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2013 - Year in Review


#1

I thought it would be nice to have a “year in review” thread for 2013. That way, at the end of 2014, we can all look back and laugh (or cry, such as the case may be).

I’ll start.

For Antair (my company), 2013 was an average year in terms of revenue. We’re down a few percentage points over 2012, but we’re up significantly over 2011, which was a terrible year. Most of our revenue in 2013 was a split between our various mobile apps, and a few consulting projects. March was the strongest month. November was the weakest.

In terms of products, our iOS and Android mobile apps continue to replace the revenue that was dominated by BlackBerry only a few years ago. This year, our new releases included Essential Voice Recorder for Android, Uberdeck (our first SaaS web app), and several variations of existing mobile apps.

Including new apps and updates to existing apps, we’ve had 42 releases this year, not including Uberdeck, which runs through several updates per week.

We ‘officially’ retired about 3 products. It usually takes a while for me to get around to admitting that a product has run its course; all three of these were ‘effectively’ retired long before I got around to pulling them from all channels.

We completed several client projects - both for iOS and Android. All of these were under NDAs, so I won’t be able to provide any more details.

Going into 2014, we now have a little over a dozen products on the market, including mobile apps, and Uberdeck.

Aside from Uberdeck, which is being worked on continuously, going into 2014, we have one web app in development, two mobile apps (iOS and Android), and two client projects (iOS and Android).

And, of course, @ian and I started the Bootstrapped.fm podcast this past year. It’s not something that has to do with the company, but it’s significant to me, so I’m including it.

If anyone would like to browse through some of the products we’ve worked on over the years, most of them are at www.andreybutov.com/work


#2

Good thinking Andrey. 2013 was spent mostly building and releasing Snappy. We got it out around June and it’s done fairly well, especially recently.

Going through some quick numbers Snappy is .5% of our total revenue :slight_smile: so HelpSpot is still the big dog and will continue to be. Overall revenue was fairly flat due to the outsized focused required for our small team to build a complex new product from the ground up.

2014 will be almost entirely about marketing for me. The UserScape crew will be focused on a major new release that’s in the works for HelpSpot and continued refinement of Snappy with lots of small features that will really make it shine.

On a side note, thanks to everyone who’s participated here in the forums! These have become a great resource for bootstrappers and I expect it will be even more so over the course of 2014.


#3

2013 started with me going out for a run in January and not coming back for 5 days as I shattered my elbow requiring 6 hours of surgery and 5 days incarcerated in the hospital. Don’t run in the snow is the lesson learned! So this has been the year of working one-handed.

Our saving grace was that we had already decided that this would be the year we stopped doing client projects, so at least I didn’t have to sit and code all day. I’ve been trying to take more of a strategic role and also learn some stuff. I learned a lot about modern ops this year and have started moving our infrastructure to be more automated.

Perch has been continuing to do well, it is now all that we do. We’ve got some great plans for the product so the decision really needs to be whether I can (and should) get back to do more coding as hopefully my arm is going to improve now I have had my recent surgery, or whether we should be hiring for that and leave me able to continue working on the business rather than writing code. I have mixed feelings about that - mostly because at the back of my mind is the feeling that it’s only real work if it involves code, which is of course nonsense.

Also this year I have released a little book via Five Simple Steps, a chapter of the recent Smashing Book on Technical Support and spoken at conferences in England, Scotland, Germany, Poland, Belgium and Canada. I have written a new workshop on launching Digital Products and presented that twice so far.

Revenue is up for Perch although flat across the company as no client projects.

In January I will be self-publishing my book The Profitable Side Project Handbook and I am a good way through the writing process for that. I’ve got a fair few speaking engagements already lined up and I’d really like to speak more about the business side of what we do in the New Year.

For Perch I really want to be able to make headway on some of the plans we have. The biggest issue with the transition from services to products is the lack of structure it creates. When you do client work you get used to estimating time and delivering jobs within a timeframe, with your own stuff it is easy for the job to expand to fill available time - which can almost be limitless! I’d like to try and get involved in some kind of “mastermind group” of people at a similar stage because it would be good to talk through some of the stuff that I’m not able to discuss publicly right now.


#4

We also did a bit of a review of everything we have done for Perch this year on our podcast today: http://grabaperch.com/blog/archive/perch-podcast-episode-twenty-eight-christmas-special


#5

2013 has been an important year for Team Password Manager. In June I released V2, which was a big step forward and in November this side project became my full time job. Like Rachel, I’ve written a review post (no podcast, though): http://teampasswordmanager.com/blog/2013-in-review/

Happy 2014 to everyone!


#6

well done on making the leap to working full time on your product!


#7

2013 has been an interesting year for me. My SaaS, Snip Salon Software, is only bringing in a trickle of revenue, so I have to earn an income in other ways. I was consulting for the entire year of 2012, then on January 2nd, 2013 I started a full-time (contact-to-hire) job.

I had forgotten how much jobs suck and how much of your time they take up. Since I had to be at the office during work hours, I couldn’t go out and do sales like I had been doing, and I couldn’t do very good customer support (although that wasn’t a huge deal). Instead I focused on improving my website and doing SEO. SEO was almost all I did for several months, although it was just like an hour a week. My wife and I also had our second kid in May of 2013, so between that and the job I had very limited time.

The people I was working for decided they didn’t want to hire me (and I didn’t particularly want to work there, or anywhere) and my misguided stint into full-time employment ended in September. Since then life has been pretty awesome. I’m back doing consulting, and I’m a lot better at it now business-wise than I had been before I had a job. I’ve had the freedom to do more sales work for Snip and I’ve gotten a couple new customers. I’ve also been in better touch with my existing customers. I also achieved profitability in October. I’m back in the red now due to losing a customer, but that’s okay because the sales machine is getting more effective all the time and I know I’ll get another customer before long.

The themes for 2014 for me will be consistency and diversification. I’ve jumped around between canvassing, SEO and cold calling with Snip, none of which blew my hair back with effectiveness (no pun intended). I realize now what I should probably do is rather than go out and visit 40 salons every 6 months, I should visit maybe 3 salons every single week, do 50 or so cold calls every single week, and do a couple hours of online marketing every week. I think I’ve been haring when I really should be tortoising.

I’m also going to try AdWords (consistently!) starting in January. I’ll let you guys know how that goes.


#8

For Poker Copilot:

  • Sales up slightly.
  • Costs up significantly. I experimented with different avenues of advertising and tried a couple of site redesigns. That’s why costs were up. Ultimately I concluded that the options I have for advertising currently are not worth continuing.
  • Therefore net income has dropped
  • I released version 4. A significant portion of my income was people paying an upgrade fee. That’s the beauty of a mature product.
  • I tried to release a new product. I forgot how much effort it takes to get things release-ready. I’m almost two months over my self-imposed, ridiculously optimistic release date.
  • For the first time I’ve been outsourcing customer support. It’s gone much better than I expected. I’m learning that letting go of key tasks can be wonderful - if you have the right people and processes.

#9

Honeybadger has done pretty well this year. We’ve shipped some major features that make us unique in the marketplace.

Basically, we’re extremely vertical in the Ruby market. If you have a Ruby app in production and you care that it’s working correctly, we’re the only monitoring solution you need. (Whereas previously you’d have to combine 2-3 separate services to get the same coverage.)

…Our growth curve looks suspiciously like the one Amy posted for freckle.

I’m going to be focusing almost wholly on marketing this year, leaving my co-founders and our contractors to handle most of the dev work.

Personally, one of my goals for this year is to find / put together a mastermind group of entrepreneurs who are in this range of mid six to low seven figure revenues. I know people individually, but it’d be nice to have regular meetings.