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Baremetrics for Buffer (baremetrics.io)
172 points by zrail on Apr 29, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 53 comments

I'm not a huge user of Buffer, but I really like them because they've given us great insight into running a startup that's not a smash-hit-media-darling. VCs weren't knocking down their doors with truckloads of cold cash, they weren't beating journalists off their backs, etc, you get my point. They've had to stick to business fundamentals from day 1, methodically approaching issues like profitability, marketing, business development, growth, with only $500k of investment. They've been up and running for a few years now with a team of ~17 who're being paid competitive salaries. They've no doubt learned a lot and have been open about it. And this is just another example of their strategic biz dev, marketing and transparency they've become pretty masterful at.

I should add that this is also a great move by Baremetrics, who are likely to gain much more out of this.

It's been a great insight for me and helped with putting together the deck and approach that landed us some Angel funding.

The other part of it is now we want to help people too, so we've written a few posts about our own spending and metrics. Great to be able to shed some light on early stage questions.

I would gladly pay for this dashboard if it were an installable product, but there's no way I would ever share our vital financial stats with some random company in exchange for pretty graphs. This is just so out there, it's beyond any discussion.

If you are reading this, Baremetrics guys, do consider making an installable version, e.g. in a form of a VM appliance. Feel free to charge monthly, but it should be in a form that allows retaining full and close control over all data your dashboard pulls off Stripe servers. Just look at what AeroFS did if you need some inspiration and validation.

Thanks for the feedback! Sounds like Baremetrics might not be the right product for you. :)

Buffer is an exception. Their openness is a part of their marketing strategy in tech circles.

I am genuinely curious whom you think Baremetrics is a right product for. Excluding companies run by your friends and acquaintances, who either trust you implicitly or just want to be supportive.

Buffer really isn't the exception. They're an exception in that they've made all their data public, but my experience on both sides of the fence as someone who both runs Stripe Connect services and also manages the technology for companies who use Stripe Connect services tells me that most companies are not concerned about sharing their financials with trusted parties in exchange for a major operational benefits, whether that's analytics and reporting or automation of customer service operations.

As a Stripe Connect service operator (at http://churnbuster.io/) I've only once had someone in the onboarding process express any concern that all their financials would be available to our service, and in that case they were a developer who wanted to double check with their CEO that it was OK, which it was.

Your question really isn't for Josh, it's for Stripe with regard to the entire Stripe Connect ecosystem. Sure, some people may be really concerned about sharing financial information with a third-party service, and that's totally fine, but I'm pretty sure they're the ones missing out. Speaking now as a technology consultant, I can say that the ability to plug-and-play all sorts of different and very valuable third-party services is allowing the rest of us to build businesses in record time with minimal investment and part-time resources.

I just wanna say congratulations both to Baremetrics and Buffer. You're both an inspiration to bootstrappers like me.

Thank you Peter! Let me know if I can ever help you with anything :-)

Thanks Pete!

Doesn't this expose who their customers are (in the live stream)? I'm all for transparency, but it doesn't seem like the customer list is theirs to share.

The customer names have been changed.

> Note: The transactions you see throughout the dashboard are real, but we've used fake customer names to keep them private.

This seems like a slightly faux concern considering that any post (Twitter / Facebook) made with Buffer says so.

This is an absolutely brilliant move for both companies. I imagine baremetrics will double or triple their revenue by the end of summer because of this.

Well done.

Agreed. It's brilliant. The great thing is you can see if that happens by just watching this page: http://demo.baremetrics.io

Oops. Fixed.

I'll be giddy if that happens. ;)

Kuddos. Honestly I didn't even you could pay for Buffer. It is really impressive they are willing to be so transparent with their financials. It probably helps that they haven't raised any institutional investment[1] and thus don't have any external pressures about releasing these details.

[1] https://angel.co/buffer

> ..in the end, we closed a $450k seed round from 18 investors.

As I said, they did a distributed Angel round, not a traditional investment from an institution (VC).

Indeed, we haven't raised a large single round from an institution, though we did have 3 firms put in $50k each as part of that $450k round. The board is just myself and Leo.

Thank you guys for sharing this.

I noticed 30,000 failed charges in one year. I'm not sure if that's interactive failures, as in users actively trying to complete a transaction, which is much less important than the recurring failed charges, as in money you thought you were going to get but didn't, for no other reason than the payment network.

I hate seeing those failed charge notifications that go out every morning when you try to bill that day's batch for the next month of service. And then wondering how much that's pushing up your churn rate, how much effort should you spend trying to get updated billing info, etc. Buffer is mostly $10/mo, so I would imagine not much chasing is going on beyond a few automated emails... but it's enough to make you want to switch to ACH!

Does Stripe handle auto-updating credit card details when a card expires like some companies seem to be able to do? With the massive leaks lately, and so many card numbers getting cycled, it definitely hits the bottom line.

I don't think Stripe auto-updates. There's a service called Churnbuster whose sole purpose is to deal with this issue: http://churnbuster.io/

Interesting service. Attacking the problem by trying to optimize within the constraints of the current system.

It's a problem you wish you could eliminate instead of just trying to optimize around.

The 6 month recurring revenue graph is interesting:


Gotta love 75% growth, and 199% yearly growth.

I'm curious how big their staff is, what their burn rate is, etc. I also am curious if they have 22k paying customers, how many are free tier?

That seems like a very healthy business right there, which might be able to squeeze a bit more growth out of its free tier.

You can see their staff costs as of Dec 2013 here: http://open.bufferapp.com/introducing-open-salaries-at-buffe...

Thanks for the help vardy! We're currently 22 full-time and will be 24-25 in a few weeks.

so some quick back of napkin math makes their annual burn rate around $1.6M in salaries.

That's around the right ballpark. If you want to do the actual calculation, feel free to take a look at our spreadsheet of salaries here: https://docs.google.com/a/bufferapp.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=...

Great dashboard.

Would love to see it work for more than just Stripe.

Perhaps for a variety of backends, or an aggregate one like Xero so that it can get insight into payments coming in from sources like PayPal and direct bank transfers too.

Right now we're focused squarely on Stripe. They make it stupid easy to build on top of (thanks to Stripe Connect). May expand way down the road, but that's waaayyyy down the road.

This is a great partnership and I can't wait to see what comes next.

I've watched and enjoyed reading the Buffer story since the early days. In fact it probably played a small part in my path towards quitting work last summer and starting my own thing.

I'm considering doing an 'Open blog' for our enterprise start-up http://www.fundrecs.com like the guys did with Buffer.

Trying to weigh up whether it would limit us or enable us to do more. My gut is saying go for it but my co-founders aren't convinced.

I stopped using buffer, but I think I will start using it again. I plan to run my next startup with as much transparency as they do.

You have to respect a company thats not afraid to open up their numbers like this. I love this trend of financial transparency for startups. Numbers are the clearest way for me to crystallize things as an entrepreneur.

Blog post for some more info about this http://open.bufferapp.com/buffer-public-revenue-dashboard/

Is their revenue entirely from the "Buffer for Business" plans?

Hi Brandon!

Out of our total March revenue of $246,000 [1], 79% came from our $10/mo Awesome Plan and the other 21% came from Buffer for Business [2].

Let me know if you have any other questions :-)

[1] http://open.bufferapp.com/buffer-update-march-2014/ [2] http://open.bufferapp.com/buffer-revenue-growth-report-2/

This is really helpful.

+ I've been using Buffer for few weeks now and it's really a pain killer. Hope they can make 'locale/language' setting available for Facebook Pages tho.

This looks stunning! When I clicked through the first time it said the MRR was about $250k which surprised me. On refresh it went back down to $9k.

No, Buffer's MRR is 250K. Baremetrics' own MRR is $9K. Both dashboards are public. You might've been toggling between them.

ah - wow. Then I am very impressed by the $250k. You're right - I was toggling between them. Thanks for clarifying.

Two different demos we've got going...

https://buffer.baremetrics.io - Buffer's metrics https://demo.baremetrics.io - Our metrics :)

This is a great marketing move. Honestly, this is the first time I've signed up for a service immediately after seeing how it works live.

Wooohooo! Happy to have you on board. Shoot me an email if you need anything! josh@baremetrics.io

$140k in refunds the past year

do you know what are the main reasons?

They focus very hard on customer service so I guess that plays a part.

Looks like George uses Buffer http://d.pr/i/bgAS

Baremetrics looks awesome, but it's Stripe only. Does anyone know of an equivalent for Braintree?

Edited. I didn't read the fine print.. :)

This is pretty neat.

Huge congratulations Josh and Baremetrics ! It's a great app and it's good to see you growing well.

The brief conversations we've had with you have been great and we think you're a really nice guy.

We've built a similar app but hope to compete with slightly different features (more details to come).

We launched our private beta today, and it's either good or bad timing ;)

Axel, designer at SaaS Metrics http://saas-metrics.com

can't deny this also looks nice! Good luck with it. Hope to evaluate you vs OP in the not too distant future.

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