Userlist Year in Review 2019

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It’s Jane on the line and it’s time to see what 2019 looked like for Userlist. This was written as a part of my personal year in review, the entire thing can be found here. You’re also welcome to read Userlist Year in Review 2018 here.

What a year!

We’ve been working on Userlist for over two years, and it’s amazing how “the SaaS ramp of death” can be both slow and exciting at the same time.

In 2018 we put the business together: incorporated, set up the finances, legal documents, knowledge base, etc. In 2019 we focused on the product, and ultimately went out of beta. Here’s the timeline:

  • Finished putting together the core product features
  • Kept adding more beta users
  • Launched a new marketing website
  • Repositioned Userlist as a customer messaging tool using April Dunford’s method (here’s the blog post)
  • Successfully launched on BetaList
  • Put together quality onboarding for the mailing list subscribers
  • Automated our onboarding in Userlist (yes, we’re eating our own dog food a lot)
  • On August 6th, finally went out of beta and launched to #1 on Product Hunt (here’s a blog post outlining our launch preparation)
  • Did an attendee talk at MicroConf Europe on customer messaging (see the slides)
  • Bought our .com domain and rebranded as simply Userlist (here’s the full story)

Our massive podcast tour

In preparation for our launch, we also went on a podcast tour. In the end we did a massive number of podcast interviews:

  1. Jane Portman: UI Design for Early-stage Startups — Bright & Early by Brian Rhea
  2. Claire Suellentrop: The Importance of Knowing Your Customer — Bright & Early by Brian Rhea
  3. 319: Jane Portman — Release Notes by Charles Perry and Joe Cieplinski
  4. 332: Benedikt Deicke — Release Notes by Charles Perry and Joe Cieplinski
  5. 177: Better SaaS Onboarding with Jane Portman and Benedikt Deicke — Rogue Startups with Craig Hewitt & Dave Rodenbaugh
  6. Talking Userlist with Benedikt Deicke — Out of Beta with Matt Wensing and Peter Suhm
  7. 97: To Build, or Not to Build — Jane Portman of Userlist — Art of Product with Derrick Reimer and Ben Orenstein
  8. Episode 146: Q&A with the Userlist Team — here at UI Breakfast Podcast
  9. Benedikt Deicke of Userlist.io on competing with Intercom in an established market — Getting to Ramen by Joshua Anderton
  10. 121: Benedikt Deicke – Building Userlist.io — FullStack Radio
  11. Benedikt Deicke, Co-Founder of Userlist — Rails with Jason with Jason Swett
  12. 10 Steps to Reposition Your Product When Your Customers Don’t “Get it” — Everyone Hates Marketers with Louis Grenier
  13. Planning the Perfect SaaS Launch: Userlist.io — Data Beats Opinion with Keith Perhac
  14. Episode 471. Fighting to Gain Traction in a Crowded Space with Jane Portman of Userlist — Startups for the Rest of Us with Rob Walling

Moreover, Benedikt has started his own show together with Brian Rhea. It’s called Slow & Steady and they talk weekly about building their products.

Going full-time

MicroConf Europe in Croatia — in addition to simply being a fantastic event — was the first conference where we didn’t have to pitch Userlist and explain what it does (except for just a handful of times). It felt amazing.

Benedikt and I also spent some quality time there, not in Zoom, but savoring a panoramic view from a mountain top. Euphoric about our business traction, we made two big decisions:

  • to apply for TinySeed (which we did);
  • to go full time on Userlist, starting January 2020 (regardless of whether we get the funding or not).

Our third co-founder Claire had already been in an advisory role for a year, so these decisions didn’t affect her as much. All three of us are still in a great relationship; I shared more details in my interview on Startups for the Rest of Us.

At the moment, our key assets are in solid shape (both the product and the infrastructure), so the goal is to increase website traffic at the top of the funnel. To address that, we have already planned for a number of marketing activities. We’re also finishing up the development of in-app notifications, which are going live in early 2020.

I’m happy that we had consulting on the side during the first two years of the Userlist journey; it helped us to grow smoothly and avoid any rushed, grow-at-all-costs decisions. But I’m even happier that we can treat this as our only job now.

The future is exciting, and I’m incredibly lucky to be a part of this team 💛

— Regards, Jane.