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Userlist, Inc. Year in Review 2018

It’s Jane on the line and we’re wrapping up 2018 here at Userlist. This was written as a part of my personal year in review, welcome to read the entire thing here.

So… Our goal was to launch Userlist in 2018 and achieve $5k MRR. That didn’t happen. However, this year was hugely productive, and we’re currently in a nicely functioning paid beta: here’s a video showing what it can do.

We could’ve probably launched the beta much earlier, but we didn’t want to ship a subpar version. Rand Fishkin talks about the Exceptional Viable Product in his latest book and warns about the “MVP hangover” effect. Looks like we intuitively followed his advice without knowing it; even though going live with the beta was hardly “comfortable” anyways (as most founders know).

Much more time than expected went into building a solid business foundation:

  • incorporating in the US with three international co-founders (here’s the full story);

  • getting a bank account and setting up the finances;

  • drafting legal documents such as terms of service, privacy policy, and GDPR documents (these are soon to be published);

  • putting together a knowledge base;

  • publishing frequent updates about the process to our blog.

And of course, customer development! We did dozens of customer calls and demos this year (a few each week), and it was hugely useful and inspiring.

Among other news, Claire has transitioned from hands-on work into an advisory role (while remaining a full co-founder), which means more marketing activities on my side.

Our big plans for 2019 are to build more features (of course), improve onboarding, recruit more paying customers from our waiting list, do a public launch, and focus on spreading the word.

There’s a lot of work to be done on educating our audience! While the need for behavior-based email is obvious for SaaS companies, there’s still a lot of misunderstanding about the tools — and the actual words — in the field. Do we call it lifecycle email, behavior-based messaging, onboarding, anything else? How do we communicate our unique value proposition of being built specifically for SaaS companies, specifically for post-signup communication? How do we communicate the value of the user dashboard and user activity feeds?

We also allocate a lot of resources towards helping founders figure out what to track and what to send as opposed to merely providing a tool. The goal is to make such approach our big competitive advantage.

Onwards to 2019! ⛄️

— Regards, Jane.

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