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a look back at helpspots first 6 months of sales

May 21, 2008

Now that HelpSpot has been out about 3 years I thought it would be fun to look back at the early days. I always get a lot of questions about how I started UserScape, how long it took to get rolling, what the process was like, etc. I think a look at these numbers might be interesting for new software entrepreneurs. Enjoy.

Month 1: October 2005
HelpSpot was released on October 24th 2005 (my birthday, yeah!). For 4-5 months before that while I was in development I really focused on building up some semblance of a beta group. I think I got about 80 companies to sign up for the beta, though since it was over a long period probably only about half actually participated (I don't remember really). I offered a 50% discount to the initial beta group which I think worked out really well. Many of the people who participated provided invaluable feedback, even some who didn't buy it. The sales numbers below reflect the 50% discount:

October 24, 2005 $872.96
October 24, 2005 $179.00
October 25, 2005 $1,599.50
October 25, 2005 $89.50
October 26, 2005 $447.50
October 26, 2005 $89.50

I was pretty ecstatic over this first week of sales. While it's hardly huge money, it gave me some validation that the ideas in HelpSpot were what at least some in the market were looking for. This is one of the big reasons I think startups shouldn't hide what they're building. Startups should use their development time as an opportunity to market themselves and build up a group of interested individuals. Otherwise, you have to do all of that after you release and it means you're not going to get any sales for months after you release which is going to be extremely discouraging.

Month 2: November 2005
I knew this was going to be a rough one. Most of the beta people who were going to buy had done so and now I was going to have to build up my trial users. Since the trial is 45 days and most companies take a while to pick their help desk solution, November was bound to be slow and it didn't disappoint!

November 2, 2005 $626.50

Yikes! Even though I knew it was coming, a little fear did set in.

Month 3: December 2005
Sales picked up a bit here, though one sale a week is a little nerve racking. On the up side though it gave me time to continue to improve HelpSpot which I did. Some of the 1.x releases were the most important as they really added core functionality that was flat out missing.

December 2, 2005 $1,969.00
December 7, 2005 $875.00
December 13, 2005 $1,140.00
December 29, 2005 $179.0

Month 4: January 2006
Again I suspected sales might be weak in January due to the Holiday's in December which limited trial sign ups and I was right. January was light.

January 22, 2006 $895.00
January 27, 2006 $358.00

Month 5: February 2006
Things started to pick up in February again and it's really from here that it started to take off. After this month sales climbed higher and never really looked back. Here you also see the number of transactions starting to increase slightly. Given that I don't do any advertising having more transactions means more customers talking about the product which is really key for HelpSpot.

February 2, 2006 $773.28
February 14, 2006 $179.00
February 16, 2006 $494.19
February 18, 2006 $193.99
February 21, 2006 $1,074.00
February 26, 2006 $1,253.00

Month 6: March 2006
Ah, spring time. Finally a nice up tick in transactions and revenues. You can also see the nice mix of customers that are starting to appear. The little 1 and 2 man shops along side the 10-20 user licenses.

March 1, 2006 $456.45
March 1, 2006 $179.00
March 2, 2006 $358.00
March 6, 2006 $1,586.40
March 8, 2006 $358.00
March 8, 2006 $402.75
March 9, 2006 $179.00
March 15, 2006 $179.00
March 16, 2006 $179.00
March 22, 2006 $194.43
March 22, 2006 $1,074.00
March 29, 2006 $179.00
March 29, 2006 $3,199.00
March 29, 2006 $179.00

This month also has some of our first transactions where customers are purchasing additional licenses. This ends up being a major revenue source as companies start using it in just one area, but expand to others or expand to more staff in the same area.

Wrap Up
I hope this was interesting. I don't think I've seen a B2B app break down their initial days like this, hopefully it's another useful nugget of information and motivation for the would be entrepreneur.

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