On Developing A Software That Helps Freelancers Manage Their Businesses

Ihor Bauman, Artem Kanaki and Yevhen Kyselov
Founder, Workee
$1K
revenue/mo
3
Founders
6
Employees
Workee
from Lewes, Delaware, USA
started January 2020
$1,000
revenue/mo
3
Founders
6
Employees
1.28M
alexa rank
4.14K
followers
47
followers
797
subs
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Workee will be the most user-friendly business management software for the 60 million freelancers in the United States. We developed the simplest website builder with built-in payments, booking, and video calls that are directly connected to your work, clients, and finance management.

workee

Workee enables freelancers to grow their brand, work directly with existing clients, and autopilot business operations right out of the box.

We have a specific focus on freelancers that do online appointments and private 1 on 1 session, like private tutors, coaches, psychologists, nutritionists, stylists, and many more. At the moment we see that Private tutors are the most active at Workee and we see the clear reason behind that. Our users love to have an all-in-one approach and get rid of high marketplace fees that are currently a must-have part of most marketplaces.

workee

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

The story behind Workee comes from the personal pain of my mom. She lost a job in a private hospital because it was not ready to meet the safety COVID requirements. Since my mom is a therapist, she has a lot of appointments online.

Many tools are required for freelancers who work with online appointments, such as video calls, booking systems, CRM, work management, and a personal website.

We conducted about 20 interviews with people in a similar field over the next month.

We discovered a huge need and opportunity for a simple tool to autopilot work routines and help professionals focus on their clients rather than business management.

Talking about our team - the story of our founding team began in 2016. I started working at a software development company as a Business Analyst after leaving PricewaterhouseCoopers. I was closely working with Artem, who is our Co-Founder and TO at Workee. We worked together for two years before moving on to other companies.

At my last full-time job, I worked alongside Jevhen, our Chief Product Officer, for 2 years as well. Great work relationships and friendship made these people a top priority for me when Workee started.

We started during COVID so all our work was remote. Our background and Agile approach to development was very important skill that allowed us to grow the team worldwide and now we have people in Ukraine, the USA, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Nigeria.

Based on interviews, our support tickets, and the overall investigation of market players, we prioritize the next steps in our roadmap.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

The initial concept of Workee hasn't changed since we started. One place to manage your website, bookings, video calls, and payments. That was a base for our Minimum Valuable product.

Our goal was to launch as soon as possible to start getting real feedback and real user experience. Note this - 99% of your MVP will be not what users want. The more feedback you’ll get before and during development and the more feedback you’ll get after MVP is launched - the better chances to succeed you will have.

In most cases, when we are developing new features, we see a lot of potential use cases for them. Based on interviews, our support tickets, and the overall investigation of market players, we prioritize the next steps in our roadmap.

It is very important to validate all your next development steps with your customers first. With the growth of the company, you have higher risks in case of wrong decisions. That is why you should minimize them as best as you can.

Until today, I believe for all our future user feedback will be one of the most important criteria to move forward.

We prepared about 15 different banners and launched a 1-week campaign with $500 in Facebook Ads.

workee

Describe the process of launching the business.

Before starting the development process, we decided to run a marketing campaign to see if there is real interest in our solution. So we’ve created a very simple landing page with the “Get early access” button that was connected to the Google Form.

For the marketing itself, we prepared about 15 different banners and launched a 1-week campaign with $500 in Facebook Ads. We targeted freelancers that do consultations as per our initial concept.

Before launching, we researched what is the typical sign-up cost to understand whether leads from our marketing campaign are at the market price or not. The market average for that time was about $10 per sign-up.

After the first marketing campaign, we were surprised that we got 199 sign-ups. As a result, our initial sign-up cost per user in the US was $2.51.

workee

We started the development and delivered an MVP in 3 months. We onboarded all our early birds and started interviewing. After getting incredibly useful feedback we started to work on a full version of the product.

That was an important milestone. Deliver sooner, change faster.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

The overall process of acquisition consists of different channels. You can acquire new customers for any product. The question is - what would it cost for your business and what would be your margins at the end of the day?

Health businesses have most of their sign-ups as organic. It means you are paying literally nothing to acquire your users. We understand that and are growing our organic channels. You can always buy a lot of Facebook ads but such channels are tricky and won’t bring you organics if you will switch them off.

As of today at Workee we have about 1/3 of sign-ups as organic, while 2/3 is going from paid channels, such as search engines, social media ads, and influencers.

The most active channel for us is Search at the moment. We do a lot of brand keywords, semantics, and competition search points on Google, Bing, and partner networks.

Organic channels are built with our Workee Blog. We are actively working on our blog to deliver useful content and inviting experts for interviews with our content team.

Find people who may be your potential customers. Talk as much as possible about their daily things and where they are struggling.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Soon we’re launching another small pivot of our product and market focus. We made a mistake a year ago and decided to build a business. To focus on revenues first was the wrong decision in our case. Now, we are working on a fully free package that will allow us to boost user growth and retention. You can find a description of a similar experiment here.

Our goals for the upcoming 6 months are to focus on active users and their retention. We will add more cool features to our free plan and at the same time, it will allow us to understand what benefits will allow us to put into the Pro plan with a monthly subscription that we want to release this year.

Our goal is to reach 20,000 users by the end of 2022 and have a 5-7% conversion into the Pro plan from Freemium.

The next step in our roadmap will be extending to other audiences, such as nutritionists, stylists, and beauty professionals. Until 2025 we will extend to creative freelancers and software developers with the market potential of 60mln users just in the US.

workee

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Our founding team has the small advantage of being colleagues before in other companies and working in software development. We have experience in Agile development and an understanding of what lean development is. That was very helpful to us to deliver MVP fast and structure our roadmap better.

Helpful habits are planning your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. For sure, you can change priorities quickly but it is important to stay focused on your goals and achieve them. Using Jira, Miro and Notion helps with management and prioritization a lot.

Also, an important thing is to stay connected with each other about your goals and plans. Working as a full remote now, we pay attention to our Daily Calls, Planning Sessions, and Town Halls where we can make sure everything is on the same page and everyone’s question is answered.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

For emails, we are using Sendgrid. For email warm-up, we are using Lemlist. For product tours, we are using Product Fruits. Other services like Gmail, Github, AWS, Databox, Slack, and Jira are pretty well known.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

  • YC Startup School and YC interviews on YouTube
  • Being a member of the startup community
  • Books about management and negotiations
  • Startup Wise Guys acceleration program

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Find people who may be your potential customers. Talk as much as possible about their daily things and where they are struggling. Invite them to prototype the MVP together with you. Be careful and attentive to market research and competition. Try launching as soon as possible and try to get feedback as soon as possible. Do not overcomplicate things, deliver a very simple MVP that solves the problem.

workee

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Now we are focusing on Support and Content roles. Customers use only products that care about them. Great customer support is a must and with a growing amount of our users, these roles are needed.

Where can we go to learn more?

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Ihor Bauman, Artem Kanaki and Yevhen Kyselov, Founder of Workee
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
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