#53. My Brain Hurts in Aug-Sep 2023

#53. My brain hurts in Aug-Sep 2023

TLDR: πŸ₯Š Startups are struggling. πŸ‡΅πŸ‡± +1 Developer. πŸ‡΅πŸ‡± +1 Designer. πŸ‡­πŸ‡Ί +1 Writer. πŸ‘“ Content marketing. πŸ’Έ Financial management. πŸ‘©β€πŸ”¬ Home page experiments. πŸ‹οΈβ€β™€οΈ 6 product themes are in progress. πŸ₯Ή Per-entity permissions are close…

Flashback: β€œ#52. Correcting the course in May-July 2023”

DISCLAIMER: This post contains an unusually high amount of charts. It seems monthly posts transformed to bi-monthly.

πŸ₯Š How are we doing?

Many startups are struggling, and Fibery is not an exception. Here are some charts that tell the story of modern startups.

It is much harder to get new customers and generate revenue from them.

growth0

Median growth for SaaS startups is 30% YoY, which is low. For our size, it is 25%. We will have 40-50% YoY ARR growth this year. Way above the median, but not even close to the top quartile.

growth

More and more startups are shutting down. We also feel it among our customers, some of them ceased to exist.

startups1

As you see, life is hard for many startups. Our plans for this year were bolder, but in reality, our growth will be not as good (we hoped for $1M ARR, but we will end the year with ~$0.8M ARR in the best-case scenario). Slower growth affects everything, but we have:

  1. Battle-scarred team
  2. Vision
  3. 2 years runway
  4. Energy (some)
  5. Lovely customers

All it means we will persevere and continue our weekly deliveries that make Fibery better πŸ’ͺ.

The real problem is how to keep up with the speed of changes in the technological sector. It is relatively clear that AI will transform many SaaS tools and we have concrete ideas on how we can rebuild Fibery and make AI a central part of workspace configuration and information extraction, but the problem is so wide and complex that my brain hurts every time I think about it… Looks like we have too many things in progress, but nothing can be stopped (at least this is how it looks from inside).

Anyway, soon (or next year) you will welcome new per-entity permissions, new table view, References 2.0, automatic information extraction, and fancy workspace configuration. Our brains hurt, but our hearts are beating ❀️!

dopamine

🏌️ People

Several passionate people joined our company recently, including Peter Levay (πŸ‡­πŸ‡Ί Writer), Zauri Galustov (πŸ‡΅πŸ‡± Designer), and Max Dubakov (πŸ‡΅πŸ‡± AI Developer). Our team is relatively large now, we have 35 people on board in total.

new people

We part ways with Petr (πŸ‡§πŸ‡¬ Head of Business Development). It seems on our stage we don’t need this position, since we still don’t have a strong P/M fit.

πŸ‘“ Content marketing

We’re focusing on content marketing as the main channel now. What does it mean? We’ve hired Peter, who will lead this channel. We’re collaborating with Codeless agency to create valuable content, and we will try to write more ourselves. Here we have very concrete success metrics till the end of December:

  • We publish ~30 articles
  • These articles rank at least ~20th positions on SERP in max 90 days after publication
  • The incoming traffic converts with >3% visitor to lead rate

In January I will write about our success (or failure). We tried that with another agency a few years ago and it was a total failure. I hope this time it will be better.

Financial management in Fibery

We run all our operations, including financial ones, in Fibery. Last month we improved the process and started writing about it, check it out:How to ensure accuracy of financial docs in Fibery.

Here are some cool things we can do now.

We have a runway report with a basic model that includes all our expenses and MRR forecast (it is a very modest one, +2K per month). As a result, we know when we will run out of money, if nothing changes (October 2025)

Fibery runway is ~2 years now.
Fibery runway is ~2 years now.

We can also create a nice report that indicates all new accounts, all upsells and downgrades, and all churns as well. It is relatively clear that churn has been higher recently.

MRR upsells vs. downgrades. It does not look great.
MRR upsells vs. downgrades. It does not look great.

We can also create very detailed reports about exact accounts. Here is the report about churned accounts. It is not 100% correct, since some accounts miss payments and there are other reasons, but it helps us to discover true churned accounts. We have the same report for upsells and downgrades.

Only one large account churned, the other one moved to free mode as a startup. However, churn was relatively high in September 2023.
Only one large account churned, the other one moved to free mode as a startup. However, churn was relatively high in September 2023.

🍿 Metrics

Some usual metrics to share. We have more paid accounts last two months, around 20, which is good. However, most accounts are small, which is bad. paid month

MRR growth is still slow. We climbed to $60K, but our goal for this year was at least $90K, so we are way behind.

mrr

We still have more leads from Europe, but America is catching up somehow.

lead per region

πŸ‘©β€πŸ”¬ Fibery Home Page experiments

We are experimenting with the Home page again, but it seems these experiments make no difference. Maybe next time we will do something super radical to at least prove that we can do some damage here. This time we simplified the home page and put the signup form in the center. Early metrics show no changes…

home

🎁 Product Updates

In August and September, we had 8 releases. Here I will dig into product themes instead of exact features, it will give you a better perspective.

πŸ”” Communication theme: New Inbox, Watch entity

We started this theme in September with two major goals:

  1. Make Notification in Fibery good enough.
  2. Replace Slack in our team for two use cases (daily updates and all conversations around features, product areas, and bugs).

The first goal is relatively close to completion, we implemented a new Inbox, added Watch entity possibility, and will add notifications settings this week. Some people didn’t like the changes, but notifications settings should fix their problems mostly.

The last thing we want to add in notifications is Browser Notifications. Then we will close the notification theme for good.

Slack replacement is a harder problem, but in 2-3 weeks we will have a decent prototype to check our use cases internally. If it is good and stick in our team, we might release it to the public. The idea is to improve comments and allow people to create a Thread View that shows comments from a single entity. Thus you can emulate channels.

Early prototype of Thread View in our workspace.
Early prototype of Thread View in our workspace.

πŸ–ΌοΈ Documents theme: Embeds in documents and rich text fields

We finalized documents improvements we wanted to make with embeds. Now you can embed content from external services right into your Fibery documents and rich text fields. We use iFramely, so embeds support around 2000 services.

Embeds in Fibery
Embeds in Fibery

You can also embed any page without iFramely, and you can also make images and videos wide in narrow documents.

We stopped this theme for a couple of months at least.

We’re trying (not very hard, unfortunately) to focus on product companies now. The first deeeeep use case we want to have is product feedback management. Fibery has some functionality for this, like References, but it appears they are not good enough. It took us two months to invent References 2.0. And it is just a conceptual solution, not implementation πŸ˜….

However, as a result of this research, most likely we will add polymorphic relations to Fibery. If we will do it, relations in Fibery will be more powerful than in any existing tool. Wish us luck.

Here is the prototype of new reference creation:

The other part of this theme is automatic feedback extraction and linking to existing features, product areas, and bugs. It is a complex problem, so we started with a more basic one β€” manual linking. Now you can use semantic search to find entities you can link feedback to. It works very well in our workspace, in 80% of cases it is way faster than keyword search. It also helps to discover features you don’t know exist.

πŸ‘Ύ AI Workspace configuration: Create formulas and views with AI

AI Workspace configuration is a novel and complex theme. We experimented with Space creation and it was interesting. Now you can create formulas and views with the help of AI.

Quite many people use AI to create formulas and it works even better than we expected.

AI Views creation is less popular, but it is very basic with a single prompt, so it does not look sexy. However, we have a clever idea in mind how to mix AI with UI better. Check this prototype:

We have a single developer experimenting with all that, but we want to speed things up shortly and add more people to AI theme.

πŸ₯Ή Emotions & Simplification theme: Custom emojis, Navigate to linked entities fast

This theme focuses on Fibery simplification mainly, and in the last two months, we did some good things here.

  1. You can load your own custom emojis, and even import them from Slack.
  2. We introduced selected state for cards across Fibery
  3. Right-click context menu was added into left menu
  4. Fibery trims Field names to remove leading and trailing spaces
  5. You can react on comments with emojis
  6. You can navigate to linked entity without Alt + Click, just by clicking arrow in a relation
Previously, navigation between related Entities has been reserved for the selected few who have discovered the alt+click trick. Now it’s not a privilege anymore.

Previously, navigation between related Entities has been reserved for the selected few who have discovered the alt+click trick. Now it’s not a privilege anymore.

πŸ‘΄ Per-entity permissions theme

We started this theme more than a year ago, and only now we are close to releasing something. I do hope it will happen in October (2023). In the first release, it will be possible to share an entity (with all collections one level deep).

Give access to a single entity and all collections one level deep.
Give access to a single entity and all collections one level deep.

First, we will contact 10-15 selected customers to try this feature, then improve it based on feedback and release in public somewhere in November.

You can’t imagine how hard this problem is technically and conceptually. But it seems we nailed it. 🀞

🦐 New Table View theme

We are still polishing the new Grid View (that will replace Table View). You can already use it, but we still have 20-30 bugs to fix to make the switch. A single developer is working on it, so it takes time.

Last two months we fixed many bugs and implemented almost all the features that were missed from the original Table View.

One-liner news

🧷 Random

Random image from our Slack

fun

Random tweet from our Slack

Random post in #cortisol πŸ₯² channel

Top-tier SaaS startups reach $1M ARR within 9 months. The median startup takes approximately 2 years and 9 months. On average, SaaS startups reach $10M ARR in slightly over 5 years. Even after 10 years in 5. business, only 13 % of SaaS startups are able to hit the $10M ARR mark.

Random video from our Slack

Random posts in #dopamine 😍 channel

To me Fibery seems very fine-tuned, like really like the whole product makes complete sense. Like when you see other products, it’s like a patchwork of product ideas. It’s apparent that they just glued together some ideas and some needed, something that was needed by clients. But in Fibery, everything makes complete sense. Like everything is done in so well way. I found it on Friday and I could not stop working with Fibery the whole weekend. I simply, I was like, oh, this is really well designed. This makes complete sense. I’m simply amazed by every single thing. I’m amazed how it’s really well designed and how smart is it? I can’t even say how smart it is. I just, I kind of fall in love with Fibery, which is kind of all.”

P.S. Join Fibery Community! πŸƒβ€β™€οΈ

Psst... Wanna try Fibery? πŸ‘€

Infinitely flexible work & knowledge hub.