In March 2020, COVID wreaked havoc on our startup as offices shuttered nationwide. We lost 80% of our revenue in a week. Fast forward to now, one big pivot and 2 years later, we are budgeted to have more revenue in 2022 than prior to the pandemic. Here's the story of what happened.
In March 2020, we were riding high. Our primary business model was a local services marketplace for offices (similar to TaskRabbit but for your office). We had just raised $50 million, acquired our primary competitor, and had "Series C" type revenue metrics.
When COVID struck, most of our customers had no idea when their offices would reopen or when they would need services again. On lower revenue, our cash runway plummeted from years to months. We internalized that we needed to save ourselves.
We needed to reduce spend, and fast, to live long enough to have a chance to successfully pivot. Sadly, nearly all the cost of a software company is in personnel. We made the gutting decision in April 2020 to do a reduction in force (RIF).
By May 2020, we had cash runway, but we lacked an offering that would enable near-term revenue growth. We spoke to our HR Manager customers and gained two insights:
The future was flexible (mix of remote and in-office)
Customers wanted more SaaS products behind fewer vendors
We decided in mid-2020 that we would build a SaaS offering that enabled a safe return to a hybrid office and followed a "compound product strategy," with a full suite of useful products. In tandem, we would cross our fingers for a recovery of the services marketplace.
We created a small A-team to build and sell the MVP for People Ops SaaS. Within months, we had our initial product: a COVID-related survey, desk booking, and a contact tracing tool. In August 2020, we signed our first customer and I had never seen our team Slack go so bananas.
Each day, we reported on SaaS customer insights and sales stats, constantly iterating on our product to find Product-Market Fit (PMF). In March 2021, revenue started growing 40% a month, and did not let up. We had caught lightening in a bottle.
Fast forward to now: Our SaaS suite of products has helped hundreds of companies safely return to the office. ARR grew 11x in 2021. Our marketplace is starting to make its own comeback and its profits fund our surging SaaS business.
Our SaaS pivot was successful thanks to the hard work of our team. Special thanks go to Camille Merritt, our VP of Workplace SaaS, as well as Kendra Ponte, our GM of the Marketplace. Their leadership, along with our team of 50+ others, made it all possible.
Our pivot also showed the quality of our investors. They were always there with advice and support.
One prominent SaaS investor said this in our last board meeting, and it made our team proud: “We have portfolio companies where COVID crushed their business and we have companies where COVID accelerated their progress. You are our only company where COVID did both.”