The history of Friendly began in early 2020 with the goal of offering a privacy-friendly alternative to the marketing tools of Google, Meta & Co. This has grown into a company with four employees and over 80 customers. This is our story:
2020: The why, the foundation and the first employee
Tech giants like Google, Meta, and TikTok offer fascinating opportunities for marketing. At the same time, they repeatedly abuse their market power and care little about privacy.
This ambivalence motivated Stefan Vetter to found Friendly at the beginning of 2020. Stefan had worked in agencies for many years and had been building up his own digital marketing agency since 2015. In the process, he experienced not only the seductive benefits of big tech, but also the downsides firsthand.
Friendly therefore deliberately offers an alternative to the offerings of the tech giants. All of Friendly’s products are based on open standards such as email or the web, are available as open source, and place a high value on privacy.
The concept caught on: 94 days after its launch, Friendly reached $1,000 in monthly recurring revenue (MRR). And in June 2020, our CTO József “Joey” Keller joined the team as the first permanent employee.
There were also crises, such as when our founder almost deleted all customer data due to human error in the early days. Since then, we have invested massively in our infrastructure, including reliable, multiple backups.
By the way, Friendly has been an Open Startup since May 2020 – the first and only one in Switzerland. We share everything if there is no reason not to publish it. This includes revenues, costs, website visits and even our employment contracts.
2021: Friendly LLC, 10x revenue and employees no. 2
Started for simplicity as a project of our founder’s existing agency, Friendly became its own LLC in January 2021.
In June 2021, monthly recurring revenue exceeded the $10,000 threshold – an increase by a factor of 10 in less than a year. Stefan documented his 10 most important insights on this.