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Reflecting on 2021: 13X Product Usage, 14X ARR, 5X Team Growth

Nick Gottlieb

February 03, 2022

Companies have been remaking the work experience over the past couple of years. This has included adjusting the way they hire, reshaping communication standards to operate well in an at least partially remote atmosphere, and developing a stronger culture overall. These shifts and changes have certainly created obstacles for scaling, but we are proud to announce that 2021 was a fantastic year of growth at Courier!

Courier’s mission is to make software-to-human communication delightful. To achieve this mission, we realized that the most important thing we could do was to narrow our focus on developers. Improving user experience for developers, the humans building the software communicating with other humans, was key to increasing product usage, customer growth, and team growth. Tactically, we did this by adding more providers to meet developers where they are and by expanding functionality of all our endpoints (more APIs, more SDKs, etc.).

An increase in product usage via notification volume was necessary to maintain our understanding of product market fit. More customers would continue to grow the company’s brand and an improvement in high quality hiring would result in a better company culture and greater internal capacity. All three of these metrics would be key to success over the past year.

Product Usage

Courier’s big picture in 2021 was to deliver a great notification infrastructure for our customers as a major step toward our mission. The key metric we use to determine whether we’re achieving that is the notification volume that our customers send through the Courier product.

From January 2021 through December 2021, we experienced 13X growth in the number of monthly notifications our customers sent through the Courier API. This growth, while exciting, also forced us to mature quickly on the operations side of the house to ensure we could meet our customer’s demands in a reliable manner. One major operation obstacle was a need to rebuild our send pipeline to meet scale and reduce bottlenecks that could slow down service. Building our entire infrastructure with Serverless made what is still a very formidable challenge much more achievable with our small (but growing) engineering team.

2021 Notification Sends

Customer Growth

Our customers are our lifeblood here at Courier and we are in the lucky situation of being a team made up mostly of engineers who get to build and sell a product to other engineers whom we can empower to build delightful experiences.

We’ve been incredibly lucky to work with many forward thinking and innovative engineering teams, such as those at LaunchDarkly and Hospitable.

Last year’s significant growth in customers had challenges as well, as our support and customer success demands grew proportionally. One thing that helped us meet these needs was actually a core company value we have that says everyone in our organization must talk with customers, regardless of role. This allows us to deal with scale while still only having one (fantastic) team member focused on Customer Success and no dedicated customer support roles.

Like most other SaaS companies, we track our customer growth via ARR (annual recurring revenue) and that is the number we use as a guiding light for success. We had a lofty, though not unheard of, best-in-class goal for companies of our stage to grow ARR by 10X in 2021. We ended the year by growing that number by 14X. Interestingly, we didn’t make our first sales hire until Q4 of 2021. Although our first sales executive did help meet the demand generated, most of that demand growth happened bottoms up and organically.

Team Growth

While we’re very proud of the growth we saw across our customer base in 2021, the most fun part for most of us has been growing the team and bringing together an amazing group of people who are driven by building a great developer API. Making software-to-human communication delightful is a hefty mission that requires resources and manpower.

We had 15 new team members join in 2021 - that was 80% of our headcount as new hires at the time. With so much of the team being brand new, we prioritized making investments in culture.

As of 2021, Courier has adopted a hybrid-remote culture wherein the team is fully equipped to work remotely, while maintaining a physical office environment and encouraging in-person teamwork wherever possible. This meets all employees in their own comfort zones and makes the workplace flexible enough for everyone.

Establishing company values also helped set a clear tone and expectations for team culture:

  • Zoom Out (and see the big picture)
  • Have an Opinion
  • Keep it Real
  • Just F*c*ing Do It
  • Talk to Customers

It also became a priority to have fun as a team! We held in person board game nights and remote escape room sessions, mandated one week off for every employee every quarter to encourage rest and rejuvenation, established a $2,000 learning budget for everyone, and much more.

2021 was just the beginning - we plan to triple the Courier team this year and would love to have you on board to help us out! Check out our careers page to see if our team might be a good fit.

Want to learn more about Courier?

Request a demo to see how Courier works to make product notifications delightful.

Request a demo

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