Our long-term vision requires a team of people with a high degree of technical ability, autonomy, ownership, and wisdom. Such team is also naturally more efficient, happy and easier to guide in this path.
Over the last few months, we have been making a bigger effort in this growth process, and we have seen positive results of it. First with 1on1s and a bigger focus on personal growth, then by distributing some responsibility from meta team to the functional and project teams. If done well, this reduces the overhead and increases our efficiency and output. It’s a complex process though, which requires a substantial change in how we work daily, so it’s important that we pursue this vision gradually. Changing too fast will result in chaos and frustration that will have negative effects. Instead, we should make small steps that constantly keep us slightly outside our comfort zone and consistently growth through that.
It’s time we make a few more steps in that direction. If we want to empower more people, the obvious solution is for the leadership in every layer gradually share more of the decision making progress. Leadership continues to exist as a framework to ensure alignment within their area of responsibility. So leaders and leadership teams should gradually evolve into a more passive role of ensuring the people around them are making the right calls and things are on track, interfering only to nudge the wider team on the right direction. Obviously, the ratio between a passive and active role will vary depending on the experience and wisdom of the people involved, and also the context and complexity of each task. But this ratio should never be static. It should evolve gradually towards challenging the people to grow.
On contrary to last month, in May the number of billables ended to be actually higher that what we estimated the beginning of the month and is again the highest number of billables we have achieved so far, which is a good trend to have. Still, we weren’t able to reach the goal, achieving only 69k€ billables of the 75k€ we traced.
It’s true that the billable goals we traced for these months are a challenging increment over the number we were achieving last trimester: During that period we never had a month that surpassed 60k€. This trimester every month so far has been above that, without any increase in team size.
It’s good evolution, just not enough according to where we want to be.
The biggest bottleneck sits in the type of projects we have been able to acquire this trimester: we acquired 2 projects so far, but none above the 20k€ value. We want to achieve 3 of this kind this trimester, now with only one month left. It’s challenging, and we’ve been working on different tactics to reach this - we haven’t nailed it yet, by finding the one(s) that work for this kind of projects, but we will get there sooner or later. These will have a big impact in our evolution in the following months in terms of billables and type of project we want to be doing in the midterm - projects where we control the full product, from ideation to execution, launch, and scale.
At the same time, we need to keep improving our efficiency in our projects, namely by improving the delivering of our deliverables inside the estimated dates.
Still about goals, at the beginning of the trimester, we defined that we wanted to reduce the number of ongoing projects to increase our focus, ideally in exchange for bigger projects where we control a bigger number of layers. This month we finished 3 having now 15 ongoing projects of the 17 we had at the beginning of the Trimester. The idea is to reduce them up to 14, but we will not make an effort in this direction until we acquire new projects, even though some will naturally close during this period.
In terms of revenue, this trimester we achieved 100k€ so far and our estimate sits at 180k€ for the trimester. As already was acknowledged last month, this is below our goal of 200k€ and was a big stretch to achieve this with just one month left with impact on revenue (May). Nonetheless, the work we’ll do this month of June will have an impact on the next trimester, so let’s do a great job this month to keep the trend of increased revenue.
- Billables: 72k€
- Projects with >20k€ value: 3
Goal: close 700€ in revenue. Missed.
In light of another goal miss, this month we proceeded to a careful review of our numbers.
We increased the amount of effort we put on sales since April and used that data to evaluate the viability of our business plan. In other words, would reach 5000k€ of MRR be in fact a good indicator of our health?
By doing so we started to get numbers that were not too promising. Simply put, there are two not that easy to get metrics to help us assess the potential health of our business, the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and the Customer Lifetime Value (LTV our CLV). The ratio between the two is generally considered a good indicator of the business' health.
We redid the CAC and LTV calculations sometimes, tried to be as realistic as possible and the results are far from good: the current LTV:CAC ratio was below 3:1, a value we'd expect to get if things we're going well.
After concluding that, we put all our thoughts in other market options or flipping this by improving our product. But any option we considered means starting almost from scratch. Of course, this is a bit biased: the whole team is into this for some time now and we have the concept too deep in our minds, to think beyond what we’ve been viewing for Qold.
TL:DR right now we as a team don’t believe we can find a market quick and good enough that would make us have a sustainable business model. We will work to keep our current clients happy and running.
- Close a deal for data consultancy services on energy
- Follow up the contacts we have on energy area;
- Find new sources for cold calls (Nordic market is a focus due to the competitive energy market for energy commercialization and high segmentation);
- Find hackathons and events around energy;
- Align the hustle job for Whitesmith and Unplugg to scale our capacity.
This month we had a quite hard time to get people and time to execute our strategy as we wanted to.
We could not close any deal for data consultancy services on energy, neither find new sources for cold calls and hackathons and events around energy.
Things were challenging, but we had good feedback during most of the conversations we had. It is difficult to sell data science services, but we need to rely on our expertise and good work and keep hustling. A few opportunities have appeared during this month, we need to give the proper follow-up. However, we were able to get 5 new prospect ins, one of them is promising.
One thing is pretty clear for us now: Forecasting per se is not perceived as a value add proposition.
- Close a deal for data consultancy services on energy.
Mostly the work will be good old hustling, with Cold emails and calls. Having someone technical involved from the beginning brings credibility to our work and clearly can increase the conversion rate.
This month we reached more contacts through inbound than expected, which is great since it means that our inbound strategy is working. However, we want to make these contacts more regular so we have to try more things in order to improve this.
Regarding blog posts, we were one blog post behind our defined goal but we have so many nice blog posts to read. Don’t forget to check out the blog ;)
Despite our changes in the copy and in the content, we didn’t get any replies to our newsletter so we still need to work a little bit on that to improve the engagement.
The results of May were:
- 5/6 blog posts;
- 5/4 contacts through inbound;
- 0/2 replies to our newsletter.
- 6 blog posts;
- 4 contacts through inbound;
- 2 replies to our newsletter.
We are keeping the same goals for the next month since there are still some things that we can work on.
Besides our goals, we also had the first edition of Digital meets Physical where we gather more than 30 tech and product enthusiasts with two awesome speakers. It was a success! We can't wait for the second edition, in Lisbon, on June 20th! Stay tuned for updates!
See you in June
We would love to know your thoughts about our monthly reports. What else would you like for us to cover? Or what can we share that would be helpful for you? Feel free to share any thoughts or questions on twitter!