Yesterday, my startup hit a significant milestone: 10,000 total accounts (trial + paid). And last month marked one year anniversary of launching paid plans for Visual Website Optimizer. I think it is a good time to reflect what it means to me and the business.
Needless to say, I am very happy that we can boast of a small, smart team and big brand customers like Microsoft, Groupon and AMD. However, when I think about it — I was much more excited (and happier) about first 10 paying customers than 10 new paying customers now. Back then when I was launching it, there was an unknown territory to explore and I was a warrior ready to battle the unknown.
Questions and Euphoria
Whether it would work? Or, whether I would need to get a job? I still distinctly remember getting the first paid order and delirium it had caused. Even though I had read almost all essays of Paul Graham and absorbed myself into startup world (perhaps) bit too much, the realization that someone was ready to pay for my hacks was an incredible feeling. Then, within first month of launching paid plans, when the revenue surpassed four times my previous market salary, I was ecstatic. Who could have guessed that? The coverage on blogs, feedback from customers, demoing and closing Fortune 500 customers like Microsoft, 10% revenue growth every month, scaling beyond one 512 MB VPS (now we have 30 servers!). It was all new for me; it was exciting! I loved it.
It can be done!
Since then, inside me, a thought has been taking life of its own. The thought is an incredibly powerful one; the main essence is: it can be done! Today scaling servers, coverage on a major blog, additional customers and many other aspects doesn’t give the same kick like they used to give me. And, I guess, that’s because the question that I set on to answer via a startup has been answered (to a certain extent — of course, I know tomorrow is unknown). Paul Graham’s essays were theory to me, but Visual Website Optimizer is a practical. The initial euphoria of a startup was because it was a sudden transformation for me: from having a regular job to making (unpredictable and scalable) amount of money even while I am sleeping. Now, I guess, the theoretical question has been answered: it can be done! (And, apparently, it can be done by anyone — no special skills needed.)
Well, what’ s next best logical step for my startup? Of course, team will grow, product development wil keep happening (in fact, we are launching a new interface next week) and we may even introduce new products (have exciting ideas – wink, wink). But the theoretical question has been answered and a certain level of satisfaction has set in. What can be the next level of kick for my sweet-little startup? Perhaps doing something that requires another leap of faith and pushes us into the unknown.