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Adii Pienaar

Family man, seeker and learner. Revealing my inner-poet. 2X Founder: Conversio (acquired by Campaign Monitor) + WooCommerce (acquired by Automattic). Ex-Rockstar.

Moonshots In Hindsight

A year ago, I thought we were taking a moonshot with Receiptful.<...>

Today - with the benefit of hindsight - I can tell you that I'm not that convinced that moonshot was / is the most apt term to describe our decision a year ago.

But what I do know is that, that decision was the catalyst to everything we've accomplished since.

A year ago, we optimised for one thing (our "One Metric That Matters"): send as many receipts as possible. We believed that if we could do that and grow that one metric, the rest would "fall into place":

  1. We would find an exponential bump in new user signups.
  2. We would accumulate enough data about how recipients interact with receipts and we'd be clever enough to figure out how to garner insights from that data.
  3. As a result of these insights, we'd be able to help our (free) users generate additional revenue from their receipts.
  4. All of this would give us a clear segue into eventually building additional, paid tools to which we could upsell our (free) users.

There were loads of assumptions in there. In fact, some of them were assumptions based on assumptions, which generally means no product/market-fit and ultimately startup death.

And thinking back to our decision a year ago, that was probably our biggest moonshot: the fact that we had this steadfast belief that our assumptions would be (approximately) right.

Whilst it's early days for Receiptful yet, I'm comfortable in saying that we're well on our way towards all of those goals:

  1. We've sent 5m receipts and generated more than $5m in additional revenue.
  2. We're on course to send 1.5m receipts this month alone. (Depending how crazy Black Friday & Cyber Monday is, we might push 2m.)
  3. We've learnt some interesting things about receipts and especially discounts (tl;dr a 5% discount performs just as well as a 20% discount).
  4. We have fast-growing revenues, new paid features rolling out and are strongly on our way to reach profitability towards the end of Q1 2016.

I don't think that Receiptful has had any kind of normal journey and we've probably ignored just as much startup / SaaS best practice as we've implemented.

Part of me thinks we've been lucky to avoid fatal mistakes.

But the biggest part of me now knows that the biggest (and probably, the only fatal) mistake we could've made was not to trust ourselves and take the riskiest, moonshot'iest decision we could think of at the time.

That said, the world still maintains that hindsight is an exact science...

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