When we launched our founder plans in November 2013 we said our goal was a public release in Q1 2014. We're now in the beginning of Q2. So why haven't we launched yet?
We've had about 100 users kicking the tires of Cucumber Pro for the last few months, and they have given us lots of great feedback. Our plan was to use this feedback to prioritise, and work steadily towards a public release.
We're lot closer to that goal than we were in the beginning of the year, but progress has been slower than we'd have liked.
Why? Well, that's what this post is about. We've made some mistakes, learned from them, and we'd like to share those lessons with you.
A few weeks ago we lost our first customer. He had been there since our very first founder plan sign-ups, and when he asked for a refund it was a real wake-up call.
We realised we had let our early users down: Cucumber Pro hasn't improved much in our users' eyes because we'd been focussing too much of our effort on mundane stuff that the users don't see.
Nothing matters more to us than making our users happy. To avoid making the same mistake again we decided on two new rules for our team:
- The team never works on more than two things simultaneously.
- At least one of the things being worked on must yield direct benefit to users.
So what have we been doing all this time?
New payment and access control system
The first subscription plans we sold had a completely manual process both for payment and for granting users access to the system.
For all the hype about concierge MVPs we wasted an inordinate amount of time keeping track of this stuff by hand. We needed to improve it.
It turns out that integrating with a payments provider, even one as slick as Stripe is a lot of fiddly work.
That work is mostly behind us now, and the great news for you is that we'll be using this new payments system to release a new batch of plans very soon. Promise!
About half of the companies that have expressed interest in Cucumber Pro want to install it on their own server for privacy reasons.
We spent a lot of time experimenting with different ways to package and distribute the appliance in a way that will make it easy to upgrade the appliance immediately when we release new features or bug fixes.
Open Source work
Part of Cucumber Limited's business plan is to spend more time on the Cucumber community (the open source). Lately we have worked a lot on:
- Cucumber-Ruby 2.0
- Gherkin3 - a new and improved parser for Cucumber
All good stuff, but it still doesn't add any shiny new features to Cucumber Pro.
Running a business
Cucumber Limited is not a startup in the traditional sense. We haven't sought any VC funding and aim to bootstrap the business instead.
There is a lot of boring stuff to be done in any company. In a bootstrapped business like Cucumber Limited this duty falls on the founders:
- Register the company with authorities
- Register for VAT
- Open a bank account
- Use lawyers to set up a shareholders agreement between the founders
- Sales and marketing
Talking of sales and marketing, did I mention that we're running a training course in London next week?
Training and conferences
Training and consulting is a key part of our business plan we've delivered several private training classes in the past few months.
We also co-organised CukeUp!, which took a fair amount of time.
With a lot of this dull stuff out of the way, and our new rules in place, our existing users will see new and improved features much more frequently than before.
Right now the two things we're working on are a gorgeous new design, and publishing results.
Public availability is right around the corner. We'll be offering a free trial for everyone and open source projects will enjoy unlimited free access.