S5E2 How to Get 91000 users For Your SaaS in less than 2 years With Max Nicholson

S5E2 – How to Get 91000 users For Your SaaS in less than 2 years With Max Nicholson
Are you a SaaS founder struggling to get users for your product? Did you know that getting 91000 users for your SaaS in under 2 years is possible? We understand that being an entrepreneur is like sailing on a rough sea, with many challenges and opportunities. In this episode, we explore how SaaS founders can attract users for their products. Our expert guest is Maxwell Nicholson, the founder of Blossom, a mobile app changing how retail investors manage their portfolios. Blossom has quickly become popular in finance, with over 91000 users in less than two years. Join us as we discuss the strategies that helped Blossom gain so many users in such a short time.

The vision behind Blossom

Max takes us on a journey through the intricacies of the startup, dubbed as the “Instagram for Finance.” He navigates through Blossom’s business model, revenue streams, user growth, and the pivotal marketing strategies instrumental in achieving the milestone of 91000 users within two years.

Click Here to listen to this podcast on your favorite platform

Blossom’s Business Model to Getting 91000 Users For Your SaaS in less than 2 years

Getting 91,000 users for their SaaS in under 2 years is no walk in the park, Blossom operates on a dynamic freemium model, offering essential social features for free while monetizing through premium services such as portfolio management and dividend tracking. Users can unlock additional features by subscribing to the pro plan for a monthly or yearly fee.

The Pricing Strategy

Max strategically prices the pro plan at $8.99 per month or $71.99 per year, with the annual subscription offering a compelling 33% discount. He elaborates on the rationale behind this pricing structure, emphasizing the importance of simplicity in pricing tiers for a B2C app.

Lessons Learned on Freemium Models to Get 91000 Users For Your SaaS in less than 2 years

Max underscores the critical importance of retaining previously free functionalities when transitioning to a premium model to maintain user satisfaction. He emphasizes the need to enhance existing features with premium offerings rather than imposing restrictions.

The “Don’t Tell” Approach

Max discusses the effectiveness of the “show, not tell” strategy in enticing users to upgrade to premium features. By providing a glimpse into the benefits of the pro plan, Blossom aims to boost user engagement and transparency.

How to Leverage Product-Led Growth

Max highlights the pivotal role of product-led growth in driving user acquisition and retention. Blossom focuses on continually refining the product experience to align with user needs, fostering organic growth and sustained engagement.

The importance of Revenue Diversification

In addition to the B2C model, Blossom diversifies its revenue streams through strategic B2B partnerships within the finance industry. The innovative “learn and earn” feature incentivizes user engagement, fostering a mutually beneficial relationship between users and monetization.

User Retention Metrics on How to Get 91,000 Users For Your SaaS in less than 2 years

Max delves into essential retention metrics like D7 and D30, evaluating user engagement over specific time frames. By meticulously monitoring and optimizing these metrics, Blossom aims to continually bolster its user retention rates. Our discussion underscores the transformative impact of the broker linking feature on user retention, with linked accounts exhibiting significantly higher engagement and retention rates. This feature enhances the user experience, fostering lasting relationships with Blossom.

How to Achieve Product-Market Fit to Get 91000 Users For Your SaaS in less than 2 years

Max shares invaluable insights on achieving product-market fit through iterative enhancements and user feedback. By prioritizing user insights, Blossom aims to refine its value proposition and effectively cater to evolving user needs.

The Influencer Marketing Strategy

Blossom’s meteoric rise in user acquisition is attributed to strategic collaborations with finance influencers. By cultivating authentic relationships with influencers, Blossom leverages influencer marketing as a potent driver of growth.

The Importance of Building Authentic Relationships with Influencers

Max stresses the importance of cultivating genuine connections with influencers for sustainable growth. By valuing influencer perspectives and nurturing long-term partnerships, Blossom solidifies its position in the market.

Key Takeaways for Entrepreneurs

Max imparts invaluable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, emphasizing the importance of swift launches for user feedback, prioritizing relationship-building, and embracing authenticity in influencer partnerships for enduring success.

Key Timecodes

  • (00:38) – Show intro and background history
  • (02:25) – Deeper into his background history and business model
  • (07:27) – Understanding his business strategies
  • (10:47) – Few lessons learned during his entrepreneur journey
  • (14:53) – A bit about his platform pricing model
  • (21:20) – Deeper into his company numbers
  • (26:08) – Understanding his retention strategies
  • (33:34) – A bit about his marketing tactics
  • (35:58) – Deeper into his marketing strategies
  • (41:12) – Understanding his mindset and philosophy
  • (44:52) – A key takeaway from the guest


[00:00:00.000] – Show Intro
Introducing Payback Time, the podcast for entrepreneurs looking to build and scale their startups, gain access to actionable tips, proven strategies, and valuable data that can help you avoid mistakes, skyrocket sales, and optimize profits. Your business breakthrough may just be an episode away.
[00:00:17.640] – Guest Intro
My Next Desk founded a startup that can be described as Instagram for Finance. In this episode, we break down the business model, how the business makes money, how much they charge, what the retention rate is, and a key marketing strategy that helped grow this business to over 90,000 users in less than two years. Please welcome Max Nicholson.
[00:00:38.360] – Sesn
Max, welcome to the show.
[00:00:39.860] – Max
Thanks, Sean. Thanks for having me.
[00:00:41.740] – Sean
Thanks for joining me. So why don’t you kick us off and tell us a little bit about your background.
[00:00:45.960] – Max
Yeah, for sure. So my name is Max. I’m currently the founder and CEO of Blossom, which is a mobile app for retail investors to share their portfolio, trades, investment ideas. You can think of it like the Instagram for investors. I’ve been doing that for about two and a half, pushing on three years now. Previous to that, I graduated with a degree in economics, spent a stint in San Francisco learning how to code, a little bit of time in Singapore, and then worked at McKinsey & Company as a management consultant for about two and a half years before leaving that job to start Blossom. So it’s been a bit of a random walk, a bit of a journey, but happy where I am now and excited to talk about that.
[00:01:28.620] – Sean
That’s an awesome background. Thanks Thanks for giving us the timeline because I usually ask those questions. Before we jump into Blossom and how the company makes money and where it’s at today, can you tell us something fun that most people don’t know about you?
[00:01:43.060] – Max
Yeah, for sure. So I got my start in entrepreneurship when I was 13. My mom was selling cut flowers at the local farmer’s market. So I grew up in a really small town, less than 10,000 folks. So all of my experience and exposure to business and entrepreneurship were the vendor selling stuff at the farmer’s market. And I said, Hey, I want to do that. So I went and I got a recipe book. I started selling cakes and cupcakes. And over the four years, I became known in the small town as the Cupcake Kid. I competed in provincial baking competitions, and I thought that I wanted to be a Baker until I realized later that actually it was my passion for entrepreneurship that led me down that path. So that’s a little bit of an interesting origin story for myself.
[00:02:24.900] – Sean
I love that at 13, getting after it already. Good man. All right. So Blossom, we know at a high level, it serves the retail investor, and we’re going to dive into marketing and sales a lot in this episode. So I think the audience is really going to appreciate that. Let’s dive into, before we jump into some of the numbers of your business, like how much you raised, how is your business monetized? Are you a freemium model? Are you a SaaS model? Can you break that down a little bit?
[00:02:54.170] – Max
Yeah, for sure. I’ll touch on that and then maybe also just share a little bit briefly about the story of Blossom, because I think it’s interesting, especially for a lot of your viewers who might use Tykr. I think if you like Tykr, you’ll like Blossom. If you like Blossom, you’ll probably like Tykr. But currently, we’re a freemium app. Most of it’s free. So one of the things I always hate with freemium apps, right? Do you have some freemium apps where everything is payable. And it’s just you can’t use the app as unusable if you don’t pay for it. For us, all of the social features are free. So you get to see other people’s portfolio, engage in the community. And where we we cut and start charging is for portfolio management, dividend tracking, and analysis. So there’s lots of different apps that you can use as your portfolio tracker. We provide those services as part of Blossom. But the big draw for us is the social features, and then the portfolio management, dividend tracking, is where we upsell and make our money. So we charge $8.99 a month, $71.99 a year for those features. But we really try and do a good job so that the app is still a great experience, even if you don’t pay, but obviously helps us out.
[00:04:04.030] – Max
And we appreciate the thousands of folks in the community who do support us through the pro subscription.
[00:04:09.950] – Sean
That’s awesome. And is it the one pricing tier? Do you have multiple? If you add more features you allow yourself to scale up and to higher plans?
[00:04:18.810] – Max
We haven’t done that yet. I know there’s different ways you can look at it, right? One of my central tenets is largely simplicity. And with We’ve only had ProLive for about seven months. I didn’t want to overcomplicate it. I know there’s other apps where they have three or four different pricing tiers. We just wanted to keep it simple. Also, when we launched it, the feature set was limited. Maybe it’s expanded a lot in the last seven months, maybe in six months, a year from now, it’ll make sense to cut it like that. But for now, it hasn’t made sense so far.
[00:04:56.610] – Sean
Got it. Yeah, B2C, I found you’re right. You want to keep it really simple, like lower the barrier to entry. You’re a freemium model. We’re a free trial, no credit cards. So the barrier to entry on both our platforms is really low. You want to get people in because B2C, you don’t want to be on Zoom calls. You’re not selling anybody. I always, you’ll appreciate this, when I talk to people, it’s like, how many times in Netflix have to call you before you join Netflix? The answer is zero, right? Same thing with Spotify. You want people just joining and really selling them yourself on the experience and then leveling up from there. But yeah, interesting. So you’re the one-tier. We were one-tier as well, but we found we’re using a lot more third-party features that add a lot more cost. So we added that additional tiers, but made them really clear. You’re right, you said simplicity is key, but make them very clear so people know what they’re getting within each tier.
[00:05:56.040] – Max
Yeah, 100 %. And I think another core principle that we’re going to try and do a lot more of is show and not tell. I know that’s a very, very important principle. Actually, one of our investors is this great VC called Goodwater. They’re one of the larger consumer VCs in North America, and they have a lot of great sessions on this topic. One of the ones that we recently listened to was the guy, he was involved in product at Tinder, growing their revenue from about 100 million to a billion. And And he was talking about different paywalls, different ways you can show and not tell. To use a great example with Tinder, the way that they’ll prompt you to upgrade to pro is they’ll actually show you the blurred out image. A big part of their pro, he was saying is like, you can see whether other people liked you. And they’ll blur that out and say, Hey, you have four people who liked you. Unlock pro to see that. In contrast, what they could have done and what a lot of apps do, they just pop up pro, pop up pro all the time.
[00:06:59.270] – Max
They’re and tell you about the features rather than showing you. And so that’s a big piece actually that we can even do a better job of with thoughtful blurring. I did a bunch of user interviews and a number of folks actually requested features that we already have as part of our pro plan. So I was like, Okay, we’re not doing a great job communicating these features. So that’s one piece of advice that I’ve learned that we’re trying to implement more of that’s related to this topic, I think.
[00:07:27.460] – Sean
Yeah. To put that in practice, the show versus tell, how would you do that within Blossom? Would you show a blurred out area of, let’s say, the portfolio tracker, and you can see enough to be like, Oh, okay. I see what I would get. Walk us through that.
[00:07:43.590] – Max
I was going to show you on my phone, but I’m already on Pro, but yeah, essentially we have lots of different sector breakdowns, divin and tracking, all of those pieces. Right now it’s all just a full blur, so you actually can’t see the UI or what the widgets look like. We Where we would be taking that to is you can see them, you can see exactly what they look like, maybe even click into them, but just the numbers are blurred out. So it’s very clear exactly what that is. And even with the blurring, some apps will do… There was one competitor app, I won’t name it, but I was doing competitive research, and they have a great pro product, but I couldn’t figure out what the heck I was paying for. I kept trying to figure it out, and they don’t even really explain it very well. That’s That’s a big piece, especially with user interviews, hearing folks say, Oh, one feature, for instance, on pro, you can break down your RSP, TFSA. That’s the Canadian equivalent to like Roth IRA, traditional IRA. Same thing if you’re a US Pro user. We don’t really show that anywhere.
[00:08:49.640] – Max
So instead of just hiding that in one of the lines on the Pro prompt page, we can actually show that, Oh, there’s that filter button, show that you can click that, but then have So it’s blurred out or once the user goes to do that, then they can see it’s a pro feature. So there are little ways, right? Because it’s really annoying. People hate it when an app just constantly you open it up, it tells you to buy pro. You open it up, it tells you to buy pro. I don’t want our free users to have a bad experience. I want them to be able to use the app. We really love our free users as well, right? You want to package the pro offering in such a way where when users actually have that need and they want to use the app for that purpose, then you can show, Okay, hey, this is actually that point where they can upgrade to pro rather than knocking on their door salesman every day saying, Hey, you want to buy pro? You want to buy pro? You want to buy pro? Let them answer to tell you, Hey, this is something I’m interested in.
[00:09:50.440] – Max
And then you prompt it. I think it’s a multitude of factors. One, it benefits you and benefits your conversion and everything. It also benefits just the user experience on your platform for the people who want to use it for free and don’t want to buy pro. And those folks are also really valuable, especially for us as a community app. There’s many folks who contribute to the community just by posting, commenting, sharing, which is as valuable for us as them paying and supporting us monetarily.
[00:10:18.280] – Sean
No, that’s a big lesson learned, especially for… Even if you have a trial period, you don’t want to be like, like you said, the used car salesman type philosophy, buy my stuff, Stop it. It’s really leaning into product-led growth, like great UI, UX to clearly communicate and show what they will get if they upgrade. Otherwise, we’re not going to bother you with pop-ups. It’s your call. Yeah.
[00:10:45.760] – Max
Exactly, right?
[00:10:46.950] – Sean
Great lesson learned. Love that. That’s awesome. Are there any other lessons you learned on this journey with Blossom regarding freemium? Because there’s a lot of businesses out there, or entrepreneurs, I should say, They’re trying to create a business, and they’re like, do I go freemium? Do I go trial with credit card upfront or credit card after? And then they get in the pricing. I mean, there’s a thousand questions on journey. So to find out what are mistakes made along the way is huge. So were there any things you would maybe do a little different?
[00:11:19.760] – Max
Yeah. Well, actually, so I’m in a group chat with a bunch of my buddies who also run apps, and I’ve heard lessons from them. One of them runs a fitness app, one of them runs an app for couples. One lesson that we luckily avoided that one of them shared was you really never want to take away functionality that was previously free and put that as part of pro. I I mean, you can think of it from a consumer standpoint, too. We obviously run businesses, but I would hate it if an app did that. You’re used to it, it’s part of your pattern. And then all of a sudden, they pay well something that used to be free. Really, you want to build new features, new functionality as part of that pro. And the way that I think about it, too, is we’re offering this new portfolio tracking, dividend tracking. It’s very reasonable for us to charge for that because that is something that requires higher data costs, like you said, higher costs on the servers, higher API costs, and also requires a lot of effort to build and manage. But when you take something that was previously free that your users love and you You take it away, that’s when I think you can really piss people off.
[00:12:34.220] – Sean
You’ll tank a business overnight. Yeah, doing that. That’s why it’s so strategic to think about your pricing upfront and then tier it. If you’re adding third-party features, instead of one plan, you have one yearly, one monthly, maybe I should think about some higher levels. So to create a little cushion in case we have to add third parties, those costs with it.
[00:13:01.780] – Max
Yeah. I think it’s just really trying to put yourself in your user’s shoes, because I know this conversation is very commercially oriented, which is fair, and it’s the way that a lot of people think and talk about this, but especially for Blossom and our app, we’re really a community, and people feel part of the community, and we want them to feel that way because they are. Our app would be nothing without users posting, commenting. For us, it’s even more important. But I think every app or company should think this way rather than just like, Okay, how can I squeeze out all the value? It’s like, What’s fair? What’s reasonable? What will people get on board with? Sometimes people try and hide stuff. If you’re completely transparent about this, would the majority of your users be like, Yeah, that’s fair? That’s a pretty good gut sense of, I think, really try to put yourself in the consumer shoes rather Other than just trying to squeeze as much money or value out of it. And that’s one thing I’m really happy about. We haven’t had… A lot of our users, I think the way we’ve packaged up pro, it’s fair and people want to support us and help us out.
[00:14:14.190] – Max
And then the people who are free users are also like, Hey, this app is still great, and I’m still able to get a lot of value out of it. And you look at Duolingo, right? Only 8% of their MA user on throw. That’s a good metric. That means 92% of their users are still getting a lot of value from the app. Without having to pay for it. But then you have those super users or power users, that 10 % that are going to pay for it. And that’s actually who you want to build the pro for, is those super power users who want to support you anyway. What can you build for them that’s really special to thank them for their extra support monetarily?
[00:14:51.680] – Sean
Yeah. No, that’s a good way to look at it. Let’s dive into your pricing a little bit here, and then we’ll keep moving. How did you arrive on the pricing? You said it was 899 a month?
[00:15:03.960] – Max
Yeah, 899 a month, 7,99 a year.
[00:15:08.210] – Sean
[00:15:08.780] – Max
So the 7,99, it seems like a bit of a random number. I think that… I’m trying to remember the math here. It divides into 12 really nicely. So 7,99 divided by 12, 5,99. So it’s basically a 33 % discount if you get annual. Different companies will give a different style discount for annual, right? I think the reason that startups like ours give a discount for annual is because from a cash flow perspective, annual is much better for us, right? Getting that cash in the bank. Obviously, over the 12 months, you make more on the 8,99 a month. But getting that cash is king, right? And getting that cash up front is beneficial. So you can give that a little bit back to the users. And then I think an interesting fact, too, especially for any of our users maybe watching this, is 15 % of that actually goes directly to Apple and Google. Elon famously called it the tax on the Internet, where they just right off the top, they shave off 15 % of that goes to them. So we only actually get 85 % of that amount. But yeah, I think the giving discount for annual is generally a good idea because it’s beneficial for you from a cash flow.
[00:16:25.460] – Max
And then you can also frame it and say, Hey, 7,199, that is 599 a month. And once you put it in that perspective, it makes it a lot more palatable.
[00:16:39.000] – Sean
Yeah, we see a lot, and we do the same thing. Try to go about 30 to 40 % discount, frame it as three months. This is something we learned, too, pricing psychology, is people don’t gravitate towards a percentage off. They tend to lean towards more a dollar saved or how many months free. So we I’ll actually phrase it three months free by going with yearly.
[00:17:04.690] – Max
Yeah, that’s a good way to do it, too. Yeah.
[00:17:06.510] – Sean
With the price at that 899, how did you arrive there?
[00:17:13.600] – Max
Largely, I think it was just looking at other apps, what felt reasonable for that. You don’t double what everyone’s charging. But you got to put your stake in the ground somewhere, and then you can also just see, is that good? I mean, we were previously We actually have 59.99. We actually increased the annual because we added a lot of new features, right? And so that was one change we made. I don’t expect too many more changes to the pricing, but it’s well in line with a lot of the other competitor’s apps.
[00:17:47.580] – Sean
Got you. So you did a competitive analysis and then try to put yourself in the ballpark. A good takeaway there, and I do this at points within the podcast, just speak to our audience, is B2C, you got to be so sensitive, I found, with pricing. They say you should charge what you’re worth, and that’s very true for B2B because you’re charging businesses, you can charge a higher price, but consumers, you got to put yourself in their position. And what’s going to be a number that they’re going to take it serious, but at the same time not churn out, not leave or put it on their list of like, okay, I’ve got 10 subscriptions, and I need to cut it down to seven. Here are the three I need to get rid of. You don’t want your app falling the end of that conversation, right? Yeah. Yeah, because people are always having those conversations, what apps to trim, and you don’t want yours being on that list.
[00:18:39.460] – Max
100 %. Yeah. I think one good principle that I know my friends have used that works well is A/B testing with pricing. You can run some good A/B tests. The reason we don’t do that is because the way that you do an A/B test is you’re basically showing different prices to different users and then seeing whether they convert Sure, which is great in theory. But for us, there’s a degree of unfairness a little bit to that with the community of Joe’s getting a higher price than Angela for just random reasons. That data is really important because then obviously you can use that to see what the perfect pricing is. But for us being a social app, we’ve decided not to do that. But in the perfect world, if we could run tests and see what the right pricing is, essentially it comes down to a mathematical So that is probably best principle. And then for anyone who uses apps, actually, if you go into settings of the app store, if they have a bunch of A/B test running, I don’t know if you’ve ever done this, Sean, but you can see what other prices they’re running.
[00:19:44.260] – Max
And sometimes you can even just get a lower price for the app just by going in there and selecting the lower priced plan. I’ve never got a 30, 40 % discount.
[00:19:54.390] – Sean
Unbelievable. Yeah, never tried that, although the few of the apps I do subscribe to, including Netflix. It’s at a price point low enough that I’m not going to churn out of this.
[00:20:05.630] – Max
And I know Netflix would be running A/B test, right? Because I think everyone would know what their price is. Yeah. Some of the more smaller apps will be running A/B test.
[00:20:15.910] – Sean
Let’s take a quick commercial break.
[00:20:17.840] – Commercial Break
Hey there, Payback Time listeners. I have a new product you have to check out. Are you tired of juggling multiple platforms for meetings, webinars, and calendar bookings? It can be a total nightmare just setting up a simple full team meeting. But what if I told you there’s an all-in-one scheduling meeting and presentation software that is super user-friendly? Say hello to Sessions. More than just a Zoom alternative, Sessions is like having a personal assistant for all your meetings. It provides meeting notes, makes it easy to share documents and screens, distills key points for quick overviews, and makes it easy for everyone to work on the board. Like me, you’re probably all about reading testimonials, and I recently read one on Sessions that really jumped out. In a world where remote work and virtual meetings are becoming the norm, Sessions stands out as a platform that takes video conferencing to the next level. So are you ready to transform your meetings into more productive collaborations? Head over to sessions. Us today and try it out for free. Again, that’s sessions. Us.
[00:21:18.880] – Sean
All right, back to the show. All right, before we get to marketing and sales, I wanted to just touch on some of the numbers now.
[00:21:26.400] – Sean
Before we hit record, mentioned you’re not going to reveal revenues right now. And to the audience, there are certain tech startups we will speak to that they can, some can’t. That’s totally fine, especially if you’re in aggressive fundraising mode. You want to protect your numbers a little bit, so I totally get that. Now, you did mention you do have a few thousand subscribers in the pro plan. Is that correct?
[00:21:48.050] – Max
Yeah, I think we’re almost 2,500 now. So that’s really exciting. It’s around six and a half % of our monthly active. So that’s a number I’m really happy with. I think we can get that up to the eight or nine % that Duolingo has as a target. But you could theoretically get it up to 50 % by just paywalling everything. Don’t do that. I think Duolingo is a good model of that, of If you’re around 8, 9 %, you’re cutting it in a good, true freemium fashion. Half of our revenue comes from B2C, and then the other half comes from B2B actually working with, and a lot of our users will be familiar, we have a learn and earn feature on the app where users can actually complete short lessons about different ETFs or stocks and earn a dollar, earn 50 cents here or there. And those companies obviously pay us to borrow those lessons and to drive awareness to their ETFs and stock. And what I really like about that is it’s essentially advertising, right? But again, you’ll see a general theme of it’s very unintrusive advertising. And if I put myself in the user’s shoes, do I want to see pop-up ads?
[00:23:05.700] – Max
Do I want to see ads all over my feed? Not really. Here’s a feature where it’s actually more lucrative for us than feed advertising. And it’s very win-win for the user. They earn a dollar. It’s often they don’t have to do it. They can choose not to. But if they do, they earn a little bit of money and they get to learn about a new product that they’re probably interested in already, right? Because they’re investor. And we obviously benefit because it makes us revenue and diversifies that revenue stream. So I really like it. We modeled it after Coinbase had a similar feature for cryptos, and I really, really like that feature. Even as a user of crypto, I was like, this is sweet. And then when I was doing boss, I’m like, hey, they’re making money off that, and it’s something that I really like. It’s actually a really cool feature that I like. So I’m like, well, that’s a winning feature to me. If you can get a win-win win like that, those are hard to find.
[00:23:59.180] – Sean
How do you You’re charged for that model? Because you got a sizable base of, what is it, over 80,000 people on the platform?
[00:24:06.740] – Max
[00:24:07.660] – Sean
So do you go to a Corporation and say, Hey, we’ve got this many users, and we want to promote one of your products, whether it’s a certain ETF or something, and then do they pay you based on the number of times a module is viewed, or is it based on the amount of users in the platform?
[00:24:24.970] – Max
No, it’s per completion, yeah. So every time the lesson is completed, and And the user, as part of doing the lesson and earning the reward, consents to having their name and email share. So the ETF provider will add them to their mailing list, get more folks in their mailing list, more reach that way, and the user earns a few dollars, and then we charge for every lesson completion, slash, like… Yeah, that every person who views those and completes those lessons.
[00:24:54.910] – Sean
That’s cool. I really like that model. So you’re making money in both B2C C and B2B. Nice balance there. Would diversify your revenue streams. I stress this a lot to our audience. It’s like, when you’re investing in a business, try to understand how many different revenue streams they have, because if one is pulled out from under them and you only have one way to make money, you got yourself a problem.
[00:25:18.190] – Max
Yeah, exactly. It’s a sizable amount, too, right? And it allows us to… I mean, all the fundamental, and maybe we’ll talk about this with respect to growth, right? But it comes down to in a B2C business, your customer acquisition costs, lifetime value per user, yada, yada. Because we have this other revenue stream that is, again, it counts for 50 %. If we were just the freemium model, where we only make money from the users, our willingness to pay on the marketing side would have to be a lot lower. And it wouldn’t allow us to do the cool things that we do with finance influencers, finance content creators. So So it really expanded. Yeah. I mean, there’s really no downside, I think, to diversifying revenue like that, as you pointed out.
[00:26:07.830] – Sean
Right. We’re going to get into how to leverage and build partnerships with influencers here in a second. But I have to ask, do you have any way to track your monthly churn? Do you know any numbers around that or retention?
[00:26:20.560] – Max
Yeah. So we use Mixpanel, which I find is a great source. We use it to track everything from growth, engagement metrics, retention metrics. The two that I track a lot, which are great because there’s benchmarks for them, are you’re like D7 and you’re like D30. Appsquire has benchmarks across every single country, every different app type. The one thing with these metrics is they’re not intuitive necessarily as a metric because D7 measures the number of or percentage of users that have a session on day seven. The reason The reason it’s not intuitive is the way that we would think about retention is on or after day seven. So how many people are still around after a week? This one is specifically on that day. But the reason I like it is because there’s benchmarks for it. So top average finance apps, it’s 10.99% D7. Average social apps, 7.86% D7. And then top 10% of finance apps, that goes up to 19.2. Top 10% of social apps, that’s like 15.3%. And so we track those. We’re in the top 10% band for both social and finance. So I look at across both categories because we’re in between.
[00:27:41.230] – Max
So that’s something I’ll do and I’ll trend as well, a cohort analysis of our D7, of our D30 to track those pieces. It gives you a much quicker view of your retention versus the other way you could look at it, how many users are still around after three months? Well, that you can find out for three months, right? So it’s a leading indicator of retention in turn. So I really… Yeah, D7, D30, really, really good metrics to track. And if you actually look up what consumer VCs will look at, those are the metrics that there’s a lot of benchmarks on the internet for that you can check yourself against the industry.
[00:28:16.330] – Sean
Just to highlight the numbers real quick, D7, your number, and then the industry average?
[00:28:21.430] – Max
Yeah. So our average D7 here for the last 12 months has been 16.4 %. So that is above the top 10 % for social apps, which was 15.2. Finance apps is 19.18. So we’re in that band. Actually, we’re probably more of a social app than a finance app, because finance apps are mostly banks and brokerages, so they have much higher retention. We have a feature where users can link their brokerage to our app, which is a key activity drives users to use our app as their portfolio management. When users link their brokerage, that D7 goes up to 34.7 %. That’s really high. So that’s almost double the top 10 % finance apps. Actually, that metric of the link brokerage is probably a more accurate view of the finance app category because that’s… If you think of opening a bank or opening a brokerage, the amount of steps that goes in, if a user goes through all those steps, they’re probably not going to churn as much. But those are really good. And then… So, yeah, really, really, solid numbers. You mentioned product-market fit actually before the call. This classic graph that you’ll use product-market fit is you want it to flatten out.
[00:29:41.440] – Max
So with any app, you’re going to have churn, churn, churn, and then it should flatten. I think I’m doing this the wrong way with the mirrored screen. You’re okay. If you’re supposed to flatten, you lose users, you want it to flatten. And so we see that. I could show you here, but we have a nice flattening retention curve, which is nice. Good to see.
[00:30:02.290] – Sean
That’s good to know that Snap Trade, and we’ll be working… You didn’t mention Snap Trade, but I know who exactly you’re working with. We’ll be working with them as well for the broker connections. Real quick here before we dive in a little bit, have you been really happy with the experience that it’s providing for your customers?
[00:30:17.240] – Max
Yeah, Snap Trade guys are great. We actually just did like a… Because we’ve grown a lot with our broker linking. It’s a very important and core feature to the app. We just completed an analysis of looking at at everyone again. So obviously we did that a year and a half ago when we picked SnapTrade, we wanted to just, hey, take a step back. Let’s make sure that this is the best option. And we did find that. And we put a lot of work. We chatted with the other providers. Definitely SnapTrade is great. One of the main reasons is because of the refresh time. So a lot of the other providers, they can only refresh once a day versus with SnapTrade within 15 minutes if a user places a trade or you find out about it. And so that just creates a better experience for the community, right? Because people like that real-time feeling.
[00:31:05.980] – Sean
They do. Yeah, 15 minutes. That’s great to know. And I really love the metric there is your D7, the percentage of people sticking around after day seven is 16 %. But for those who use Snap Trade, it drives up above, you said 34 %?
[00:31:21.630] – Max
  1. And that, by the way, again, is not on or after. That’s on day seven, 34 % coming back. If I change this to on or after, which is the more intuitive metric, that’s how many people are still around. It’s 77 %. So 77 % of folks are still around on the app after a week. For folks who aren’t in this world, that may sound low. It’s like, okay, you’re losing 23 % of your users, but that’s really, really good. You probably know Sean, right?
[00:31:51.640] – Sean
A key lesson learned here is this. Does anybody out there, unless you don’t have an investing app or finance, and in that case, Snap It’s a moot point. But the lesson learned is you’re creating a utility feature that can create friction to sign up elsewhere. But if you can do it within your platform, so you’re mirroring your platform with other tools they’re using, you make your tool more valuable. So I tell people all the time, think about it like, if you’re building an app, it’s great, you’re creating your own feature. But who can you partner with? So you lock in, oh, in one clean location I get this, this, this, this, this. That right there elevates the value of your product and makes you less susceptible to churn.
[00:32:39.400] – Max
Yeah. I think it’s both that, Sean, and just figuring out what key activity in your app is that driver, because some people don’t know, and then obsess and focus on that. Because I know once a user links their brokerage to blossom, it’s a way better experience as an app, and it makes our metrics all go up 2-3 times. Another app to use another example, not in finance, one of my friends who runs app for couples called Cupply, I think they’re one of the top apps for couples in Google Play. Their key activity is linking your app to your partner, so your girlfriend or boyfriend or partner. Once they link their app to you, that obviously is their key activity. So if the user hasn’t done that, how can you drive that action? I’m sure His metrics go up double, triple, even more as soon as that happens.
[00:33:34.360] – Sean
To transition here to product market fit, was there a key indicator you knew when you achieved product market fit?
[00:33:42.560] – Max
I think a lot of companies do have that. The way that I see it, and maybe this is just from my McKinsey background, is it really is week after week, little tweaks, little optimizations that are driving you closer to the goal from my experience. We’ve definitely had updates, but we’re not a company that does these big updates. Some people, they’re like, Oh, we’ve been doing this update for three months. We’ve been doing this update for six months. And you’ll look at their App Store listing, and they haven’t posted an update in two months. We post an update every two weeks, right? So we’re very, very fast to ship. I think we had 30 updates in 2023, which is even more frequently than every two weeks. So we have an amazing team. And so because of that, if you had one every three months, you would obviously see that for three months, you’d hope for a big step change. We see more gradual change. And I think that from my perspective, is actually a better way to do it because you’re just two weeks sprints. You’re constantly collecting user feedback. You’re constantly testing things. Certain features and certain updates have moved the needle more than others.
[00:34:50.230] – Max
For example, that feature I talked about, breaking up the account types, TFSA, RRSP, that was a really important feature in driving pro conversion. So you do notice There’s things like that. But I think it’s more around that consistency, right? You think about trying to lose weight or trying to run a marathon, right? You don’t just go and run 15K, you run 5K, and then you go up to six, you go up to seven. Yeah. I think the light. You’re good.
[00:35:19.600] – Sean
Yeah. Let’s take a quick commercial break. Have you ever lost money in the stock market? Maybe you heard or saw a comment on YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, or another social platform, or maybe you just receive bad advice from a friend. Yeah, I think we’ve all been there. Most people lose money in the stock market because they make decisions based on emotions. What if you could remove emotions from investing? And what if there was an easy button for investing? Introducing Tykr, a platform that helps you confidently manage your own investments. Get started today with a free trial. Simply visit Tykr. Com. That’s T-Y-K-R. Com. Again, Tykr. Com. All right, back to the show. All right, so let’s get So we’re getting into marketing. You guys are doing some cool stuff. You’re bringing a lot of people in a short amount of time. How are you doing it?
[00:36:06.960] – Max
Yeah, so I wrote down actually the timeline here, so I think this will be helpful. So May 2021, left my job at McKinsey to start at Lawson. January 2022, we launched the private beta. So I think about six months. Honestly, I think that took us too long. The classic adage is if you aren’t embarrassed with the first thing you ship, you launch too late. I mean, I was still embarrassed with the first thing we shipped, but still, I’m like, six months, could we have launched something even sooner? Get in in the hands of users. How could we have launched something in one month or two months, three months that people can start looking at? A lot of companies make the mistake of… And there’s actually a competitor who’s launching in the US. They’ve been building for two years, and now they’re just launching. And I’m like, We have one and a half years of user feedback that they don’t have. It’s like, Good luck. Anyway, January 2022, we launched our private beta. May 2022, we launched on the App Store. It took us It took us seven months to grow from 1,000 to 10,000. And then it took us 12 months, or it’s going to take us 12 months to grow from 10,000 to 100,000.
[00:37:10.810] – Max
So we’re currently at about 91,000, but we’re going to hit 100,000 next week. So you can see, I mean, same thing with that consistency. I think few apps, with the exception of ChatGPT or Clubhouse, really are going to hit… Unless you have some moment of virality that goes… And even then, you don’t necessarily want that because the exponential accelerating growth can be really helpful because you’re continually refining, adapting the platform. If we had had that growth month after we launched, we would have turned 80 % of those users because the app was crapped back then. But I’ll pause there. I can talk about how that growth has come. But now we just grew 18,000 users in the last 30 days. So it’s additive. It’s a spiral effect.
[00:37:56.720] – Sean
You’ve got a solid viral coefficient. Do you know what that viral coefficient is? Are you able to calculate? If not, no worries.
[00:38:03.360] – Max
We don’t. And there’s actually a reason for that because the way you can calculate it is you got to drive users to refer their friends, and they click a button in your app to refer a friend. And we have social sharing features and everything. But the way we thought about it is we just track what percentage of our users are coming from organic. I don’t want to create a friction point of that. You think of AirBnB or these others. People We’ll just have those conversations. Hey, this blossom app is sick. Check it out. They go download that on their phone. I don’t care whether Sean sent Sean’s link to Tom, and I track that download. So we use that as a catch-all, and so we can see that in action. But the way we’ve gotten over the cold start problem, which if anyone’s building a social app, that’s important. The app becomes better as you have more users creating content on it and you have those network effects kicking in. You touched on the influencer strategy. That’s really crucial. And even with the US, we launched in the US January first. We’ve grown to about 5,000 folks in the first month.
[00:39:15.680] – Max
A lot of that has been through the finance content creators. For us, I think we have a very maybe unique view of content creators. One, because they’re not just driving growth. For us, they’re also driving engagement and content and their presence. I really view those folks as really, really important. But the biggest lesson that I learned is so many companies view folks like that so transactionally. They’re like, I pay you, you make a video, I get users, blah, blah, blah. For us, maybe it’s easier to not think of it that way because, again, we want them to be engaged on the platform, like Vine or YouTube or any of these. You want to have that good relationship with the creators. But I think And the biggest thing is just these people, they’re just people. They’re like you and us. And so I don’t know. Through working with them, I’ve actually become friends with many of them because they’re just cool people. And I’ve always encouraged my other founder friends, Sometimes they’ll get a Marketing Manager to manage that creation or that conversation. Don’t do that. Take them out for dinner yourself, get to know them yourself.
[00:40:23.940] – Max
These people also have a really strong pulse on the industry that you’re in, and they know what What people care about. They know how to speak to those users. And a great example of this actually was we got Brian and Beavis involved, one of the larger YouTubers in Canada. He’s just driven so much value. We actually made him a late co founder And he’s taught me a lot about that creator space and just understanding… He’s been a YouTuber himself for the last five years. He knows what’s important to them. And really, they’re just folks who love making content, especially with finance. Maybe it’s a little different for finance because with finance, the content creators, they’re really just educators. They just want to help educate people. And so it’s really easy to get along with them because most of them are very humble, they just want to help people learn and learn to invest.
[00:41:13.040] – Sean
Yeah. Break it down in simple terms. Can you give us some tips here on how to bring on an influencer? Because there are some people that really they run into walls with us. And I will admit, we have two at times. Do they get inundated? How do you separate yourself from the pact? Be like, Hey, we’re business, and we want to work with you, and we want to share in a rev share model of some sort.
[00:41:38.540] – Max
I think the way I think about it is really it’s just all about relationships. Trying to not lead with being very transactional or even getting that mindset out of your mind of, Oh, this is purely transactional. That, I think, is very helpful. I guess the practical tips for that is just try and get to know folks as people. It sounds so obvious. I hate to give that advice. It’s true. But I honestly think there’s… Actually, let me give another good example of one of my friends. They’re launching this company called Holder, which is an app for musicians and folks. And the founder was telling me, there’s this other company that was trying to do the same thing, but they would chat with musicians, especially in the hip hop scene. And they just They didn’t understand the culture. And these guys, they ran a record label, which has some great artists on it, previous to them starting this tech product. But people can tell. You’re like, Okay, this person is in the scene. They get it. And obviously, with finance, you end up talking about finance stocks, that thing. Show them that you’re not just… But it’s not just about showing them.
[00:42:55.320] – Max
It’s like, you genuinely need to be interested in this person. You need to care. I’m not saying this like, Oh, you should do this. I think it’s like you actually need to change your mindset around it because you can’t fake that. And it’s not about faking it. I genuinely like… Some of these people are now my closest friends, and I’ve built great relationships with them. And it’s not like, Oh, everyone should do that. And the only reason I’m doing that is because it benefits awesome. I’m genuinely enjoy these people. So that’s where it’s tough as far as a piece of advice, because I don’t think it’s just a set of steps that you should follow. It’s more of the mindset shift around it. But then I think there’s the more practical things of how do you get that first meeting? How do you even get an opportunity where you can build that relationship? Those are a little trickier. I think I’ve been lucky in certain aspects there. Brandon, who has been key to a lot of the growth of our ambassador program. I met him for beers at a buddy’s house, randomly. So there’s some degree of luck to it.
[00:43:56.060] – Max
But then I think with any amount of business, it’s always So you just got to be ready for when the luck comes.
[00:44:03.760] – Sean
[00:44:05.140] – Max
Big advantage.
[00:44:06.170] – Sean
No, that’s a great takeaway there. A lesson learned is don’t approach these people with a transaction mindset. Build a relationship. And it’s not just smaller brands like ours, but bigger brands are working with more influencers on Instagram or YouTube. Well, you and I know this, that some of these large brands are like, We’re looking at the count, the number of subscribers, and that’s all we care about. We don’t care that you’re a human or you need food to survive. They just want you promoting their brand, and those executives, they’re happy. And that may work if they’re throwing a lot of money at you, but most brands can’t do that. So you got to treat people with respect.
[00:44:49.400] – Max
Yeah, exactly. Right?
[00:44:51.110] – Sean
[00:44:51.770] – Max
A hundred %.
[00:44:52.780] – Sean
All right, Max, before we jump into the rapid fire round, what is one key takeaway you can give to entrepreneurs out there?
[00:45:00.610] – Max
Yeah, I think the most cliché one, which I mentioned for especially the more beginner entrepreneurs, is just to launch something as quickly as possible and get things in front of users. That is, I think, the biggest mistake first-time founders make, is they hide in a dark room like I’m in now for far too long, trying to build things, and you don’t get user feedback when you do that. So even if your product isn’t ready, launch it and start getting that user feedback. And then the other thing that we touched on there at the end, I do think is a really core principle is try and, to the extent you can, just remember that everyone’s a person and that coming at things purely transactionally, I don’t think is the right way to approach things. You can connect with people, right? And the more that you’re actually genuinely interested in connecting with people, A, it’s going to do well for your business, and B, it’s going to be more fun because you’re going to end up making some great friends along the way.
[00:45:56.020] – Sean
Yeah, great advice. Love it. All right, let’s jump into the rapid fire round. This is the part of the episode where we get to find out who Max really is. And just for the interest of time, we’re going to keep this a short version of the rapid fire round, but we’ll get a few good ones in here. So let’s start with the… What’s your favorite podcast?
[00:46:13.920] – Max
I love The Boys cast. It’s like a comedy podcast. So it’s unfortunately not a business podcast, but I find them hilarious.
[00:46:21.550] – Sean
Got a few of those in my list, too. All right. So what is a recent book you read and would recommend?
[00:46:26.590] – Max
A little bit longer ago, but I really love this 3 Body Problem, which is a fiction sci-fi book. Really, really amazing. It’s actually a trilogy, but it’s really cool.
[00:46:38.490] – Sean
Thanks for the heads up. 3 Body Problem. All right.
[00:46:41.590] – Max
Yeah. Just to describe it a little more, I don’t want to give it away, but it’s the number one fiction author in China as well. And so it’s set in a different standpoint. It starts in the Communist Revolution, but it’s pure sci-fi. But anyway, it’s cool. It’s just unique and it’s a really good book. I love it.
[00:47:02.140] – Sean
That’s awesome. All right. And last question here, what is your favorite movie?
[00:47:06.580] – Max
Well, on the sci-fi theme, it would have to be Star Wars, although the new ones have hurt my love for it a little bit. But I’ve watched Empire Strikes Back a bazillion times, right?
[00:47:19.790] – Sean
Awesome. All right. And where can the audience reach you?
[00:47:22.450] – Max
Instagram, meetblossomsocial or LinkedIn. You can find me on there. Or Blossom. Come follow me on Blossom. Maxstocks.
[00:47:31.750] – Sean
Go get the app. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time, Max. This is great.
[00:47:35.480] – Max
Cheers. Thanks, Sean.
[00:47:36.970] – Sean
Hey, I’d like to say thanks for checking out this podcast. I know there’s a lot of other podcasts you could be listening to, so thanks for spending some time with me. And if you have a moment, could you please head over to Apple Podcasts and leave a five-star review? The more reviews we get, the higher this podcast will rank. All right, stay tuned for the next episode. We’ll see you.