Yesware’s 2013 resolution: Laying the business foundation

Matthew Bellows, chief executive of Yesware, writes that his company is going to focus on Foundation work, building the fundamentals of a sound busines.
Matthew Bellows, chief executive of Yesware, writes that his company is going to focus on Foundation work, building the fundamentals of a sound busines.
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Earlier this week, I asked Hive readers what their 2013 resolutions are. Matthew Bellows, founder of Yesware, blogged that his company is focusing on the less sexy — but more important — foundation building, starting with newly unveiled payment tiers. Have your own resolution for a better 2013? Let me know at Hive@Boston.com, or tweet us at@HiveBoston.

Everyone knows about the exciting kind of product development. The epiphany. The diagram scrawled on the bar napkin. The brilliant insight from the engineer who never says anything. People make movies about the ideas that get built into products that attract users, attention and lots of money.

At Yesware, we call time to pursue those kinds of ideas Pioneering time. Pioneering is product development time when we branch out from our base product. We build new features and try big improvements. It’s like hiking or skiing off trail – you’ve got a map, but there’s no trail to get where you want to go. Our CRM Services infrastructure came out of that time (more on that later). In the early days, after the initial templates feature was live, we pulled key folks off everything else to build email tracking

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The challenge for any startup is to know how to divide precious development time between the three types of product work. At one point we tried identifying sprints by name and theme. That didn’t really work. I wish I had a blanket answer here. The only reliable thing I can say is “Don’t try to guess what you’ll be doing in four months.”

Which brings me to our announcement: we’ve been doing a lot of Foundation building in the last month. Today, we’re rolling out three new service tiers of Yesware. We started with Free in September 2011. We added Plus in February 2012. Today we’re adding Team, Enterprise and Custom.

I hope these changes aren’t a surprise for anyone. Over the last three months, we’ve sent out emails, had phone calls, and participated in screen shares, videoconferences and in-person meetings with literally tens of thousands of customers. If we’ve missed you, we deeply apologize for our oversight.

In the end, this isn’t sexy stuff. It’s Foundational. We need to bundle features into separate tiers so we can build a business.

It has been gratifying to hear customers say things like “I knew this was coming, and I completely understand” and “You guys should have raised prices on us a long time ago.” At one point a Yesware user literally stopped me on the street and said “You need to triple or quadruple your prices!” Those anecdotes, and the kind of support we’ve received from amazing companies signing big long-term deals for 2013, make me believe we’re on the right track with these changes.

But time, and your feedback, will tell. Please let me know what you think about these changes in the comments below or by email (matthew@yesware.com).

And now that we’ve gotten this Foundational work done, let’s do some Pioneering!

Read the full post on Yesware’s blog, and let me know your resolution for 2013 at Hive@Boston.com.