Our bootstrapped journey towards $100K MRR

Back in the summer of 2020, we launched the first version of our form builder Tally. Today—more than 150 feature updates and over 250,000 happy users later—we're super proud to reach the milestone of $100K MRR with a bootstrapped team of 3.

Right from the beginning, our main goal has been to make form-building fun, powerful, and free. And until today, that's what sets Tally apart from the crowd of form builders out there. If we haven't met before, here's a recap of our journey.

We, Marie & Filip, launched Tally, the simplest way to create forms, in 2020. We offer unlimited submissions for free, combined with an intuitive form builder that works like a text document.
Sept. 2020 $0K How we ended up building a no-code tool
Mar. 2021 $1K From MVP to Product Hunt launch
Oct. 2021 $5K Bootstrapping to $5K MRR and 11K users
Dec. 2021 $8K Wrapping up 2021
Feb. 2022 $10K Bootstrapping to $10K MRR and 20K users
Jun. 2022 $20K Growing from $10K to $20k MRR
Oct. 2022 $30K Bootstrapping our SaaS to $30K MRR
May 2023 $60K Bootstrapping our SaaS to $60K MRR
Sept. 2023 $75K Launching Tally 2.0
Feb. 2024 $100K Here we are 📍

So what happened since our last update?

Our recipe hasn’t changed. We’re running a product-led business, which means user acquisition, conversion, and retention are all driven primarily by our product. One of the key factors in our success and the biggest drivers of our growth has been our free product. You can read more about how our growth flywheel works in this post.

As we entered 2023, we had two main goals:

  • Grow our team to scale customer support and speed up product development
  • Improve the UX of Tally, keeping it the simplest way to create forms, accumulating in the launch of Tally 2.0

Here’s what happened on our journey to $100K in monthly revenue, including what worked and what didn't.

Scaling Customer Support

At the core of Tally's success lies an active community of early users and advocates. During our initial launch in 2020, we actively sought feedback from hundreds of founders and creators, many of whom joined our Slack channel, providing us with invaluable insights directly. This direct line of communication with our early users has been instrumental in shaping Tally's roadmap, with these users evolving into our most passionate ambassadors.

As our user base expanded, so did the demands on our support channels. What once began as a platform for direct engagement gradually transformed into a 24/7 support channel with over 3000 members. As founders, accustomed to providing personalized support and engaging with users continuously, we found ourselves stretched thin, with little time left to focus on building and growing Tally. While maintaining direct contact with users is invaluable, the sheer volume of feedback and feature requests became overwhelming.

Recognizing the need to maintain the quality of our customer support without compromising our ability to ship fast and move forward, we made our first hire: a customer success manager.

Together, we embarked on a journey to reevaluate, optimize, and automate our customer support processes while upholding the quality and efficiency of our service. Here's how we tackled the challenge:

  • Continuously enhancing our help center.
  • Implementing a structured Tally form to streamline and qualify incoming support queries, transitioning away from direct email support.
  • Making the tough decision to close our Slack channel for new users to better manage support resources.
  • Clarifying support boundaries, such as excluding custom code/CSS requests from our scope.
  • Introducing a feedback board for users to submit suggestions and upvote features.
  • Launching an expert program, enabling users to engage experts for specialized assistance.

We successfully implemented these changes, reclaiming valuable bandwidth while ensuring that no crucial feedback or information fell through the cracks.

Launching Tally 2.0

The biggest Tally milestone of 2023 was the launch of Tally 2.0. We created a new logo, redesigned our dashboard and builder, and launched lots of product improvements—making Tally even more user-friendly. Tally 2.0 was all about going back to our main mission: making form-building fun and simple. As our product grows, we want to safeguard the UX, keeping it the simplest (yet powerful) form builder out there.

We launched Tally 2.0 on Product Hunt with the main goal of attracting new users and having them experience our product firsthand. We were fortunate to receive an overwhelming wave of positive comments and reviews, and we eventually became the #1 Product of the Day, the Week, the Month, and we won a Golden Kitty in the Bootstrapped category 🎉

During our launch week, we achieved record-breaking numbers in (free) user signups. In September 2023, on average 2,300 new Tally users signed up per week, in the weeks following our launch we welcomed (and still are) 4,400 new users per week (+91%).

We shared more about our learnings and results of the Product Hunt launch here.

2023 is also the year in which we decided to grow our development team. Until now Filip had been the only one designing, building, and maintaining the product, but as Tally kept growing a couple of challenges presented themselves:

  • More users meant more technical support for Filip
  • Having a generous free plan attracts abusers, and unfortunately, we need to spend an increasing amount of time blocking them and automating our abuse detection systems.
  • Tally is being used by small and big companies around the world, meaning we needed to work on scaling infrastructure for heavy users

This combined left little or no time to improve Tally, build new features, or even think about product strategy. So we decided to bring two full-time engineers on board, to accelerate development while affording Filip more bandwidth for strategic product initiatives. However, the reality proved more daunting.

While hiring 2 full-time team members sped up our feature development, it also introduced more complexities in our time management and planning, leaving no room for new initiatives as initially planned. We didn’t manage to get the outcome we wanted and decided to downscale the engineering team and reassess our strategy.

Meanwhile, in October 2023, we welcomed our little boy Teo to the family, which prompted deep reflection. Since 2020 we poured tireless effort into Tally, leaving marks on us. We needed a mental break and had to take a step back to be able to spend more time with our family.

During this time, and after launching Tally 2.0, we learned that speeding up development does not necessarily impact our bottom line. Although we want to keep improving our product continuously, the future of Tally hinges not solely on the speed of our product development, but rather on our marketing efforts to drive its growth.

Moving forward

Although we didn’t manage to grow our team as planned, we’re learning from our mistakes, and are more energized than ever to build the best form builder out there. On the marketing front, Tally has experienced 100% organic growth thus far, and we're shifting our focus toward exploring new acquisition channels, both paid and organic. Stay tuned for the results!

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