Veryfi was started by 2 software engineers with a common pain point — outsourcing the health of our company’s bookkeeping to cheap labor was slow, led to more accounting errors and exposed personal financial information to preying eyes.
Along the way we were also inspired by John D. Rockefeller and his most sacred relic, Ledger A. He kept a detailed record of his receipts and expenditures so he could always know the health of his business and life.
“No less than his business life, Rockefeller’s private life was ruled by bookkeeping entries. Since he found numbers so clean and soothing in their simplicity, he applied the business principles…to his own personal economy. When he started working in September 1855, he paid a dime for a small red book, anointed Ledger A, in which he minutely recorded his receipts and expenditures. Many of his young contemporaries kept such record books but seldom with such exacting care. For the remainder of his life, Rockefeller treated Ledger A as his most sacred relic.”
(Chernow, Ron (2007–12–18). Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (Kindle Locations 1321–1325). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
It is 2017 and we believe that we needed to own the pulse of our business and that machines could do a far better job than a human behind a spreadsheet in the cloud. Enter Veryfi — machine powered end-to-end bookkeeping. With 0 (zero) human intervention.
Here are a few lessons from our journey building Veryfi during the Y Combinator (YC) W17 — Winter program.
(A) How we figured out how much to charge our customers
When we launched, customers questioned our FREE model.
“what’s the catch? why is it free?”.
So we said, “ok, how about we charge you”. And so we did and peace was restored in the kingdom. We used Stripe ❤️ to process all our subscriptions — honestly don’t waste your time with anything else. Stripe is so simple to setup and get going.
Lesson: some products customers expect to pay for. Especially when it deals with their financial records. So research your market and find a spot that’s competitive. Never get into a price war since the strongest financially always wins (MBA 101).
Here is what we settled on (Veryfi plans):
(B) What metrics are important to us and why
Our KPI has always been MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue). Apart from being at the root of business fundamentals it is also a good indicator whether your customers love your product.
It’s easy to give away product for free. Anyone can do this in today’s digital distribution market. It is a lot harder to sell. Turning a user into a paying customer requires hard work to perfect product market fit.
- The product has to be of quality,
- The product has to solve a pain point and
- The product has to add enough value that your users love it.
Apart from being at the root of business fundamentals it is also a good indicator whether your customers love your product or simply using it as a temporary swap in for the more expensive one.
(C) How do you balance trying new customer acquisition strategies and doubling down on ones which are working?
We followed the actionable framework and advice of Gabriel Weinberg in his famous book “Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers”.
The book covers every possible marketing channel you can use to get traction, and shows you which channels will be your key to growth. You need to be organized and fastidious in measuring each channel. Then once you see 1 or 2 channels working, milk them.
Observe your Metrics
Finally, make it a ritual (a good habit) to review your business metrics daily. At first, most of it will be numbers and a bit chaotic. But over time your brain develops this beautiful connection and insights will appear.
Quick hack: To kick start this habit, create a new Chrome User called “Metrics”. Set Chrome to “Always open previous tabs” (located in Chrome > Settings). For each tab, open the sites you use to measure your business. For example:
- Tab 1 — Stripe ❤️ dashboard to measure Revenue KPI,
- Tab 2 — Google Adwords to measure your Campaign Strategy,
- Tab 3 — Google Analytics to measure Web User Engagement or Blog performance,
- Tab 4— Google Firebase to measure mobile User Engagement and catch errors,
- Tab 5 — SensorTower to watch Customer Feedback and App performance,
and so on… you get the drift. Make this a habit! Otherwise you will never do this.
(D) Tips for driving mobile conversions
Today (2017) this is harder and slower than in 2012. But there are ways. And these methods require patience and persistence.
We started mobile first and did ASO (app store optimization) with the help of SensorTower. Initially it moved the needle slightly so but nothing like the early days of iTunes when the app market for keywords wasn’t so crowded.
Word of mouth ended up being the strongest driver for us. Our early users love the product and kept on spreading it to their friends and colleagues. A mobile bottom up approach is truly the most powerful form.
We ended up creating a communication strategy around this and would reach out to our users asking for reviews and comments on iTunes. Positive reviews & comments moved the needle the most on iTunes. This started to push our app position into a more visible spectrum. More downloads, more love, more ratings and more visibility — recursive circle.
~ Ernest & Dmitry
Y Combinator W17 cohort
🌈 Special: Discount for Medium readers only
We are offering a 20% discount off our annual plans listed here: https://www.veryfi.com/plans-pricing/ — contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org with your medium ID and we’ll honor the special 😀👍
Thanks to Alexander Strunkin (Deako YC W16), Urszula Semerda, Olia Birulia and Andrzej Bakonski for reading drafts of this.