Radically Honest Blog

Fibery.io 2023 Year in Review

TLDR: 160 new customers (and 340 total) โค๏ธ. 300 new features and 1300 fixed bugs ๐Ÿ’ช. 45 new releases ๐ŸŒถ๏ธ. 8 new teammates ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ. First offline retreat โœˆ๏ธ. No status meetings โœ๏ธ. Inevitable AI ๐Ÿ‘พ. Slow December ๐Ÿข. Dopamine and cortisol ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜จ.

Company & People in 2023

In 2023 two people left, and eight joined, here are Fibery newcomers: Kรกlmรกn Kรฉmรฉnczy โ€‹๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ (product), Kseniya Piotukh ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ (customer success), Katsiaryna Skrobava ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ (operations), Robert Valu ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ (head of marketing), Olga Polevikova ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ (education), Peter Levay ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บ (content), Zauri Galustov ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ (product design), Max Dubakov ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ (AI). Fibery has 35 people on board now.

New and very smart Hungarian part of Fibery (Peter, Kรกlmรกn and Robi).
New and very smart Hungarian part of Fibery (Peter, Kรกlmรกn and Robi).

First offline retreat on Cyprus ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ

Fibery began as a co-located company several years ago. However, when COVID-19 struck, we transitioned to remote work. Following the transformation of Belarus into a dictatorship, most people migrated to other countries, and Fibery became a fully remote company. Offline retreats looked the best way for us to see each other, engage in conversation, have fun, and enjoy real human interaction.

We had our first offline retreat in Cyprus in May. The venue was excellent. Initially, we were unsure about the location to choose: villas or a hotel. We decided on villas and did not regret it at all. The experience was more private and enjoyable this way. Kate, our new COO, did a fantastic job as an event organizer. Everything went smoothly.

We had three days filled with company-related conversations and four evenings devoted to life-related conversations. Overall, the atmosphere was a 9 out of 10, but productivity was a 6 out of 10. We attempted to cover too many topics in these three days, which resulted in a somewhat exhausting experience that lacked depth. Next time, we will alter the format and focus on fewer topics.

Some part of Fibery team under the heavy Sun.
Some part of Fibery team under the heavy Sun.

Co-working space in Warsaw ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ

We have 17 people in Poland and rented a co-working space to help them work together from time to time. Usually you can find 2-3 people there, but sometimes 7-8. Remote is cool, but live conversation is still cooler.

Some Fibery developers in their natural habitat.
Some Fibery developers in their natural habitat.

Status meetings ๐Ÿ™…โ€โ™€๏ธ

We used to hold weekly status meetings about the company, marketing, sales, and product. As a remote company, we felt compelled to gather everyone on a call periodically. However, we found that weekly meetings were largely unproductive, so we transitioned to two monthly calls focusing on product and marketing. Despite these meetings, we were already writing extensive reports that most people would read before the meeting. It felt redundant to have a meeting to discuss already familiar content. Ultimately, we decided to cancel all status meetings, and now we have none.

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Moved daily status updates from Slack to Fibery ๐Ÿฅฆ

We used to have a #daily channel in Slack where each person would post about their activities from the previous day and their plans for the current day. It wasnโ€™t very strict; some people posted 2-3 times per week. The channel was extremely useful for understanding the companyโ€™s pulse. Then, we introduced the Threads View in Fibery as an experimental feature and attempted to maintain daily status updates directly in Fibery.

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And it stuck.The voting about Slack vs. Fibery for this use case was close, but Fibery won. Now, we use Fibery for daily updates.

Marketing & Sales

๐Ÿ’Ž๐Ÿ’ฉ Wins & Fails

Fail. PR. We collaborated with Headline media PR agency for 6 months to see whether Fibery is an OK case for PR. It appeared that it is not the case just yet. While they did a good job and Fibery appeared in dozens of publications, we did not get into major media resources.

Win. We got 100+ reviews on G2 with 4.8 average score. Now we want to collect 100 reviews on Capterra. We already have 38 with the same 4.8 average score.

Fail. Fibery for Startups launch on Product Hunt. We got 800 votes and few hundreds of leads, but no good places.

Fail. Fibery vs. ClickUp campaign. We think that Fibery works better than ClickUp for the whole-company use case and tried to run some ads around this theme. We got a few customers and 10 active workspaces (4 paid) from 120 registered leads, but overall it did not work as well as weโ€™d hoped.

Good progress. SEO. We started to bet on a proper content strategy from October and already see some positive results, like better position by some keywords. It is not a win yet, but it looks promising.

Good progress. Leads number got better, YoY-wise there was a +40% increase in leads (12000 vs. 8600).

Fail. Home page experiments change nothing. We tried many things, and some were quite radical. We even tried full text version (see below). Registration rates were almost identical, so we finally learned that home page experiments change nothing.

New text version of Fibery home page. Old conversion rates.
New text version of Fibery home page. Old conversion rates.

Win. Retention got better. In Q4 we had 4% retention after 10 weeks and it is way better than what we had for Q1 (around 3%).

Fail. We wanted to add 300 new customers, we added only 160. As a result, we have 340 paid customers now.

Win. The best thing that happened to us is that we finally found how to focus. Now we are building a strategy that will be coherent and aligned in product and marketing. We did not have that before, but now we do.

Win. Startup program is doing better, this year we had 400 startups registered, while in 2022 it was 250. 30 startups became customers.

Win. Word of mouth is the top channel. From April we started to collect leads sources. Search is a clear winner, then Word of mouth, reddit and twitter follows. Overall, if you combine all sources into generic categories, Word of mouth will win. People recommend Fibery more often this year. Reddit leads increased by ~40% in 2023.

We ask people how did they find Fibery and categorise answers using AI. It works pretty well. BTW, this report is created in Fibery.
We ask people how did they find Fibery and categorise answers using AI. It works pretty well. BTW, this report is created in Fibery.

Here are some pure numbers.

          2020     2021           2022           2023
          --       --             --             -- 
Paid Acc: 60    โ†’  130   (210%) โ†’ 250   (190%) โ†’ 340   (135%) 
DAU:      500   โ†’  1700  (340%) โ†’ 2700  (160%) โ†’ 3300  (120%)  
WAU:      1000  โ†’  2800  (280%) โ†’ 4500  (160%) โ†’ 5300  (120%)
Accounts: 140   โ†’  360   (250%) โ†’ 520   (145%) โ†’ 730   (140%)
People:   20    โ†’  24           โ†’ 28           โ†’ 35

2023 was challenging for many startups, and Fibery was no exception. We experienced some growth, but it fell somewhat below our expectations. Do we have a plan? Yes, we do! ๐Ÿ˜

๐Ÿคฏ Positioning experiments and the new strategy

In January 2023 weโ€™ve changed our motto to Work and knowledge hub for your startup. We wanted to include product development companies into the motto, but it was hard to do, so we settled with a โ€œstartupโ€ word. We made a mistake here, since post-round-B companies didnโ€™t think that Fibery is a good fit for them. And 2023 was not the best year for early-stage startups.

In December 2023 we finally nailed our new strategy with better messaging, and I hope we will change many things in Q1 2024. Now we want to position Fibery as a no-code product discovery & development platform. We aim at post-P/MF B2B SaaS software companies in SMB or mid-market. As a consequences, to make it a coherent strategy, we will do the following:

  • Focus on feedback accumulation, knowledge extraction and features prioritisation use cases in Q1-Q2 2024.
  • Re-design onboarding completely, produce new educational materials.
  • Will prioritise our features backlog based on our target customers requests.
  • Make a bet on SEO and content marketing.
  • Change our brand and tone of voice slightly. Now Fibery is too funny, we will tone it down and become more serious (well, at least we will try ๐Ÿ™„).
  • Remove free solo-user version, experiment with short trial, like 14 days, and will experiment with human onboarding.
  • Fibery pricing will change (it will be increased, overall), but current customers will not be affected for the foreseeable future.

I will write an extensive post about it in Q1 2024.

Product: 300 new features and 45 new releases ๐ŸŒถ๏ธ

In 2023 we had 45 releases. Our goal is to release every week, and we were very close! Here are the changes in some (not so important) metrics:

              2021      2022      2023
                --        --        --
Releases        34   โ†’    40  โ†’     45
Done Features  100   โ†’   200  โ†’    300
Fixed Bugs     900   โ†’  1200  โ†’   1300

Itโ€™s interesting that product development team remained almost the same in 2023, we only added one designer (August) and one developer (October). I think this is our productivity peak ๐Ÿ—ป.

I personally think Fibery product matured in 2023 year in a good way, it became more slick, it works faster, and not so many very important things are missing. Finally, I can say that I enjoy using Fibery ๐Ÿ˜….

Here is the shortlist of the most important things we did in 2023:

๐Ÿ’ช Per-entity permissions

This is the major achievement of 2023 for us. It took us two years to release per-entity permissions with custom access templates. The work is far from over, but at least now we see the path. I hope we will finalise this theme in Q2 2024, but Fibery already is the most advanced no-code tool on the market in terms of permissions.

Custom access management template for permissions.
Custom access management template for permissions.

๐Ÿคฏ Holy freaking freak - I have never seen this kind of ability in any software before, and it is one of the craziest things I have ever seen. You guys are awesome. Youโ€™re doing the things other companies promised but never delivered on.

And we already see some leads that provide feedback like this:

Why Fibery?

Notion couldnโ€™t handle granular database access managementโ€ฆ

Documents improvements

Documents are an important part of information and knowledge management. We put serious effort into them and I hope we implemented all major things to make documents feel good in Fibery. Weโ€™ve added layouts, callouts, nested docs, nested views, table of content, emojis, files, AI Assistant and fixed many bugs. I am happy with the results.

Some Fibery document with AI Assistant.
Some Fibery document with AI Assistant.

Communication improvements

Communication patterns were very bare in Fibery, now we added many things, like Inbox, notification settings, watch entity, browser notifications, nested comments, comments reactions and even experimented with Thread View as a Slack replacement for some use cases.

New Table View

Table View in Fibery is the most popular one, but it was built on a poor foundation. This year we rebuilt it based on AG Grid and already fixed many existing problems. In Q1 2024 we will add all missing things, like calculations and groups.

Polishing

We spent significant time on fixes and small improvements. Now Fibery looks much better and is less frustrating. Small details matter:

I need to say, that each time I see small design UI updates, I like them so much! Like although they are new (and new is always a stress) - it refreshes everything, make it look cleaner, and just more pleasant to use. And thatโ€™s not one-time observation/update, but my feeling for the last couple of weeks Q_Q

Fibery + AI ๐Ÿ‘พ

We experimented a lot with AI this year. The technology is cool, but our goal is to extract some real value from it for our customers.

Here are my brief observations and not-so-deep conclusions.

  • AI text assistant is a commodity already (in one year!). Notion pioneered it and many others followed. We wanted to add our own twist, so we started with custom text commands and panel navigation. I use AI assistant for some things, but it is very efficient in text transformation (re-write some paragraph, translation, transform article to a twitter thread, etc). I think navigation patterns are still emerging and we will see better AI assistants in 2024.
  • Tools creation is a novel thing for AI application. Here we experimented with Space creation, Views creation, and Formulas. I do believe that in near future it will be possible to build quite complex and advanced things with AI in no-code tools. The technology is ready, but application demands time. In two years you will be able to get a website or a team productivity solution just having a conversation with a tool. This is not fully aligned with our near future plans, but the opportunity is there.
  • Information extraction and knowledge management is where AI can shine. Here we already have automatic transcripts, chatbots, and information processing tools. We want to focus on this side of AI and apply it to feedback processing, insights extraction and knowledge organisation.
  • AI should blend with the tool. Most tools use AI as add-ons and assistance panels, but I believe that the proper approach is to blend AI. A user should just do things and experience some magic without thinking much about AI configuration and usage. Not many vendors grasp this so far.

Slow December ๐Ÿข

This December we also switched to Slow December mode (read about last year Slow December results) and already released quite many things nobody expected.

You guys release more in โ€œslowโ€ December than some companies release in a quarter ๐Ÿคฏ

Literally yesterday I was wishing for progress bars.. itโ€™s a Christmas miracle!

Slow December has just few rules:

  • No mandatory meetings (no company meetings as well)
  • No assigned tasks & deadlines
  • You are free to do whatever you want: explore some ideas, improve something in Fibery, or fix something in Fibery that you wanted to fix for 34 months but couldnโ€™t find the time, try something new, like write a post.
  • It is desirable to produce artefacts of your activity: something done, something written in text, something visual, you name it.

I must say that I like this practice, some elements of chaos are useful for any complex activity, like product development. As a result, we released Fibery desktop client, performance improvements, better comments, and some other things. More to come!

Product: 2024 plans ๐Ÿช„

We have very clear scope till April 2024 and a general direction for the whole year. As I mentioned above, we will focus on just several use cases:

  • Collect user feedback and research data (interviews, Intercom chats, calls, โ€ฆ)
  • Analyse and extract insights
  • Prioritise features based on insights and target customersโ€™ feedback
Highlights setup in Fibery. Coming in Q1 2024.
Highlights setup in Fibery. Coming in Q1 2024.

You can expect in Q2 2024:

  • New solution to work with References (we call them Highlights now). They will become first-class citizens and it will be possible to work with them on views, build reports, create complex formulas, etc.
  • AI application to handle feedback and research data.
  • Great Slack-to-Fibery integration for feedback collection.
  • New getting started based on the use cases above.
  • Table View finalisation: grouping, multi-line rows, totals.
Fibery for Product Teams 2.0 release timeline. Not everything will go as planned, so we added one month as a slack. I'm 90% sure we will use it.
Fibery for Product Teams 2.0 release timeline. Not everything will go as planned, so we added one month as a slack. I'm 90% sure we will use it.

And later in 2024 you may expect:

  • Entity permissions improvements and database permissions.
  • Whiteboards improvements to work with entities, connections and text much better.
  • Fibery polishing. For example, we want to re-design Entity View.
  • Timeline improvements. Most likely we will re-write it from scratch.

Cortisol ๐Ÿ˜จ

Worst things from our Slack #cortisol channel.

๐Ÿ˜ฑ Fibery has no undelete for Space (yet)โ€ฆ

I DELETED SPACE INSTEAD OF DATABASE DAMNITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT

๐Ÿ˜… Something about our ARR:

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.

๐Ÿ˜ฎโ€๐Ÿ’จ Something about the development grind:

Last several days I feel extremely angry. From one side I feel pressure that pushes me to achieve the next goal: migrate the table view to the grid view. From another side people insistently suggest me to follow the process, and prioritize bugs over features. I understand that the problem is mostly in my perception (as every problem), but I want to share my feelings here anyway.

๐Ÿคจ Something about stability:

The Fibery implementation project at XXX has failed again. Management wants to keep Jira, but engineering does not. As a result, Jira will remain.

Polina is trying to read Fibery permission docs written by Anton:

Polina in the very very very rare state of mind.
Polina in the very very very rare state of mind.

Dopamine ๐Ÿ˜

Best things from our Slack #dopamine channel.

๐Ÿ‘ป Some feedback from happy customer that uses Fibery for the whole company:

It's a pity that a product like Fibery didn't exist 5 years ago, we wasted a lot of resources internally when we were doing something similar.

๐Ÿฅ Some feedback from a customer that uses Fibery for product feedback:

Oh, you are a founder of Fibery! I remember you from reddit. So I would use this as an opportunity to share my thoughts and feelings about Fibery. I simply love it! Every time when I finally hope I found some limitation and something that cannot be done, I'm proven wrong. Very often by your amazing support. In other tools I can see many solutions/features were added as a request from users. But in Fibery I can see you chose to solve an actual user problem. You are not giving us what we want, but what we need. Thank you so much!โค๏ธ๐Ÿ™

๐Ÿคซ Permissions were released. It took us two yearsโ€ฆ

 per-entity permissions are quietly on prod, in experimental status, available for everyone!

๐Ÿฅน Something about our customer success team:

Hi Polina! I did say that quite a lot in that past, but i never encounter in my 20 years of work a support team as good as the one of Fibery!
A million thanks you just made my day!

Polina has a nice workspace somewhere in August (there should be a cat in the post anyway):

Polina in her natural habitat and natural state of mind.
Polina in her natural habitat and natural state of mind.

And some more dopamine one-liners if you want to dig deeper:

2023 dreams vs. 2023 reality

A year ago I listed our dreams and here is how they match the reality:

Dream:   ๐Ÿ™‚ Find out how to explain Fibery to human beings
Reality: ๐Ÿ˜’ No luck, but we have a plan!

Dream:   ๐Ÿ˜€ Release new permissions and blocks
Reality: ๐Ÿ™‚ We've released new permissions as experimental, and decided to not mess with blocks.

Dream:   ๐Ÿ˜ Add 300 new accounts
Reality: ๐Ÿ™‚ Added 160 new paid accounts

Dream:   ๐Ÿ˜† Hit $1M ARR
Reality: ๐Ÿคฅ Closer, but not there yet.

Overall, all our plans were half achieved in 2023.

A single lesson โ˜๏ธ

If you ask me what Iโ€™ve learned in 2023, I will answer that I learned to focus.

  • Do less things, but better.
  • Have less use cases in the product, but deeper.
  • Focus on a smaller niche (โ€œThis one?โ€ โ€œNo, even smallerโ€).

2024 ๐Ÿพ

Letโ€™s be even more pragmatic! Here are our dreams for 2024.

  • ๐Ÿ™‚ Launch Fibery for product teams 2.0 in Q2 2024.
  • ๐Ÿ˜€ Find the true product/market-fit. We want to feel it.
  • ๐Ÿ˜ Onboard at least 6 relatively large customers (200+ users).

This year was also rough, but it seems we started to get used to it. If you are a Fibery customer, let me hug you again. If you are not (yet), let me hug you hard for the first time. The world needs more love, true passion and progress. We are persevering and moving forward. Thank you for believing in our product and our team, we love you all! ๐Ÿค—โ™ฅ๏ธ

Psst... Wanna try Fibery? ๐Ÿ‘€

Infinitely flexible product discovery & development platform.