April 1st, 2020
(this is an excerpt from my monthly open startup email)

March 2020, tldr:

The elephant in the room is, obviously, coronavirus - with markets crashing and the entire world distracted, it felt like the end for a minute there... In early March, organic traffic plunged down 40% and there were many days with no sales at all.

But as the month went by things started to "normalize" for us and we tried our best to stay focused. Overall, March was a very productive month and we kept our focus on increasing the value of the Starter Story membership and moving Pigeon to a freemium model.

We hit all of our goals for the month.

Thank you to the whole team for an awesome month - it's so impressive how much we are getting done together. Because we run such a lean operation, we we will be able to make it through a darker period and come out even stronger.

the good

- Seeing really nice Starter Story MRR increases (+$300 MRR) from adding value to the premium membership and showing readers that it actually exists (i.e. including it in our newsletter).
- The Starter Story community is launched and rolling - lots to learn here but the future looks good (100+ members as of now).
- We launched the Start page and over 8 how-to guides - with the goal to provide readers with something more similar to a "course".
- We launched Pigeon freemium - I believe this is the next step for growth (through Chrome Web Store, G Suite Marketplace, content marketing channels, etc).
- Although traffic was down, it's looking better in the last couple of days (see below image).

the bad

- Significantly less traffic, email signups, and new memberships
- A few big cancellations / "putting subscriptions on pause" for Pigeon - MRR is lower than last month


- Total Revenue: $8,661 (88% Starter Story / 12% Pigeon) (-$237)
- Starter Story Traffic: 492k pageviews (traffic down 10% MoM)
- Pieces of content published: 110! (highest all-time)
- Email List: 12,511 total subscribers (+500 net subscribers)
- Starter Story Premium MRR: $1.5K (highest all time) (+$300 MRR)
- Pigeon MRR: $1.05K (-$50 MRR)

(I'm no longer tracking traffic in GA, as I've discovered it's not very accurate because so many users have the script blocked!)

What got done / what went well:

- Stripe integrations to automate failed payments and cancel subscriptions
- Created automated outreach system that allows us to input in a type of business (i.e. dog walking business) and get loads of leads that we can reach out to for interview
- Did 6 AMAs with founders in our community - example
- Made site changes to expose the premium membership more throughout the site + in the newsletter
- A smoother signup process for Starter Story premium
- A few new Pigeon features: New suggested actions feature, inline images in sequences/templates, bulk delete sequences, better documentation pages, order sequences/collections

Goals for April:

I'm trying a "less is more" approach to goals this month:

- Fully deploy Pigeon content marketing (hire someone, plan the content, let them go)
- Launch Pigeon as a G Suite Add On
- Launch Pigeon for Teams / Shared Inbox features
- 100+ pieces of content on starter story
- Finish the how-to guides, continue to push out more "roundup-type" content
- Continue experimentation with the community and find what works
- Continue experimenting with the Starter Story paywall and possibly some AB tests

Thanks for reading!