We're now officially one year in business. We've learned a lot on the way and are still moving slowly but confidently. In this post, I'll give you an overview of what happened this year at Nat and what's planned next.
Who we are & our core values
I'm not building a startup, I'm building a business.— Nathan Ganser (@gansernathan) July 22, 2020
We believe that software can help humans to stay in touch and build strong relationships but aren't willing to bet everything on it. That's why we're bootstrapped and working part-time. Some of us have families and all of us have real jobs. We want to build slowly and see where this project takes us.
Taking investment, going full-time would seem like an unnecessary risk when we can move slowly, acquire paying customers one after the other and validate our hypothesis like this.
If we keep growing linearly, we will be able to jump ship and work full-time on Nat not before a few years. This timeframe means there is no stress. We don't have to rush to add a new feature as it won't make a difference in the grand scheme of things.
Long term, our goal is to build a small team of maybe 10 people building and improving Nat. We don't have to be the biggest player and we don't want to. I don't want to be a manager's manager's manager's boss. I want to be talking to users, coding and debugging.
We've nearly tripled the team size
This is not something I'm proud of but the lack of internal skills has forced us to look for new ressources. Very surprisingly, it's easy to find people willing to work for free for some time, I did not expect that at all. The downside is that we're already slowing down massively and because we're all remote, we feel more and more disconnected as a bigger % of the company does not know each other well.
This is forcing us to reconsider our strategy. You must imagine that we're all working between 5 and 10 hours per week on Nat. This means that after some real work, debugging & sprint planning, there really isn't a lot of time left for team building activities.
Fun fact, none of us have ever met in real. We've just recently agreed on dates and booked flights for our first team meeting during which we'll decide if and how we'll continue.
What we've been building
I'm part of the Pioneer community, and it has been really inspiring to see other founders build and ship their products at insane speed. We've not done that, at all. Instead, we've been moving slowly and working ourselves up to a working product months after months. A few key milestones include:
- We are the first CRM to only require Gmail metadata (no read-access necessary).
- We now have a clean dev/production environment with CI/CD which allows us to ship properly.
- We have our first paying customers
- We received a generous startup grant which will allow us to cover all our costs for the coming 6 months at least.
Personally, I'm really proud of our progress. I feel like we've also done a lot of work on the less quantifiable side. It's the first project that I've been a part of that has proven itself to be a potential lifestyle business.
What we will build next
This probably applies to most startups and business and is common knowledge, but why not repeat it: To build a sustainable long term business, you need:
- An Aha moment
- A product that brings more value to the user the more he uses it
- A growth component that is part of the product
While we can definitely make it better (and we will), we believe to have found the Aha moment: that moment after you synced your email data and see a list of people you realize you've lost touch with.
This is enough to get people to pay for our app, but in order to increase prices and get more users, we'll need 2. and 3. This will be our focus for the next few months.
A bit later, once we've clearly validated our business (50 paying customers?), we'll go through Gmail's verification process and spend twenty thousand US dollars to get our app approved by a security company. This will allow us to exit the waiting list mode and get as many people as we can to try us out.
The future is bright and we're excited to keep building a great app for our users.