Dogfooding

Use your damn product...

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Last week we surpassed $800K MRR (monthly recurring revenue). In fact, we’ve added $120K of MRR in just the past 30 days 🤯.

None of that even includes revenue from Boosts or the Ad Network (our fastest growing revenue line).

There is no silver bullet, but there are some things I think we do drastically better than our competitors. And some of those things are easy for you to do for your startup too.

Namely — use your fucking product (a lot).

Sometimes it’s the simplest pieces of advice that make all the difference. Here’s the context and backstory 👇.

When we launched, beehiiv was by default the absolute worst product on the market. It was years (or decades) behind all of our competitors. So we did what any group of engineers would do at that stage… we shipped a lot of updates as quickly as we could.

If you push code but no one is around to notice it, did you actually push code?

A horrible attempt at a tree falls in the woods metaphor, but we’re rolling with it. Point being — shipping updates to your nascent platform won’t move the needle in isolation.

So I decided we would publicize the shit out of every single update we pushed. This did a few things…

  • Alerted our 7 customers that there were new features available to use (please don’t churn 🙏 ).

  • Alerted potential customers of what you could now do on beehiiv (lead-gen baby).

  • Communicated to the broader world that we were investing into making the platform better (building the damn narrative).

But that in itself wasn’t enough.

We didn’t write these blogs on Medium. And we didn’t notify our users via some random email marketing tool. We built a publication on beehiiv called Product Updates and used our own product to distribute the news.

You can look at our first ever update here and laugh at how terrible our dashboard used to be (still better than some of our competitors tbh).

People in the tech industry often refer to this as dogfooding. The definition, per ChatGPT:

The practice where a company uses its own products or services internally before releasing them to customers.

But we don’t just dogfood (i.e. only use the product before launching new features)… we absolutely feast (always).

Since the beginning, we have continued to relentlessly ship updates as frequently as we can. And the aforementioned Product Updates have only gotten a lot better with time.

Not too shabby for a Thursday…

But we didn’t stop there. After we launched our private newsletter feature last year, I began sending our monthly investor updates via beehiiv too.

May was a good month…

🔌 Plug: you can signup to receive all of our investor updates from the very beginning here.

But just me knowing how to use beehiiv isn’t enough…

  • How is our support team supposed to help our users if they can’t relate to the product at all?

  • How is our growth team supposed to build marketing campaigns while spectating from the cheap seats?

So we created a special employee onboarding process for new hires. Each new hire has to create their very own newsletter and send it to the entire company during their first week on the job.

Bella Rose, who you may recognize as the girl who sometimes wears a bee costume online, has actually maintained hers since onboarding and still sends it weekly.

And she’s not alone — over a dozen of our employees have a legitimate newsletter they write and send on the side. They escalate bugs, make feature requests, and DM me at all hours of the night about how we can make the product better.

Even those employees who don’t have a personal one, probably still use beehiiv to send one internally for work. Team leads send monthly department updates via newsletter to keep the rest of the company informed on the latest initiatives and progress.

Monthly team newsletters

There’s a bit of an unspoken competition around which team’s newsletter looks the best and utilizes the latest features. Jake from the Ad Network team tries to flex on us by using the AI features in the editor.

beehiivHQ circa 2035

It’s newsletters all the way down.

In fact, what you’re reading right now is the product of dogfooding. I am “building in public” while dogfooding the very platform I am building.

Big Desk Energy gives me the opportunity to push the platform to the limits. In just the past 5 months I’ve taken this thing from 0 to almost 30,000 subscribers.

  • I’m constantly pushing the boundaries of the design capabilities.

  • I’m leveraging the referral program to grow faster (btw here’s your link you can share with a friend: https://mail.bigdeskenergy.com/subscribe?ref=PLACEHOLDER).

  • I’m using Boosts to monetize (I made $775 last week, what up).

  • I’m using Boosts to grow (you can apply to get paid and promote BDE here).

  • I also leverage Magic Links and Recommendations to grow (faster).

  • I’ve built custom webpages (like this).

  • I’ve built lead magnets (like this).

  • I utilize a handful of automations and journeys.

  • I use surveys to collect reader data.

  • I use polls to assess reader sentiment.

  • I analyze my engagement each week like I’m an Instagram model.

And I’ve given a novels-worth of feedback directly to the product and engineering team every single step of the way.

The further the decision makers sit from the product, the worse the product is going to be. How many execs at {insert competitor} do you think have used their product in the past year?

Their complacency is our opportunity. It’s time to eat 🐕 🍽️.

If you enjoyed this post or know someone who may find it useful, please share it with them and encourage them to subscribe: mail.bigdeskenergy.com/p/dogfooding

Credit: Keith Yap

The perfect hammock to monitor ratio doesn’t exi—

Shoutout to Keith from Singapore for the reader submission 🫡.

Reply with your own AI generated office and I’ll feature it in an upcoming issue.

Turn on, tune in, drop out. Click on any of the tracks below to get in a groove — each selected from the full Big Desk Energy playlist.

Some of my favorite content I found on the internet this week…

  • Amazing places you probably didn’t know existed (Twitter)

  • Casey Newton breaks down some thoughts on Apple’s AI moment (Platformer)

  • The weirdest and wildest MLB games from the past month (The Athletic)

  • Colin and Samir sit down with the Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri (YouTube)

  • The new iPad calculator makes me want to take AP Physics again (Twitter)

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Until next Tuesday 🕺🏽