The Quarter We Double Down on the Pivot
The last couple of months have seen Lithium undergo a pretty substantial pivot. We saw that the launchpad market was getting more and more saturated, we saw that the liquidity between supply and demand was changing, and we lost faith that building the world's simplest crowdfunding platform was a good approach.
Many companies face the realisation that the market has no need for the product they are building. Startups usually go through this realisation multiple times before they find the elusive product-market fit.
Being honest with where you are as a company is critical if you are going to adapt to market needs. Rather than sit by, we were proactive. We addressed the real problems the market was facing, we spoke to customers, and we built something new. The rollout of Mission Control has been a huge success. We’ve already onboarded 7 projects, and as we are serving them earlier in the value chain (by providing a way for them to acquire new users and retain existing ones) we can secure preferential rates. Lithium now only ever does exclusive community launches; we’re trying to carve ourselves a niche as the platform of choice for projects looking to acquire, engage, and monetise their community.
We’ve adjusted our product roadmap accordingly, and in this article, we’ll try and lay out how we are thinking about the product. As always, we need to include the usual caveat, namely that a roadmap just gives the brush strokes. We may come across bigger problems that need to be solved, or new technologies may give us way to build larger and larger moats.
First Problem — Solve Top of Funnel Acquisition
Top-of-funnel acquisition is soooo important to startups. So many startups focus on monetisation, retention or referrals, but none of this matters if you don’t have users coming into your product. Driving top-of-funnel is currently all we care about, and we’re going to get it right.
There’s currently too much friction to get a user from a client's Twitter or Telegram into their Lithium dashboard to start completing missions. Customers enter an empty page, then have to opt into projects, and then need to fill in a load of details such as their Twitter or Telegram.
We need to cut out as much friction as possible.
We’ll do this by showing users all the projects' missions and then only asking them to insert relevant information whenever that information is required. This will improve our conversion rate and allow us to get more customers into our client's ecosystem, driving more growth and ultimately delivering more value.
Automations may also help us solve top-of-funnel acquisition. The first action a user takes should be easy, delightful even. At the moment, users input social handles manually. We’ll automate this by integrating with Twitter. First, we’ll solve for basic automations such as follows and retweets, before looking at more advanced stuff like comments.
The integration will give users direct feedback, they’ll see their task get submitted, they’ll see their allocation go up, they may even be able to claim their rewards straight away. This will get users to the ‘aha moment’ much quicker, driving retention.
Second Problem — Retaining Clients
SaaS (software-as-a-service) companies live and die by their ability to retain customers. We haven’t lost any clients from mission control yet, but we’ve only been going for a month! We will eventually lose clients, it’s inevitable, but we need to do everything we can to limit this.
The main issue we foresee is providing a tonne of value once a client has raised on our platform. Clients need their investors to remain engaged, they need them not to sell, they need them to stake. Unfortunately, it's a lot easier to sell an influx of cash than to sell insurance against an outflow of cash. We need to build features that engage existing investors and encourage them to use the platform for what it is meant for. Game projects need gamers, DeFi projects need users, etc., etc.
We have a few ideas in the backlog for how we can add a tonne of value here
- Automated on-chain tasks. For example, detecting if a user has staked and dishing out tasty rewards.
- Wallet integrated CRM, so we can detect when investors are likely to sell or churn and hit them with some sweet alpha as to why they shouldn’t .
- Productised content, such as leaderboards for engagement (kind of like how Lithium does with Combot).
- More seamless integration between Lithium and community messaging platforms like Discord or Telegram.
Third Problem — Referral
We need a shit-hot referral scheme. It's that simple. Unfortunately building one isn’t. We’ve got multiple projects, with different rewards and incentives, and we need to tie it all together with a slick referral mechanism. We might use NFTs for this — we might not. We’ve been playing around with a few approaches, but have not found one we’ve really loved, take a look below for one of the rejects.
Ser, what about Revenue?
Revenue is important. No DeFi token can appreciate without it (well some do but they are of course bound to fail). If you find a DeFi token that is going up in price but it's not clear how it's making money — congratulations you’ve found yourself a shitcoin.
We make money in quite a simple way, we charge clients for our service, and we take a cut of any cash raised through the platform, over time these revenue inflows will flow back into the $IONs token, whether through buybacks, further utility such as incorporating $IONs into a gamified progression scheme (more on that later) or some idea we haven’t thought of yet.
At the moment we aren’t doing huge numbers, in the region of 0-$50k MRR (0–1.2m ARR). The great thing about SaaS is it scales, and scales fast, without increasing your marginal cost. It doesn’t matter how many people are using your code, it doesn't cost more to add new people on. This is why businesses such as Slack, Notion, Telegram, Whatsapp and more can maintain margins of over 90%.
We’re growing around 30% month on month (this means if last month we added 3 clients this month we’ll add 4 and next month we’ll add more, so on and so forth). On these projections, we could get to $5m ARR a year from now. After the first year, SaaS companies generally aim to triple, double-double. This just means y1 is triple y0 and y2 is double y1. If followed this trend we’d be doing $120m ARR by y3. Clearly, with these kinds of compounding growth factors, it's more prudent to invest in products that can get us to this potential.
To get us to these numbers we’ll relentlessly focus on the experience of our clients, investors and users, we’ll add value at every stage of the flow. It's taken us 6 months to build the world's simplest crowdfunding platform on a shoestring, 6 months from now I believe we’ll have the world's best crypto community on-ramp.
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