Outseta Company Update - February 2017

Every month from here on out we’ll be publishing a monthly company update. If you’re interested in staying abreast of our progress, you’re in the right spot. Here’s what we’ve been up to since we published our launch announcement

Product marketing, when you don’t yet have a product...

Outseta_final_web.png

Product marketing, Take One. When you don’t have a product yet, it’s tough to take screenshots… so we went with a cartoon. Illustration by Stephanie Vecellio.

Optimizing for profitability, and profit sharing
For people outside of tech it may seem weird to see “optimizing for profitability” in our first company update. Well, duh! you might be thinking. But in tech circles it’s all too common that start-ups raise funding from outside investors, spend wildly, and run the business at a loss in an effort to jack up their annual growth rate and subsequently their valuation. Josh Pigford, Founder of Baremetrics, wrote an article that really resonated with us pointing out that there are other ways to build a business and to define “success,” even if you work in tech. 

With that in mind, we made two important decisions.

  1. We’re going to focus on long term profitability instead of focusing on growth rate
  2. We’re going to distribute 50% of our profits to employees who have been with the company for more than one year

While it may seem weird to be talking about profitability pre-revenue, these decisions are important to us for a couple of reasons. First off, the decision to focus on profitability will impact almost every decision we make. It will force us to be financially judicious, and will ensure that we’re deliberate about the investments that we make. Particularly when it comes to hiring, it will force us to consider the ROI of each new team member that we bring on. And sharing profits with employees will incent everyone to be as productive as possible - a smaller headcount means everyone gets a bigger piece of the pie. 

Additionally, as co-founders Dimitris, Dave, and I need to know what “success” looks like for one another. While we’re not pursuing a “growth at all costs” path leading to an exit event, we do hope that Outseta is financially rewarding for us and our employees. These decisions set expectations in terms of how those financial rewards will be delivered. We think these decisions provide tremendous benefits in terms of alignment.

We made a number of important product decisions
Here are the highlights…

  • We’re building our email marketing functionality first. You’ll be able to send out e-mail blasts and setup automated drip email campaigns. One of our goals is to send our March company update using our own email marketing tool.
  • We decided to build the product using .NET 4.5 rather than .NET Core. Dimitris and Dave are .NET guys, and while the engineer in them wanted to move to .NET Core there would have been a learning curve associated with making that move that would slow down development. Our desire to get a product to market quickly and validate what we’re building trumped our interest in moving to the latest technology.
  • We decided to host with AWS over Azure. They offer the widest array of services, are the market leader, and are innovating faster than than any of their competitors. We decided to use the AWS RDS MySql database service on the back end, as we’d rather have a hosted RDS service managed by AWS than install and manage MySql ourselves.
  • On the front end, we’re using AngularJS. Minovate will provide the early look and feel of the application. I had to ask Dave to explain this to me - basically it’s taking a pre-defined, templated approach to the user interface - the navigation style, menu bar style, controls, buttons, fonts, and colors. 
  • We’re using Moqups to build wireframes, and InVisionApp to build clickable prototypes.

Most of the product decisions we’ve made so far have come down to productivity. Outseta is an ambitious undertaking, and getting a product to market as quickly as possible is our priority.

Marketo’s new CEO just validated our idea
Former SAP exec and new Marketo CEO Steve Lucas came pretty darn close to validating our idea in an interview with SiliconANGLE. Steve’s a smart guy, so that was pretty cool to see. Here’s an excerpt highlighting what Steve had to say...

“What’s crushing the marketer right now is that every time there’s a new consumer touchpoint, there’s a new point solution for it,” Lucas said. “It’s overwhelming the marketer.” The problem with that, he said, is that “you lose any context on who the customer is.” It’s a problem marketing clouds ranging from Oracle’s to Salesforce’s to Adobe Inc.’s are trying to address — in fact, it’s a prime driver for their own acquisitions. Marketo is trying to offer a range of services that, at least according to Lucas, may be able to provide that unified view more simply than can the marketing clouds with their disparate acquisitions that take time to integrate.

Steve’s comments resonated with me in a big way as both a marketer and someone trying to get a SaaS start-up off the ground. Outseta is very much trying to provide a “unified view of the customer more simply” - and we agree that marketers are getting crushed by too many point solutions.

That’s a wrap on our first company update. See ya in March!

Geoff, Dave, and Dimitris