Jeremy Weisz 7:02
there are other issues with you know, business I mean, some business do use PayPal, but there’s other issues I’ve heard with account freezes and other things with PayPal. So I take that back with Kevin earlier, you just have stripe purchase you were saying, Patrick, I think you should acquire us because we have these features.
Dodd Caldwell 7:21
I think we enjoy what we do. And we’re
Jeremy Weisz 7:25
I don’t know I’m trying to sell off your company. But I know I just brainstorming on this call. I’m thinking wow, yeah, right. Should I look into MoonClerk you know, why? You know, so talk for a second thought about why if someone’s like, why are you stripe? Why use MoonClerk as well? What do you tell people?
Dodd Caldwell 7:45
Sure, well, I mean, just like I said, PayPal was originally built for peer to peer person to person stripe was originally built for developers and they absolutely i mean it sounds weird as it kind of happens sometimes when you have vendors or whatever they kind of become slight competitors so I mean, there definitely is a certain aspect of that of now they offer more features that did not used to exist you literally had to be a developer 100% to use them in the past but we also have over time added a lot of we have a lot of value add on top of what Stripe does, um you know heavy integrations in with MailChimp digital delivery system, we have like a Form Builder where you gate gather data, and then we have a pretty robust email notification system to the account as well as to the person paying and you can populate and those emails with like data from the checkout including the form builder and custom information that you’re getting, and I would say maybe two other a couple I mean, there’s more than that. But just a couple other like big picture things. I think it’s easier to use for non technical people. I mean, we’re we literally built this from the ground up from day one for people who are not developers and not technical. And we’ve intentionally kept features out that stripe has so as not to confuse and then also think I’m being we’re a small business. Um, and so I believe we provide great support for individual small our customers or small businesses. Whereas Stripe is a huge company now, and probably doesn’t provide the type of support that we do for non technical users given that their bread and butter is dealing with, with developers and also a lot of I mean, they do have small businesses, but a lot of large businesses as well. So I would like to think that we would Provide a certain personalized level of support which I think a lot of small businesses care about.
Jeremy Weisz 10:10
Because I see from my standpoint that you know what i like I tell people you should switch or not switch but like get it because one email notifications you mentioned it’s funny because with stripe and you if a payment fails it will send some kind of message to the person it does not send to the business through Stripe you keep cannot get a notification and that alone is worth getting MoonClerk in my opinion getting an actual notification from you or from from MoonClerk or that the payment thing go through. It’s crazy right and then the other thing is the ACH you know, like we’re all any business it’s it’s like we were talking before we hit record like the non sexy stuff like the payment processing space is not a sexy space unless you actually have a business which is very sexy because you need to get paid and then you realize the little fees add up so I know with you can you can chart you use ACH and do a recurring ACH through MoonClerk. So if you don’t want to pay the processing fees, you can actually set a recurring payment through ACH with MoonClerk as well if you’re using stripe natively I don’t you maybe have to be some kind of genius coder to do that somehow So
Dodd Caldwell 11:36
yeah, I think you also when you do it with natively you would have to probably I think do your own custom coding and they also use what are called micro deposits which is where your your customer would have to come back in yes check their bank account come back in three days later, positive
Jeremy Weisz 11:51
70 cents and yeah, whereas
Dodd Caldwell 11:55
ours is like automated basically use your online banking credentials, and it’s automatically approved.
Jeremy Weisz 12:02
So those two features for me is what I tell people and I don’t get anything by the way when people sign up for MoonClerk but I just just to be a nice person to them, I think it benefits them to do that just on those two features alone. And so I’d love to talk about you know, MicroConf for a second and what you learned, you know, and you made a conscious decision I think early on to bootstrap the company as opposed to taking funding so I love to take you know hear your thoughts on that and maybe some of the kind of role in the conversation of some of the things you’ve learned from your other peers at MicroConf for wherever who are also bootstrap so why bootstrap
Dodd Caldwell 12:48
sure yeah, we Ryan my business partner I when we were like kind of setting out to build this we didn’t really even have the desire to build like a unicorn Billion Dollar Startup The goal was to have a profitable self sustaining business that provides for our families like a work environment, small team work environment that we enjoy working on a product that we enjoy working with, and we like solving problems and other people’s problems and that was like one of the things that was like oh, this is actually like a legit thing that small businesses like have a problem with and we can help solve it and that’s kind of fun and it feels rewarding and we wait so we didn’t really set out to have that unicorn status i think you know, there’s you know there’s all all different ways I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that there’s all different ways of looking at it I believe it is a even though it’s still not a high probability of success any starting any business but there’s a higher probability if you’re trying to start just a small profitable business than trying to be a billion dollar startup. You also can kind of control your own your own company versus having a board and investors um that’s an advantage half live a little bit more sane lifestyle where you’re not like killing yourself you know working 24 24 seven and I have some like, I guess some theories around that and how teams should like work from a speed standpoint and effort standpoint. But um, yeah, those are those are kind of the businesses so you know, that was kind of why going bootstrapped was right, it’s not right for everybody, but it was right for right for us.
Jeremy Weisz 14:52
One of the things that you talked about at MicroConf when you spoke was about raising prices and I know that every company whether Doesn’t matter where you are SaaS company service company kind of struggles with me with the mindset of raising prices on a lot and a lot of different levels. So I’d love to hear your thoughts on on raising prices whether it’s your sales company or someone else listening to this
Dodd Caldwell 15:21
do it that’s my advice No. It obviously you have to be providing value and have something that people want and are willing to exchange their money for in order for it to work but I do think and we we may still we may underprice our product I have found that we haven’t seen we we’ve really only raised our prices like twice one of those being fairly recently um and some of it was like literally our own costs had increased and it was like okay we gotta like offset there were different things we needed we just kind of like needed to offset but you know, it had been years since we had raised our prices I think overall um you try to make an educated decision obviously we started at you know, our prices just recently raised from like, I mean it doesn’t sound like much but for our lowest tier went from $15 to $18 other tiers went up as well but not by like you know, a great percentage and it’s still scary even going up by three hours. Now I think there is a big difference Okay, if you decided to go from starting off at $15 to starting off at $300 you’re going to be attracting a completely different market I mean you’re basically changing the market you’re in so we weren’t necessarily doing that but we found generally if people are really upset by those pricing changes like from 15 to 18 or whatever and I don’t mean this in a bad way they probably weren’t going to be good customers anyway. Um, and you know you would rather I don’t want to I think there’s a healthy medium of I don’t want to have a business where I have two customers that make up 100% of my revenue um, you know, I like having a diversified stream have a lot of different customers but at the same time, for instance, I mean you would rather have you know, if you’re doing 100 million in revenue which we’re not you would probably I mean I don’t know if you want to have $100,000,001 customers you probably like to have some larger because that’s 100 million people you’re doing customer support for that you know potential bugs all that so there’s a healthy medium there and even if you know in raising your prices, you lose some customers if your revenue per customer is increasing and your top line um you know, I don’t necessarily think that’s the worst thing in the world to lose kind of maybe net customer count if you will, but you probably won’t do that even as long as you’re not like doing some kind of crazy price increase.
Jeremy Weisz 18:12
So how do you communicate that So you mentioned Okay, we’re gonna raise prices All right, you make the decision across the board and I guess some people will again, we’re not talking like huge increase or anything but I know some people will just increase it across the board some people may some companies may grandfather people in so is that but let’s say you’re just going to go across the board we’re going to increase everyone how do you decide what’s scary to you as a business owner? And then how do you communicate that to the customers
Dodd Caldwell 18:47
so we’ve done both we the first time we raised our prices we grandfathered people in and you know, it took much longer for that to have any type of material effect on our business. And in this time, most recently, you know 2021 when we raised our prices, we did it do it across the board for even existing existing customers and some of that was like our prices were increasing like behind the scenes. Um, and so it was to offset that and it wasn’t going to have a material impact unless we did that but we also were like we provide a lot more value than we did X number of years ago. Um, so we didn’t feel bad about it necessarily. We also communicated it well ahead of time I can’t remember the 60 or 90 days so giving people a heads up and I think I put in there like hey this if you want to move away from us or whatever that you have plenty of time we’re not holding your data hostage, you know, anything like that we sent a reminder of, you know, maybe 30 days out of Hey here this pricing change is happening. And you know, so we don’t want to like hide it from Customers surprise that you want to give people time to digest and move away if they decide that you’re not the right solution for them anymore. I mean, you don’t want to like, control people, nobody likes that. So we did that. But we were also, we let people know, our prices have increased, you know, and that was one thing, but we also let them know about some things that we had done, that kept them from having price increases with stripe. And because stripe has changed up their billing model, and we’ve decided, hey, we’re gonna absorb some of that for you. So you’re not incurring these, these other expenses. And I think people are really understanding I think I got like one or two, like, Thank you emails, which is not what you would expect, or Thank you tweets, I can’t remember maybe I think you email a thank you tweet, um, and of people thanking them, Hey, you guys have provided a great product. And it’s been working for us for a number of years. This is a total read totally reasonable, like a cost increase. So that’s
Jeremy Weisz 21:06
what I’m hearing Dodd is like, it’s really important to not just let people know, but just share the value of what they’re getting and providing and why and the reasons why there is an increase so that they’re like, actually, you know, thank you because like, here’s the other stuff that we’re including, here’s the stuff we’re working on and here’s where it’s going towards
Dodd Caldwell 21:28
well I hate to use Maxim’s and say like that applies for everybody because there probably are some people who are way under charging and they just should increase their prices in our specific use case. I worked a long time on crafting those communications and wording those communications so that they were most easily digestible by our our customers and why does it make you scared because we’re business owners and things running a business is scary and change is scary. And you’re you have those fears if you’re gonna lose your business and everybody’s gonna, you know, you raise your prices, but from 15 $18 and then like, half your customers are gonna leave and then you’re gonna you know, what are you gonna do you’re gonna be destitute. That’s why it’s scary.
Jeremy Weisz 22:20
Yeah, I’m curious. I don’t know if you remember what it was. But you remember the subject line you decided to use when I could see you kind of crafting this and, you know, people always read, you know, see the subject line first, you remember the subject line you used when you send the email out? By chance?
Dodd Caldwell 22:38
I do not know, I did not, I don’t believe in either the subject line or the very start of the body of the email, I didn’t bury the lead. I was upfront. We’re raising our prices. And here’s what’s happening here. Here’s where they’re going. You know, so I think cuz I think that is one thing i’ve you know, and in thinking through, like, if you bury the read, it kind of feels like people are like, Wait a second. The whole reason that this email is like, down here, and you’re kind of like, pulling one over on I’m, you know, trying to like sugarcoat it. And I didn’t sugarcoat it in a sense, but I just didn’t like hide it. Um, you know, don’t bury don’t bury the lead because I think people people see right through that, you know,
Jeremy Weisz 23:24
I love to hear Dodd you know, what you’ve learned from any colleagues or mentors kind of in the SaaS space? I don’t know if it’s someone you know, Rob or someone else you’ve met there, but what’s who are some of your colleagues or mentors and some of the lessons?
Dodd Caldwell 23:38
Yeah, well, I’ll tell you a few things I’ve learned at MicroConf. Does that does that work?
Jeremy Weisz 23:43
That’s awesome. Yeah.
Dodd Caldwell 23:44
And one of them is really practical. Very, very practical. It’s actually paid many times over this one maybe 10 minute talk, every MicroConf. I my business partner and I have been to like, every year it pays for it many times over. It is research and development tax credit, had no clue that this software businesses could take advantage of that. And I mean, one of our biggest expenses is our payroll, um, you know, developers and basically you’re able to not just get a deduction you’re able to get a tax credit I mean, it’s complicated. But you know, if you have a competent kind of consultant there’s consultants on that type stuff. Um, you know, you can save a lot on taxes. That’s a boring thing. But literally, it was just like, Oh, I went back and talked to finally just googled it like, consultant for research and development
Jeremy Weisz 24:49
tax feels like money.
Dodd Caldwell 24:51
Yeah, it’s like, it’s like this is like, oh, all sudden, every year I apply for it, and I get it and it’s just like free money and it pays for the conference over and over and Ever I mean that’s something I think most like small SaaS businesses don’t even like think about and it’s not that hard to that hard to get um so I’m kind of always fun tax all I’m interesting I don’t know why and I like paying my taxes and being honest with them and everything but that was like a cool cool thing um another who I knew is actually is funny because I listened to this whole talk I think the guy’s name was wars remember his whole talk gave a really long like keynote talk about how to optimize your funnel having these teams that are doing all this like conversion rate optimization all this kind of stuff you have to do it you have to do it you have to do it all this kind of stuff and man I was so I remember leaving it almost kind of like depressed a little bit of like we’re not doing that like that sounds so what he’s doing is so complicated requires such a huge team and how much am I missing out by not doing this? How much revenue Am I missing out? And then he came out with a blog post like, I don’t know a year or two later and it’s like, uh, yeah, pretty much everything I just said kind of forget. I’m not doing that anymore. And I don’t think you should be doing it and it was kind of funny like that’s why I said I don’t like giving Maxim’s I don’t like say you have to do this you have to do that I’d rather tell stories and maybe people can find little nuggets from them that worked for them is I know their business better than better than I do and or ever will. Um, and it was one of those interesting things like even the experts even you know aren’t always right they don’t necessarily know more than you we’re all figuring this out on our own and it was sort of like ah, when I read that blog post I was like those were the concerns I had the ones that he was like here’s why we stopped doing it. It was always things in the back of my mind I was like well this is why I think it may not work that’s maybe not a good idea but I mean he’s given a keynote speech and you know it’s like I feel like I should be doing all this so you got to kind of do what works for your business but also like you know again take nuggets there’s probably nuggets in that speech I learned things from in applied but overall it was a learning experience even just seeing him switch a little bit his thought pattern and more power to him a lot of people that give a keynote speech and talk about this whole thing they’re not going to then go in and say oh yeah I don’t actually recommend doing that anymore because I’ve learned from a lot of people stick to their guns and aren’t gonna like publicly go out and and really what he did helped more people by doing that because he taught what he learned from his mistakes you know what I don’t think he wasn’t being he didn’t have bad intentions when he gave that speech at MicroConf about you know conversion rate optimization
Jeremy Weisz 28:03
things are always changing in that universe and world and people also change their worldview as well so it totally makes sense you know, any other mentors in the business for you or colleagues at you when you need advice on something? You will call
Dodd Caldwell 28:21
a you know, um, my dad’s an entrepreneur and he’s had a business since the since the 70s isn’t manufacturing completely different but you know what
Jeremy Weisz 28:31
what are they manufacturing
Dodd Caldwell 28:33
Home fragrance products
Jeremy Weisz 28:34
Dodd Caldwell 28:35
Yeah candles all that kind of stuff. Um, completely different industry but um you know every industry has its pros and cons and it also every industry has its similarities and differences and I think sometimes you can learn a lot by talking to people in other industries and you can get sort of you know, a little too insulated just talking to like people in SaaS and you can think when you you can get a better perspective time perspective to by looking at businesses that have been around since the 70s that are in mania manufacturing and I know like it’s not always like this when you have a business it’s like sustainable you’re gonna have bad years you’re gonna have good years and I think that’s one of the things with SaaS is is like man if you’re not like doing this every year and a lot of people because if you have one that’s that’s growing and it’s working, um, it is like that for the first X number of years and I think people think it’s always going to be like that and it doesn’t have to be um, and you’re gonna have ups and downs, revenue wise or whatever and so just having that time perspective it also keeps you humble. I was at a conference once I think it was and and more power to these guys and I’m not sure And actually, I don’t want to, like, downplay anybody, but I think it was the guys who started an Instagram, you know, they sold it to Facebook, they were in their early 20s. And I remember I was at conference and they were speaking like, it was like, right after they had sold it. And I remember thinking, listening to them, I think they’ve probably got a different perspective now, because they are older and wiser and all that. And they were obviously very, they were and are very smart. So no, not trying to diss them in any way. But it was like, I believe their perspective back then is this is easy. This is how it works. You know, you start this business, you create this technology, you get people on it, you sell it for a billion dollars, you know,
Jeremy Weisz 30:43
that’s what happened. That’s the recipe. That’s what,
Dodd Caldwell 30:47
that’s what we’re all doing here, you know, and I was like, Oh my gosh, they Yeah, that’s, you know, but when you can see businesses that have been around for 30 years, or whatever, and I’m sure they have a different perspective now, probably not, maybe I’m reading in wrong into what they were saying at that at that time, as well. Um, but it was also hard back then, you know, early days, so I knew it wasn’t always like that, that is literally hitting hitting the lottery, like building an Instagram. And it was one of the reasons why we like said we didn’t want to build a business from the ground up to be a unicorn. We wanted to have a sustainable, you know, small business,
Jeremy Weisz 31:27
is there something that sticks in your mind from either observing your dad or something he told you as a business lesson? Hmm.
Dodd Caldwell 31:38
Interesting. Well, um, gosh, I’m trying to think of anyone. It’s hard because like, you know, if somebody has been your dad for your entire life, distill it down and think of like, one. one specific thing, I don’t know that. If I gave you an answer right now, it may be disingenuous, because I don’t know if I can think about that. It’s like a lifetime.
Jeremy Weisz 32:01
No worries. Yeah, I figured sometimes something jumps out. I will say
Dodd Caldwell 32:05
I can I can tell you another one I had in high school, one of my friends, dad’s ran a large commercial construction business. And I did look at him. His name is Jim Sanders. And I looked at him as sort of a mentor as well, cuz I was always interested in entrepreneurship and how businesses run and IRAs growing up, our business was actually in our backyard. Basically, it was like across the creek through these woods. And, you know, we basically had the house on the property, essentially. And anyway, this friend’s dad, um, I think he had maybe had a rough day rough week with employees dealing with HR issues. And now I’m not ready to put his hand on my shoulder goes Dodd. If for when you ever start a business, try to find one that doesn’t require a ton of employees.
Jeremy Weisz 32:51
I think every
Dodd Caldwell 32:53
business and he’s like, you know what, you can hire people that do a good job. And you know, you don’t have to micromanage. You don’t have a ton of HR issues and all that kind of stuff. And that always like, kind of stuck with me. It’s kind of funny, but it kind of always stuck with me.
Jeremy Weisz 33:09
I think a lot of people have some of those days that case, and people are the lifeblood as well. So it goes on both both sides. And that’s what I
Dodd Caldwell 33:19
say that like half in jest. Yeah, there’s tons of businesses that, you know, you have to have a ton of people. And there’s tons of people that love managing a ton of people. And that that gives them like, that’s like fun and energizing for them. And that’s awesome. Yeah,
Jeremy Weisz 33:35
Dodd, first of all, I have one last question. But thank you, thanks for sharing some of the lessons and knowledge some of the journey. Everyone could check out MoonClerk.com to learn more, and look and see what they they’re working on their last question that I always like to ask this of, specifically SaaS founders, which is tech stack, you know, you’re a SaaS founder. I’m curious, what stuff do you like to use internally or externally? As far as the technology goes?
Dodd Caldwell 34:04
Yeah, I mean, we were built on Ruby on Rails is kind of the, you know, framework. I’m not a developer, my business partners developer, I run the business side of things, but I mean, we, you know, we obviously use Stripe, as well as a key part of how we build as well as building MoonClerk on top of our business. We use that you mentioned, Zapier, we use Zapier, that’s probably something I more use. Because it’s a You don’t have to be a developer to use that. We use Intercom for, you know, customer support, Help Docs. We use data as our CMS Gatsby for right that’s for our like marketing site. Um, I mean probably no, we use Heroku you They’re built on and they’re built on top of AWS, we use them for hosting the app, Google suite for, you know, email and that stuff and Basecamp for our Project Management Development, intercompany communications documentation, kind of run the business through. Through Basecamp.
Jeremy Weisz 35:26
Awesome. Yeah. I love it. Dodd. Thank you so much. Thanks for what you do everyone, check out MoonClerk and we’ll see everyone next time. Thanks, everyone.