Pipedrive now has 1000+ paying customers, and how we got there.

Blurred road

During the last weekend we got our thousandth paying customer. 1000 is not a big number, but as this number was zero a year ago it means a lot for our team. We’ve gotten good feedback and reviews throughout our existence but there is nothing that better proves that you’re doing your job well than having a thousand customers pay for it. Thank you, team members, said customers, investors and friends!

And instead of an Oscars-speech, I thought I’d look back at the beginning of our journey and try to find the main things that got us where we are today. To crystallize the learnings for ourselves, and make it available for everyone else who’s interested. So here you go, here are the three most important things that got us to our first thousand users.

When building the product, think pain, not features

The most important thing is having a good product. CRM is a crowded market and we’d be still hunting our 10th customer had we not gotten some things right (in addition to making many mistakes, like all startups do).

As a first time entrepreneur I hadn’t seen Dave McClure’s brilliant pain-killer vs. vitamins slides when we started the work with Pipedrive. But we were “lucky” because we had felt the pain of using a sales management software after more than a decade in sales and sales management.

What this meant in practical terms was that we knew we could and should have less features compared to competitors as long as our product eased the pain better. For many CRM users the biggest pain is the feeling of not having control over the many valuable but not yet closed leads. The feeling of not being organized and missing out on sales. So we focused on building the best sales CRM we could and put many seemingly important features under the hood, or aside.

It wasn’t (and isn’t) always easy. While juggling between your day job and your startup project it’s bloody hard to say ‘no you can’t do that with our software’ to a potential customer, but we quickly learned to ignore all one-off customer asks. We treat feature requests as “pain sensations” and really pay attention to those that are asked several times. Even then, most end up at the bottom of our feature build list which is not to say we ignore what customers say. We recently fast-tracked advanced privacy settings to the top of our roadmap because we had underestimated the pain that not having this had created.

Get your product into the hands of the right people

Once we had built and launched Pipedrive, we were thrilled to hear that we did indeed ease the pain of our customers, but some months later we weren’t too happy about our growth. On month four our revenues barely covered our hosting costs and we were growing a measly 10-20% per month. It was only after we had managed to get our product to the hands of the right users that our revenue growth graph took a much more exciting angle. 

Product was the same, the only difference was that it was now used by more influencers, thought leaders and other people who are often asked for software recommendations. We tried numerous things to achieve that but the following two gave the most tangible result:

– Applying to incubators like AngelPad, YCombinator and Seedcamp to meet people with unbelievably big networks. We applied and talked to many, got invited to AngelPad in the end and spent three months among entrepreneurs and mentors, most of the time pitching and talking to people.
– Running a good deal to get cost-conscious techies aboard. Our AppSumo offer worked very well.

Make getting or signing up to your product or service as easy as possible

Well, isn’t it already? This was my reaction to someone’s feedback 8 months ago. As we found out, it was not easy at all. We confused people with loads of content and provided several call to actions eg. sign up, choose a package, read about features or see a live demo.

Pipedrive Homepage Before and After

We then put most of the text from the front page to other pages. We removed as many hurdles from the registering path as we could, even the package selection page had to go. We figured that if people like the product they can be bothered with settings and details later. Feel free to click on the screenshot to get the full scope on our initial mistakes.

AB testing showed that making these changes resulted in 3 times higher conversions from visits to sign-ups.

So there you go. What got us to a thousand paying customers was addressing pain, getting the product into the hands of the right people and making it easy to sign up.  Sounds easy, right? And this is not to say time spent on going the extra mile in support, sending kick-ass emails, blogging or other activities is a waste of time. We did lots of different things in our first 18 months and almost all of them contributed to our growth. But had we only focused on these three things  we would still be in more or less the same place. It’s probably different for most other startups, and I hope you’ll agree that the journey to discover them is bloody exciting.

I hope to see you all at our five-digit milestone!

Photo courtesy: Arinas74

Timo Rein

President and Co-Founder of Pipedrive

  • Awesome work guys!

  • Fabian

    Congrats, we’ve been trying the demo and will most certainly convert to customer #100n – also, looking forward to the API! 

    • Fabian, we’re proud to welcome you! And we’ll continue our work to get API out for you.

  • Talking of making things easy…shouldn’t there be a link to Pipedrive from the Header of your blog? I didn’t notice it on the right-hand side at first under the About Us section (I see you also have it in the Who We are section). Just a thought…

    • Toby, spot on, thank you pointing it out! Need to do better than this, yes. We started from replacing the link on the right-hand side under About Us section with a bigger green button. We’ll see what we can do with a header.

      Thanks again!

    • Toby, spot on, thank you pointing it out! Need to do better than this, yes. We started from replacing the link on the right-hand side under About Us section with a bigger green button. We’ll see what we can do with a header.
      Thanks again!

  • David

    API !!!

  • Kudos! 1k is a big deal. And We’re definitely looking forward to seeing the API at Zapier. 

  • Great job Timo! Really relevant advice and just knowing that you went through that grinding stage as well gives entrepreneurs like me hope. Excellent.

  • Well done! Now figure out how to optimize your system to convert those trial accounts into paying accounts. I would love to read about that.

  • Has offering the homepage in different languages made any noticeable impact on conversion? 

    • Dru, thank you, a very good question! It has had some impact, but the effect really starts to kick in if followed up with other activities such as local-language PR, promotions and such.

      • Makes sense – if all of your inbound traffic is from English speaking sources, it’s not as necessary. Thanks for answering, Timo!

  • Anonymous

    Couldn’t agree more. I live by the moto “Do One Thing Well” and “Don’t add “features” just for the sake of it. 

    Also you might want to put the comment form at the top, it is “painful” for the users 😉

    Cheers

  • Jeff Porter (Handbid)

    This has been really helpful to read as we work to get to our first 1,000 customers.  We have a long way to go, but thanks to your software, its been much easier to manage.  Also, many many thanks to your responsiveness via support.  You may not put that in your top three, but its definitely made a difference.  We like working with companies to put the same emphasis on customer interactions as we do at Handbid.  Congrats and best of luck!

    • Thank you, Jeff! And best of luck to you and Handbid! We’re proud to have you as our customer, and I’m glad Martin was able to be of help :). To be honest, the more I think about it, the more I feel support should be among the top. I believe one day support alone deserves a post.

  • Well done Timo! +1 for API.

  • Well done guys – love the product, but there are a few things that more successful apps do much better, namely communicate about the product. Your blog is really not focused on your product. I would love to hear how you are developing this, whether there is any clear roadmap, etc. 

    At the moment I see none of this and am therefore forced to look around. But even a bit more proactive involvement of users in your development plans would go a long way to building confidence.

    • Cheers for the feedback, Andy! We’ve come some way from a time about a year ago when we almost didn’t update the blog at all. In a startup you just can’t do everything well and we’d rather be known for guys with a great product and lousy blog rather than the other way around. But l agree, this is far from ideal. Point taken and you can expect more product news and updates in the future.

      I’m glad you brought it up, thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Congrats! +1 for an API. From my perspective, a key factor in choosing a CRM (or any other SaaS product for that matter) is how well it integrates with other services. Pipedrive seems to be head and shoulders above the competition (highrise, podio, etc.)  in terms of product design and functionality, but sorely lacking in integrations. I realize and agree that integrations should not be a core focus during your first year, but as you’re entering a strong growth phase, my advice would be to focus on your API and integrations. Specifically, I’d like to see the following.

    Freshbooks
    Quoteroller

    • Thank you! I look at this the same way, and both integrations you pointed out are almost inevitable. Our next steps are headed towards making this happen – API 1.0 is in its final phase of development, and integrations will follow. 

      Really appreciate you taking the time and sharing what you’d like to see!

  • Kevin

    Hi Timo, Congrats on a great 1st year! Its the first time i’ve had to use a sales pipeline (like you I’ve only been in business a year, and, like Pipedrive, all’s going well so far – touch wood!). Really like Pipedrive generally, my biggest pain point is that it doesnt have a ‘to do’ featire and doesn’t link to others – I use Wunderlist. Would be great if it did! All the best for an even better Yr 2. Kevin

    • Thank you, Kevin! It’s up to us to deliver on our end, and hope the year 2 will be good :). Best of luck to your business!

      I obviously can’t imagine the way you’d like ‘to do’ feature to appear and work for you – although, you can reach the task list at the footer bar by clicking ‘Activities’ tab in Pipedrive. Maybe it’s just not up to your standard, yet. 

      If you’re up to, I’d like you to explain the ‘doesn’t link to others’ bit a little – are you referring to the missing integration, or something else here?

      Thanks again!

      • Kevin

        Hi Timo, as sales is only part of running my business I have a whole load of other things not associated with sales that I have to do, e.g. marketing, finance, project managemt, etc, etc. So, although the ‘Activities’ list is helpful, I have to rewrite that list into my Wunderlist to-do if I want to have one complete list. If I could collate them it would be great. Does that make sense? Kevin

  • Charlie d’Estries

    Timo, congratulations to you and your team. The product is solid and quite useful especially since it’s the only sales focused CRM out there, and I’ve used them all! Your pipeline feature is great not only for tracking sales, but projects (that should be a named feature!). So thanks for being there for us… we appreciate your creativity and support!

    • Thank you for the support, and a piece of advice, Charlie! All the best to you and your team!

  • Bruce

    I’m a single user, intending to use Pipedrive to follow up on projects in design and bidding.  Looked at a bunch of CRM programs.  Some very expensive, most very confusing and complex.  I am on 30 day trial now, tried the program today.  I must say, I’m very impressed.  Simple to use, not super complex, easy to modify for my needs.  I’m still trying to make sure that it will do everything I want, but it looks like it will.  If so, I am thrilled.  A big thank you to your firm for producing such a wonderful product. 

  • Six months after the last post and we’re still waiting for MailChimp and Wufoo API support…

    Can we please get an update?

  • Congrats on the 1k milestone guys.

    Regarding the last point about simplifying the homepage is interesting. While I think most people know what CRM is, it seems you could definitely remove most of the upfront product explanation you see on most startup homepages, but I’d be curious to know what percentage of sign-ups come directly from the homepage vs. interior feature pages. Any stats you can share on this?

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  • Alex Aky

    Pipedrive is a really good company. It’s actually helping me managing my sales and making sure nothing gets thrown away. I’ll probably won’t be able to do with out.

    No that’s not true. I’ll always have endless Excell sheets 🙁

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  • HusanPreet Kaur

    A big thank you to your firm for producing such a wonderful product.

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