How Canny.io built a $1m ARR SaaS Startup

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canny-story

This post is not about PHP, obviously, we cannot see such a beautiful story without talking about it; big thanks Sarah Hum for sharing it. It’s the story of a little red riding hood with the big bad wolf, however this time the little red riding hood find its way to $1m Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) with a team of seven persons working all remotely and without taking any money from investors. Don’t worry, we won’t tell you what happened to the big bad wolf or you can change it with the yellow fluffy Duck.

Canny.io is a customer feedback management tool, it helps you collect and organize feature requests to better understand customer needs and prioritize your roadmap. Canny journey to $1m is pretty impressive :

We can learn a lot from this experience :

  • Remote jobs are the future, and the present too.
  • It’s possible to make $1m ARR in a very short period (3.5 years) with a good product
  • Product is the key to any successful business
  • Be focused—don’t try to solve every problem for every business.
  • Build an amazing product for a small group of people instead of a mediocre product for everyone.
  • Try to validate your product/business before launching by getting a few paying customers.
  • If some people are willing to pay, it’s a great sign that others will too.
  • By launching before getting customers, you’ll still learn a lot, but you risk not getting paying customers.
  • By validating first, your launch will be more successful.
  • Consider whether there are any waves you can ride to make your launch bigger. For them, this was Product Hunt itself, which was super popular in 2017.
  • Success is all about identifying these tasks, executing on them, and seeing what works.
  • Talk to your customers to learn what they want in a solution. That will also help inform how you market your product.
  • As a founder, try to notice if you’re spending a lot of your time repeatedly doing similar groups of tasks.
  • This can be a good indicator that hiring someone for this role will be successful. Especially if it’s something you’re not personally an expert on.
  • Hire deliberately and carefully as your first people are key players.
  • Whether they can do the job well is baseline. Continue to pay special attention to whether you can see yourself working together for the long haul.
  • Identify what’s working well for you and continue to invest in that.
  • When hiring, always do some form of a technical interview/assignment, no matter the role.
  • Support: How would you respond to this live chat conversation? Write us a help article.
  • Marketing: Do some keyword research, choose a blog post topic, and write an outline and draft.
  • Sales: Shadow us on a demo and give us feedback. Put together a brief prospecting plan.
  • This gives you a chance to get a feel for what it’s like to work with the candidate, and gives you an idea of their skills. One of the biggest indicators for us is ability to take constructive feedback.
  • At some point, you need a more specific, strategic focus than “make more money.” Especially as the team grows, it’s important that everyone is aligned, and understands how they impact the company’s larger goals. This focus makes it easier to prioritize and measure success.

As product people, it’s easy to spend 90% of your time building your product. Building a good product is important, but it’s useless if nobody wants to use (and pay for) it

Of course you need to read the whole story canny here, Sharing the story of your project is also an indicator of success. So don’t hesitate to share, but you should find the right time to do it. Thank you Sarah for this amazing story !

Still curious you want to know the technologies used in Canny.io ? Frontend side you will find React, Redux, Webpack, Sass, ES6, in the backend Node, Mongo (mongoose), Isomorphic React and it’s all hosted in AWS, so you should guess there are EC2, CloudFront, S3, and ELB. This doesn’t mean that there is no PHP in the backend, as the co-founder is also a PHP developer 😉