Draftss: Year in Review (2019)

Hey Readers,

Here we are with some year ending stats of 2019. We had a wonderful year at Draftss.com with some major growth, learnings, and setbacks. We shall try to elaborate each of them below starting with some introduction and numbers:

Draftss is a productized unlimited graphic design & frontend code service on a weekly subscription. Draftss covers services from Logo Design, Branding, Illustrations, Social Media Graphics, Web Design, App Design, UI/UX, Frontend coding, WordPress and just about everything else there is within Design. The designs subscription starts from $89/week.

Stats for 2019

$66k ARR

54 clients

8267 designs created

114 pages coded

Learnings throughout the year 2019

While there were several successes throughout the year, there were more setbacks as compared to the successes. I think it’s apt that we focus on the mistakes that we made throughout the year and the learnings that we gained out of it.

Annual Pricing

The first and foremost mistake that comes on top of my mind was having an Annual Pricing on our website giving the user an impression that our service was pretty expensive. We had initially launched with 2 pricing options of Monthly Pricing and Annual Pricing for Design Plan. Our monthly Design plan costs $349/month and our annual Design plan costs $3490/year. For a customer visiting the website would find the amount to be too excessive to be purchased in the first instance. Ideally, the visitor wouldn’t consider purchasing an Annual plan without testing our services thoroughly with our monthly plans.

We did receive a few inquiries for the annual plans but none of them converted into annual customers. We tried upselling the annual plans to our existing customers, but the resulting amount was pretty significant for startup founders to commit at one go. We eventually learned that B2B companies and other design agencies are more suitable for Annual plans.

P.S. We have a few customers that we have been working with for more than a year but have been paying for monthly subscriptions.

Payment Partner Mishap

Often when your service providers make an upgrade, it’s pretty exciting to see new features and make the most out of your current provider. However, in our case, every time there was an upgrade, we faced some new issues. In one instance, they were unable to capture new payments for around 15-25 days. We didn’t even know such an issue occurred till a customer emailed us that she was trying to sign up but her payment kept failing. After constant follow-ups with the payment gateway provider, it took around 20-25 days to get the issue resolved.

In a separate incident where our service provider made an upgrade, they were unable to auto-renew the subscriptions of our existing customers for 10-14 days. So customers whose subscription got expired within this period enjoyed a week of service due to the non-billing of our payment provider. We switched to Paddle during this incident, but they shut down our account abruptly quoting “We do not support human services” even though we had discussed with their support team about our productized service before moving 50% of our clients to Paddle.

P.S. We are still using the same provider to date. However, since Stripe is now available in India, we might switch to Stripe soon.

How did we figure that we were proceeding in the wrong direction?

We participated in Startup School 2019. This participation has been one of the most productive things that we have done this year. Speaking to other founders made us some serious errors that we made. Learning from these mistakes we made some major reformations in the company one of them being shifting a full-time team to a partially local remote team.

Some other major learnings from this participation:

  • All founders are struggling. Some founders are struggling with the product-market fit, while others are struggling with growth or hiring. Just make the most out of every day and it will be a gradual success over the course of time.
  • Discussions lead to a whole new world of ideas and tactics that you can implement in your startup.
  • The synergy between founders can go a long way in helping build each other’s brand.
  • Give back to the community to mould the ecosystem.
  • Learn from your competitors.

P.S. We are participating in Startup School 2020.

Shifting to a New Office

Learnings over the course of the year helped us make appropriate decisions. This included having a partially remote team which also helped up cut down on the office and administration expenses. Currently, the founders, sales, operations, live chat, and some designers & developers work full-time from our office. Remaining designers & developers are local and work remotely and visit office occasionally only when required.

P.S. Real-estate is pretty expensive in Mumbai even as per global standards.

Hiring Dilemma

Hiring was also a pretty challenging task for us. We have been very choosy with having the right person to work with our team. This meant that anybody who qualified to be a good designer didn’t necessarily mean that we had them on board unless they sync with the social environment within the company.

We have been evaluating the candidates via Behance/Dribbble along with a few local hiring platforms to find the right fit for Draftss. After the preliminary examination, we give the designers a short design test. This test often comprises of a live project which we receive from our clients with the actual design brief and then evaluate the designer’s submissions.

For developers, we have one standard code test that we ask all developers to code and then we evaluate the developer’s submissions before meeting them at our office personally.

If we are unsure about a candidate’s skill-set, we give them additional tasks to ensure we are definitely hiring the right fit for the company.

P.S. All live-test projects are paid.

Friction without our own Dashboard

We do not have a Draftss Dashboard for our clients at present. We manage all projects using third-party tools like Trello, Airtable, Basecamp, Asana, etc. We feel that it’s better to use a tool that the client is already using to manage their day-to-day projects. This way client wouldn’t have to use a new tool that he is not familiar with and we will not have to develop, manage and upgrade the dashboard to fit our needs. We have our dashboard ready but we are still unsure if we should launch our dashboard or not.

P.S. Internally, we use Google Sheets & WhatsApp to manage all design projects.

Failed to Launch Projects

In 2019, we built several projects. But due to circumstances and time constraints we were unable to give sufficient time to these projects to make the most out of it:

Projects Launched
Projects to be launched in 2020
  • Draftss Dashboard
  • Feedback Annotation SaaS
  • Reviews on the best landing page
  • Free vector Illustrations for Startups
  • Prospectss.com – Lead email finder and email verifier SaaS
  • Artworkss.com – Auto-design SaaS

 

unlimited graphic design
“Life doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger.”

We will be updating this post with more learnings and mistakes that we faced throughout the year so that it helps you learn and grow with us. With all these new learnings and experience we are prepared to face 2020 head-on with brand new goals and challenges. If you have any further questions, you can reach us directly on jd@draftss.com

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