
Win: Jurgen Appelo wrote a detailed post about Fibery → I have a new favorite tool. “p.p.p.s. As I said, I’m not being paid for this promo message. Fibery doesn’t even know I’m writing this”. We are happy. Perfect closing of the year.
Not-a-win: We started to cooperate with startups accelerators and incubators and have around 10 as patners now. So far we don’t see any significant effect, but still think this is a good channel.
Content and website metrics (some growth)
We published 27 posts in our blog and this is significantly less than in 2021 (58 posts). Blog pageviews grew from 7K to 10K at the end of 2022.
Fibery website’s total pageviews are also growing since September.
Website visits are around 14K every month, last year it was around 10K.
Organic visitors increased, which means our website got better positions in Google. Direct traffic is still a huge chunk, and this is a mark of a relatively strong word-of-mouth channel.
2021 2022 -- -- Direct 45% → 45% Organic 18% → 25% Social 15% → 7% Referral 10% → 9% Paid 10% → 10%
Fibery for Startups: 150 active startups 🦄
We still give startups one year for free if a startup ARR is less than Fibery ARR. Today if your startup’s ARR is less than $530K, we will give you a free year for the top Fibery edition. If you want to join the program, just fill out this form.
Dozens of startups upgraded to the paid version in 2022, so we consider this program a success. It resonates with our culture and eventually converts leads into customers.
Now we have 150+ active startups and 1200+ people in this program. Last year we had 100 startups, so the growth is not huge. Well, the whole year was weird and it is still good.
Some growth metrics: pure numbers 🥦
All startups like to see numbers to compare themselves to less successful companies. Here are the numbers, enjoy!
2020 2021 2022 -- -- -- ARR: $80K → $290K (360%) → $525K (180%) - YoY Paid Acc: 60 → 130 (210%) → 250 (190%) DAU: 500 → 1700 (340%) → 2700 (160%) WAU: 1000 → 2800 (280%) → 4500 (160%) Accounts: 140 → 360 (250%) → 520 (145%) People: 20 → 24 → 28
Product: 200 new features and 40 new releases 🌶
In 2022 we had 40 releases. Our goal is to release every week, and we were relatively close! Here are the changes in some (not so important) metrics:
2021 2022 -- -- Releases 34 → 40 Done Features 100 → 200 Fixed Bugs 900 → 1200
Here is the shortlist of the most important features:
- 🔥 Form Views
- Multi-panel navigation
- GraphQL API v.1.0
- My Space
- Pinned fields
- Publish Space to web
- Dark theme
- Editable units on all views
- Relation views
User Guide and Changelog in Fibery 👍
The new Publish Space to web feature powered the transition of the user guide and changelog into Fibery. We moved the user guide from Intercom and now updates are so much easier! All user guide articles are linked to Product Areas inside Fibery, so it is easy to find them, spot what is missing, and update them.
SOC 2 🦒
SOC 2 certification is a long, complex, and hard process. Did I mention it is long? Yes, it is long. We started SOC 2 activities in March 2022, and it seems we will get the certificate in December 2022. We passed the audit and now have to sign the docs to get it.
Vanta make everything smoother, but they can’t reduce audit duration. We improved our security practices, added a proper Fibery Status page, and wrote tons of documents.
Remote work 📻
Relocation from Belarus continued in 2022, but we still have 4 people there. Sometimes a change of country is hard… We extended our geography and added Canada and Czechia to the locations list.
2020 2021 2022 🇨🇾 Cyprus 1 → 3 → 6 🇧🇾 Belarus 19 → 8 → 4 🇵🇱 Poland 0 → 11 → 15 🇩🇰 Denmark 0 → 1 → 1 🇷🇺 Russia 0 → 1 → 0 🇨🇦 Canada 0 → 0 → 1 🇨🇿 Czechia 0 → 0 → 1
Remote work is starting to take its toll, so we’re rethinking our working practices and plan to have our first company-wide retreat in the spring of 2023. Some minor things we already did:
- 🤙 Started to huddle more actively in Slack. When we see a conversation getting beyond several messages and there is no finish line in sight, we jump to huddle and speed up the communication.
- 🙅♀️ Removed status meetings. We used to have company-wide and marketing status meetings, but they were not fun. Now we have focussed problem-oriented meetings with interested people only.
- 🧠 Started to write proposals in long forms. Documents in Fibery are a good start to any serious discussion.
Product: 2022 plans
As a remote team, we feel the tension between Slack and Fibery every day. It is SO unnatural to do most working things in Fibery and do most of the discussions in Slack. It clashes all the time. Do we do work around discussions or discuss work? How to convert discussion to work? How not to lose important info in a discussion and link it to work? Now our dream is to replace Slack with Fibery next year.
Overall, we invented a new concept how to merge work, knowledge and communication. It is based on semantic blocks, but we are not ready to share it just yet. Wait till January 🤪
That is not all. We will (finally) implement the brand-new-super-fleixible permissions scheme. We worked on it for many months, we got the concept, we got most of the technical details, but we did not start the real implementation. In 2023 we will focus on it as well.
Our team motto → "The first step in solving any problem is to dramatically underestimate its difficulty."
People + 2022
Fibery has 28 people on board now.
In 2022 only one person left, and five joined: Kasper Novak 🇨🇦 (educator), Dmitry Kabak 🇵🇱 (development), Petr Palan 🇨🇿 (business dev.), Aliaksei Arkhipau 🇵🇱 (product design), Viktar Khadasevich 🇵🇱 (marketing development).
I asked our teammates What helped you survive in 2022?, and here are some replies (spelling and punctuation preserved).
Konstantin Daughter’s birth.
Viktar My sweet and forgiving girlfriend, swimming pool, tabletop games, work and unbridled consumerism.
Nikolina My incredible living place, sea and pool swimming, exercises, long walks into banana plantation and sleep.
Daria Second dog adoption 🐕 and lots of gaba tea 🫖.
Anastasiya Family, relocation & sport
Sergey Relocation (which I did in 2021). Ability to have positive picture of future appeared to be quite important to me.
Alex Quick and problem-free relocation, family, a few hobbies (work, coffee, guitar, photography) and dudeism.
Chris Visits to/from my family
Ihar My girlfriend, family, yoga, and Feygin & Arestovich youtube show, lol
Polina I plan to rave on Putin’s grave I want to see Lukashenko in avtozak So I will survive whatever it takes just to see it Also Shulman, Tolkien, relocation, pets, food & hugs.
Vova Survived mostly by accident. Someone have to love my family and walk my dog… and pay taxes of course
Aliaksei This year I realized that home is people
Anton Having kind people by my side, planning my life without relying on (ever?) returning home to Belarus, making progress on challenging intellectual problems, and taking care of my body (no-alarm sleep, healthy food, exercise, no alcohol).
Bottom from our Slack
Something about our product/market fit 😭
anyway, this all looks interesting but still in alpha
Something about our productivity 😅
— Hey, we've relesed Form Views! — Hi Michael, and when we will be able to display Totals in Table View?
Something about Fibery vs. Slack
A moment of reflection. Yesterday I got a slack notification with some feedback from Lesha about Copy Database feature. I didn’t read it but noticed for myself to check it today. Today I spent 10 minutes in the morning trying to find the message in Slack. I browsed potential relevant channels. No luck. I even used search (which I never use). No luck. Then I thought for a moment maybe I got this message from not Lesha, but Andrey? I checked Andrew’s latest messages. No luck. I gave up. And just now I discovered the message in Notifications section in Fibery…
Something about health 🤯
It’s funny, but I got a prescription for glucocorticoids today. Cortisol is a glucocorticoid as well, so finally I can post into this channel something relevant!
Something about Belarus 🇧🇾
+2 more nice people were arrested today in Minsk. Preliminary - criminal case. That runs for 2 years already, and some of my friends will soon be free lol (because they got 1; 1,5; 2,5 years) but new arrests are just pissing me off.
Something about hospitality 🇪🇺
Got a single-entry Schengen visa…
Something about relocation 🍳
The owner of my lovely home office apartment is getting a divorce and needs the flat back so my rent abruptly stops on April 1 :cry:
Top from our Slack
Something about our support 🦸♀️
Hi Chris, like I told Polina the other day : "The best support service PERIOD!!!!" Thanks a lot for the details answer
Something about our Ukrainian customers 🇺🇦
А, зрозумів, дякую. Але тут є така штука – я би хотів вам заплатити. :) Ми, українці, зараз дуже ясно відчули, що тих, хто допомагає/підтримує/захищає, треба теж підтримувати, допомагати ім, а то й захищати. Бо тільки так всі ми можемо вистояти. В мене, слава Богу, попри складну ситуацію в житті загалом, все ж є робота, і є можливість сплачувати за ті ресурси та послуги, які для мене корисні. Файбері – безумовно, один з таких ресурсів. Я дуже вдячний вам, що ви підтримуєте українців в цей важкий час, і я би хотів у відповідь підтримати вас, щоб вам підтримувати інших українців було трохи легше.
Something about our product/market fit 🧶
My primary use case is product management. I first needed a true product system of record: strategy, insights, goals, reporting, research, feedback, experiments, plans, requirements, documentation, and delivery tasks and projects. I needed one where these were all first-class citizens (not dressed-up tags) and all connected, so I could use them for different contexts, e.g., reporting to the board and for getting shit done. I needed one I could customize, especially for the prioritization framework but also for the actual discovery and delivery processes. And of course it needed to talk to my other tools that weren't going away, like GitLab, SendGrid, Slack. I have used or trialed virtually every option out there--ProductBoard, Harvestr, Airfocus, Craft, Aha, Notion, Clickup, Airtable, DragonBoat, ProdPad, Orbit, Ally, DoubleLoop, and so many I haven't listed--and it's the only one flexible enough to do all the work. Because of its flexibility, we've already extended it to the leadership team as a place to store strategy and reporting.
Something about our educational effort ⚗️
First Kasper’s video is live! https://youtu.be/Pa4u_JCwn9Q
Something about our productivity 💪
How big is the fibery team? It feels like a 200 people team with how much custom stuff you are able to add.
2022 dreams vs. 2022 reality
A year ago I listed our dreams:
- 🙂 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
and here is the reality.
Dream: 🙂 Find out how to explain Fibery to human beings Reality: 🙂 We've made some good attempts Dream: 😀 Release new permissions and blocks Reality: Permissions tech. concept only, no blocks Dream: 😁 Add 300 new accounts and 5000 new users Reality: 🙂 Added 130 new paid accounts and 2000 new paid users Dream: 😆 Hit ~$1M ARR Reality: 🤥 Hit ~$0.5M ARR
Let’s be pragmatic! Here are our dreams for 2023.
- 🙂 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
OK, I have to add one more:
- 🇺🇦 Observe how Ukraine gets back all territories lost after 1991.
This year was rough. If you are a Fibery customer, let me hug you. If you are not (yet), let me hug you harder. We’ll move forward together and make the dreams come true (or at least have fun in the process). Thank you for believing in our product and our team once again! 🤗♥️