Tailscan updates - New version and the SaaS roller coaster

By: Erwin, 3 January 2024

Category: #buildinpublic

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This is the fifth article in a series of articles about building Tailscan in public.

And wow, there is a lot to talk about in this update! Tailscan 2 has been released a month ago, the launch went slightly different than I had planned and the last five months were a roller coaster with both a negative growth month and the best month yet.

In the previous articles, I've written about the starting out and the early days of Tailscan, figuring out marketing, becoming an Open Startup (and why) and riding the wave of initial growth.Also, if you're wondering: "What is Tailscan?" click here to find out more.

Building and launching Tailscan 2

The Tailscan 2 update has been a long time coming. First of all, Tailscan received a make-over and now finally looks like the product that I've always envisioned it to be.

Most notably, the new update includes a new 'non-tech' interface. The aim is to make it easier for anyone, from designer to product manager, to modify a website without any coding knowledge.

Launching Tailscan 2

The launch had been carefully planned to be one day before Tailscan's anniversary (and one day before the first yearly subscriptions started renewing) and I had everything prepared:

  • ✅ Product Hunt listing? Check.
  • ✅ Launch announcement page with countdown? Check.
  • ✅ Email with announcement for newsletter? Check.
  • ✅ Bunch of tweets scheduled? Check.
  • ✅ Modified landing page with launch deal? Check.
  • ✅ Invested in a bunch of newsletter sponsorships? Check.
  • ✅ Pushed v2.0.0 live? Check.

What could go wrong? Well... 😅

I'll give the summary below. If you're interested in the full story, you can read it in this Twitter post.

Launching complications

About 30 minutes after pushing v.2.0.0 live and 20 minutes before going live on Product Hunt, I received an email from a customer that Tailscan didn't seem to work.

For a brief moment, I was rather calm and tried to replicate the bug. Once I figured it out, the reality hit me: Tailscan is broken for every single user. The cause is complicated, but boils down to it working all fine until it was bundled up and submitted to the Chrome Webstore.

Erwin in panic

The face Erwin made when he realized..

I had a fix ready within 5 minutes, built and bundled the new version 2.0.1 and submitted it to the Chrome Webstore. Normally, these reviews take 30-60 minutes.

But 2.0.1.. well.. it ended up taking 3 days. And for three whole days, including the entire 24 hours of the Product Hunt launch, Tailscan was not functional. I've sent hundreds of emails, made lots of apologies and barely slept in those 3 days.

The good part is just now understanding the vast majority of customers were. I am very grateful for having such amazing, patient users!

Growth roller coaster

As mentioned before, the last five months have also been a bit of a roller coaster. Two months had negative growth (-2% and -5%), one month was without growth (0%) and two months had great growth (18% and 28%).

I think part of the negative growth has to do with the introduction of the monthly subscription. One month, many new monthly subscriptions arrive, and the next month a few of those churn, resulting in a negative growth month.

The solution is two-fold: 1) reduce churn by making a better onboarding, providing more value and potentially introducing a knowledge base and 2) focus on more stable customer acquisition channels.

Both of these are things that are very high on the list for me to focus on!

Growth Tailscan

Because of launching Tailscan 2 and focussing more on perpetual licenses (one-time payment) instead of subscriptions, there was an additional $19.000 revenue that isn't shown in the charts above.

I'll be focussing more on those perpetual licenses in the future, so in all likelihood, the MRR chart won't be growing as much.

New year, new goals

It's a new year, and that means I've done some reflection on the past year and figured out where to take Tailscan in the new year.

Besides improving the Tailscan experience with better onboarding and a knowledge base, there will also be a couple of improvements for Tailscan, such as a native devtool integration and an improved non-tech view with arbitrary value and responsive variant support.

A new product related to Tailwind is in the works, and more educational is on the way as well. That's all I can tell you for now!

And as always, if there is anything in particular you'd like to know, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or via email (erwin@tailscan.com).


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