A year ago we sat down to discuss the future of 1SE, how the next year will unfold, and what we can build for our users to enhance their experience. Our team already had a good idea of the major pain points for our community: like being able to safely backup your 1SE or adding a track of music to their kid’s first year. We knew there were clear points of frustration that we had to address. However, we knew that we needed to go right to the source: you, our users.
We asked folks to fill out our first 1SE survey of 5 questions. Our social networks, email list, app users… the whole spectrum of 1SE fans. How they used 1SE, how important it was to them, what those “gotta have” features are. Honestly, I thought we’d get only a couple hundred responses. Instead, it was an overwhelming 1200 responses.
As fellow 1SE users, these were the same features the team wanted. It’s wonderful when a product team’s ideas align with its customers. The focus being on the few that provide the most value to our community. Unlimited backup and the ability to add music to mashed videos. But those features would mean incurring heavy cost and requiring 3rd party services that we didn’t have. For example, to get global rights for license-free music requires partnering with a company that holds those rights. This would cost tens of thousands of dollars every year, scaling up as we grow. There’s also the logistics of storing people’s videos. Since we’re not a storage company we’d need to partner with a trusted cloud solution. Backing up years of HD video for hundreds of thousands of users, multiple projects, and redundant backups can cost a fortune over time. In 2014, Vijay Pandurangan estimated Facebook spends $400mm a year just on infrastructure to store its users media. While we’re not the size of Facebook, even a fraction of that cost is massive for us.
This put us at a crossroad: knowing there are moments of frustration for our users, yet being unable to afford the solutions to ease their experiences. We couldn’t ignore them anymore. We needed a new strategy to cover the costs, but before we take a dive into our options, let’s take a moment and see how 1SE spends money.
How is Each Dollar Spent?
No matter how good our CPA is, benefits we offer, how a company is structured… a team of 12 folks costs money. Developers don’t just run on coffee and high fives. Salaries, benefits, taxes, software licenses, and lawyers all take a piece of the pie. Here’s a clear breakdown of what happens to every dollar a customer gives to 1SE.
Our biggest line item is payroll. We pay competitive salaries and offer benefits through Justworks (FYI, they’re pretty awesome). The second largest item, which might come as a surprise to those not in the tech space, is Apple’s 30% cut of EVERY sale on the App Store. It’s basically a distribution cost for selling our product on the App Store to consumers, it comes with the territory and covers regional sales taxes. The rest are expenses: Our semi-annual work retreats, corporate taxes, and legal fees to name a few. You might notice we don’t have office rent, furniture, or kitchen goodies, this is because we’re a distributed company. Overall there’s not a lot of fat here to trim.
1SE has needed to stay lean from the get go. Taking on a “bootstrapping” mentality, almost in a zen-like fashion, slowly building the team and picking the “best bang for your buck” on the product roadmap. Also, it’s 100% privately held with no outside investors like a VC firm, wealthy family member, or angel investors. Now, we can stay on this “bootstrapping” path, continuing to support 1SE, and slowly rolling out new features. However, to address those pain points of our community– like license-free music and secure cloud storage–we need to shift from a traditional single purchase product to something else. This will allow us to create and support the best version of 1SE for generations to come.
How Do We Pay for It?
The immediate response I get from most folks is to “Just cram in a bunch of ads” to make more money, but having a Dunkin Donuts ad slammed across the moments of your daughter’s first steps is utter garbage, in my opinion. There are a ton of ways to monetize. Let’s take a quick dive into the options we have considered.
- Ads or selling user data: I need our users to trust that we’re not selling them or their memories to the highest bidder. Eleri Harris has a wonderful illustration of how Facebook and Cambridge Analytica collected user data.
- Outside capital like VC funding: There are pros and cons for every company to consider with VC funding. We‘ve met a handful of great investors but either the terms or timing didn’t fit. Right now we’re just focusing on making 1SE great.
- Brand partnerships: Instead of focusing on large partnerships (like our past ones with Chase or Pepsi) that required an immense amount of energy, we’ve since moved to building relationships with individual brands.
- In-App Purchases(IAPs): This is a one-time purchase that unlocks a photo filter pack or reduces the time to build your castle in a game. Early on, our Android version offered this but we had problems with the payment process on the Play Store. It’s a great way to allow folks to customize their experience with an app.
- Subscription: Who wouldn’t want to pay for a service that provides more movies, faster deliveries, or unlimited access to something? For example, 64% of US households now have a Netflix subscription. As long as continued value is provided to the consumer, this is a great way for a company to grow.
Many companies use one, or even a couple of those options. Over the years we’ve tried many of these (and others not listed here). Failing quite spectacular at one or two. However, this provides us with a pretty good idea of what works for 1SE and our community.
So what is the solution?
Introducing 1SE Pro, an all-access subscription plan for the best features in 1SE. This will support the vision of the company and allow our small team to grow without outside money.
- UNLIMITED BACKUP: Keep your life’s most precious memories safe
- LONGER SNIPPETS: Snippets up to 3 seconds long (finally!)
- MUSIC: High quality license free music for your mashed videos (No more copyright issues when sharing!)
- BRIGHTNESS/SHADOWS: Adjust the brightness and shadows of your snippets
- VOLUME: Too loud a clip? Adjust or mute the audio of a snippet
- REMOVE 1SE: Customize your mashes by removing our logo
- SAFETY: Secure your memories with end to end encryption (using SSL & 256-bit AES on AWS servers)
- PRIORITY SUPPORT: You’ll get 24/7 support from our customer advocates
- FIRST DIBS: Early access to new features
- PATRON: Support the team that’s been with you for over 5 years and help us create a product you can cherish
Not only are we improving 1SE with a Pro subscription, we’re keeping the core 1SE 100% the same. Ad-free and private. No current features will be removed, limited, or put behind a pay wall. Also, we guarantee the core app will continue to evolve with new features and updates. There’s so much more coming to 1SE and we’ll continue to roll our great features to the core app.
Your Support is Paramount
Back in 2012 we started 1SE with the help of the community at Kickstarter with Cesar and myself at his living room table, answering 1,000s of emails (those days are a blur of coffee and banh-mi). Those beautiful passionate folks jump started this crazy journey. If you haven’t already, I’d highly recommend reading Cesar Kuriyama’s story on the Origin of 1 Second Everyday. 1SE relies 100% on the diverse individuals from around the globe to keep us going. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for staying with us this long. I’m hoping you’ll continue to support us in this next chapter of the company.
If there’s a feature you want to see built, reach out to us. Finally, please share questions, digital hugs, or high fives in the comments below.
P.s. Android folks, we know it’s been a rough couple years. You can check out the new v3 of Android here.
Check us out at 1SE.co and follow us on our social channels here: