The Journey to Half a Million ARR in 6 Months
Today is the 6 month anniversary of ContentFly, and we also just hit $500k in annual recurring revenue. We're committing to radical transparency - about our metrics, shortcomings & more.
We started ContentFly in June of this year.
As we've grown our bottom line (and our team, to 4), we've spent a lot of time really thinking about what kind of company we want to build. We've been inspired by the message of radical transparency that companies like Buffer and Zapier have pioneered, and we want to follow suit in our own way.
ContentFly has been fully remote since day 1, and we plan on continuing - companies like Zapier & InVision have shown the benefits of a distributed workforce, and we're strong believers in the future of work. It gives us access to a diverse & exceptional talent pool that other companies can't match.
One of the toughest parts of building a company is not knowing whether you're on the right track. So when companies like Buffer (or one of my personal favourites, Josh Pigford at Baremetrics) come out and are vulnerable and open about their struggles, triumphs and metrics, it's extremely powerful.
We'd like to be a part of the new transparency movement, so we're opening up on our own journey and metrics.
Core metrics (Updated: November 28, 2018)
MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue): $38,550
Net Revenue incl. metered billing (Oct. 28 - Nov. 28): $40,248.77
Gross profit margin: 51%
Lifetime value (LTV): $1032
Churn rate: 8.18%*
Average weekly revenue growth (since June): 6.5%
*Note on churn: we have a money back guarantee of about 2 weeks (though we extend that for a lot of folks by a few days). Because we charge customers right away, we calculate churn after 20 days.
I wasn't sure how best to structure this post. There isn't some secret growth channel we found or a hack - we just tried to build a great product, obsess over our customer experience and move quickly.
Here are a few lessons we've learned so far. I'm writing this for my own reflection, and hopefully it's useful to you as well:
- Customer support is king. I learned what great customer support was from my time at Zapier, and tried to bring it to ContentFly. We've gained (and saved) a lot of customers just by responding extremely fast and being empathetic.
- It's ok to fuck up. When we first started, our first writer was a random guy trying to fund his gaming habit. Our dashboard was a Typeform. We bumbled and got so many refund requests in our first 3 weeks, I was confident we were screwed.
- People matter. When we started ContentFly, it was just 2 of us - myself, and Vasil (our CTO). A month later we brought on John (COO) as a cofounder. A few weeks ago, Annika joined as our 4th cofounder (CMO). These hires weren't made lightly, and they've already paid their weight in gold - I wanted to assemble a dream team that could aggressively achieve our lofty long-term goals, and that's what we did.
- Goal-setting is absolutely essential. When your company gets momentum, it's easy to start flying blind. Our first few months we were just trying to keep up - we spent a lot of time and money on projects that were pointless. We've since refocused and become much more goal driven... set (and start meeting) OKRs, regardless of how young you are.
We want to be upfront about our triumphs as well as our challenges. Right now, we've had feverish monthly growth for about 6 months, but our challenge is in variance. Despite a monthly model, our week-to-week revenue is often unpredictable.
We're hoping to solve that in 2 ways: 1, we're diversifying our product and adding more traditional SaaS features like Genie, and 2, we're scaling up our marketing spend so we can improve our writer-assigning algorithm.
Another factor we'd like to improve is our churn rate. An 8% churn rate isn't actually too bad for us - our AMPU is very high, and we're not a traditional subscription product. However, almost a quarter of our cancellations cite UX issues - that's unacceptable.
We also want to reduce 1-offs and encourage more people to produce content consistently.
It's been a lot of lessons learned over our first half year, and we couldn't be more excited to keep ploughing forward. We're trying to build the world's first all-in-one content marketing suite, and create a platform where every small business on earth can plan, generate & market killer content to grow their business.
I'll try and keep this page updated every few months - if you'd like us to update it, just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.