Fibery.io startup chronicles #6: planning private beta in January 2019
All previous posts in this endless journey (why not?):
Fibery.io startup chronicles #1: August 2018
Startup backstage is an interesting thing to observe. I’ll try to write regular posts about our progress and results…
Fibery.io startup chronicles #2: September 2018
This is the second post about our startup backstage. To get more context, check the first one:
Fibery.io startup chronicles #3: Smelling private beta in October 2018
Previous posts in this relentless journey:
Fibery.io startup chronicles #4: Winter is coming in November 2018
Previous posts in this relentless journey:
Fibery.io startup chronicles #5: engine warming up in December 2018
Previous posts in this perpetual journey:
As usual, main numbers (
→ sign shows changes between December and January):
Product: Fibery — SaaS B2B (SMB) work management platform
Stage: Private Alpha (no production version)
Launch: January → February! (silent, invite-only)
Development: 23 months
Cold leads: 580 → 650 (I looked at wrong numbers last times)
Hot Leads: 30 (gave feedback)
Customers: 6 → 4 play with Fibery regularly
Team size: 10 people
Burn rate: ~$40K/month
So. Functionally private beta is almost there. We definitely will release it in February. We are embarrassed by existing functionality, but it should be this way.
Private Beta Goals
We have a perfectly measurable goal for the private beta release:
Check Fibery Value → get 100 active accounts that use Fibery everyday.
Why 100? Well, here we totally agree with Alan Kay:
One of the most interesting ideas at Parc was: “every invention has to be engineered for 100 users”. So if you do a programming language or a DTP word processor, etc, it has to be documented for and usable by 100 people. If you make a personal computer, you have to be able to make 100 of them. If an Ethernet, it has to connect to 100 devices, etc.
— Alan Kay, What made Xerox PARC special?
The main question we want to answer is whether Fibery is valuable enough to real companies. Does it solve real problems? We hope so, but we don’t know for sure. Only wild world can give us the answer.
Private Beta will be free, since our goal is to check value, not revenue or business model.
Now let’s work backward. We want to have Lead → Customer conversion rate close to 5%. However, 2% will be OK initially, since product is definitely not polished and not complete. To get 100 active accounts, we have to get 1000–5000 Leads.
Our deadline for public release is July (let’s say). It means we will have ~4 months and should generate 250–1250 Leads per month. We already have a list of ~800 Leads, so ~50–1000 new Leads per month is our current demand.
A thousand Leads per month sounds like quite a lot for a private beta, since currently we have about 70 Leads per month. We will relay on good content and Google Ads to get these numbers.
Secondary goal is to check product positioning. We are going to focus on these two ideas:
1. General work management tool for a small company
(2–20 people) that covers all major processes: Strategic planning, software development, product management, HR, etc. Here we compete with Asana, Trello, Airtable, Notion, Coda, Zenkit and Google Docs.
Here is the table that compares Fibery with Next Wave work management software vendors (5 is great, 0 is bad):
2. Specific tool for product management or specific processes
Like GIST, OKR, Vacation tracking in company of any size. We bet on first idea more, but some side niches are interesting to check as well. GIST support (invented by Itamar Gilad) is cool, since no other tools support it well.
We haven’t complete all fancy features, so it may happen that product is still not ready for real productive usage. There are several areas that can be important on my opinion:
- Collaboration and Sharing. There are no notifications, no emails, no easy sharing, no mentions. It can seriously affect collaboration inside a team.
- Table View. People are familiar with tables, but Fibery does not have this view so far.
- Permissions. It is not easy to tune Fibery to hide information inside a medium-size company (50+ people). However, most likely it will not affect private beta, since we are focusing on small companies that tend to be quite transparent.
- Import. It is not possible to import data from Trello or Asana, so only fresh start is supported. Most likely we will get enough companies that are ready to start from scratch.
Still, we are not going to wait longer. In the worst case scenario we will have a confirmation about lacking features and implement them in 2–3 months.
What if we will get just 30–60 active accounts?
It means value proposition is not convincing and Fibery is not a good product yet. In this scenario future depends on feedback. Maybe we will identify 2–3 show stoppers and it will lead to a success eventually. Or maybe we will not receive coherent feedback and will struggle in frustration.
On my opinion we have about a year to get good traction (high conversion rate ~5–10% and low churn rate). Private Beta is our third field test, but now with expanded audience on real data.
It does not make sense to release Fibery publicly till we don’t have good metrics. Why bother with marketing and all this shit if a product does not bring enough value?
OK, get back to boring things. Productization is boring, so no fancy features were added. We mostly fixed bugs and improved stability.
Now you can add avatar to any Type. For example, you may add avatars to Team, User, Student, Candidate, Product, etc.
Number field was enhanced with decimal format and units:
Domain customization re-design
Ihar Trafimovich independently decided to re-design quite awful Domain screen. Well, now it looks almost good:
It was painful to look at Apps screen everyday as well. We decided to not tolerate this pain and redesigned this area (still in progress though):
Some less visible things:
- It is possible to delete Type even if it has instances now.
- In Wiki you can insert links to images and video.
- Multi-select control works better now.
January plans vs. reality
Quite good progress, taking into consideration deep winter, depression and lack of vegetation.
- ✔︎︎ Formula Field. Finalize it. / Done, but not as a field yet. Good enough for private beta
- ✔︎︎ New field types: % and Decimal Number. / Done
- ✔︎︎ Avatar extension. It will be possible to add Avatar to any entity. It means that it will be possible to create Humans more easily (Students, Employees, etc). Also Avatar can be used for other long-lived entities (Teams, Products, etc.) / Done
- ✘︎︎✔ Users invitation. / Started, not done.
- ✔✘︎︎ First user login experience. / Simplified version implemented.
- ✔✘︎︎ Finalize all private beta Apps. / Almost there, one more week
- ✔ Fix 20+ known bugs. / Yes. Even more.
- Complete Apps redesign.
- Users invitation
- Zapier integration
- Slack Bot
- Rename Types, Rename Fields, Change App for any Type (it was hard, but Andrew is completing this magic, sacrificing his sanity).
- Backlog for Timeline and Calendar Views
- Almost forgot… Private Beta launch. 😬
Random image from our Slack channel:
Random quote from our Slack channel:
Before long his tune would shift from optimism to despair, or from despair to talk of suicide — someone about Private Beta.
Random link from our Slack channel:
Random photo from our Instagram: