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4 lessons from taking a SaaS startup profitable during the downturn

Feathery has been growing quickly, and we wanted to reflect on what got us here.

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Feathery raised a $4M seed round during the VC boom and publicly launched less than a year ago. We have since grown to 7-figure annual recurring revenue, hundreds of weekly signups, and profitability. My background is in consumer growth engineering (ex-Robinhood), and my cofounder formerly scaled Hightouch from $100k to $10M ARR.

Cumulative ARR
Cumulative ARR

I started Feathery as a way to help non-technical users build complex forms. We were never a competitor to the Google Forms and Typeforms of the world – instead, we were focused on use cases like Robinhood’s onboarding flow. Since then, we’ve evolved the product to also encompass related customer workflows.

Feathery reached profitability last month, and I wanted to share some of our learnings so far.

Lesson 1: Launching quicker isn’t always better

This is a lesson we struggled with for a while, especially since it’s often better to launch as fast as possible to maximize market feedback. We ended up spending 2 years heads-down building with design partners.

Our rationale was that we were creating a product that didn’t provide value directly proportional to the amount of time spent developing it. It wasn’t just enough for us to be a form builder in a crowded market. To actually differentiate ourselves, we needed to be capable of recreating a complex financial application like Robinhood’s onboarding flow, while maintaining a clear user experience. Before we could accomplish that, we offered no differentiated value.

The Feathery form designer

Lesson 2: Most marketing experiments won’t work

We pursued a horizontal, inbound go-to-market motion. We tried everything from indie hacker community launches to featuring in integration partner newsletters and advertising with PM “influencers”. But true to the power law, nothing really moved the needle for us other than one strategy: organic content and content partnerships. They drive the vast majority of our inbound signups to this day.

Webflow's feature on Feathery

Lesson 3: Usage =/= Revenue

Our successful content marketing strategy helped us scale usage quickly, but our revenue numbers didn’t meaningfully change. We had subscription plans that were great for SMBs, but we didn’t reach enough scale with them to actually support our low price points.

We realized a few fundamental things at this stage:

  • Feathery is a tool built for enterprise. Early-stage companies primarily adopted Feathery for simple forms and prototyping, and we were constantly being compared against form builders. Enterprises, on the other hand, were excited about the possibilities of implementing deep use cases that they knew otherwise could only have been built in-house with a team of developers.
  • Our pricing, packaging, and positioning were all optimized for SMB product-led growth, when we should have been optimizing for enterprise, product-led sales. Due to the visual nature of the product, enterprises had their “aha” moment soon after engaging with it.

Once we started optimizing for the right audience,  we saw our revenue catch up to our usage.

Lesson 4: Hard times create needed focus

Truth be told, reaching profitability wasn’t our initial plan. Like many other startups, we were constantly focused on the goals we wanted to hit to reach our next fundraise. But the market downturn slowly started shifting our perspective as we started re-examining our most important objectives.

Setting our north star towards revenue instead of usage allowed us to narrow in on the right customer segment at the enterprise level.

We downsized the team, which was painful but allowed us to focus more time on refining our ideal customer personas and go-to-market strategy instead of day-to-day operations.

The first two years of foundation-setting gave us a strong product platform on which we could quickly iterate more scoped features like integrations and new form elements that were directly tied to customer requirements and contracts closed.

We reached profitability almost as a side effect of focusing on optimizing the most important business metrics for us now.


Feathery is actively hiring as we develop and scale our enterprise motion. Lots of exciting product updates are coming soon as we continue refining our world-class designer, workflow automation, and document intelligence & signing features.