A Very Specific SaaS Uses Content To Grow
“Calendarifc is an enterprise grade event intelligence platform, we specialize in providing holidays and observance data for 230 countries and provinces in multiple languages via a REST API to over 20,000 customers.“
“We were not sure if there was enough demand in the industry to make it a viable business.”
First, thanks for joining us today. Can you kick off the interview by telling our audience a little bit more about Calendarific. When was it started? What experience did you have with the pain point that the API solves? What are the most common use cases for the data?
Calendarifc is an enterprise grade event intelligence platform, we specialize in providing holidays and observance data for 230 countries and provinces in multiple languages via a REST API to over 20,000 customers.
Myself, Ryan Chen, together with 2 other friends started it because we all worked in Sales and marketing at a consulting firm. It was a particular dataset that companies had whole departments in charge of maintaining. We realized that if we build a platform that companies paid a few dollars to access this data, it would be a viable business.
We have a lot of big companies using our data because it saves them a lof of time by not having to maintain their own dataset. Most industries that use our data are in event marketing, data mining, banking and finance, travel/ hotel booking sites and most companies need to know which days are holidays and not.
If I’m looking at this correctly, you’ve also secured outside financing. What has that process looked like for Calendarific (easier than you thought / harder than you thought)? What made you want to take this growth path vs staying 100% bootstrapped?
We were initially bootstrapped and wanted to keep it small, we were approached to be acquired but the acquisition proposal turned into a joint partnership which lead to the financing. We didn’t follow the typical financing process that most startups do like Series A, B etc.
We always want to go for self financing because it allows us to be independent and flexible with what we want to build. However, sometimes you need to develop features fast and have the option of trying out new ideas. Ultimately our advice would be to go for outside financing if you want quick iterations of a product and are willing to give up control of the business but with the right financing partner you are able to get the best of both worlds and also have the liquidity to iterate quickly.
What have been Calendarific’s most challenging scaling problems and how are you overcoming them?
We have a lot of ad-hoc data requests that we get from some of our users. This is especially hard at scale. We are not able to fulfill this request and still maintain a core product while regular releasing features. What we try to do is to look for similar requests that we have received and then build a feature of of that instead of servicing every feature request that comes in. An example is that during the G7 summit in June 2019, we had a lot of requests for data for just just counties within the G7. We later decided to have segments of data that users can purchase with all the required attributes.
One other area what we have struggled with in the number of requests for data for multiple local counties what we do not support yet mostly because of the unreliability of data or lack of coverage for our team. This is something we are constantly working on to build a network of providers that support our infrastructure.
How long did it take you to reach $2000 MRR?
We started with a totally free plan before we decided to support more counties and have paid plans. It took approximately 9 months and 3000 active users before we reached $2000 MRR
On your blog I see you’re creating a lot of technical “how to” content. For example you have a post entitled ” How to Install and Configure NTP Server and Client on Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo”. How big of a role has this content played in helping you find and onboard new users? What’s your blog’s role in your companies overall growth strategy?
Content marketing has been a very powerful channel in acquiring new customers, because we are primarily an API, the kinds of people that our blog attracts are developers and engineers. Most of these engineers typically sign up for a free trial and end up recommending our product to their team at big companies which end up becoming our customers. it ‘s an area we are very happy to invest more time and resources.
If you had to start Calendarific over again and do three things differently, what would those three things be?
When we first started Calendarific, we were not sure if there was enough demand in the industry to make it a viable business, we played around with the idea and tried various open source alternatives, we later decided to build the entire platform from scratch. I think that was one of the best decisions we made. If we were to start again, we would definitely build everything from scratch again and build more of the paid features earlier on.
On behalf of our readers we’d like to say “thank you” for taking the time to chat with us today. To our blog readers, if you’d like to learn more about Calendarific, you can head over to their website here.
Written By Simon Alcott: Published Oct 22nd, 2019 | Updated Oct 23rd, 2019.
Simon Alcott is a growth hacker and the driving force behind WhalePages, a SaaS marketing agency So, if you have a SaaS company and you’re kinda into things like website traffic and increasing your MRR, then be sure to check out our homepage.
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