Building a successful business is hard work.
In some ways, building a SaaS or subscription-based business is even harder. You have to constantly provide value to customers. If you don’t, they’ll bail on you.
So we’re always excited to hear from folks who have built amazing companies in this field. One of those people is Mike Potter, the Co-Founder and CEO of Rewind.
Keep reading to learn about the ups and downs of Mike’s entrepreneurial journey, why he started Rewind, how he grew the business to 100k customers in just a few short years.
About Mike Potter
Mike Potter co-founded Rewind, a successful data protection company, in 2015. But that’s not where Mike’s story starts. The truth is, Mike has been building businesses since the mid-90s.
Mike started his first company in college, teaching people how to use this new thing called “the internet”—you may have heard of it. He then started another internet-based business, which eventually worked with the Canadian Curling Association. Pretty cool!
Since then, Mike has held a variety of positions at both big and small companies, including another startup he founded a few years before Rewind and Adobe.
Running internet businesses in the 90s
Mike ran his internet education business for about three years.
“It was a really interesting job. And I think people appreciated having somebody who understood technology coming to their house and explaining to them how they could use this, you know, a pretty amazing tool that was starting out at that time.” – Mike Potter
But, eventually, it was time to move on. For Mike, that meant starting the website www.inthehack.com, which was a news and messageboard site for curling enthusiasts. Mike grew up in a family of curlers, so the website seemed like a natural fit.
In the early 2000s, Mike expanded InTheHack and began selling imported curling gloves to his website visitors. Eventually, Mike’s site was noticed by the Canadian Curling Association.
For the next three to four years, InTheHack became a consulting business for the Canadian Curling Association. Mike would build and update the organization’s website, enabling it to share curling information and broadcast curling scores via the internet.
“We were literally digitizing the curling games.” – Mike Potter
At its peak, InTheHack received hundreds of thousands of visitors a month, helped the Canadian Curling Association make major technological advances, and generated a lot of money in advertising revenue. But Mike knew it wasn’t a business he wanted to run forever.
“I think one of the things that I’ve always focused on in my career is ensuring that I can move on to doing something else.” – Mike Potter
Joining Adobe as a product marketer for Adobe Flash
After exiting InTheHack in the early 2000s, Mike joined a small startup in Ottawa. Their mission? To build an internet operating system out of the Mozilla web browser.
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as well as everybody in the company hoped…
“I think one of the things that I’ve learned is you really need to have very good timing… The idea that we were building was, I think, just a little bit ahead of its time… Unfortunately, the hardware just wasn’t there” – Mike Potter
But it wasn’t all bad. After working for the startup, Mike took a year off to get his MBA at the University of Ottawa. He then joined one of the biggest companies in the world: Adobe.
“When the opportunity came to join the [Adobe] team and do product marketing and product management for Flex, I was more than happy to take on that challenge.” – Mike Potter
His first failed startup
Mike worked for Adobe for almost six years. But in the early 2010s, the desire to start and build another company resurfaced.
“I was reading TechCrunch every day and reading about all these startups that were going and really wanting to do my own startup. Like a real startup, not like [a] consulting company. Not a small, independent thing that I’d done before, but rather a software company that was really designed for high growth.” – Mike Potter
Mike’s first startup after leaving Adobe was, in Mike’s own words, “Almost like a social media campaign management tool,” that allowed users to coordinate and measure social posts.
It was called ‘AddIn Social’—and it failed.
According to Mike, the product he built wasn’t something that people wanted. Agencies typically do this kind of work for companies. They pay a low-level employee $15-$20 an hour, then bill their clients $60-$70 an hour. So Mike’s product only served to reduce their revenue.
“A super important thing, if you’re a product manager or product marketing professional, is to really understand your customers and the drivers for their business.” – Mike Potter
Mike and his team ended up pivoting. They built a second tool, one that allowed users to embed their social media posts into their emails. That side of the startup sold to MyEmma, an email marketing service based in Nashville, TN.
While ‘AddIn Social’ didn’t achieve the success Mike had hoped it would, it did teach him valuable lessons—lessons he’s used to ensure Rewind’s success.
“As long as you’re learning from your mistakes, I think you’re in good shape.” – Mike Potter
Starting Rewind and hitting 10K MRR within a few months
Mike Potter and James Ciesielski co-founded Rewind in 2015. The idea was to create a platform that allowed users to easily backup their Shopify data.
But before Mike invested too much time in this new venture, he wanted to make sure that “it had legs.” So Rewind was initially offered to customers for free.
“We could see people, basically, having that issue [with their Shopify stores] where their account has a problem, either from a third party application [or an] employee making a mistake, a CSV import, or something like that. And they really have no way to recover the data because it’s only affecting their account.” – Mike Potter
Six months in, Mike could see that Rewind’s installs were steadily increasing, as were the speed of said installs. His idea had been validated and Rewind began charging customers in January 2016. A few short months later, Rewind began generating $10k in MRR!
How much MRR is your subscription-based business generating? Find out with Baremetrics, the powerful analytics platform that successful entrepreneurs, including Mike Potter, use to ensure their company’s profitability. Start your free 14-day trial of Baremetrics today.
Price experiments and lessons learned
“Great,” you’re thinking. “I’m happy for Mike and his team. But what I really want to know is, how can I grow my own subscription business to $10k or more in MRR?”
Mike says that experimentation had a lot to do with Rewind’s early success.
“We experimented a ton with our pricing early on. Like when we went to market, our prices were $5, $15, and $29 a month. And we quickly realized that for some of these larger stores and merchants, $29 a month was way too inexpensive.” – Mike Potter
So what did Mike and his team do? They kept raising prices until customers complained. Eventually, Rewind’s $29 package hit $499 a month.
“The most surprising thing was how much we had undervalued what we had built and what we could charge… And I think a lot of software developers, especially independent software developers, make that same mistake. They really do undervalue what they’re selling, and they could be selling their products for a lot more money than they currently are.” – Mike Potter
Imagine if Mike was still charging customers $29 a month. Would Rewind be as successful as it currently is? Probably not. That’s why Mike suggests:
“Always give your customers the ability to pay you more money… Some people just want to buy the best thing. Some people have a budget that they need to spend. You can extract more money (with very little feature differentiation) by providing an option for customers to spend more with you.” – Mike Potter
Just remember, experimentation, in and of itself, isn’t enough. You need to analyze the data your experiments generate to determine what’s working and what isn’t. In Mike’s words:
“I talked to those customers at $499 and I heard the complaints. We ended up backing that price back down to $299 based on the feedback that we had from customers. So I think as long as you’re talking to them, you’re actively engaged with them, you’re monitoring your metrics, you can measure things. I see no reason why you can’t start testing things and trying things out and see what works.” – Mike Potter
All of the experimentation has paid off. Rewind now has 115 employees. It’s gone through two rounds of funding. And the platform offers backups for a variety of popular tools, aside from Shopify. These tools include GitHub, BigCommerce, and Quickbooks.
Get in touch with Mike
We’re happy we had the chance to talk with Mike Potter, the co-founder and CEO of Rewind. He had tons of valuable information to share and we hope you found our chat insightful.
Now, your SaaS or subscription-based business won’t build itself. So get back to work. When you do, keep the tips, tricks, and best practices that Mike shared in mind. Good luck!
Lea LeBlanc: Welcome to Founder Chats by Baremetrics, where we chat with founders and hear how they started and grew their businesses. My name is Lea and I’m on the marketing team at Baremetrics. This week, Brian talked with Mike Potter, founder, and CEO of Rewind. Since 2015, over 80,000 companies have trusted Rewind to secure their online stores and safely backup millions of items.
Mike and Rewind have experienced tremendous growth and success, but that wasn’t always the case. Mike weathered the failure of two companies to get where he is today. And he’s going to share with us some of what he’s learned on the way. Enjoy
Brian Sierakowski: Mike, thanks so much for joining us today.
Mike Potter: Yeah, great to be here. Thanks, Brian.
Brian Sierakowski: As we usually start, I’d love for you to take us back to the beginning. Like where did your entrepreneurial journey start?
Mike Potter: Yes. My entrepreneurial journey started a long time ago as I’m 46 years old now. And I remember my dad encouraging me to go and sell soft drinks at nearby offices.
When I was 12, 13, 14 years old I never took him up on the offer, but he was encouraging me right for as long as I can remember to start my own business. And then in the first year of university, I remember applying to a whole bunch of jobs first for summer work and getting rejected over and over and over again, and thought, I can’t go a whole summer without doing anything.
And so, I started my own business in first-year university and just taught people how to use the internet. So that was sort of 1995, 96. The business was called “Internet at home”, which was a much larger company as well, and had the same name, but it was doing web development, creating web pages, and teaching people how to use the internet.
Now that was the first sort of official company that I started.
Brian Sierakowski: What was it like teaching people to use the internet back then?
Mike Potter: It was interesting, it was, it was not as usable, I think, as it is today. So, there were things like newsgroups where people could participate in communities as opposed to everything being done through the web.
And so trying to teach people about those was difficult. The email was a bit of a foreign concept to people at the time. I remember, one of my friends in university, when I first introduced email to him, we went to the computer lab and they said, okay, you can send an email to anyone in the world.
And then the two fields, he put his dad’s home mailing address, and this is an engineering student. Like he’s a pretty smart guy, but it was just so new for people that they didn’t really know how it worked, right. And so, everybody had to kind of learn back then how things worked, what an email address was, who you could send things to.
And it was a good business. There were definitely a lot of people who wanted to figure out what the internet was, figure out how to get online, and see what was available to them. It was a really good business there, in that late sort of the mid to late 1990s.
Brian Sierakowski: Yeah. I wonder maybe I’m trying to think of how different it is now, but I wonder how much of your job was just trying to also keep them safe online, especially in the early, extreme days like cowboy days.
Like how much you know, it’s like, oh yeah, no, don’t go to that. Newsgroup or don’t, don’t go over there on that part of the internet.
Mike Potter: Yeah, you could find yourself in some not safe for work environments. Right. But it was a really interesting job. And I think people appreciated having somebody who understood technology coming to their house and explaining to them how they could use this, you know, a pretty amazing tool that was starting out at that time.
Brian Sierakowski: How did you build your internet expertise at the time?
Mike Potter: Just kind of tinkering starting, you know, I learned pretty early that, you couldn’t really break a computer, if anything happened to it, you could always just reformat the hard drive and start over.
And I did that. I used to do that a lot where you try and do something and then break something and restart. And so, when the internet came around, it was a bit of that, of understanding that you can figure things out. You can install this software and you can understand how it works.
It was just always tinkering and it’s always just sort of fooling around and not being afraid that if something breaks, you’re going to be in trouble.
Brian Sierakowski: Yeah, that’s great. I remember those days of, yeah, so I was like, well, I feel like people were very, very nervous, very intimidated. And even myself, you know, it’s just like, and I’d be like, well, can you do this?
Just try it. But what happens if I click this, click it, find out like, you’ll see like you’re right. There is like a, there’s maybe a time cost, but then, the total downside, especially at the time when there really wasn’t that much you know, you didn’t have that much important data on computers.
Yeah. The worst-case scenario is you just have to start over a fresh install of Windows, Windows 95, and then your backup and running.
Mike Potter: Yeah, exactly. You’ve got all, you’ve got all of your documents saved on a floppy drive anyway Right? So, what’s the harm?
Brian Sierakowski: Yeah, that’s really cool. And so how long did you, how long did you run that business for?
Mike Potter: I ran that business for about three years. I used that business to actually start another business called inthehack.com. So, I was a big curler growing up. My parents were both curlers, avid curlers, and I curled as well competitively when I was in junior years. And I started this website called inthehack.com.
The hack is where you may start your curling throw. It’s what people push out of to throw the rock down the ice. And I thought there was a nice little play on words with, hack and hacking and stuff like that. So I created this website called inthehack.com. It was a bit of a message board.
There was a message board. There was curling news. Actually, you know, early two thousands (2000) had an online store that was selling curling gloves that I’d imported from Pakistan. But that internet at home business kind of evolved into this curling website. And then the curling website evolved into a consulting business for the Canadian Curling Association.
So, in 19, in 1998, curling was going to be an Olympic sport for the first time in Nagano Japan. And so, in 1997, they had what was called the Canadian Olympic curling trials. This was where they picked the teams that would represent Canada to go to the Olympics in February of 2018. And I suggested to them because my dad was involved with the Canadian Curling Association. At the time I went to the president, and I said, you should really put the scores of this event on the internet.
This is where people will love to get their scores and they can stay up to date with what’s going on in the event. It was all pretty new to them at the time, but they let me do that. So I went to Brandon, Manitoba to that event and put curling scores on the internet for the first time I was watching the games and then manually updating these webpages that people would go to and they’d reload them.
And I remember, on Saturday and Sunday, everyone was watching the games on TV. They’re all at home. But Monday when they all went to work, it just exploded in popularity. The whole system I built crashed. It couldn’t handle the load. I had to rebuild it from scratch. That second business, “In the hack” became a consulting business.
I worked for the Canadian curling association for about three or four years, doing all the major curling events in Canada, and really sort of started kickstarted them on their internet journey to put scores on the internet for them. It was sort of the late 1990s into the early two thousands.
Brian Sierakowski: That’s really cool. What was the nature of the consulting that you’re doing for them?
Mike Potter: It was just updating their web presence and building their web presence so that they could put the scores on the internet. They could put the standings on the unit, like all the events, all the major events that they ran could have updated information on their website so that people could understand what was happening at the curling events that were going on.
Brian Sierakowski: Cool so he probably didn’t use this language at the time, but you were like digitizing the sport of curling, just kind of cool, a cool early, early movement there.
Mike Potter: Yeah, we really were. I had two people from the States, two brothers who I connected with, who actually wrote a Java applet that allowed us to position all of the rocks after every shot.
We were literally digitizing the curling games. Like we could position the rocks. I had volunteers at these events, and we would manually position the rocks after every shot and we’d save it. And that would upload a file to the internet. And then people could watch quote-unquote, watch a digitized version of this curling game.
They could see where the rocks were positioned after every shot and what was happening. And then eventually they added movement into that where you could sort of draw a line and say, okay, the rock comes in on this path. And I think if we had continued down that path, I mean, obviously, video kind of ends up taking over, and now you can watch any curling game.
You can watch just the video of it, but I think it would be really, the next step for me would have been putting indoor GPS devices, like tracking devices into the rocks themselves, into the handles of the rocks, which would have automatically updated the locations. And I thought it could have become like a really great training tool for people where, you could say, okay, show me all the times, where a team has scored four points, for instance, in one end or scored three points in one end.
And what did the rock setup look like? What were the shots that were made? And you could really, you don’t take curling to the next level and really digitized the entire game. It’s not unlike a little bit of what you see these days with the digitization of any of the professional sports, right?
Where they’re putting tracking devices onto the players into the puck sometimes for the NHL. And you’ve got all these advanced stats of, how the football players closing their distance or how they throw the baseball and the angle of velocity off the end of the bat sort of things. I think that’s the type of stuff that we could have done.
We were doing like a super early version of it, in the early two thousands, about 20 years ago for curling
Brian Sierakowski: That’s wild, I can totally see that going into that field of sports analytics where you’re. You know, this is a big, big business where all that data gets fed back somewhere.
Ex I don’t, I have no idea how it works, but evidently somebody, they track everything and then they come up with like, oh, well this is the appropriate way to throw a free-throw or when your team is in this position and the other teams in this position, you’re, it’s advantageous or whatever the case is.
It seems like you were, especially as you started to draw all the paths and the lines and, get going down that path. It does. Yeah. It feels like you were like, ah, maybe like you said, maybe 20 years too early, but you were definitely right on that path.
Mike Potter: Yeah, it’s such an easy sport to do it, right. Because it’s really only in two dimensions, the rocks don’t leave the ice. And so, it’s a lot easier to do that. Then in either three dimensions, if you’re looking at like a hockey puck, for example, or even a basketball or football or baseball. So, it was a, it was definitely a sport that sort of appealed to that, but that was, we were really early on and pushing, I think, a lot of boundaries.
Generally speaking, at least in Canada, curling is the largest amateur sport in the country. There is no other sport that’s as popular as curling at an amateur level. Obviously, professional sports are different, but it’s the largest amateur sport in Canada. And so it really, it kind of was the poster boy in some cases of how to build an internet presence and what you can do on the internet and how to engage your fans online and stuff like that.
Brian Sierakowski: At this time, are you still running the internet at a home business or have you sort of given way to focusing on, is it ‘In the hack’?
Mike Potter: In the hack, yeah. I only really needed that as a summer job, right. To just provide some income. And so I did that just for the one summer, did the consulting, showed people how to use it, did some internet development and just did that for the one summer as a summer job.
And then really focused my time on that curling site because it was obvious it was a pretty popular curling site. It would have hundreds of thousands of visitors on a monthly basis. It was making some good money from an advertising perspective as well. And obviously, it was leading to this consulting contract with the Canadian Curling Association.
From a financial perspective and a time perspective, it was definitely taking up all of my time.
Brian Sierakowski: Sounds like it was really going well, what happened next?
Mike Potter: I ended up graduating from university doing that for another couple of years, but it wasn’t something that I wanted to do long-term. I think one of the things that I’ve always focused on in my career is ensuring that I can move on to doing something else. And so, I built this system for the Canadian Curling Association that really allowed them to do all of what I was doing without me. And they ended up doing that.
They really no longer needed me. The statistics program that they had developed to manage stats at the events was able to upload the scores automatically. They didn’t need somebody like me to go to the events and handle it manually. I was pretty happy to leave there and then, start working at a sort of quote-unquote real company, which is what I did after that joined us little startup in Ottawa that was building an internet browser out of the Mozilla web browser, sorry, an internet operating system out of the Mozilla web browser and joined that company and stayed there for about three years after graduating from university.
Brian Sierakowski: Cool what were you doing?
Mike Potter: We were building. So if you remember in the early two thousands, there’s going to be all these internet appliances that were going to be around you to have, all of these computers in your home. There’d be one in your living room, in your kitchen and all over. And we were building an operating system to basically run those internet appliances.
And the decision at that point had been made to run it in the Mozilla web browser. So, we took the browser part, like the actual engine really, and started building applications that could run sort of in the browser or sort of parallel to the browser. It was all based on Linux. And I ended up building the calendar application that ended up becoming the Mozilla calendar project.
So, if anybody’s out there, using the Mozilla calendar that was started. I started that about 20 years ago. Now we took our code from what we had built for our own product and open-sourced it and donated it to the Mozilla foundation so that they could have a calendar. In addition to the contacts, address, book, and web browser that they had as part of the Mozilla project.
Brian Sierakowski: Cool, so how did it go with the internet appliances all over people’s houses?
Mike Potter: Yeah. How did that work out? I didn’t quite work out, I think as well as anyone had hoped. I think we’re probably a little bit closer there with your iPhone and your iPad and some of the other devices that, the companies like Facebook and Amazon have for, screens and being able to communicate with people, but it was, again, I think one of the things that I’ve learned is you really need to have very good timing.
You need to have a good product. We also have to have the fortune of having good timing in the market and the product, or the idea that we were building was I think just a little bit ahead of its time. Probably built, not necessarily in the right technology, but the whole idea that you have on the iPad or the iPhone is like a single screen application without having to manage Windows. That was stuff that we were working on for that browser, you could only do one application at a time. Unfortunately, the hardware just wasn’t there, and the idea never really ended up taking off, but it was fun to work there. I did that for about three years.
Brian Sierakowski: Yeah. I sort of remember I don’t know if this is around the same timing, but it felt like there was a proliferation of crazy ideas, like different operating systems, like as you’re going through this, I remember one that was like, it was like a 3D operating system. And it was like, instead of having, I think effectively, they just mapped your desktop over a sphere.
So instead of having all of your icons on the desktop, you actually would navigate around the globe and click on things. And I think once you did that, it was effectively, effectively the same thing. It feels like just during that time, there was a lot of, we didn’t know what direction all of these different technologies were going to go in and it kind of felt like everybody was just so excited. We just tried everything like, all right let’s go in every direction and see what happens.
Mike Potter: I think yeah, I would agree. I think it was a time of a lot of experiments, right. Especially because there was a lot of work being done.
Windows was obviously the dominant operating system at the time. Mac wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now. Windows was completely dominant, but there was a lot of effort and money being put into Linux-based desktop operating systems. I live in Ottawa and the headquarters of Corel is here in Ottawa.
And I remember Corel getting into Linux as well and trying to build a desktop for that. There was a lot of work being done from an open-source perspective to try and move desktops forward. So, a lot of experimentation, a lot of ideas came out of it, but yeah, I think that was exactly right. It was a time of a lot of change because the internet was coming around and that was new, and computers were getting fast enough to really do some amazing things.
It definitely was this time of mass experimentation to try and figure out like, Hey, what can we build? What can work?
Brian Sierakowski: What happened? Did you leave the company before things sort of, I’m assuming things fell apart, so, correct me if I’m wrong there, did you leave ahead of that or did you kind of ride that out?
I’m sort of curious, what did that look like? When did everybody kind of look at each other and go, like, I think we might be, it might be a little bit too early on this one.
Mike Potter: Yeah, the company’s pivoted and is actually still going around. It’s kind of pivoted to this file-sharing solution for hard drives.
It’s surprising how the business can stick around, the original CEO is no longer there. The company has been bought and sold a couple of times I think but it’s pivoted into something that was not really related to what we were doing at the start.
I was there for about three and a half years. And I saw that it wasn’t going anywhere, and nothing was going to happen. And so, at that point, I had a decision to make, what do I want to do? Do I want to continue doing software development and get more into computer software, building software, or do I want to take a different approach?
And I ended up deciding that I wanted to do my MBA and learn a bit more about the business side because I had a pretty good technical knowledge. I had a little bit of business experience having run a couple of companies. So, I took a year off and did my MBA at Ottawa U here in Ottawa. And then joined Adobe shortly after that, doing product marketing and product management for Adobe Flex, which was sort of Flash for developers around that time.
Brian Sierakowski: Cool, yeah. it sounds not totally similar, but kind of this similar type of a platform play. I obviously remember Flash a lot and I think I remember Flex. And I think I remember that also around the same time of Air, I feel like Adobe was, so I was doing a lot of stuff during that time. What was it like working at Adobe during that time?
Mike Potter: That was great. It was eye-opening, my first job having been at a startup of 20, 30 people and then joining Adobe, which I think at the time was two or 3000 people. And I remember at both companies, ironically, when I first joined, I had problems with my email. And when I was at that first startup, the way you solved your email problem was you kind of yelled over to the IT guy, “Hey Jody, my email isn’t working. Can you help me out?” And he’d log into the server and fix it. And when you’re at Adobe when your email’s not working, you go to a form, you fill out a support ticket and they get back to you, in a day or two sort of thing. It was just a real different eye-opening experience. This definitely wasn’t a small company.
It was a really large company, but it was a fantastic time to join the company I joined right before they announced the acquisition of Macromedia. I had actually joined working on what’s called the life cycle product line, which is our enterprise software sort of doing fillable forms and workflows in PDF.
And then within my first few months, I think the stock split, they bought Macromedia. They announced a new office in Ottawa, and it was very clear that you were working for a really big company at that point. You weren’t working for a small startup.
And then it was just a fantastic experience and the acquisition of Macromedia really opened up a lot of opportunities for people to work on things that they really truly enjoyed. And one of the things that I loved about my company and working on Flash would just be the number of people that we were trying to go after, right?
The enterprise software business is not for me, large contracts with relatively few customers doesn’t really appeal to me, but lots of customers spending very little or nothing at all in some cases was more my cup of tea. So, when the opportunity came to join the Flex team and do product marketing and product management for Flex, I was more than happy to take on that challenge.
Brian Sierakowski: Yeah, why did you decide to go more towards the product marketing side instead of, well, really? anything else?
Mike Potter: I just enjoy that, developer marketing for me was something that I really understood because I’d been a software developer and I had that good sense of business knowledge as well. So, marketing Flex to developers was something that just came really natural to me.
I think because I was essentially the audience, I understood it. I had some ideas on how to expand the audience and go after different types of developers, other than the Java developers that they focused on previously. I think I was able to bring a lot to that group and expand its footprint into other communities.
Like the PHP community that I had been a part of for quite a few years.
Brian Sierakowski: Did you find any challenges working in an organization of that size, especially when you’re really like personally familiar and I’m sure you had thoughts of like, wow, I really wish I had this when I was doing, like updating these curling.
It’d be great to have this sort of framework to build these visualizations off of. And so, I imagine you probably had a lot of ideas. Did you have any issues working within the large business to get some of those actualized or are they actually pretty receptive to some of the thoughts that you had?
Mike Potter: It’s a very, I think accepting company, I think it’s one of the worlds, like literally one of the world’s best companies, right. In terms of the success that they’ve seen. And the transition that they’ve had into cloud software has been, real, almost second to none maybe to Microsoft, right?
Transforming that desktop business into a sort of recurring revenue. I don’t think even you don’t get that way without being really open to new ideas and new possibilities of doing things. I always found people there to be very open to different ways of working. There are certainly challenges around some of the processes that we had wanted to implement.
I remember one, for example, when we wanted to allow people to download our SDK without requiring somebody to give us their email address, but just make it optional. Right. So that was a real foreign concept to them at the time that you would allow somebody to download something and not treat them like a quote-unquote lead.
And I was there saying, listen, developers don’t they don’t, they probably don’t want to get your emails. They just want to download the software and we need to make it as easy as possible for them to get started right away. There are some concepts there that were relatively new to the company that I had to try and explain to some people.
But at the end of the day, yeah, everyone was pretty open about trying new things and experimenting and seeing what worked and doing things that were sometimes a little bit outside the box, just to make sure that the experts who were asked to run these programs could do what they wanted to do.
Brian Sierakowski: That’s awesome! How long were you with Adobe?
Mike Potter: I was there for about six years, just under six years. That took me to sort of early 2000 tens. And, at that point, tech crunch was, I was reading tech crunch every day and reading about all these startups that were going and really wanting to do my own startup, like a real startup, not like consulting company, not a small, independent thing that I’d done before, but rather a software company that was really designed for high growth.
And so, I left Adobe to run my first startup, which was basically doing almost like a social media campaign management tool with the idea being that you would want to coordinate posts onto YouTube onto your blog on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, around these major announcements. We built a tool that could help sort of coordinate that could measure that, that could aggregate all the comments around and the feedback around what was being posted.
We built that tool as sort of the first startup that I ran, and it was called ‘AddIn Social’.
Brian Sierakowski: How did that go?
Mike Potter: Didn’t go all that well. One of the things we learned was that what we were building was something that agencies would typically have a person doing as opposed to wanting to automate.
And agencies would take that person who they’d pay, $15 or $20 an hour, sometimes less, and bill them out at $60, $70 an hour. So essentially our product was successfully reducing their revenue and we had a hard time finding people that could use it on a regular basis.
I think that one of the things I learned was that I quit that job at Adobe way too early. Before we really had any traction before we had any customers before we had any revenue. And so, that was a lot of pressure at the time. I’ve got a family of two boys and my wife, and we were expecting our daughter at the time.
It was just a lot of, there’s a lot of pressure that went on to that. We ended up getting into a startup accelerator in Toronto and really trying to make it, but ultimately, we didn’t really find any, we didn’t find much product-market fit. I don’t think for that product, we pivoted at the end, we ended up pivoting to this embeddable social media tool that email marketing companies could put into their products.
So, if you were an email company and you needed to allow your customers to post to social media, you could use our tool to do that. And we ended up selling that part of the business to a company in Nashville called MyEmma, which was an email marketing company out in Tennessee. And they took the technology and I think they integrated that into their email software.
Brian Sierakowski: It sounds like it was a pretty stressful experience.
Mike Potter: Yeah, definitely. I think you put a lot of pressure on when you’ve got kids with mortgage and car payments and all the other stuff, and you have to put food on the table and you’re running a business that has no revenue. So, it’s definitely a stressful time and I certainly learned a lot from that experience.
And, making sure that as we did this sort of last company or this company that we’re working on right now, that we didn’t make the same mistakes. And I think as long as, as long as you’re doing things in, you’re learning from your mistakes, then I think you’re in good shape.
And the experience wasn’t that great. But we, I ended up learning a lot out of it and it certainly helped me be more successful, 10 years later or whatever it was five years later when we started Rewind.
Brian Sierakowski: Yeah, that’s awesome. And I actually learned the same lessons, one of my previous products that I built up which we sold to the agencies, I didn’t understand anything about marketing or really effectively anything at that point in time. But it sort of was an emergent quality that agencies really wanted to use the product that I had created. And I forged some really good relationships.
And I think because of that, as we were trying to build our roadmap and different features, we got basically that same feedback, very candidly of like, you know, again, because I was so clueless, I didn’t really even, I didn’t understand the business model of my customers. We would try to create automations, like, oh, wouldn’t it be great if that just did this for you?
Or what if, you know, automatically this happened and this moved over here and, because I had those good relationships, they were able to kind of pull me aside and say, Hey, man we charge our customers for that. Like you’re, you know, it wasn’t directly in their major line of business, but they had the opportunity to tell me, well, no. I think this is kind of unique in this quality, but they’re like, oh no, we pay, just like you said, we pay somebody $15 an hour and we bill that out at $200 an hour. In fact, yeah, it would be cool if you could do it automatically, but it would actually be worse for our businesses. And I was like, oh, okay.
Yeah, I didn’t, obviously I didn’t think about that. That’s a really good point.
Mike Potter: Yeah. I think understanding your customers and understanding their businesses, obviously a super important thing is you’re a product manager, product marketing, to really understand your customers and the drivers for their business is important.
There must be some agencies out there that are, that would be open to these types of conversations and making things more efficient. But it sounds like neither you nor I have found them.
Brian Sierakowski: Yeah, in my experience it was like, and maybe I, of course, I’m like looking back, it’s all hindsight. I felt like. From my perspective, like the top tier agencies now, like what does that mean?
But you know, it’s subjectively the best of the best didn’t want to, if they could get more done in less time if they could automate and they weren’t as concerned about a couple of billable hours, they would focus on, well, how can we deliver the most results for our customers in the shortest period of time?
And they were, they sort of traded off of there. They traded off of their name and their reputation for delivering, especially like in the marketing world and those sorts of things where it’s really like, I, tomorrow I could start a marketing agency and I could probably do, I could actually probably do okay. Just like the baseline things that I know, but the ones that were at the top of the top, they were the ones that were like, no. Yeah, well, we would like to have these features. We want to move faster. Like we don’t care if we lose two billable hours if we can take on, like, they were thinking more like, well, if we save this time, we don’t need to hire more people to take on more customers.
They were, they were looking further down the road. But I think that that might be like, that’s not great from a marketing or sales perspective because you can’t. It’d be very difficult for me, like a solo founder, to change the ethos of the business that I’m selling to. And I didn’t realize that I probably could have just charged like a hundred times more or something like that, and just sold to those top tier agencies.
But that thought never crossed my mind at the time.
Mike Potter: Yep, totally familiar story.
Brian Sierakowski: It sounds like we’re getting relatively close to the current date. Do you want to sort of talk about the story of how you decided to start Rewind?
Mike Potter: Yeah my friend James and I had worked together at a startup in the past and really enjoyed working with him.
And so I went and approached him one day and said, do you want to do something on the side? I’m a little bit bored at work. And he agreed. He had sort of similar thoughts and had tried that with a couple of other people before. So he was definitely open to it. And so, it was about seven years ago. I think that we met for lunch, and we decided to start working on a product. And it wasn’t what ended up turning into Rewind. It was a completely different product at the time we spent about six months building that. And you know, it’s funny cause I could just, I recognize the same pattern as what happened in that first startup when I knew it wasn’t going to be successful.
We were about six months in and I said to him, look, I think, you know, we need to do something different. This isn’t going to work out. And when I suggested backups, because I thought backups would be a really good business. Generally. I think they’re a pretty sticky product. Like if you subscribed to them, you know, you need them and you’re unlikely to unsubscribe from them.
And I remember telling him, let’s do backups and he said, well, what do you want to back up? And like I said earlier, you know, we’re in Ottawa, Shopify started not a wasp. We could see this massive company being built about six years ago. I said, why don’t we back up Shopify? we can do that and he, I remember him saying like, that’s crazy. Like, why would anyone need to backup Shopify, it’s in the cloud? And you know, that’s why people move to the cloud, so you don’t have to do backups.
Brian Sierakowski: Nothing bad has ever happened in the cloud before!
Mike Potter: Yeah so it was just this really interesting dynamic, right?
Because we’ve got this other product that we both really liked, but it wasn’t going anywhere. And so, we ended up saying, we’ll regroup in two weeks, I’ll work on this backup product. You work on the other one and we’ll see where we’re at. And within a couple of weeks, I created a web page. I created a landing page.
I had posted it in the forums, and I had about 20 or 30 people that had already signed up to be notified when Rewind launched. And that was enough to convince him that this idea had much more legs than the other idea that we had working on and that they really had no customers.
So, we started working on Rewind full-time at that point.
Brian Sierakowski: And you were able to pre-sell customers at that point.
Mike Potter: We didn’t pre-sell them. We made the product free to start. I know there’s a lot of debate online on whether that’s the right approach or not. We really wanted to know if people had a problem with losing data.
That was what we were trying to validate initially was, is this even a problem? We can see there are forum posts about it. We can see that, yes, people have had problems on their own Shopify store that obviously can’t be recovered from Shopify. Most people probably don’t know this, but in most cloud services, the backup that the service provider has is, is a bit of an all-or-nothing approach.
If the whole system fails, they can recover it. But if your account has a problem, that’s not what their backup is for. We could see people basically having that issue where their account has a problem, either from a third party application and employee making a mistake, a CSV import, or something like that.
And they really have no way to recover the data because it’s only affecting their account. It’s not this entire system issue. And so, we made Rewind free initially just to see if people had that problem. And we validated that in the first sort of six months that we were live, and we could see our installs increasing over time and the speed of installs increasing over time.
And so, in January, we launched in June of 2015, and in January of 2016 was when we started charging customers.
Brian Sierakowski: That’s great and so you got those initial customers in, and you had enough of them sign up that you said, okay, like this is a problem and people are at least aware of it. And was that the motivation you needed to kind of keep going with it or what was sort of, what was the decision point that you had there?
Mike Potter: So, at that point, we recruited two other friends, Sean, and Julian, who came on to work with us. So, the four of us were working part-time nights and weekends building, building this application up. And, every month we’d add a few thousand dollars of MRR and the great part about our recurring businesses, as long as your churn is low, that money stays and you grow it over time.
And so, within a few months, we were making $10,000 and growing nicely and we’re looking and saying, wow, like we’re almost at the point where one of us can quit and go full time on this. And Sean ended up being the first one to do that in September of 20 of 2015. So, you know, he is about, we’re about nine months in now from when we started charging and he quit and went full-time and then Julian and I quit in February of 2016 and joined full-time James came full-time about a month or two later.
And we were kind of off to the races and starting to grow this business that was up to 20 or 30 K of MRR at that point.
Brian Sierakowski: Yeah. And compared to your first startup, this sounds like a considerably less stressful environment because you have customers and you have the revenue to pay yourself with, and you also have a trajectory as well.
So, you can sort of see like, okay, well not only is this revenue, does it seem to be durable, but it’s like, we’re getting more customers it’s, at least heading in the right direction.
Mike Potter: Yeah. That’s true. It’s a much easier discussion with your wife when you’re saying, listen, I’m going to quit my job.
And go to this other company that has no revenue versus I’m going to quit my job. And I’m not going to take any salary change because the company’s making so much money that we can keep the same salary that we have now. So, I’m barely just transferring from this one job to the next job, and it’s not affecting how much money we’re going to have at home to pay the bills and stuff.
Those are much easier conversations.
Brian Sierakowski: Way easier.
Mike Potter: Yeah, we ended up staying in our jobs probably way too long. To be honest with you, we probably should have quit earlier. It was, I’d say the stress started coming when you’re trying to work and do your job sort of nine to five, and then in the evenings and on the weekends, you’re supporting, we were supporting over a thousand customers. And that becomes difficult because they’ve got questions. You really need to be spending more time on it, but you can’t because you’ve got this job that you’re working on nine to five, and obviously you’ve still got kids and family obligations and stuff like that.
So, the stress was different. It wasn’t, you know, there wasn’t financial stress, but it was a different kind of thing because you really wanted to make that work. You know, you’d built this thing up where you’ve got thousands of customers and everyone’s putting in this amazing level of effort in their part-time.
And you’re just, you know, you’re trying to do everything. You’re trying to do your regular job. You’re trying to make sure you can grow the business. And you’re trying to make sure that you keep that revenue so that yeah, you can quit, you know, in a month or two from now, whenever it works out.
And luckily, we were able to sort of navigate that and make it all work out.
Brian Sierakowski: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. It feels like it’s difficult to nail that timing. Exactly. Because especially with your previous experience of maybe jumping into early, you were probably thinking at least subconsciously like, okay, well let’s not jump in too hastily, but I can also imagine, especially for that type of problem or that type of product, when customers have problems, they probably feel very time-sensitive to them.
So, you get an email, and you don’t have a chance to check it until 6:00 or 7:00 PM, but they send it at 9:00 AM and you get the email thread every 45 minutes, you get an increasingly concerned email from them. Like, I know that you care about it too. You care about the product, and you want it to do well.
And you care about the customer. So, it just puts you, I can definitely I’ve been there too. It is a different type of stress for sure.
Mike Potter: Yeah. And I think it forces you, what it ends up doing is it forces you to build a real, a much better product, I think because they have to be able to do things themselves.
They can’t be relying on you. So that was what we ended up building, right. Was this tool that people could, could back up and they could restore their data without ever talking to us. They could do it on their own. And it generally worked without many problems. Obviously, sometimes you’re hitting edge cases in the APIs and stuff wouldn’t work a hundred percent properly, but for the most part, it was, customers were able to serve themselves.
They were able to install the product, they were able to subscribe. They were able to pay us. They were able to see that the backups were working. They were able to recover their data without ever talking to a human being. It was not easy to get that user experience correct. And to get that right but we ended up doing that and that was beneficial to helping grow the company early on.
Brian Sierakowski: It sounds almost like; would you say that kind of split between day job and night job almost sounds like it sets you up for success from a product standpoint because you had to make it like, it just wasn’t an option to say like, oh, well, if you, if you have questions, just give us a call and we’ll walk you through it.
But that wasn’t a choice at the time. So, it almost sounds like that was something that made the product much stronger and put it in a better long-term direction.
Mike Potter: I think there are lots of decisions there that were made that certainly helped the product and helped the company. I think that’s one of them and the other thing I think is if you’ve got that safety net like if you’ve got your job, you don’t have the same level of stress worrying about how successful it’s going to be.
And that really does let your mind solve problems and work better. Right? We ended up getting into an accelerator here in Ottawa called Invest Ottawa. And I would meet so many entrepreneurs who were saying, oh, I’m working 10-hour days, 12-hour days, 14 hour days on this startup. I work all the time on it and I’m not getting anywhere.
And I’d often think like, yeah, like, do you think that maybe that’s your problem that you’re not able to just clear your head and think about the problem that you have in front of you and how you would solve it. I’ve talked to VCs and investors who are really…,they’ll ask you like, look, I’m not going to invest unless you go full time.
You have to be committed, you have to be committed. And I understand that, but I really do firmly believe that you’re much better off, doing something on the side and trying to make that work than jumping in, two feet and forcing it to work and putting that pressure on you.
I think you’re more likely to be successful if you’ve got a safety net, but it is difficult. It’s extremely challenging to really work two jobs, essentially, for as long as we did. And I think that’s one of the more amazing things that we were able to do, that the four of us were all able to do that for, essentially nine to 18 months, depending on who you are, we were able to work two jobs and we were all committed to it.
And that I think is extremely rare to find for people who are that committed to making something successful.
Brian Sierakowski: Yeah. That’s incredible. Do you think that through that time, because you had the financial safety net, do you think that in addition to having a clear head and being able to think about problems clearly, did you also have the mentality of like, well, because you’re not fighting for the money being a little bit more long-term or big picture, like, well, you know, I’m thinking of the scenario of like, well, if you’re money, if your paycheck was dependent on it, you’d kind of do like whatever you needed to do to get any, any amount of cash through the door possible. But because you have the financial side taken care of, I wonder maybe this wasn’t in your mind at all, but I wonder if there’s also sort of a mentality of like, well, if we’re going to do this, it needs to be bigger.
10K MRR was awesome, but you’re like, well, we’re not all going to quit our jobs for 10K MRR. This has to be a hundred or 200 or 500K MRR. Did that environment also sort of push you towards thinking like, almost like thinking bigger, or did that really like not come up through that process?
Mike Potter: I think part of the early success was due to experimentation, which I do think that having a second job or that safety net helped with. So, we experimented a ton with our pricing early on. Like when we went to market, our prices were $5, $15, and $29 a month. And we quickly realized that for some of these larger stores and merchants at $29 a month was way too inexpensive.
And so, we experimented with pricing and raising that price up, and that price went from $29 to $59 or $29 to $39 to $59 to $99 to $299 to $399 to $499. We just kept raising it until people really complained. And I think the fact that we had work on the side, or we had this revenue that we had generated gave us the freedom to sort of experiment with different pricing models because, you know, if it didn’t work out well, that’s fine.
You might lose one month of revenue, but you can always switch it back and it’s not going to affect you. And I think we became very experimental and we’re really trying a lot of new things because we had this freedom to test and to see what the results were without the fear of the whole thing going to zero and then losing your home sort of thing.
Brian Sierakowski: Did you learn anything surprising as you were bumping up the price over and over again.
Mike Potter: The most surprising thing was just how much people were willing to pay to be honest with you. When we first started Rewind, we talked to people who were in the Shopify ecosystem.
We talked to people who worked at Shopify. Part of the feedback we had from people who worked at Shopify was that it’s a good idea, but nobody will ever pay anything for it. We talked to another Shopify app developer who thought that people would be willing to pay $5 a month for it.
And so that was sort of our initial points and our grounding points for determining what the price was going to be. And those anchors, I think, set our expectations. So, when we went out to mark and we said $5, $15, $29, we didn’t really recognize how large some of the stores were on the platforms that we supported, but they’ll be Shopify, BigCommerce or any of the others that came up.
And I think the most surprising thing was, how much we had undervalued, what we had built and what we could charge, what we could reasonably charge merchants, where they were happy with, with the value they were receiving. And we were happy with the amount that we were charging. And I think a lot of software developers, especially independent software developers make that same mistake where they really do undervalue what they’re selling, and they could be selling their products for a lot more money than they currently are.
Brian Sierakowski: Yeah, I think a great first step is like you said, you had three different plan tiers and you started at that you thought people might pay $5. So, you put that on the low end, but you had plans above that. And I imagine probably to your surprise, oh, people are picking the $29 one where you thought people would only ever pick the $5 one.
That’s curious. That’s interesting. What’s going on?
Mike Potter: Yeah, exactly. And you get to learn that right. In our case, it was, we would price mainly based on how many orders a store was getting monthly. So as your store was more popular and making more money, we charged you more money, which, which is I think, a great value metrics as sort of aligned to, but, you know, yeah.
Like you’re wondering there are definitely customers that were eligible for five and picked $15 or pick $29. One of the things that I was told as we were building this company was always, always give your customers the ability to pay you more money, right? You should never sort of make that, not an option for them.
If you have two plans out of a third plan, some people just want to buy the best thing. Some people have a budget that they need to spend. You can extract more money with very little feature differentiation just by providing an option for customers to spend more with you and I think, like I said, a lot of people, I think, especially sort of the smaller software companies really do tend to undervalue what it is that they’ve built.
Brian Sierakowski: Yeah. I think the smaller products that only have one price point, or that’s probably the, probably the easiest thing to address us to introduce other price points.
And to your point there are people that want to buy the most premium option. And there are other people who want to buy the second, most, like they want to get the value option, which would be like the option, like right under the most expensive plan. And like what you, if you add a plan above your most expensive plan, now your previously most expensive plan is now your value option.
So it’s really strange, the world of price optimization feels like it just does not abide by the rules of everything else that we’ve come to understand, but yeah, you’re, you’re totally right. And I think the first thing is just like, if you have only one price, add a second price, add a second higher price and that feels like a really nice, safe initial test to run.
Mike Potter: Yeah. And don’t be worried if the feature differentiation doesn’t really justify it at least initially. I think you can have some things that you add in there that are relatively easy to do and find a few things that you think people would find valuable and put them into that higher price point and just experiment and see if people will pay it or not.
And they think a lot of people would be surprised. I do think that’s one of the reasons why Rewind was so successful, just, the culture of experimentation that we’ve put into from a pricing perspective really early on, helped drive a large increase in revenue in those very early years. Which in turn allowed us to take on some small investments early on, which allowed us to hire more people, which just became sort of self-fulfilling that the business was growing nicely as we raised more money.
Brian Sierakowski: Yeah. That’s it, that’s a great point. I think people are frequently almost self-conscious or like you said, I think you put it perfectly like, oh, well, I can imagine a lot of people sort of talking themselves out of a price point or oh, well these features really aren’t worth the extra money.
And so I’m going to just put all the features into one plan or I’m going to keep the prices lower, but yeah you don’t know. And like you mentioned, having that mentality of experimentation, it’s just like, well, just put it out there and like the practical chance that anybody is going to come across your pricing page and be like, oh, these prices are too high.
I hate this person now, this person is terrible. It’s like, really like. I suppose not impossible, but very, very unlikely. In fact, those people are probably just going like, oh, this isn’t for me and they’re just going to leave and they’re not going to think about you again. So giving it some sort of shot it’s probably, I imagine that you could have a very small difference between the plans like maybe like to you, something that’s laughably, laughably different, but you might find that people sign up for that higher plane tier.
And then now you need to deal with that data. Now you need to like, okay, cool. Well, jeez, well, what do we do with this? We didn’t think this was going to work and it worked. It sounds like what you did is you’re like, all right, well let’s increase the price like five or six or seven times. And I’m like, all right. Let’s just see what happens. Let’s get that data and understand what the actual value of this product is in the hands of our customers
Mike Potter: And give an equal, you have an equal chance of being right and wrong, right? When you launch that product. So you really don’t know, and you really do have to think about it and say, okay, it’s just a test.
Let’s see what happens. As long as you’re, you’re talking to your customers, you’re getting that feedback. You’re watching your conversion rates, you’re using all the data and metrics that you can get access to understand, like, to your point, like, are people looking at that price and then leaving?
So what’s your conversion rate? How does your conversion rate get affected? Even if you raise your price high enough and your conversion rate goes down, you still might end up making more money. So then you have to start deciding, is it better to have more customers at less revenue or fewer customers at more revenue?
Right? And there are different reasons why you’d want to implement either of those tribes. But I think the key is, getting that feedback. And I know one of the things we did was, we just talked to every customer we could. Every customer that installed, we had an automated email that went out who I requested to speak with them on the phone.
And so we knew as we raised that price, at the top end, from $29 to $299 to $499, I talked to those customers at $499 and I heard the complaints. We ended up backing that price back down to $299 based on the feedback that we had from customers. So I think as long as you’re talking to them, you’re actively engaged with them, you’re monitoring your metrics, you can measure things. I see no reason why you can’t start testing things and trying things out and see what works.
Brian Sierakowski: Yeah, and it’s so healthy for your business too. You’re getting 10 times the amount of revenue from the same features and the same customer that you would have gotten before.
And that, as you said, allows you to hire more people. Or even if you’re thinking long-term, it’s like, well, you know, can we afford raises? Can we afford ways to take care of your team and take care of your company and how can you keep fueling growth and keep feeling new opportunities.
So, yeah, people can think ahead to like what the uncomfortable confrontation with the customer’s going to be like, oh, we’ve increased the price. Or, I mean, for new customers, it’s not necessarily the case, but you were talking to all of them. So, I’m sure you got to hear it, but you don’t think about it, it’s not, ’cause it’s not a confrontation, but sort of like, well, what’s the long-term effect of us.
You know, if your company had stayed at $29 on the top end, you probably couldn’t have hired as many people. The growth trajectory wouldn’t have been as fast. Like you don’t really have the internal opportunities investors are probably not as interested at that amount. So it’s just totally, it’s kind of like an opportunity that would have evaporated if you didn’t have that experimentation mindset.
Like, well, yeah let’s just try it, kind of like, that’s like the actual ramification of like, oh, let’s just give it a shot and see what happens.
Mike Potter: I totally agree. And I think that’s exactly right that we wouldn’t be the size of company we are today if we hadn’t have done all that pricing experimentation for sure.
Brian Sierakowski: Cool, so that sounds like, maybe we’re hitting the full life cycle so far, but it sounds like that’s kind of the early days of Rewind. What’s kind of going on sort of like mid or what’s the current state of the company, what are you working on?
Mike Potter: So the company, we continued to grow the company, we weren’t quite bootstrapped, but we really, when we raised money, we tried to raise as little money as possible.
And so we became very efficient and we were able to grow our revenue nicely to the point last year, where we raised a series A, about a year ago now, and then raised a series B about three or four months ago now. And so it’s been just a fantastic journey for us. We’re up to 115 people or so these days growing really, quickly, I think we were 35 or so when the pandemic started.
So, it’s been a tremendous amount of growth in the last 18 months or so. And continuing to grow the business, we’re expanding out to cover more to backup more SaaS platforms. So, we currently support Shopify, BigCommerce, QuickBooks, Trello, and GitHub and are really planning on a massive expansion to different SaaS applications next year.
So, our vision is really, we want to back up the entire cloud. We want to back up every SaaS service that’s in existence and we’re working right now on technology that’s going to help us do that next year.
Brian Sierakowski: That’s awesome! How do you, and I think maybe I’m just thinking a little bit too personally for me, where I’m the type of person where I’m like, I’m actually kind of, I feel like I, my mindset is like where your co-founder was when you initially had the idea where I’m like, yeah, our files are in Google drive or whatever we have data in GitHub and Trello and all these different places.
And I’m sort of the mentality of, yeah, it’s probably fine, and I sure hope every time I log in that my data is going to be there, but it really hasn’t sort of crossed my mind of like, this is like a, as someone in charge of a, of a company, like this is something that I should probably put in place before we have an issue.
How do you speak to people like me? And like, how do you do, do you do a lot of convincing or like, hey, you really should get ahead of the ball on this. Or do you deal with a lot of companies that come to you be like, hey, we lost data now and we don’t want to do that again moving forward.
Mike Potter: Yeah. I think the larger companies tend to have policies that require them to have backups, whether that’s internal or may be external through things like SOC 2 compliance or ISO 27001.
So, these external mandates that they’ve got, or sometimes internal, you know, just it policies that say any platform we have, has to have a backup. So, the larger customers tend to be more aware of the problem and more actively looking for a solution. I think the small to medium-sized customers are ones that require a bit of a different approach because they don’t necessarily have the same policies that are driving the need for backups.
So, it does typically come down to, I experienced it or a friend that I know experienced it, or another store owner that I know experienced that data loss. Somehow, they become aware of the problem and then come looking to Rewind for the solution. The one thing I do is joke with people and don’t try this at home, but if you are pretty sure that your data is safe, go in and delete something.
Don’t delete your production stuff but go and create a test item and then delete it and then contact support and ask them to get it back. And I think that action would surprise a lot of people on what is able to be restored in the cloud, and what’s not able to be restorative in the cloud and that would then prompt people to go and look for a backup solution that would protect their data in a different way that the platforms protect, the whole system.
Brian Sierakowski: Yeah, I think that makes sense. And even just like, I think you could even take a step back and just play, as an actor, think about what it would be like, Hey, like what if we, what would happen if we logged into GitHub and our code wasn’t there? Jeez, that would be bad.
I’m sure that doesn’t happen for our product roadmap. Like, everything’s like, it eventually makes its way to Trello, but there were hundreds of Google docs and many hours spent with many teams and a lot of data was gathered and we asked customers and we were very diligent.
We did our jobs, and we asked all our customers how much they would pay for these new features. And that makes it all through to a product roadmap. And it’s like, well, Woah! What if we just went to that? And it was gone. It’s like, well, geez, we have artifacts all over the place, but you know, we really, that would be, you know, probably dozens of hours down the drain if we had to reconstruct that.
And I always feel like when you must redo work like that, you kind of approach it in a little bit of a, it’s like a little bit deflated. Like if you’ve ever deleted a document or something like that, like you can rewrite it. You still have the information in your head, but man, it’s just not the same.
You’re not in the same mindset still to redo that sort of work.
Mike Potter: Yeah. And I think the reality for backups right is, unfortunately, you need it before the problem happens like Rewind is not a data forensics tool that can go and restore data on a hard drive that you send to us. It is SaaS backups, and it needs access to your data.
It needs a copy of that data before the problem happens. So, you can’t wait until the problem happens and then hope that it can be recovered. You have to have it installed ahead of time before the problem happens. I think the largest challenge that we have is explaining to people the difference between what most cloud providers do protect and what Rewind protects, and why you would need a solution from a company like ours.
Brian Sierakowski: Yeah, well, maybe anybody who’s listening, and I’m guilty of this too. I know it’s tough that you have like a million things going on when you’re trying to operate a business, especially at the smaller stage. And you might fall into that, that mentality of the person that we’re talking about before that’s doing the 10, 12, 14 hour days, and you’re just trying to make it work.
So, it might not be something that you want to dive into immediately, maybe this can be a little bit just a quick reminder, not a sales pitch, but just like, Hey, think about this in the back of your mind all the other tasks that you have going on, it might be a pretty good investment to protect this data upfront instead of running into an issue.
And then now not only are you dealing with being distracted by the fact that you’ve lost data and you’ll need to get that back somehow, but then you’ll also, you’ll add this task on top of it, of like, okay, well, how do I make sure that I never get caught out again? And so you’re probably going to go through this process eventually.
So it might be a good thing to just add to, I know these sorts of items tend to fall further down on the to-do list, but it might be good to at least add it to your to-do list. If it’s not already on there just to investigate, you know, a product like Rewind and see if you can get a little bit of protection on the front end, instead of getting hit with something, which is like, kind of like, I know you probably know better than I do, but I don’t know if inevitable is the right word, but maybe, maybe higher percentage than what you might want to have happen.
Mike Potter: Yeah, I think it’s more likely than people think at the end of the day, but one out of every four or five of our customers ends up having to restore data at some point. So it happens a lot more often than I think people expect and hope.
Brian Sierakowski: Cool, well, yeah. Thanks. Thanks so much for your time. This has been awesome.
And I think we’ve kind of teed it up here at the end, but yeah. Do you want to share if somebody, somebody is kind of thinking about this and going, oh yeah! I actually would be pretty out of luck if we lost this data. Do you want to give the listeners a little bit of details about signing up for Rewind or any other info you think might be useful for them?
Mike Potter: Rewinds on the internet and you can sign up for free at rewind.com. And then link your accounts from there, or you can follow us on Twitter at Rewind.
Brian Sierakowski: Awesome, Mike. Well, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.
Mike Potter: Yeah, thanks, Brian. It was really fun being here. Thanks for having us.
Lea LeBlanc: That was our conversation with Mike Potter, founder of Rewind. If you need to backup, restore, and copy critical information for your SaaS business, you know where to go rewind.com. If it’s business analytics and growth tools you’re looking for check us out at baremetrics.com. We hope you enjoyed this episode and invite you to check out our other Founder Chats.
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