+25% MRR, Stability Issues and Employee No. 1
Open Startup Report June 2020

More revenue, problems with the stability and an addition to the team – that moved us at Friendly in June:

  • 💵 MRR / monthly recurring revenue: $1,638 (+25%). We acquired seven new customers in June and two customers switched to a larger subscription.
  • 👩 Website visits: 2,106 (-34%). In May we reduced paid advertising (Google Ads Search) to focus more on content marketing. As this is a long-term measure, traffic has initially fallen.
  • 🔨 Stability issues, massive investment in server infrastructure.
  • 🤝 It’s the first time in my life I’ve hired someone – welcome to the team, Joey!

Stability Issues

While Friendly Analytics has been running like clockwork right from the start, we had some stability problems at Friendly Automate in June. There were two reasons for this:

1. Software Did Not Scale

Friendly Automate is based on the open source software Mautic. Unfortunately, Mautic is not multi-tenant capable – this means that an installation of Mautic can only be used by a single customer.

To get around this limitation, we used a plugin that adds multi-tenancy to Mautic.

This worked well in the beginning – but as the customer base grew, this workaround reached its limits. This repeatedly led to breakdowns that we had to repair manually.

Therefore, we switched to a new infrastructure where, technically speaking, each customer gets her own instance of Mautic.

To enable this in a scalable way, we use a technology called “Linux Containers”, strictly speaking “LXC” and “LXD”. These allow virtual machines to run efficiently under Linux.

Since this allows us to run Mautic in the official version, we achieve the highest possible stability and can quickly adopt updates from Mautic.

This technology also enables us to add new servers in a very short time – in Switzerland and in the future, on request, in other countries such as Germany (EU).

2. Human Error

During a change on our main server I made a mistake which completely crashed this server.

We were able to bring 80% of our customers back online relatively quickly from a backup. However, difficulties arose with 20%. It took my colleague Joey and I almost a whole day to restore these customers from the backup.

This was very annoying for these customers, and cost me some grey hair.

We will avoid such a situation in the future with two measures. First, each of our primary servers now has a secondary server on which all data is mirrored. If the primary server fails, the secondary server can take over immediately. The downtime is therefore only a few minutes.

And on the other hand, we will only make critical changes to the server together in accordance with the dual control principle.

Employee No. 1

I’ve never hired anyone before. The 12-member team of my agency Wortspiel consists exclusively of freelancers.

This works because we work there on a project-oriented basis – and I can therefore react very flexibly to changes in the work load.

At Friendly, on the other hand, we have many tasks that require a continuous commitment. And the workload can be planned much better when developing products than when selling services.

So in June I hired József “Joey” Keller as full-time CTO for Friendly. He has many years of experience as developer, system administrator and email marketer.

I have been working with Joey since March, initially on a freelance basis. During this time he has brought Friendly a lot forward and we have developed into a good team.

What’s Next?

I am very confident that in June we laid the foundation for a stable infrastructure for Friendly Automate. Our goal is to offer the most reliable Mautic hosting worldwide.

Next we will continue to work on the functionality of Friendly Automate, for example with better email templates and easy integration with Woocommerce and Shopify.

You can follow the progress live if you are interested – click here to go to our public backlog:

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