How We Transformed into a Product Company While Bootstrapping
In the autumn of 2011, we started our journey as a boutique software agency in Istanbul. We set up a software agency without any market research, long-term road plan, and any scalability concern. Before starting the transition from a service oriented company to a product-oriented company, we developed more than 200 projects for our clients in our first 3 years.
We started to work with digital agencies as a software development department and developed small-scale projects. Afterward, we worked also with the big enterprises and developed long-term medium size projects for them.
When we continued to work as a boutique software agency, our biggest problem was to able to grow up the team fast in while the new projects were in the pipeline and to maintain the sustainability of the team when there were no projects in the pipeline. We were like blowing the balloon up and then blowing out it again and again. We were in a situation where we did not have a consistent growth.
As a result of being not paid by a large e-commerce project that we had developed for one of our customers, we were nearly closing out the company due to the financial crisis that we were experiencing.
At that time (about 3 years ago) one of our customers told us that they wanted to publish their tweets by the manager’s approval in a timely manner, but they couldn’t find an exact product to solve their problem. Based on a similar project we had developed before, we built a solution in a week. When we presented the solution to the social media team of the agency, they were wowed! This first impact encouraged us to move forward. But we realized from our previous experiences that we need to charge in a monthly bases to sustain the healthy growth. Woohoo! Now we had a simple SaaS product that has even a customer.
By the enlightenment we lived, we knocked the doors of the other agencies that we worked before with whom had also similar problems in social media management departments. By giving the promise of developing the feature to publish content on Facebook, we could able to convinced 2 agencies to buy the product. Boom! Sociality.io was born. Our transition journey to a product-oriented company was started at this moment.
We set up a free time schedule for one of our team members to focus on the development of the product. I also split up my work time, half of it for the product and the other half for the customers’ projects. We could continue to develop our product without any outsource investment. While the new customers getting on board on the product, we started to let the team members free to work on the product one by one.
Thanks to our past experiences in developing too many similar projects, it was very helpful for us to productized the social media management problems into a solution in a short time. In this process, our product, which we constantly respond the feedbacks from our customers, Sociality.io has transformed into a complete suite of products that has not only publishing module but also has engagement, advanced reporting, competitor analysis and listening modules.
We have reached 8 customers at the end of the first year, 30 customers at the end of the second year and 60 customers who have actively used at the end of the 3rd year. Now the percentage income of our product is reached 80% of our whole income. We have opened offices in London and Paris afterward Istanbul and now has started to become a global product which is used by the top agencies and brands such as VivaKi, Tribal Worldwide, Isobar, ING Bank, and Yves Rocher.
We are now able to make long-term plans with the monthly fixed income we now have. With this self-confidence, we are constantly improving the features of our product by focusing on a single goal that is to become the most advanced solution for social media management.
In the end, I can easily say that achieving to develop a scalable product and team and make it sustainable without getting an investment, is a real pleasure for an entrepreneur.