Veed.io – Lessons on Bootstrapping a SaaS to $2M ARR
Sabba Keynejad is the co-founder of Veed.io, a UK based SaaS startup that provides a simple online video editing platform.
I originally interviewed Sabba about 9 months ago on episode 241 where we talked about how he and his co-founder Tim had struggled to get their SaaS business off the ground.
They weren't able to raise funding so had to work contract jobs during the day and on their startup in the evenings and weekends. They made it to the final YC interviews, flew out to the US but were rejected because they weren't making any money. And a few months later they were on the brink of shutting down with just about one month's runway left.
In episode 241 we talked about how Sabba and Tim dealt with each failure and kept going. And at the time the founders had managed to start generating about $10K in MRR.
Recently I was in touch with Sabba and discovered in the last 9 months, they've grown their SaaS business from just over $100K to over $2 million in ARR. So obviously I wanted Sabba to come back on the show and talk about how they've been able to grow their bootstrapped business so fast in less than a year.
We talk about the importance of building a great product, how to decide on the right features to build, creating a frictionless experience, the specific growth tactics that helped them grow faster, and one critical ingredient that you must have to make everything else work.
I hope you enjoy it.
TranscriptClick to view transcript
Omer Khan: [00:00:00] Welcome to another episode of The SaaS Podcast. I'm your host Omer Khan. And this is the show where I interview proven founders and industry experts who share their stories, strategies, and insights to help you build, launch and grow your SaaS business. In this episode, I took to Sabba Keynejad, the co-founder of veed.io, a UK based SaaS startup that provides a simple online video editing platform.[00:00:37] I originally interviewed Sabba about nine months ago on episode 241, where we talked about how he and his co-founder Tim had repeatedly struggled to get their SaaS business off the ground. They weren't able to raise funding. So they had to work contract jobs during the day and on their startup in the evenings and weekends, they made it to the final YC interviews, flew out to the US but were rejected because they weren't making any money at the time. [00:01:07] And a few months later, they were on the brink of shutting down with just one months runway left. And in episode 241, we talked about how Sabba and Tim dealt with each failure and found a way to keep going. And at the time the founders had managed to start generating about 10K in monthly recurring revenue. [00:01:30] Recently I was in touch with Sabba and discovered that. In the last nine months they've grown the SaaS business from just over a 100k to over $2 million in ARR. So obviously I wanted Sabba to come back on the show and talk to us about how they've been able to grow their bootstrap business so fast in less than a year. We talk about the importance of building a great product, how to decide on the right features to build, creating a frictionless experience, the specific growth tactics that have helped them grow faster and one critical ingredient that you must have to make everything else work. So I hope you enjoy it. [00:02:17] Sabba. Welcome back.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:02:19] Thank you. Yeah. Nice to be here again.
Omer Khan: [00:02:21] So for people who aren't familiar, can you just explain to us a little bit about Veed. What does the product do? Who's it for? What's the main problem you're helping to solve?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:02:32] Sure. So Veed.io is a simple online video editing platform. The problem that we solve is that video editing tradition is just super, super hard. You need to use relatively complex software to get simple things done.[00:02:46] You also need to have a pretty powerful laptop to be able to run this software. And the barrier to entry is just incredibly high and I think what we saw is a lot more people wanting to edit content and put videos on Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, but didn't really have the sort of technical abilities to do it. [00:03:01] So that's kind of why we decided to build Veed and our users at anything from, like I said, you know, the Instagrammers, your traditional influencers to coaches, leaders, big companies using it for internal, uses external marketing. And I think, you know, when you're building a tool, it can apply to so many, so many people. So so yeah, that's, that's kind of where we're at.
Omer Khan: [00:03:22] So the last time we spoke was in March of this year. And generally I think for people who haven't heard that episode, You'd fail to raise seed funding. And so you, you and your co-founder conflict, remember his name? Tim, Tim, right. So you and Tim had gone back and started taking on contract jobs and you were working evenings and weekends.[00:03:49] To build out Veed.io. You had applied to YC and, and it sounded like this was going to be the big break that you guys had been waiting for. So you, you jumped on a plane from London and flew out to San Francisco and you were rejected by YC because you weren't making any money. And then basically you guys were like, okay, well that's. [00:04:15] I don't think you were even charging right at the time?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:04:18] No, we were free products.
Omer Khan: [00:04:19] Yeah. So you were like, you went back and you were like, okay, let's, let's start charging for the product and things. As I recall, you sort of got down to like about a month of runway left around August 2019.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:04:31] That's right. Yeah.
Omer Khan: [00:04:33] And then when you, and I spoke, you got over that and you, you were doing about 10 K. In monthly recurring revenue.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:04:42] That's right. Yeah.
Omer Khan: [00:04:43] And then we sort of said, Hey, you know, we said, Hey, when you get to doing like a million, we should get you back and you kind of didn't keep your word on that because you grew even more.[00:04:59] So where are you guys right now?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:05:01] I think we're about 2.2 million annual recurring revenue right now.
Omer Khan: [00:05:04] So in the last eight months, you've gone from 10 K MRR to about 185K. This is going to make a fun conversation.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:05:18] When you put it like that, it does sound quite reduced.
Omer Khan: [00:05:22] Okay. So first of all, if you're listening to this and you haven't heard. The first interview you should do that. That was on episode 241 where we sort of covered did sort of the, you know, The piece that I just recapped. So let's dig in into that cause I know, you know, you and I briefly spoke before we started recording. Yeah. And there were so different aspects of the product that have helped drive growth, some different and approaches and new acquisition channels that you guys have been working.[00:05:53] And then, you know, there was sort of a COVID component to this as well, but that drove some more growth as well. So. I want to try and dig into these three areas and sort of deconstruct what you've done, how you've been able to grow so fast. What's worked what hasn't and yeah, I really, I want to try to get as much out of you as we can. [00:06:16] So if anybody's listening to this and saying, you know, I'm kind of in that situation where Sabba and Tim were. Eight nine months ago, I'm doing, you know, six figures ARR, and I'm trying to figure out how to get to that first million. Well, I want them to be able to sort of walk away, listening to this fitting, you know, a little bit more inspired about what they're doing and, and hopefully even get some tactical ideas from you that they can go to apply in their own business. Does that sound good?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:06:41] That sounds amazing. I think just quickly out to that, it's just like when, when I was going through that process, thinking about getting from six figures to seven, it was podcasts and listening to other founders do similar things that is kind of what kind of kept me going and got those ideas out. So yeah. Happy to jump in here.
Omer Khan: [00:06:58] So let's start with the product. Tell me a little bit about like, how has the product evolved over the last eight or nine months?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:07:06] Sure. So nothing sort of like massively drastic has like changed with the product apart from it's just a lot more. Built out than it was seven, eight, 10 months ago.[00:07:16] And what I mean by built out is just like we're adding, like, you know, as we like a video editing tool, we're just adding more functionality and just making it easier, easier to use. So for example, 10 months ago, you couldn't add more than one video together. Now you can add multiple videos together. And so every time we're adding a new feature, it's kind of expanding the use cases for our users, which means you can do a lot more with the tool. [00:07:40] And so what we found is by, yeah, just building more functionality in which the users are requesting, we're able to solve more of their problems. And if we can solve more of their problems as other people we can address in, you know, in, in that cohort too. [00:07:52] The other thing that's kind of been really big for us in terms of growth is reliability and stability of the platform as well. So we made a massive initiative about four months ago to make sure every single video that gets uploaded gets displayed properly in the browser and also gets rendered. And, you know, that's super important because if you've uploaded a project and you've done some work on it, you then want to go download it and it froze an arrow. [00:08:16] You're never going to come back and you're actually really annoyed because you know, you've lost all your work. So. Yeah, it's just kind of been doubling down on these sorts of things and it's really kind of helped us kind of become a lot more sticky and a lot more reliable and kind of, you know, develop a bit more as a product.
Omer Khan: [00:08:31] So there wasn't really any, any pivot here or you've gone after a new market that you weren't looking at before. It's just been more of, you know, just, just executing pretty hard over the last eight months.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:08:45] Yeah, pretty much. I mean, I think the other way to look at it is just like, you know, we solved back then we solved a problem. We kind of did it on a right job of it. And we kind of only solved a part of that problem for the user. And we've just been kind of like building that offering out and just thinking about what more can we do in this space that like really kind of compliments it. So. We could have obviously stopped at just like a few light tools in the browser, but we were just like, actually, let's kind of like build out a really fully fledged editing product here, but let's also retain that simplicity and ease of use. Right?
Omer Khan: [00:09:16] So I know that you, you told me that there have been some new features that you've added to the product that has helped to attract new more customers or help you grow faster. Let's talk a little bit about that. Like maybe if there's one or two examples we can talk about. What I want to try to understand is how did you figure out of all the things that you could possibly do, what were the features that made the most sense for you guys to go and build. And how did you, you know, did you go out and get feedback from customers? Was this just part of the vision that you guys have already had in terms of what the tool that you always wanted to be able to use? Like what, what, what has been the thought process to figure out?[00:10:06] Because you know, anybody listening to this could be having the long list of potential features that they think are going to make their product better. It doesn't mean it's going to help them to get to their first million dollars in the next 12 months.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:10:17] Yeah. So that's a really good question. So we use a combination of a lot. Like customer feedback. So like reaching out on chat, we're kind of like constantly noting down what people are asking for then putting a score against it. And then I'm able to kind of like rank them that way. We also knew use another product called Upvoty, which lets our users sort of like rank. They submit their feature requests and people can upvote and down vote, a bit like Reddit and then also logs about bugs there as well.[00:10:44] And then also I have an email sequence that goes out kind of personally from me where I kind of asked them to tell me. You know, why did they choose Veed and what could we do to make it better? So it's a combination of that. And then, so that's the sort of like inbound stuff. And then from our point of view, we we've been using the keyword research tool called Ahrefs and then we were trolling through all video related search kind of questions. [00:11:08] And then we start looking into like, what does this mean? Can we address it? Can, does it work in our product? And is it something that we should build? So completely, for example, we noticed that I think I said last time in the last episode, like subtitling is a, is a really big use case for us. And we found that there are thousands upon thousands of people looking to convert subtitle files, right? [00:11:29] So from SRT to VTT and there's a chance that a portion of them also need to add subtitles to a video as well. Right? It's just converting it. So we build out also sort of like not external tools, but like, you know, complimentary tools that segue into our product. Right? So another example of this would be our screen recorder and our webcam recorder. [00:11:51] So I think webcam recorder, I, I think it might get about a hundred thousand searches a month, but how many people record a video of their webcam then want to edit it? And, you know, we'd argue that a good percentage of them do. So then we're like, okay, well let's build out that functionality, not as part of the core products, but on that video, we could have an edit button once they're finished recording, and then they can jump into the product. So we're just finding more ways to get people interviewed through different avenues.
Omer Khan: [00:12:17] Okay. So it's a combination of basically feature requests, bit of sort of qualitative feedback. In terms of when people sign up some of the ideas that you guys already have, and then you're also going out and using, you know, data from things like Ahrefs to figure out, you know, what, what are people searching for?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:12:38] Exactly.
Omer Khan: [00:12:39] So how many of these sort of standalone products you do have, like the webcam recorder? And why are they, why did you decide to do them as separate products instead of just kind of maybe just beefing up the free plan on Veed and providing it that way?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:12:55] Sure. So, I mean, when they say they're separate products, they live on the Veed domain. So we have veed/subtitled tools, which is like a repository of all our subtitle tools. So we've got a subtitle editor, a converter. We also have a video compressor. That's a really big keyword term actually. And w you know, we did a bounce research on video compressor, and we found that the majority of the people want to compress videos so they can edit them easier.[00:13:18] So that's great. One for us, and also the webcam recorder and the screen recorder we've stopped there for now. Yeah, we, we stopped there, but I think we will keep going. Once we find more that we want to start working on.
Omer Khan: [00:13:30] All right. That makes sense. I'm just looking at veed.io/webcam-recorder. And so it's still part of the Veed product if you like, but obviously it's optimized if anybody's searching for webcam recorder and like I can, and then I kinda like it, you know, you've just got a button at the bottom. We're just to start recording. I can start doing, I don't even have to sign up for this, do I?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:14:00] No, you don't have to sign up now and you can, and you, you can download the video and go away. So like we're offering like all the value upfront. If you want to edit it, you then come into, come into the editor and you don't even have to sign up for the editor and you can download it with a watermark on. So it's super low friction. Super high volume is that, it's that kind of idea, you know.
Omer Khan: [00:14:18] And what's the thinking behind taking that approach both in terms of, you know, not asking people to sign up, just let people use it. And you know, again, it's sort of like, I could quite easily see this, like you could still have that webcam recorder page and it could be like, yeah, I mean, there's a sign up button and you get a free trial and you're in and you get access, not just to the webcam recorder, but everything else. So what's just tell me a little bit about like the thought process and why you took this approach?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:14:49] Yeah, I think like, I think everyone has so many accounts and get so many emails about products and stuff that they've used once. And I think like what we always want to do is provide as much value upfront.[00:15:00] And then if they really wanted to know more about us or like we'll create an account and start using the product more regularly, I think they will make an account. As long as we can get people into the product super, super quickly, and we can show them the value. I think there's a good chance they're going to stick around. [00:15:15] And then also like from an SEO perspective as well, like Google is looking at bounce rates and that's like a big indicator to, you know, how, how they're going to rank the pages. And so if someone comes to our site and then they can just click a button and start recording the video. That's great cause Google is like, cool, they're interacts with the product. So they're staying there, they're not bouncing. There's a good session duration to here. We should put that rank a bit higher. And then if you contrast that against like a product where maybe you have to sign up, you go to the page. It looks like it's trying to sell me, it got to sign me up to the account. [00:15:47] I've got to click tons of conditions and there's a pricing button up there and that's kind of scary too. And you know what, I just really want to just record my camera flight two minutes for an interview. So, you know, they're going to bounce or a portion of them. Well, so yeah, that's the kind of way that we're thinking about it. [00:16:02] And it's also the same with the main Veed products as well. You can go in and edit videos without an account, you do get a watermark and we're completely cool with that. I think, you know, we just want to make it easy for people to edit videos.
Omer Khan: [00:16:13] So, one of the challenges with having any kind of freemium model is that you're going to end up with a huge volume of people who are never going to pay. And, you know, if that's part of your business model and you know that a certain percentage will convert and start paying, that's fine, but there's a tax that comes along with that in terms of whether it's the support or the infrastructure that you have to build to be able to support that volume of people. And I'm guessing with a web-based video editing tool, that hit is probably higher. So how much of a challenge is that for you guys?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:16:53] The hit isn't as bad as, as you think it is obviously bigger than, you know, your standard SaaS application I'd imagined, but it's never been a problem. So we were very lucky. We kind of like, we, we got like $2,000 in credits for, for Google when, when we started and the deal is, if you run out quick enough, they'll give you 10,000. And if you run out of those quick enough, you get a hundred thousand. So a massive part of our bootstrapping journey was actually support from Google and that got us a really long way and got us kind of off the ground, actually.[00:17:26] So, yeah, that's been a massive help, but I think, you know, we talk about this tax that we have to pay to allow that with freemium, but there's also a massive benefit as well. And there's so many people that like talk about us and make videos about us. And YouTube has this great free tool that you should check out. You don't get that with all paid products. Right. So that's also been a massive driver of growth and it just keeps people talking about us..
Omer Khan: [00:17:49] So over the last eight, nine months, what have been the main features that you've added to the product that you believe have helped drive that growth?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:17:56] I wouldn't attribute it to a feature. I'd put it down to experience. So just like things kind of just feel like they work a lot better. And I think, you know, experience is just such an important thing when it comes to like, you know, user experience, like the way that things are laid out, the way that you interact with it at buttons, where they should be, we've put a lot of time into thinking about that sort of stuff and constantly, you know, refracturing it.[00:18:19] And so this week we just spent all Monday to speaking of users and getting feedback on new features. And it's just a really good way to kind of like solve problems before they kind of hit production. And I think the problem that you can have is that obviously your software works amazing to you because you designed it. [00:18:35] If you give it to your mom or someone, you know, who's not so familiar, you can quite easily just see where the issues are. So yeah, I think that's, that's been a really big thing for us.
Omer Khan: [00:18:46] Is there an example you could give me of. W how you've improved the experience, like a sort of part of the product, you know, how it didn't work that well, let's say nine months ago and how that's different today. I want people to, just to kind of really kind of get the idea of what you mean by a better experience.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:19:06] Sure. So one that kind of like stands out a lot is trimming a video with us. So. In fact now I've got an even better one to me. Isn't there. So the filtering, filtering and video, right. So what kind of happens now is you need to select the video that you want to add your filters to, right?[00:19:25] And then once you select the video you want to navigate add your filters to you, go to the filter tab, and then you add your filter. And I think that represents probably a good thousand of people a day coming to the page, but none of them could work out how to do it. So then what we did was we did like like eight interviews with different users and kind of said, can you add a filter to that, to the video, please? [00:19:43] And then from what we could observe, they were looking in the left sidebar. There were like a text subtitles shapes, like filters should be here. Like they're expecting to sit there. And then, because they expected sit there, we should put it there. So then we move it to there. But there's, you know, there's a few technical things that we have to think about, which is just like, well, it doesn't work like that in all other software. [00:20:04] And you know, we are breaking convention here, but actually we can, we can make it work and that's how they expect it to work. So that's how it should work, you know?
Omer Khan: [00:20:13] Yeah. Yeah. And I think you got, it goes back to what you said a little earlier is like, when it's your own product, everything seems obvious. Right. Until you see somebody else using it.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:20:23] Yeah. It's actually painful watching it. You know, it was really hard like watching, yeah. Watching people on Monday. Just like, you kind of want to shout at the screen, like, no, the buttons just to the left, but like, it's not their problem. It's your problem. And you're the one who's in the, you know, you're the one who needs to fix this, you know?
Omer Khan: [00:20:38] Yeah. Okay, great. So we talked a little bit about SEO and, and sort of the webcam recorder a page was I, I think a good example of that, where. Yeah, there's a particular use case you identified, people are trying to solve. And then you've focused on, on some SEO, creating a page optimized for that keyword. And then also you've made it kind of very low friction in terms of actually using the product.[00:21:10] And that's a really good point because a lot of times people don't pay as much attention to the bounce rate. And if people are coming to your site and then leaving, you know, pretty much right away, that's not going to help your rankings, no matter how much time you're spending, you know, trying to optimize the keywords or get backlinks or whatever, by the way, did you do anything in terms of like, trying to build backlinks for this, getting the word out? Like, what did you do apart from sort of the on-page optimization to get the pages to rank well?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:21:46] Yeah. So the first thing is that we do like internal routing of the site. So if there's a page we really want to rank, we'll add it to our footer or the header, because that kind of has like it's first of all, it's on every single page.[00:21:59] And so that's a nice entitlement going to every page. We do our classic product hunt. Hacker news launches, which are great because that drives that initial flow of users to it and go, yeah. Oh, hang on that, something over there, you know, and then then on the back of that, you, you get a bit of social action as well. [00:22:16] People kind of tweet about it and then you get, maybe get a couple of blog posts and often enough that's like, you know, that's enough to kind of get. The ball rolling realistically though. SEO does take, I mean, we find when we put a page up, it can take, it can take anywhere between three to six months to start ranking and you know, even, even then like, can, it can even take longer. So it is a long-term play, but it's one that's worked off like paid off pretty well for us.
Omer Khan: [00:22:40] The one thing you've done is you've invested in a YouTube channel. You've got a guy now on the team who's just producing. A video every day. And how is that working in terms of driving? New sign-ups.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:22:56] Yeah. Yeah. So Alec shout out to Alec. He's incredible. He, yeah, he's just been making one video every single day since he joined us about eight months ago around the time that we first spoke and, you know, YouTube is a slow burner. Like you met your first couple of videos, you get one or two views and you're cutting out a bit like, well, this doesn't work and we're off to the next thing.[00:23:17] And it was like that for quite a period of time. And I remember when we used to be like, Oh my God, we've got a hundred years in a video. That's really cool, but we, I just want to invest in it because we, you know, we know that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. It's visual and unlike normal search, you can use that video as a way to guide people through the product and show them exactly how it works. [00:23:36] So it's a really good acquisition strategy. We. Like right now, I think we have like 7,000 subscribers on our YouTube, every 48 hours. We're getting over 20,000 views on our videos. And that's incredibly powerful. If you've got 20,000 people, every 48 hours, you know, basically viewing a mini ad about your product. [00:23:55] It's not even an ad. It's just a helpful resource. That's yeah. That that's worked super well. And now it's accounting for about 10% of new paid users to the platform. So yeah, it's been really successful and Alec has just been incredible, just chipping away at it.
Omer Khan: [00:24:08] So what content is Alec create? Like how does he figure out what he should create videos about?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:24:14] Sure. We kind of always experimenting. And it's always a little bit different depending on the times. So like, as we're coming up to Christmas, maybe it would be a really good time to make 'em. You know, office Christmas a bit like how to make an office Christmas video. Right. And like in the simplest way of SEO, you're kind of just trying to answer the Internet's questions.[00:24:31] So we're just trying to do that from as many different angles as possible in the best sort of quality as possible. So yeah, it's quite a simple one. Really. It's not like we're making really fun, you know, vlog style videos and stuff like that. It's just really kind of like basic tutorials. And I think Webflow are really good job of this as well, there videos are incredible.
Omer Khan: [00:24:51] And then obviously, when you're answering the question, you're answering the question by showing them how they can solve that problem using your product.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:25:01] Exactly. Okay. So, I mean, like, you know, take this like podcasts recording tool using at the moment, it would just be like how to record a podcast remotely.[00:25:08] And then another one would be like how to have multiple guests on a podcasts, you know what I mean? Or like how to record a podcast with video, you're kind of picking apart all the features or even just like how to record with a podcast mic is like anything that's adjacent and you're just kind of providing as much value. [00:25:25] Like I was saying earlier with the tools, like we just try and provide as much value upfront and show them how to do it, of our products. And it's completely free and there's, we're not taking anything from them. And if they'd like it, they can upgrade that. That's great for us. But if not, it's, we're still happy.
Omer Khan: [00:25:38] You know, I noticed on your foot, you have a link, which says videos like Gary V.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:25:43] Yeah.
Omer Khan: [00:25:44] And that takes you to a page which shows you using the how to create videos like Gary Vaynerchuk does. Yeah. How is that ranking of you? Cause you, you guys are showing up like number one for that, I dunno. Is that, does that drive a bunch of traffic or is that kind of not yet.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:26:00] Yeah. Massively. It's not even a super, I remember when I wrote that, actually I can't tell you about looking, but yeah, it does drive really good traffic. It's really well qualified as well. Right? So like, if people want to make videos like Gary V they probably want to talk about work stuff. And we found when people want to do, you know, video editing related to work, then it's required high motivation for them to like, become a customer of ours or to just use the product regularly, you know.
Omer Khan: [00:26:24] And then when you're sort of thinking about creating these type of pages and optimizing for SEO, is there some sort of criteria you use to sort of figure out where to invest that time and effort, because I think that the fear, I think often is I'm not going to rank for this page. I'm going to put a bunch of work in, maybe there's some more lower competition keywords I could go after, but then they're not going to drive that much traffic.[00:26:56] So it's kind of like, just either you can, okay. I'm going to do SEO and I'm just going to keep churning out. As consistently as I can and, and do the best job I can to answer these types of questions, I think people are searching for, or you're like, okay, I'm kind of, you know, putting a little bit of content out there or with you guys, it sort of feels like that.I don't know how much, how much sort of SEO type content you've created specifically, but it seems like you've, you've sort of picked a few kind of important ones like the webcam recorder and put more effort around that. But again, what's the process. You go there to sort of figure out where to invest your time and money.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:27:37] You know, I think that's something that we're actually kind of trying to learn ourselves at the moment. So like, and sometimes you don't really know until after you've done it. So there is an element of experimentation of trying, you know, we, we do have like a bit of a profile of the, kind of like the Veed user.[00:27:53] And we kind of think about who they are to some extent. But, I mean, the thing that I would say to people about like, not rank, like I could make a patient doesn't rank, like they don't rank, like they, they don't rank for months, but you know, if you've actually made something decent on this page and, you know, There is a good chance that it will. [00:28:12] And, and also what we go after, like long-term keywords. So if you Googled like webcam recorder, we're not going to show up in the top results, but if you Google something like online webcam recorder, then we're like fourth and it's still not great. But I think we, you know, we've got a shot at climbing the ranks because we've got hold of that little foothold. [00:28:32] So I think if people are looking at going after keywords that are competitive, just go for that long tail and just be happy to wait it out. And it does happen. It just takes a bit of time.
Omer Khan: [00:28:43] What about COVID and what sort of role do you think that's played in driving this growth? Since we last spoke.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:28:52] Yeah. So when I remember when COVID, yeah, when COVID first started, two things happened, I was looking at churn and I was like, Oh no, like, people are just like, Oh, I'm saving money. I don't use anymore. And I was like, okay, like this, this is like, growth is going to massively slow down. We're going to flat line for the whole of this.[00:29:10] And then a couple of days later, traffic started going up and sales started going up. I was like, what's going on? And I started reaching out to people and I'm like, you know, just like, just hi, basically what I normally do and what you're using it for. And I remember I was speaking to a personal trainer from Ireland and he was like, yeah, well, I can't work out in the gym anymore. [00:29:27] So I might as well just use this as a time to build up my online audience. I was like, Oh, okay. And then, so, you know, bit by bit, we kind of started thinking actually kind of benefiting from this in some very strange way. And so something before COVID was like, Very few people were editing zoom videos and recording conferences online. [00:29:45] And then, so once people started doing that means also edit them. So yeah, we did have some, we did have like a, you know, more people coming to the platform. And then we, you know, then coming back to the content piece, we started making videos on YouTube, like how to edit a Zoom video and how to add subtitles to a Zoom video. How to add texts. All this sort of stuff. And they started becoming really good acquisition channels for us. And they are starting to die off now, but I think it's all about finding what the next opportunities are. So, yeah, I mean, just to summarize, like, we definitely did see a small bump. [00:30:16] I want to say small, like 10%, I think a 10% bump at the start of COVID and then it started flattening off after the you know, after the first couple of months, it's kind of like everyone, for example, like a lot of people are like, Oh, I'm going to get fit during, during a lockdown. Or I'm going to learn how to play piano and they'll spend the first two weeks just hammering out and then they get a bit bored and not sticking to their habits. [00:30:37] So yeah. It's but it has been a really interesting time for us and we've learned a lot and got our heads down and just and yeah, looking forward now.
Omer Khan: [00:30:44] Yeah, it kind of reminds me of the, the guitar. I've got kind of next to me, which I bought like eight years ago and I'm still waiting to learn my first three chords.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:30:56] It looks good though. Right? As long as it looks good.
Omer Khan: [00:31:01] Well, how big was the team at the start of the year? And then what's the size of the team right now?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:31:05] So I think at the start of this year I think we're like six, maybe five, six, and now we're about, I think we're 30 in total.
Omer Khan: [00:31:13] Wow. How has that impacted your role?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:31:17] It's probably been the hardest thing for me because I mean, all of those people who have joined our team incredible I've, I've hired all of them. So that's a lot of time I've sat in interviews, but also I've kind of like fired myself from what I was doing many time over and changing, you know, changing jobs every three months and learning new skills is, is, has been really, really, really hard.[00:31:41] You know, I don't do anything that I used to do, like design work or coding, and that's kind of really sad. I really miss it. And yeah, it's just been, it's just been quite a tough thing to kind of like, get your, get your head around a bit. But also I think it's like a necessary evil because, you know, by by getting other people to, you know, help out and like, you know, delegate more, you can kind of like take a bit more, a step back and think about the company. [00:32:05] And, you know, you're always kind of hiring people that are smarter and better than you anyway. So you know, you're, you're in safe hands, right. But I think, you know, you do have to step back sometimes and, you know, kinda let it grow basically. And, and that's like a really important part of building a company.
Omer Khan: [00:32:22] One thing you said to me earlier, when we were chatting before we recorded, you said that it feels like I'm changing my job every three months. What do you mean by that?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:32:33] Yeah, I think like, I mean, it's not even just changing jobs, it's just changing jobs and changing industry. Right. So, you know, right at the start, it was like I was designing and coding and then I was project managing and then I was marketing and then I was recruiting and then the such, they're actually like really big shifts in like the way that you kind of work.[00:32:52] And you kind of almost feel like you don't have the same output or value output as you used to. And yeah, it's it, it might not sound challenging, but like it's been for me, like learning these new things and just trying to not apply myself and educate myself was actually just been like incredibly like, yeah, it's just been quite like a lot to kind of like take on, but yeah, you just kind of keep going and get on with it. Really. [00:33:15] I think the other thing that's interesting is like, I think my comfort zone is definitely that headphones on good playlist, you know, designing something that like, I think same for development as well. Like you could be developing something and it's just like a really nice flow state and, you know, that's what you want to do. [00:33:31] But actually like if you stand, you know, you need to take a step back from the things that you enjoy and find really easy to like, actually like, you know, try and build the company and kind of put your attention to other places that you might not want to, but it's actually incredibly necessary.
Omer Khan: [00:33:44] Yeah. It's it's It's a tough transition to make. And especially, I think one year you're, you're sort of going from being hands-on in terms of, you know, design development to more and more hands-off where you're really relying on other people. And then also it's this whole idea of not being able to spend time doing the things that.[00:34:14] You know, as you said, get you in that flow state. Yeah. But I guess that's, that's kind of comes with the territory of being a CEO, right. In terms of growing and, and evolving as the company does.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:34:25] Yeah, exactly. I think for a lot of people on the team as well, like their jobs have also changed a lot and you know, they're taking on new responsibilities and, and I think, you know, when you're in a growing company, like things changed super, super quickly.[00:34:39] And, you know, as we said, it was just, that'd be this year, there was six of us now we've just made like a HR hire, which is like completely new to me. I don't even like, it's just a very, very new, well, to me, it's stuff that I've got to learn about because if not, I'm not very qualified to hire for it, but it's also like super positive, right. [00:34:55] Because you know, we're, we're allowing the companies to grow. We're kind of like feeding it and like it's also what the staff are asking for as well. Like they kind of want to, every everyone kind of wants to grow, you know,
Omer Khan: [00:35:04] We're going to wrap up in a few minutes, but I want to talk about one sort of last ingredient that I think has, has played a big role in, in helping you guys to continue to grow.[00:35:17] So we talked about the product and how you've been thinking about different ways to evolve that we talked about some of the acquisition channels, like how you're using SEO and content marketing, and specifically YouTube. As a way to acquire new customers. And we talked about, you know, some growth that you've also seen YouTube you know, the whole COVID thing and people going online a bit more. [00:35:42] But I think that the final or the missing ingredient that we haven't talked about is, is kinda more mindset related. And, and I think the way that you guys have sort of thought about. Just how much you want to sort of drive and, you know, continue to evolve and, and sort of the rate, the rate that you're doing that. So tell me a little bit about that. I think, I think the term you used was like having the right attitude.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:36:11] Yeah, completely we have always been really hungry is not the right word, but like, we've been like super motivated. We've just wanted to go really fast. We didn't want it to go slow and. At the start, it was kind of a little bit like, you know, from our last episode, it was just like kind of fighting for survival.[00:36:31] And like, we were just like kind of swimming really fast against the tide to get us out. But then once the tide started to turn, we were still swimming really fast and we're in things that are going really quickly and we never wanted that to slow down. And it's always been something I've been really conscious about. [00:36:45] Just like we can never really we can't slow down. We have to keep moving incredibly fast. I mean, again, like we were just speaking earlier about how roles change. I think actually taking a step back from the day-to-day sort of like designing and development has allowed me to just kind of be like, okay, well that's actually not so important. [00:37:03] That's where we should be spending our time. And I think, you know, we. The way that I kind of like to think about it is like, you know, there's a rocket taking off and it's going into orbit and you want to get it moving really quickly and get your trajectory. Right. So it just goes off in its own direction. [00:37:18] So I feel like we've built up some really good momentum and we're just not letting that momentum slow down. We're just keeping the, you know, keeping the energy really high. And we kind of like, we just, we kind of just jump into things and like, You know, this screen recorder what we just spoke about a couple of times in the webcam recorder, there was very little thought put in that a new engineer joined then. [00:37:40] And we were like, Hey Ben, can you make us a screen recorder? Try and get it wrapped up this week and we'll get it on product hunt next week. Like that's literally how it works. Like, he designed it himself. He built himself and I think you can put it on product hunt himself. Right. So that's just like, you know, and then it's been, it's been really good for us. [00:37:58] And you know, now that we can see there's something working there, we'll go back in and we will look at it a bit better and we're invest more time in it and, you know, make it a better product. Everything that we share for any point is an MVP. And if it kind of slightly works all right, then it's probably, you know, we've put a bit more time into it. [00:38:17] So yeah, we kind of just for ourselves into things and so far it's worked quite well, but also, you know, you do, you do get failures when you, when you do that sort of stuff too, but it's, it's, it's part of the package, right?
Omer Khan: [00:38:27] So it's kind of like a ready fire aim type approach?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:38:32] Oh, massively. I mean like VC has played the game where they invest in, you know, X amount of companies hoping one pays off. Right.[00:38:40] We do exactly the same thing with products. Like we're just always trying different things and bunch of them always fail. But we don't let it get us down. We just keep building the next one. It's just, you know, don't put too much work. Like, you know, you might have this new feature that you think is going to really take off, but. It, you know, it, it's going to take you three months to build, well, actually just put the button there and put a click handle on it and see how many people actually click it. Right. You know, it's those sorts of things that you kind of need to do to really kind of understand, you know, do people want it? [00:39:08] And there's, and you know, we were talking about landing pages over an SEO. Something we used to, we did back by early on was we'd make landing pages for parts of the product that didn't. Yeah, exists to see if people will actually click on them and then like, okay, we're getting 20 people click on this page a day. [00:39:23] We bet we better build that piece of functionality. Right. So, you know, it's always lots of, it's a lot of shots that were taken a lot of failures, but there's always a few things that stand out that, that work, you know.
Omer Khan: [00:39:34] How do you decide what to focus on? If, if you've got so many possible things you could be doing and you're just jumping into them, like you described with Ben coming on board and just, you know, get to work on it. There's, there's also the danger. You just end up with a long list of possible things you could be doing and, and. Like, how do you decide.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:39:58] Of what I'm not doing the things that you should be doing? Yeah, no, completely. Yeah. A hundred percent. So, I mean, you know, so for that, the example I use of Ben, it's just like, he's a, you know, he's an engineer he's joined us. He doesn't know the code base. This is a really good opportunity to get something like that done. Right.[00:40:13] So he, hasn't got all the responsibilities in the code. It's a one week project. Max. Let's just get going. Yeah. I mean, I think obviously take all of that with a pinch of salt. I mean, everything that we've done so far in terms of these sort of like ideas and little side projects that feed into the product, you know, they are relatively heavily related, you know, so I think make sure it's relevant and make sure there's a good chance that that's going to add value to your products in general. [00:40:40] And the other thing I think is, yeah, I mean also like more ideas about the no ideas. So like, you know, we like to brainstorm 10, 20 ideas and pick up the one or two that we think might, you know, that has the best promise. And if we don't have an idea that we think has promise, we're not going to do it, you know? [00:40:56] So yeah. I mean, to be fair, we're also doing it less now. I think that I kind of don't want to lose it either, so maybe you'll see something else on Product Hunt in the next couple of weeks.
Omer Khan: [00:41:07] Has that ever been an issue with existing customers where I, you know, like, I think you talked about this earlier, where you change the product and that creates some kind of issue, either a bug or a stability issue, which just kind of undermines confidence that people might have in the product.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:41:29] Yeah, so a hundred percent and we got really hot on this. I think about three months ago we had like an all team call and it was the ties of the core is like we're getting bigger. And the, and the takeaway from that from the core was like, we need to focus everything cause stability right now, because you know, when you're moving super fast, you're adding features really, really quickly.[00:41:51] Your code starts getting. You know, really quite messy and it needs refactoring a lot and that's, and that was, and you know, an early days you need to go that quickly to, to survive, but then you kind of get to the point where you're like, okay, w w you know, we're past the 1 million in annual recurring revenue. [00:42:06] We, you know, we're getting, we're getting a good paycheck. We're not going to, we're not going to die tomorrow. Right. So when you kind of get to that stage, I thought let's take a step back and start fixing some of these problems that you know, that we've accumulated. And I think, you know, there's always going to be a certain amount of technical debt that you have to deal with when you're building software. [00:42:23] And it's just always now managing that balance. So yeah, I'd like to think our days of things always breaking is falling over. But we're not doing that anymore, but just before this call, we were deploying something can, something broken of the chat was going crazy, but it's just, I hate to say like, no, I mean, that didn't happen. That definitely didn't happen. You know, it does happen, unfortunately.
Omer Khan: [00:42:46] All right, let's wrap up and we're going to do the lightning round again. So if you want, just, just, just give me the same answer.[00:42:56] What's the best piece of it is this advice you've ever received?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:42:58] Oh, should have really prepared for this best, but double the pricing, double the prices.
Omer Khan: [00:43:03] What book would you recommend to our audience and why?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:43:05] I think not sure if I did Shoe Dog last time, but I really love shoe dog just because of escapism and just, it shows you how long it takes to build a business. Yes.
Omer Khan: [00:43:14] What's one attribute or characteristic in your mind of a successful founder?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:43:18] Just grit. Just, just keep going that kind of like, I'm just going to knock this wall down sort of thing.
Omer Khan: [00:43:24] What's your favorite personal productivity tool or habit?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:43:27] Calendly is great. Isn't it? Oh, the Mac, the Mac calendar actually is just way better than Google's. I'd recommend everyone use that.
Omer Khan: [00:43:34] What's a new or crazy business idea. You'd love to pursue. If you had the extra time?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:43:38] Maybe make a pizza pizza, like a burrito, a burrito truck would be great. I'd love Burritos. That means I get to eat one a day. That'd be great.[00:43:46] Omer Khan: [00:43:46] Oh, what's an interesting or fun fact about you that most people don't know?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:43:49] I remember it did last time actually now you've said that fun fact about me. I'm looking around the rooms hundred to get something, to spare an idea. You've got me here. I just, okay. I had a mid-life lockdown crisis and bought a 20 year old camper van and then drove around in that working for a two and a half weeks. There you go.
Omer Khan: [00:44:08] See, you might not have said that if you thought about your answer.
Sabba Keynejad: [00:44:11] Well, I just looked out the window. I saw it and I was like, Oh yeah, that was about the steak that I haven't driven around in two and a half months. It's getting a bit rusty.
Omer Khan: [00:44:19] And finally, what's one of your most important passions outside of your work?
Sabba Keynejad: [00:44:22] I think I said snowboarding last time. So I think I'm gonna have to go snowboarding again because that season's coming around. Isn't it?
Omer Khan: [00:44:29] Great. Well, thank you so much for making the time to come back and update us on what's happened since we last sat down and talked earlier this year. If people want to check out the product, they can go to veed.io. That's V-E-E-D dot.io. And if folks want to get in touch with you, I know LinkedIn is the best way, so we'll include a link to your profile in the show notes and thanks again, and I wish you and the team the best of success.
- “Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike” by Phil Knight