I almost shut down Formstack.
In January 2006, I quit my job a couple weeks before our first child was born. My wife had also quit her job to take care of our child full-time. We had some savings built up, but it was only going to last a few months without any outside income.
I launched Formstack at the end of February after a month of nonstop work. I was proud of the one-of-a-kind product I’d built, certain that it’d take off and be a runaway success.
Shortly after launching I learned of a similar product that’d been on the market for a few months. And then two others that launched within a couple weeks of me. I was gutted.
I had my first paying customer not long after launching, but by the end of March I was only making $75.
In April I made $72.50. Churn sucks.
As my personal expenses grew (diapers aren’t cheap), I scraped together consulting income to pay the bills. And as I found more clients, it became harder and harder to devote time to work on Formstack. I could bill $100/hour for consulting work, so why would I spend that time working on a new Formstack feature with no guarantee of future payback?
By the end of the year Formstack had grown, but was only making about $1k/month. I was getting burnt out, money was tight, and the numbers weren’t working. It made sense for me to shut it down to focus on consulting. I struggled with the decision for several weeks, and came close to pulling the plug.
I can’t remember exactly why I stuck with it. I know I still believed in the vision and was proud of the product. And I didn’t love consulting. It was a means toward an end — my dream to build a product company. But maybe more than anything, my stubbornness was why I didn’t shut it down.
Whatever the reason, I’m glad I didn’t give up.
With a lot of hard work, it grew 10x in 2007. And six months later I was able to stop consulting and focus on the business full-time.
Fast forward a decade, and Formstack will end this year with over 25,000 paying customers, 200 employees, and tens of millions of dollars of revenue.
Success wasn’t a straight line. There have been countless hurdles and potholes along this journey. And many more to come.
But I’ve never been luckier to be so stubborn.