This is a follow up story for Secret. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published almost 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hello! I’m Jean-Loup, cofounder of joinsecret.com. Secret is the #1 perks platform for entrepreneurs. We negotiated 150+ perks with the major SaaS tools out there (Notion, Stripe, AWS, Airtable, etc.) to empower entrepreneurs to save a lot of money when they get started and grow their business.
Secret is my 2nd entrepreneurial adventure. 5 years ago, I co-founded and sold a startup in the tech hiring space to Hired.com. Last month, Secret’s revenues hit $18,000+. We have a global curated community of 10,000+ founders, growing 1,000+ more founders per month.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Our revenue model is a freemium built on two subscriptions plans:
- Premium plan ($49/year) gives unlimited access to 120+ Premium deals like Sendgrid (12 months free), Sendinblue (9 months free), etc.
- Platinum plan ($99/year) gives unlimited access to all Premium deals + Airtable ($1k in credits), AWS ($5k in credits), Notion ($1k in credits), Miro ($1k in credits), Stripe, etc.
It took us lots of iterations to get there. Back in May 2020, we were selling one plan for $49 per year. Then we realized customers found it “too good to be true”. So we decided to increase the price to $79, but then some of the offerings were not availed anymore as the customers did not find them attractive enough given the new price point. So last summer we decided to launch 2 separate annual plans and take it from there. Our best and most popular offerings are in Platinum membership and the others are in Premium; Today, we’re thinking of launching a third tier to better package the different offerings based on what users are ready to pay for. Overall the pricing strategy is really hard. I had endless conversations with customers to understand what could be the right price points. We constantly look at data to make sure we match what the market is looking for. I feel like it’s a never-ending game.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
I guess the #1 challenge we had was the addition of a third cofounder to the team in early 2020. We thought at the time that the right strategy was to onboard as many SaaS tools as possible and monetize them. Unfortunately, as we realized over time that the SaaS was unwilling to pay interesting commissions to us on top of making a great offering, we realized this pivot could not be successful. As we pivoted in May to a model in which users pay an annual membership to access all offerings, this move killed the job of the third co-founder.
The quality of your mind is the quality of your life.
As a result, we decided to part ways in September. Those discussions were hard as the person thought it could still help the company grow, but we realized revenues were not high enough to have 3 people live out of it, so we had to make a tough decision. If I had to do this again, I guess I would not have added a cofounder so rapidly to the team. I would have worked harder myself to explore the business assumptions first before making a headcount decision.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We’re looking to partner with bigger communities of entrepreneurs to enable them to package Secret in their offering to their audience. Overall, we’re happy to keep Secret as a bootstrapped business. I’ve seen too many businesses believe they could 4x every year indefinitely.
It takes a lot of hard work to grow that much, and you always hit a threshold at some point. I feel better moving forward one step at a time. I guess I’m closer to Mailchimp as a model, fully bootstrapped, growing slowly but surely. So at Secret, we have no intention of raising funds and whatnot. Less is more!
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I recommend reading all books related to Krishnamurti. A great thinker of the freedom and quality of the mind. You can’t properly run a business if you’re subject to high anxiety or stress. You won’t make the best decisions. You want to be in a place where intuition is your best ally to help you grow and grow the business. And to be able to listen, you need inner silence.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Take the time to do manual things. Talk to your customers on the phone. Ask them questions. Listen. Their feedback and insights are absolutely critical.
I’ve been in therapy for 5 years now. I think it tremendously improved the quality of my mind. Naval says: ‘The closer you get to the truth, the more silent you become inside’. I cannot agree more. I believe it takes a lot of hard work to get to the truth of your personal story, of what your body knows in its cells, and also the untold story and truth of your family. But this process is extraordinarily liberating. The quality of your mind is the quality of your life. Overall today, I’m less stressed, less anxious, I better trust my intuition, my ability to focus also improved. My emotions are more stable. It takes a lot of work to be free from your past but I find it’s a marvelous journey, the journey to your true self. I love that quote that says: ‘Know yourself and you’ll know the universe and the gods’.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Yes! We’re looking to hire one freelancer for customer support. Please email me.
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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