October 21, 2020

1.5 million signups and $16k MRR

Thomas Ketchell @tomketch

We're happy to have now reached 1.5m users as we continue to grow and get more usage. We're now getting roughly 1m visitors per month. We're still having issues with converting teachers and schools to a paid plan but we're making progress. The switch to online learning has definitely helped us grow and get Sutori in the hands of more teachers and students. Excited for the next few months!

  1. 3

    That's amazing, congratulations!

    I'm giving a talk tomorrow for teachers (in Finland) about digital learning environments. I gave the same talk last year, and one of the pain points that was brought up frequently was that it's a lot of work to move data around between different learning softwares. Have you guys run into this? I noticed that you've built integrations to multiple Learning Management Systems. What was that experience like?

    1. 2

      Hi @Pandabob - that's great that you're giving a talk to teachers in Finland. I'm currently based out of Helsinki and we're trying to get more teachers onboard here to use the tool!
      As for the pain points, indeed! Moving data from one tool to another is a big frustration for teachers and they waste a lot of time. One thing that has worked well for us is the integration with Google Classroom. It's used by millions of teachers (primarily in the US) but it means they can import their students directly to Sutori and also share Sutori presentations directly in Classroom. This has saved teachers a lot of time. We did the same integration with Clever which is used a bit too.

      We also integrate with all Learning Management Systems (LMS) through LTI. We've not been too impressed though with usage. Many teachers complain often about their outdated LMSs and will switch over their lessons to something like Sutori and try to bypass it altogether. LTI is very basic but it does save a bit of time with the creation of student accounts when trying to access Sutori. We do not have any grading functionality on Sutori (we have Sutori Analytics which gives teachers data on collaboration time, quiz answers, media uploaded) so we don't pass any grading data from the LMS to Sutori and vice-versa. To be honest, it's not requested by our teachers which is why we haven't developed it.

      The biggest win for teachers is the ability to embed stuff in Sutori directly. Teachers (and students) just need to copy/paste a link from any of these services: https://help.sutori.com/en/article/what-can-i-embed-into-sutori-1ub6v9o/ and they will be displayed within their Sutori presentation. This allows teachers to put all their resources in one spot and students can easily follow. For example, you can add a video from Google Drive directly to your Sutori and all the students have to do is press play. No need to follow a link or leave the presentation. This alone has helped teachers keep everything together especially with the switch to online and remote learning.

      Good luck with the talk!

      1. 2

        Wow, nice detailed reply. I hadn't even heard about LTI, having a standard like that makes a lot of sense though.

        I found your email in your profile. Do you mind if I mail you the next time I know I'm visiting Helsinki (I'm in Turku) and we could grab a lunch/coffee? (And if the covid situation allows for it). I'd love to chat about the education space in general.

        1. 1

          Of course. Would be cool to hang out.

          I work out of Maria 01 (https://maria.io/) in Helsinki which is a great spot so would be cool to grab lunch there. They have a restaurant in the space too.

          Let me know next time you're in town.

          1. 1

            Excellent! Added you on LinkedIn as well.

      2. 1

        Hey @tomketch and @Pandabob usually I don't post much on here but I saw this exchange and if you two ever want to ping would be happy to talk. I make an app Easycsv.io that allows people to connect CSV files to any API or Zapier. If you find teachers can often export CSVs and there are common formats we can help maybe solve some of those data moving issues for some of the smaller players that don't have good ways to integrate with them other than getting a CSV export. Feel free to email the support email or start a chat on EasyCSV.io and we can talk there if you want. Have a good day!

        1. 1

          Thanks for sharing!

        2. 1

          Nice, this looks relevant as well. I was thinking of adding a slide about no code tools that teachers might find useful for data transfer work, and this fits the bill exactly.

  2. 3

    Congratulations! I am curious about the following : how much pricing experimentation have you done ? Your pricing seems very cheap to me, could you please explain why you weren't able to charge more ?

    1. 1

      Hi @Leo - thanks for your comment. Edtech is definitely a tough market to break through!

      We've run so many different pricing experiments since we started and have gradually increased the price over the years but it's very difficult selling to teachers who have to often pay out of pocket for tools. Even asking for $99 off them during a pandemic is a difficult ask. Most teachers get between $250-$500 for all their classroom supplies. That includes pencils to whiteboard markers to some books. It's a ridiculously low amount and I can't believe in 2020 that teachers aren't able to have the proper resources to help educate kids!

      We started with a $49/year plan and also offered a monthly subscription. We stopped the monthly pretty quickly as teachers would upgrade for one or two months for a project then churn and we wouldn't see them again until next year. In the end, we wanted more use of the tool and for it to be spread out throughout the year so switched to an annual plan only. We gradually increased the price to reach the $99 plan for an individual teacher.

      Our main focus is to use our freemium plans to get schools to pay for subscriptions for teachers which is why we have two plans for them:

      • Sutori for Departments ($500) for six educators
      • Sutori for Schools ($2,000) for a school

      For many schools, they are buying a variety of tools and we've really struggled in closing the larger district type sales. Our focus is to get better at closing schools at $2k and then grow from there into districts. As you can tell, all our sales process is inbound.

      We also have a business plan which is currently $399/year. We increase that plan by $100 every year and it brings in a small amount of revenue but our main focus and usage is still from teachers.

      We will continue to experiment over the next year and we're fortunate enough to have a large user base to trial things out. We're also planning on switching up our paywall by the end of the school year and removing the 30 day trial.

      1. 1

        Great and detailed answer ^^ Thank you for taking the time to share your learnings with the community!

  3. 2

    Here is a little insight that may help. Schools have a very small window of purchasing new products and that is the summer break. Also, right now schools and teachers are bombarded by productivity products. It is very hard to have them pull out their wallets. Teachers personally are underpaid and can barely pay their own bills. What you need to do is find your champions in each school district and have them convince their boards so that next summer you can close a deal. Another option might be to find state education level personnel who can push your product through some alliance. Feel free to IM me if you would like. Twitter: @jotibasi

    1. 1

      Thanks for your thoughtful answer and I completely agree with the points you make. It's why we have a bottom up approach and rely primarily on teachers making the most of Sutori with their students. We're still struggling in getting them to convince their admins and that's something we need to work on. They generally don't have much time to handle this type of admin!

      I hadn't thought of reaching out to some state education level personnel. Seems like a good idea. I'll do some research and see what comes up.

      I've followed you on Twitter. Thanks!

  4. 2

    Congratulations! That's a great accomplishment.

  5. 2

    Amazing stats! Would you mind sharing how you grew the traffic to 1 million per month? Which acquisition channel worked the best for you? While my startup is in a very different space, I will benefit from your thought process :)

    1. 1

      Hi @karthik_2206 - thanks for your message.

      I recommend you read my interview with IH from last year: https://www.indiehackers.com/interview/growing-a-sustainable-business-despite-a-tough-user-market-a982af2a06 - I mention four ways on how we grew our traffic and online presence.

  6. 2

    Wow such a simple idea and great execution as well ! Kudos

  7. 2

    What technologies are you using? And what are you using to manage all that traffic?

    1. 1

      Our front end is built in Ember.js and backend is Ruby on Rails.

      We constantly have to work on optimizations especially when we get a bump in teachers and students all uploading materials at the same time: https://twitter.com/YoranBrondsema/status/1309157298670129163

  8. 2

    Yay!! So happy for you guys! The teachers I've shared Sutori with were very impressed and excited about it.

    1. 2

      Thanks @allison - it was awesome to collaborate with you and congrats on the write-up in Roll Call!

  9. 2

    That's amazing - congratulations! Reading through your story is quite impressive, seeing how long you have been working together as a team around the same core idea and growing the business this far.

    Interesting times ahead for sure!

    1. 1

      Thanks @oskarif - let's see how Sutori will evolve in the next year!

  10. 2

    Wow! That's a lot of traffic. How did you managed to get that? What customer acquisition channel has been working out for? and how are you doubling down on it?

    1. 2

      Thanks @aminmemon for your comment. The traffic we get is primarily through user generated educational content and it's taken quite a few years to get going!

      There are over 275k public presentations on Sutori. Each presentation which is public is indexed by Google and means we get a lot of random keywords and people that find Sutori that way. 50% of our traffic is from organic search but our conversion from that number is very low as it's a lot of random users and not necessarily our core audience of teachers. We're going to work on our CTAs when a visitor lands on a public presentation to make them more actionable for teachers.

      In terms of conversion, we've been focused on having teachers invite their colleagues through a referral system. It's been mildly successful but we're now thinking of ways of improving this.

  11. 1

    what distribution channels do u use?

    1. 1

      Hi, as I mentioned in a previous answer, best to read through my interview from over a year ago: https://www.indiehackers.com/interview/growing-a-sustainable-business-despite-a-tough-user-market-a982af2a06 - I mention four ways on how we grew our traffic and online presence. It's taken a lot of patience to get the traffic we get and it's still quite unqualified for conversions but we're getting there.

Today's Top Milestones
  • HTML Color Picker
    Searching for that perfect color has never been easier, use our HTML color picker to browse millions of colors and color harmonies. Easily find HTML c
  • TCF Email Miner hits $25,000 sales 😃
    After five years we've hit over $25,000 sales on TCF Email Miner. It's never been a product that set the world-alight but its one that consistently go
  • Versoly 2.0 launched on Product Hunt
    Finally launching 2.0 of Versoly! Not sure about you but I always delay Product Hunt launches, I want them to be perfect. I create a list of todos for
  • Syften monitors Upwork - steal freelancers' jobs
    Recently I was chatting with Reilly Chase about finding customers by monitoring online communities. He suggested that it’s a good idea to monitor Upwo
  • Sold Thankbox #200. Have made $600 in November!
    Christmas arrived in November for me and Thankbox. The month has been absolutely crazy in terms of milestone after milestone being smashed. I know thi
  • I've released the very first alpha version!
    Yesterday I released the very first alpha version to the 10 alpha testers. We have a dedicated Slack I've started a week or so ago. So far, 4 people h
  • Pain Points launched on Product Hunt!
    Today is the big day. I just posted Pain Points to Product Hunt. Pain Points is a User Research Newsletter that shares insights from 1:1 interviews th
  • Time to launch V2!
    After more than a year spent working hard on this app as my main side project, it started to get noticed a little bit in the app stores. That's why I
  • Launch Day! 🚀🚀🚀
    Today is the day! After months and months of work, Hey Check It (http://heycheckit.com/) is live! Just want to say a huge, HUGE thank you to the team
  • Launching Affiliate Program 🎉
    I've recently completely revamped the referral program for HyperCharts and now we have a full affiliate program where we share 25% of all referred sub