Why Proposify’s Story Stuck With Me

Kyle Racki, the CEO of Proposify, just dropped some wisdom on me. Proposify lets you easily build gorgeous custom proposals for clients, and it’s bringing in more than $120,000 in monthly recurring revenue. Kyle was kind enough to reply to my comments on a great Groove blog post about him, so I’m going to pay it forward and spread his advice around.

Proposify is amazing software that transforms the proposal process. When we want to send a potential client a great-looking custom proposal for a big project, we’re stuck using InDesign. But Proposify lets you pick from custom templates, tweak whatever you want and get your proposal out the door fast. It looks better and it saves you time.

So it was crazy to read Kyle describe the early version of Proposify as awful!

proposify blog

That’s right, this big software-as-a-service company started with a broken, buggy mess. And that was about four years ago – they didn’t get to where they are now overnight. There’s a chart of Proposify’s monthly recurring revenue in the Groove post, and it starts with a long flat line.

“For years before hitting [product-market fit] we were killing ourselves, pumping out content, running ad campaigns, guest-blogging, PR, direct sales, anything we could do to get people signing up for a trial” – Kyle Racki, Proposify CEO

I like Kyle’s story because it had some similarities to where Yalla is now. Our sister digital marketing company Lemonade Stand still pays the bills, so the work we do for clients there always has to come before Yalla. Kyle was the same way with his design agency, before he and his partner sold it to focus on Proposify full time.

And where did Kyle get the idea for Proposify? He didn’t just randomly decide on it. He didn’t like the proposal process and he thought he could make it better.

It’s interesting because that’s the reason we built Yalla. We were sick of trying to hack Asana or Basecamp or other team management software as a servcie to fit our agency’s needs. So we designed a collaboration platform from the ground up.

Another important point in Kyle’s story is how the team put the product before marketing. Some investors poured $250,000 into the company and Kyle had people telling him to hire a sales team. Proposify said “no thanks” and worked on adding more cool features instead – features that ended up driving huge revenue increases.

“Getting signups wasn’t hard. It was retention that was hard. People would sign up and then never use the product, or they would pay for a month or two and then cancel. That was how we knew we didn’t have a market problem, the product just wasn’t good enough, and building something that people love and will pay for is infinitely harder than driving traffic and sign-ups.”

Think about that. Marketing is important, don’t get me wrong – it’s what we do for a living here. But if you can build something so good that customers can’t live without it, you’ve just done a bunch of great marketing right there.

And of course the biggest lesson is that there’s no shortcut for hard work. We can see ourselves in Proposify all we want, but we’ll never get to their level if we don’t keep crunching away every day.

So a big thanks to Kyle for taking the time to respond to my questions. If you haven’t yet, go check out Proposify!