Co-founder Rafael Masson recently sat down with the GetLatka team to discuss the latest metrics on his B2B SaaS Missive. The company is battling in a highly competitive team inbox chat and task space; according to Masson, their solution most closely resembles Front App.
Rafael Masson considers himself, first and foremost, a failed musician turned engineer. He and his two engineer co-founders are passionate about building beautiful and reliable software, coupled with stellar customer support. In the company’s second interview with Latka, Masson revealed how much Missive’s revenue has grown year-over-year; how their freemium model is structured (with results Latka has never seen in any of his 3500+ interviews); how they attract new customers; and what’s driving the next set of features.
- Team of 1: the trio of co-founders just hired their first employee: an engineer
- 2,000 paying customers converted from the freemium model
- Bootstrapped with a $2m run rate
2X YOY revenue in 2020 from $45,000 to $90,000 MRR
When Masson’s co-founding partner last chatted with Latka in 2020, he shared that bootstrapped Missive had doubled its revenue in the last 12 months, from $45,000 to $90,000 MRR. Before revealing the number, Masson indicated that Missive was continuing to move in the right direction and, yes, the company is still bootstrapped.
$30m buy offer
Latka recalled that Masson’s co-founder alluded to a $30m offer to buy the company they turned down. He asked Masson if any larger offers had come in. The co-founder laughed and replied no. Masson did share that the company has a good relationship with competitor Front App, even chatting about each other’s product and sharing inspiration. Masson deflected when Latka asked if Front ever offered to buy Missive, finally replying, “I can’t say.”
Built by 3 co-founders
Masson explained that he and one co-founder joined the original founder of Conference Badge, who started the company in 2013. Masson explained that the 3 co-founders built Missive while developing another product, Conference Badge. While building Conference Badge, they uncovered a need for a product like Missive, so they began building it out. Missive launched on Product Hunt in 2016.
Co-Founders equity split: estimated at 50/25/25
Because Masson and another founder joined later, the two of them are sharing half the equity with the original founder. Masson believes the split is fair, as they came in late Conference Badge, and as he noted, “Conference Badge allowed us to build Missive and pay the bills.” Together the three co-founding engineers developed both products, and only recently, Missive hired their first employee—another engineer.
2,000 paying customers, 1, 600 freemium users
According to co-founder Masson, Missive currently serves 2,000 paying customers and 1,600 free users. After sharing the numbers, Latka paused, asking Masson to repeat for clarity. At that point, Latka declared that he’s never done a founder interview using the freemium model where the company had more paying customers than freemium users. Naturally, Latka asked Masson to explain his secret sauce.
Freemium model lasts forever but only saves 2 weeks of history
Co-founder Masson explained that the freemium model provides access to all features, including shared inbox, chat, and tasks. Teams don’t have to switch between an inbox and chat apps like Slack. The app also supports SMS, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Since the free version only saves a 15-day history, teams quickly realize they must upgrade or abandon the app. Masson feels that anyone who doesn’t upgrade doesn’t have a real need, and he’s happy to let them go.
Honesty as the SEO secret to $2m ARR
Through word-of-mouth and organic traffic, Missive built its customer base and ARR to $2m. When Latka queried Masson about how he optimized his web pages, he indicated that they created “honest” review comparisons to key competitors, which he believes helps their Google rankings. “We’re not for everyone. So if we’re honest in the reviews, we will attract the right customers, and those who need something else will go elsewhere,“ Masson explained. They tried Google AdWords and Capterra, then canceled their activities as it wasn’t driving success as expected. His co-founder also searches Twitter for specific keywords, then reaches out directly to prospects. Their efforts resulted in $200,000 MRR and an ARR over $2m.
From SMBs to Enterprise, $1,200 ACV
How much does the average customer pay Missive? Masson estimates the average monthly invoice at $100 but notes that some customers pay for as many as 100 seats. While 80% of their customers select the Productive Plan at $18/user/month, their largest customer represents a $50,000 ACV.
Recently introduced Enterprise plan, focused on new features
Masson acknowledged that they have yet to scratch the surface of the enterprise market. He and his co-founders realized they must crack the code to include an analytics feature to attract enterprise clients. The company is currently working on analytics and other enterprise-centric features like master user/admin. Missive recently hired their first employee to support the effort to keep rolling out features and incremental improvements.
2X YOY growth
Masson confirmed that Missive has grown more than 2X YOY for the second year in a row, as they grew from $90,000 to $200,000 MRR. Masson reiterated his belief in unmatched customer support, noting that all 3 founders handle engineering and customer support. Latka reiterated his admiration for the co-founder, who is hitting aggressive growth metrics without VC support.
Famous 5 with Rafael Masson
Missive co-founder Rafael Masson revealed that he’s not much of a business book reader. He still considers his favorite book to be one from high school that described the great philosophers of the past centuries. Adam Wathan of Tailwind Labs is the CEO he’s following. Rafael loves the Tailwinds CSS framework and how Wathan has built the business. Heroku is the online tool that Rafael relies on most, as it’s the platform they use to host Missive. “The platform allowed the 3 of us to grow our tech stack,” he explained. Rafael sleeps an average of 7 hours per night. He’s 32, married, without kids. When asked what he wishes he had known at 20, he replied, “I wish I had known that the stock market was going to go on a historic bull run so that I could have invested back then.”