Do you have an early-stage product you wish to monetize?
In the early days of June, we created a 'design committee'. It helped us start monetising.
Here is how it worked, how you can use this concept too, and what I would do differently if I were to start again today.
Building a default alive business is more important than ever. This means charging sooner rather than later.
Charging is the ultimate validation that you're building something worthwhile.
However, charging for a half-assed product is hard. The bar in SaaS is high!
If you're still looking for your ICP and persona, charging can help you identify them.
Charging early helped us filter feedback and make sure we were building for the people who are willing to pay to solve a problem. It started a virtuous cycle.
The design committee
I said that but I'll repeat: charge early, earlier than what feels comfortable.
We charged 50$ / month so it feels like a considered purchase for our users. 50$ is the number Intercom started with too. We heard it first from Des Traynor (thanks to him!).
We then increased that price until we landed with our current pricing of 149$ / month which feels like a great value for money for our target audience.
The problem with free products is that the longer they are free, the more ppl assume they should be free (ex: Typeform for me).
We also needed to break from the perception that June would only be free. To give a reason for our users to pay we built a 'design committee'.
The committee gave access to our paid features with a discount. We gave 2 weeks to accept or decline the offer.
We didn't build any payment integration, we simply shared a Stripe link. This tactic helped us move fast.
The committee came with a few more unique advantages
- 🥳 Early access to our latest features behind a feature flag (we created an admin button for that)
- 🎩 white-glove support (Slack channel we used to collect feedback too)
- 🛣 roadmap access
- 🏷 discounted price locked for 1-year
- ☎️ 1-1 session whenever our users need it
Within 2 months we onboarded 30 companies on the committee. This helped us narrow our persona and ICP and made us save an insane amount of time & energy.
The committee concept was inspired by Square (thanks Fabri for mentioning it).
However Square called it “users council”, a much better name tbh. I learned later that “committee” felt very demanding. Some people disregarded it because of the name!
Fast forward this method worked so well for us that we now have multiple committees. We’re introducing a new one for every new target market (we're creating one for series A companies)
If you want to charge and have an early-stage product, then a 'committee' or 'council' may be a great way to do it. They aren’t rocket science but they work: you're aligning you and your customer's on a priority.
Building such a thing pushes you outside of your comfort zone in a gentle way.