<aside> 📝 Last updated in November 2019
A short history of where we've been until now.
Starting in spring/summer 2018 I decided I wanted to build a better lightweight CRM. It started first by recognizing there are a lot of repeating workflows in business which, when done consistently, increase your chances of success. So the initial idea was to build a generic repeating workflow tool called Standard Process. But that shifted to focusing on the process I knew best and needed most, which was sales/outreach.
Around thanksgiving last year we started moving forward in earnest. Benedict and I both had PTSD from previous failures and were hesitant to write any code without trying to validate something first. Our strategy, highly flawed in retrospect, was to find a CRM-adjacent thing we could sell quickly so we could learn what people wanted. We started by trying to offer sales/cold outreach coaching. Folks were vaguely interested, but it was mostly people who didn’t do enough cold outreach of their own and wanted to learn. It was too akin to hiring a trainer at the gym and nobody ever purchased.
Next we moved on to validating other ideas. Each week we would commit fully to validating an idea by creating a landing page and emailing people we knew, asking if they were interested and try to get paid commitments. Everything we tried would be offered as a manual service upfront and we’d slowly automate until it could become fully software. We offered things like “5/10 leads every week in your inbox” and a few variations like that to help people with outbound and cold sales. Interest was there, but nobody purchased.
Finally we hit on something that seemed to work when we flipped from cold/outbound sales to helping people talk to their existing customers (customer success, upsells, etc). This idea was on some Twilio projects I used to run (fraud detection account scoring, primarily). We decided to do “scoring” on customer behavior stored in Intercom (to start) and would suggest who you should talk to (help people onboard, upsell candidates, churn risks, and more).
We charged $500/month and got our first customer (Our friend Luke at Exposure.co). Later we got another customer for $200/month after we reduced the price to something we thought was "obvious". Still we had a difficult time explaining how it worked and why it was different than other tools. Anybody using Intercom at scale had other tools offering a similar scoring mechanism (Madkudu and others). Any smaller companies who hadn't already searched for a tool seemed to not have the time or operational expertise to actually utilize what we wanted to give them.
We went to MicroConf and met a lot of great people. Folks seemed interested in and excited about what we were doing. But we couldn't move conversations ahead because many of these companies were smaller and the founders were running sales, so they didn't have the capacity to use our tool.