2018 started with a blast!
In Q1 my Perfect Dashboard co-founders and I sold our WordPress plugin business. Despite our long-time (and continued) love of WordPress and our passion for developing great products, the business was something we were no longer excited about as our mindset was already focused on Perfect Dashboard and its first product: WordPress AutoUpdater. Nonetheless, our team is proud of the fact that with the exit from our first business we showed we could build a company from green field to something useful, real, and valuable. And now we have earned the “serial entrepreneuers” badge.
The next pivotal moment of 2018 was Perfect Dashboard joining the SkyDeck accelerator program at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, California. If you aren’t familiar with SkyDeck, the program is for technology-focused startups and was recently named one of the 5 top academic accelerators in the United States. I was surprised at first when I learned that it’s easier for an applicant to gain acceptance to MIT or Harvard than for a startup to get accepted to SkyDeck. However, after spending the better part of 2018 in Berkeley continuing to build Perfect Dashboard I realized why everyone is trying to get here. We learned a great deal, challenged earlier assumptions connected with amazing mentors, and built relationships with some of the best investors in the Valley. Our business is stronger and our growth-path more focused from the time we spent at SkyDeck.
As we continued through 2018 it became clearer and clearer to us that working with web hosting companies provides a unique opportunity to reach millions of small businesses worldwide. This access is not only free of charge as web hosting companies have relationships with these businesses, but web hosting companies are also sitting on a huge pile of data about SMBs that only they have access to. Working in SkyDeck, we realized that the biggest bottleneck for web hosting providers offering new products to these businesses is the integration of the product with the infrastructure of each web hosting company. This is a tall wall to climb as every web hosting company is different and new product integrations are never quick. So we decided to start solving this problem, building a marketplace for hosting providers to gain access to new products from which their customers can gain amazing value. And what’s in it for the hosting companies? Increased revenue and decreased churn. This revelation excited our team and the feedback we’ve received from hosting providers affirms that we are onto something!
We also realized that if integrations between products and web hosting companies are the main bottleneck, then we should maximize ROI on each integration. That is why we decided to go beyond our own singular product and start selling third-party products using the same implementation. This means a web hosting company can integrate one time with Perfect Dashboard and gain access to a full suite of products to offer customers. One integration, multiple products.
Even better, we’ve had an overwhelming amount of interest from SAAS providers wanting to get their services and solutions in front of SMBs. So we’ve worked hard to be in a great spot, building relationships with not just great web hosting providers but also with amazing SAAS companies. In joining these two segments in partnership, we call it Cross-selling as a Service and we are grateful to see such strong traction with both product developers and web hosting companies.
2018 was also a year of some great numbers. We surpassed 1M dollar in funding raised, our AutoUpdater MRR went from a mere $9 to $6,000+ and we, perhaps most significantly, we have access to 500,000 small businesses through 15 hosting companies that have chosen to partner with Perfect Dashboard.
But to be a little Polish about it, our achievements in 2018 haven’t fulfilled my ambitions. I’m hungry for more and I feel that 2019 will be the year when all the hard work we have put in the foundation of our business will become fully visible not just in our revenue stream, but in having a transformative and lasting effect on small businesses around the world. We’re just getting started and I, for one, could not be more excited!