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Towards a Glorious Tomorrow
A Brave Decision
“My Co-Founder advised us to hold off accepting the investment. It would be an understatement to say that this was the best decision we ever made.”
September 2019 — We publicly launched Glorify on Product Hunt and offered a limited lifetime deal which allowed users to pay once and enjoy a lifetime of benefits.
We knew a lifetime deal would give us the leap we needed. Subscriptions, at our stage, would be too slow. But the lifetime deal gave users peace of mind by buying into the current value we offered, as well as the promised roadmap that was made public. Let’s get back to this later.
Not long before the launch, we were among the fortunate 15 out of 500 applicants selected to pitch at Startup Avalanche in Techsylvania Romania — the largest Central European tech conference. This attracted a few investors who were interested in investing at a pre-seed round.
Despite having this opportunity, my Co-Founder and COO, Harun Rashid, advised us to hold off accepting the investment and attempt the launch first, just to test our muscle in the market and see what we were truly made of.
At the time, we would have raised a $100,000 pre-seed round for 10% equity. We sold the same amount of equity 2 years later for roughly ten times that amount. It would be an understatement to say that this was the best decision we ever made.
This leads me to the next part, which is the success of our first launch.
A Leap of Faith
“We created an empowering environment that allowed users to learn about business and design, and to openly give us feedback to improve Glorify and be a part of the product evolution.”
To fully commit to our plans we had to 🔥🔥 burn the ships 🔥🔥 2 months prior to our launch date.
As an agency, my team and I had to drop all our clients and complete any pending projects. We then got the team to come onboard full time. As we lacked the necessary funds to pay our employees during the first 2 months, we made sure they were comfortable with the assurance that they would be paid with the revenue generated through the launch. This also meant they would stop working with other clients to focus solely on our product.
Yes, it was a risk, but a calculated risk all the same.
We would either generate money from a launch or, in a worst case scenario, give up equity to raise the amount through our VC relationships.
As CEO, my main role has always been the overall visionary of our product and brand. As a digital designer, I have tendencies to be a perfectionist with my approach, so launching Glorify in its current state did not sit too well with me. Luckily enough, I had a co-founder and a team that pushed me to take that leap of faith.
What it felt like at first was a compromise on product quality to sustain the launch. But this soon became a highly valuable early adopter deal for a very much needed design tool, catering to e-commerce business owners. We were the first design tool that incorporated an integrated background removal tool as well as templates that were product focused and niche-oriented. E-commerce business owners could almost immediately identify templates that matched their brand or product.
Were there bugs and problems? Yes, of course. But they were mostly issues that could be solved by using a workaround, with help from our customer success team.
The best part of this journey has been the amazing community we built. We had a few value propositions and unique features that stood out from other tools, but generally we were far behind in terms of overall features. Despite this our user base was still excited about Glorify. This was primarily due to our focus on both founder and team-led nurturing and leadership. We created an empowering environment that allowed users to learn about business and design, and to openly give us feedback to improve Glorify and be a part of the product evolution.
Realising our Vision
“Post 2.0, we are breaking barriers and pushing our vision further than ever before.”
Product evolution is tricky. You can’t afford to get sidetracked by tending to everyone’s desires. We started with a clear public roadmap that was primarily built on market research. But as time went on, our Early Adopter user base grew and people began requesting anything and everything they could think of.
We had to be good at cutting through all the noise and shiny object syndrome that were bound to be distractions. We did this by segmenting our most active and engaged users into the Champions’ Group.
We then combined the feedback loop with market analysis and research to discover what kind of design tool our content-demanding world needed right now.
We had to answer many questions. How does a diverse population of humans, that is shifting to a remote first, collaborative, no-ego work culture need to experience a design tool? How do both non-designers and designers truly feel about existing solutions, both good and bad? What was most important to them in the design process? What did they feel they had plenty of access to already, and what did they find lacking?
What we were sure of is that the Glorify community loved our focus on e-commerce; the ability to find templates and filter them by niche or theme put a stop to the endless scrolling on other platforms. We were also aware that more and more individuals from other industries such as e-learning and service based businesses began appreciating our tool. They enjoyed the simplified experience we gave them without compromising on some of the more advanced features found in tools like the Adobe suite.
This gave us clarity on how we could move forward with Glorify’s vision. As a result we launched Glorify 2.0 in November 2020, and the community voted us up to number 1 product of the day!
Post 2.0, we are breaking barriers and pushing our vision further than ever before.
Then, in April 2021, we launched mockups! Now users can mockup their designs with hyper realistic objects such as devices, apparel, packaging, stationery, print and much more!
Another surprise awaits our users just around the corner. We have an entire share ecosystem being built out so users can share files between team members, guests and even the public. We’ve also started working on batch processing and video features.
But does the vision end here?
Of course not!
The Startup SaaS Game
‘The reason we are where we are is because of bold and hard decisions we’ve had to make. We knew we needed to move fast to build Glorify while bringing our marketing and brand presence to life, but we couldn’t do it without upfront investment’
The marketing design process today looks pretty much the same for any business. And based on this, there is a vastly untapped and unsolved area that we have identified and will be moving towards as fast as possible. The evolution towards this direction came about somewhat unconsciously at first, but as it became validated further we knew exactly what Glorify needed to become.
On the downside, we cannot reveal more than this! Unless you join team Glorify of course, and sign an NDA. What we can say is that 2 other competitors are moving in this direction as well, and no, it’s not the big “C”.
Having said all this, the reason we are where we are, is because of bold and hard decisions we’ve had to make. We knew we needed to move fast to build Glorify while bringing our marketing and brand presence to life, but we couldn’t do it without upfront investment.
In fact, all the main design tech success stories have only been able to get where they are by having multiple rounds of VC funding. This includes Figma, Webflow, Pitch and countless others.
Most of these companies raised VC funding before they even launched publicly.
We needed to raise a 2 million USD seed round to sustain our vision. With a team of 28+ and one incredible ambition we decided to keep running lifetime deals to keep cash flow positive. All the while we carried out fund raising since switching to subscriptions would make us crash with such a large team, and we did not want to scale down.
Most SaaS companies tend to run lifetime deals for only a short period as a subscription route is the holy grail for SaaS businesses; it creates predictable revenue and growth and lifetime deals could cannibalise that. However, there are also many strong case studies of software that have sustained an own-for-life business model for a long period before switching to subscriptions and they have still sustained huge growth. This includes Hopin, Sketch and even Adobe.
Our thesis was that Early Adopters, in the region of 10,000 to 20,000 users, who buy lifetime deals would never become a “dead weight” to the company. Most design platforms don’t even receive a purchase from most of their users; the business model heavily relies on a numbers game of getting millions of users to use the product and spread brand awareness till it lands in the hands of enterprise company decision makers that adopt it and pay for larger usage. Design tools such as Figma and Adobe mainly rely on the B2B type consumer to pay for a higher ticket package. The majority of the users that are typically in the B2C segment either use the free plan or in Adobe’s case find a way to work around it (ahem…crack…shhh…). Maintaining a 2% conversion to paid user for B2C consumers is more than enough in the design space. Glorify’s early revenue strategy actually sold a lucrative plan to mainly B2C type users that actually would have taken up the same capacity if not less than the usage seen in free plans of these other well known companies.
Lifetime deals worked. It helped us get committed users, users that saw themselves as investors and pioneers in a technology still in its early stages. They gave us feedback, they helped us build our community. They gave us plenty of breathing room financially and we are grateful for that. But now, combining our current organic sign up rate and hitting our next milestone, it’s finally time to move on.
And that brings me to the main point of this article — to reveal the milestone that we as a start-up have finally achieved.
Onwards, Upwards and Beyond
‘Glorify will become the leading marketing design tool for both solo and teams.’
After 9 months of my partner and I speaking to 70+ investors and rejecting multiple offers, we finally found a VC that was a match made in heaven. Our culture and vision were 100% aligned! We finally closed our $2 million seed round. We will in the near future reveal more about the deal and our lead investor. Until then, all I can say is that I’m extremely proud and excited to pave a new road for entrepreneurs, marketers and designers — a road that will lead them to create a world class brand, with content that will do nothing less that blow your mind. We are creating a platform where people can start solo or work together; a design tool that understands the need to scale design activities with little effort using automations; a design tool that understands the need to measure how your designs perform so you can iterate to perfection; a design tool that understands the demand for the many content mediums beyond just images and videos.
Here’s to a glorious end to our lifetime deal!
Overall we ran our lifetime deal for over 16 months, and in between we ran our subscriptions for about 9 months.
Those that purchased our deals, we love you all. I am sure you already know that you jumped into a deal of a lifetime!
⌛ Those that missed out, this is your last chance. In 10 days the deal will be no more! We will never again run exclusive lifetime deals on our site. If we do make the offer in a private community again through a 3rd party sales channel, it won’t be as lucrative as it is now and none of the bonuses or extras will be included.
👉🏽 👉🏽 Sign up here
No matter what business you run or what you sell, Glorify will become the best marketing design tool for both solo and teams.
Thank you for believing in us and being a part of our glorious journey!