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May 10, 2010

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2 x 2 = 3

Yolk turned two. And three! On May 1st, German Labour Day, we were happy to celebrate two birthdays simultaneously. One, Yolk was founded two years ago. Two, Yolk 1-uped! We’re excited to welcome a new mate around here: Gregor Martynus joined Yolk to support the ongoing development of mite.

This growth is not only an enormously joyous milestone for our young company. You’ll benefit from this power-up as well, for sure. Most important, development will speed up, but we’ll also have more time on our hands to push this blog a little further.

Today, we’d like to send a big thanks to all who applied for this job. Every single application says, in a way, that we’re on the right track. Merci!

Our second curtsy goes to all of you, our customers. You made Yolk what it is from today on: a very happy trio! Merci & cheers to an awesome voyage, together. Let’s see where the next years will take us.


March 08, 2010

125 comments

Facts & figures: The first 20 months of our small SaaS start-up going for premium-only instead of freemium

37signals, poster child of our industry, claims to serve more than 3 million users. What they don’t tell is, how many of those people pay for the premium version of their web apps (Basecamp, Highrise et al). All of them are served in the freemium business model, which is: use a basic version of the product for free, decide later to upgrade to a paid version with extra features, more storage or the like. Evernote, offering a (great) freemium »remember everything« notebook, served more than 500,000 users in summer 2009, according to the New York Times. But, even $79,000 in monthly revenue could not cover their striking expenses for servers and staff which a user base this huge demands. Bottom line: Evernote was in the red.

So what about the smaller, premium-only services? Those, who offer Software as a Service as well, but not in the freemium model? Those, who do not make 5 customers pay to support 95 users? How big can their customer base grow, and at which rate – not having access to hundreds of thousands of users who could rave about the service? Is it possible to grow via referrals only nevertheless? Even if the service doesn’t make it on TechCrunch, RWW et al? Or is VC money the only way then, to pay for advertising crusades? Or is it this whole idea, premium-only, downright stupid? Is freemium the only way, even for a service such us mite, a time tracking tool with a clear benefit focused solely on business customers?

The force driving this article

When thinking about starting our company, we were desperate for in-depth figures of real-life start-ups, who’d been there before. We’d given an arm, a leg and at least one macbook for figures providing insight into the early stage of development, making it possible to understand the evolution of such a business, not only a certain point in time, a result. This would have allowed us to base our vague assumptions on real success – or the lack of it. We craved for such figures. But we didn’t find them.

Well: let’s change that. Let’s publish those facts and figures ourselves. Hopefully, this’ll help somebody out there to take a chance! No matter what: we do believe in sharing experiences and knowledge openly. We therefore chose to contribute. Even if this information is probably the most sensible to divulge.

mite: facts and figures

Trials per month

New trials per month

For 30 days, users are welcome to give our time tracking tool a try. Trials are fully-featured, and: you won’t need a credit card to sign-up; We’re convinced that this is the best decision by far – nobody likes to give away his credit card credentials up-front, whithout a clue if the service is really useful, right? Sign-up just takes a minute. We want to encourage people to try mite in action. That’s when our service convinces best.

Conversion: Once a user, now a customer

Convincing users to sign-up for a trial is just the first step. In the end, what counts is how many of those users become paying customers. Unquestionably, the conversion rate was the hardest parameter to pre-estimate. 5% are a great rate in freemium businesses. We thought that we could top that with our »either/or approach«, and aimed high – for 10%. Ambitious? Yes. Doable? We hoped so, as we had a stable and lovingly crafted enterprise product with a clear financial benefit. A product, that cannot be used in a basic, however restricted version if you’re not up to pay for it.

After 20 months, we do know which rate can be done. Take a look:

Conversion: user => customer

Nearly 20%! Every sixth to fifth trial converts to a paying customer.

That said, we think that the quality of our traffic is the determining factor for this great conversion rate. The biggest part of our visitors reaches our site via a personal referral: a blog post, a tweet, or the recommendation of a co-worker, a freelancer or a customer who is already a customer of ours. (Thank you so much, all of you!) We do not place any ads: no banners, no viral campaigns, no SEM. Instead, we invest solely in improving our product continuously and commit to a great customer service day-by-day.

Paying accounts, paying users

Paying accounts, paying users

mite is multi-user software. Subscription fees are based on the number of active users per account. Therefore, the figure most important to us is not how many paying accounts, but rather how many paying users we’re happy to serve. In February, almost 3,000 users paid for our time tracking app.

Users per account

Users per account

On average, 2.7 users are collaborating on one account. But the chart above shows that this figure isn’t significant at all. At the moment, about 24% of all users fight alone. Our biggest accounts count more than 50 users though – a really diverse customer base.

Monthly revenue / monthly expenses

Monthly revenue, monthly expenses

mite doesn’t grow exponentially. We’re a slow grower, and you know what? We’re happy with that. The trend is what matters. It’s positiv enough to take the next step: the duo behind mite is looking to 1-up the team.

Feedback, please?

No matter how cool we play: to get that naked in public cost quite an effort. Vague statements à la »it’s going pretty well, thanks« are passé, now. We know that. And we hope it’s worth it!

Therefore, we’d be double happy if you’d left a comment: Does this transparency help you? What figures came as a surprise, and what did you assume? Any lessons learned? And… how’s your SaaS start-up going?


February 16, 2010

4 comments

Yolk is looking to 1-up!

Web Developer (f/m)
with the passion and power to wear different hats

mite, our sleek time tracking tool for teams & freelancers, is growing continuously: today, it’s of daily help to more than 3,700 people from all over the world. Time to 1-up!

Thus, we’re looking for a full- or part-time remote freelancer to support Yolk as of the next possible date. Our office is the web, you can therefore collaborate from wherever you’d like to.

A long-term perspective is not only possible but preferable; If we do fit, we can image you to take a share in the company.

Who is Yolk?

Yolk is a duo located in Hamburg and Berlin/Germany: Sebastian Munz and Julia Soergel. Since 2006, we’ve been constantly improving and reliably maintaining mite together – initially as part of our master thesis, since 2008 as a company thanks to enthused user feedback.

Yolk is ours, 100%. We are free of venture capital and debt. Since the very first months, we’re profitable. Maximizing profit is not the top priority for us, oh no. We love to work independently, enjoyably and fair-minded. We care to help our users by building and maintaining first-class software; software which is well thought-out, pleasing and approachable, from code to GUI to manners & marketing.

We are Macs and have a thing for Klaus Kinski. We’re looking forward to a fresh breeze.

What are we offering?

  • A warm welcome to the team!
  • Challenging work on a first-class product with good reputation
  • Light-weight processes
  • Flexible working hours
  • No need to relocate – the web is our office, you’ll be working remote

You’ll contribute on an equal footing to day-to-day decisions as well as long-term strategies. On a product level as well as the company’s.

We offer you the time and freedom to deliver great work, to experiment with new technologies, and to challenge yourself with new approaches. You will get paid adequately, that goes without saying. And yes, the job comes with a real perspective.

What will you be working on?

  • Maintaining mite and improving it – this will be your main task
  • Supporting our customers in German and English
  • Administrating our Linux servers
  • Prioritizing and designing new features

A hardcore geek who’s exceptional in exactly one niche but not willing to look left or right is not what we’re looking for. Instead, we’re after a smart and curious individual who’s happy to and versatile enough to contribute to every part of the web application.

What technologies and concepts do we use?

  • Ruby / Rails
  • JavaScript / jQuery
  • Linux
  • nginx
  • Unicorn
  • MySQL
  • Memcached
  • Chef
  • Git
  • TDD
  • Rspec / Cucumber
  • Web standards
  • REST

Experience in those areas is a plus; What’s more important is that you are pushing yourself to pick up new technologies and concepts fast.

What professional and personal qualities should you have?

  • Passion!
  • Dedication to deliver exceptional work
  • Several years of experience in web development, whether in open source projects, as a freelancer or as an employee; ideally having worn all hats from system administration to database and application development to front-end JavaScript, HTML, CSS and interface design.
  • Good writing skills, German and English

How do I apply?

Please email until March 5th. Include the following:

  • Project résumé (context of the projects, your responsibilities and tasks in those projects, links)
  • mite, the way you see it: What concepts, features and little details of the app as well as its online appearance do appeal to you? What’s off, rough or badly implemented, and how could and should the three of us improve the service?

If you’d like to include further information: please go right ahead!


January 04, 2010

2 comments

New year, new postal address

Yolk, the company serving mite, moved to a new office. Please use our updated address if you’d ever wish to contact us via snail mail:

Yolk – Munz & Soergel GbR
Oranienstraße 166
10999 Berlin
Germany

Please have a splendid and productive New Year, everyone – let’s get it going, 2010!


November 19, 2009

11 comments

Yolk wins »enable2start«, the entrepreneurial competition by Financial Times Germany

This is unbelievable, quite honestly. After spending the weekend in Graz, Austria as a Europrix Multimedia Awards 2009 nominee, we hopped on a plane to Hamburg to present Yolk, the company behind mite, at enable2start, Germany’s biggest entrepreneurial competition, initiated by Financial Times Germany.

Out of 12 finalists, a colorful jury chose five winners: Abotic, CaptchaAd, LaTherm, SilberTool and yes & hurrey, Yolk. 1086 teams had applied. Wow!

We want to thank not only the people who considered our team worth recieving this honor, but rather you: our lovely users and supporters. You made this happen, really – without your feedback, demands, suggestions and trust, Yolk and mite would be just another idea. Merci! And gogogo, let’s push this forward!


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