January 22, 2015

An Update on the State of Contactually


This post is addressed to the fans, supporters, and most importantly, you, the Contactually user with an update on the state of Contactually.

Hi there, I'm Zvi, the co-founder and CEO of Contactually.

The concept of Contactually arose out of a personal pain of mine 3.5 years ago. At inception, I had no idea whether Contactually would go anywhere. Despite my entrepreneurial ambitions, I didn't have the vision or the aspirations of this being anything other than a cool little app.

A few years, a few million in funding, and a many thousands of man-hours later, it's still pinch-worthy to see where we are now, and to look at our plans for the future.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about today. Today I want to talk about the state of Contactually, specifically, the product.

When we started Contactually, it was an experiment. Do professionals have a need, a drive, a thirst for building and maintaining strong relationships? It was clear early on -- yes. Do professionals need a product like this? It's clear now -- yes. Can we build a massively successful company on this concept? Stay tuned, but it's looking pretty good.

Since Contactually was an experiment, so was everything we built. As we rolled out new features, we were focused on just testing them out to see if you, the user, would benefit from them. We adopted a "move fast, break things" mentality to allow us to move quickly and learn what worked and what didn't. We wanted to understand fast whether or not email templates, team sharing, mobile applications, programs, and more would be beneficial to help the user achieve our common vision.

Enter the term "product debt" -- accrued bugs and issues that arise when building something.

When we built a new feature as a test, we allowed some product debt -- after all, we wanted to learn quickly, so it didn't need to be perfect. But in our thirst for learning, and our passion for finding new and creative ways of solving your, the user's, issues... we kept moving forward. As we saw what worked, we never said "ok, now we should make it perfect." You, the user, loved seeing all the new functionality we would roll out every month, and that exuberance kept us asking what's next, not what needs to be perfected. In line with our core value of ownership, I owned the product, so the buck stops with me there. So product debt kept stacking up, layer after layer.

And you noticed. And made it clear that was not acceptable.

We've spent most of the past year fixing that. It's been a hard road, but we're there. We spent months digging deep into the root of issues and permanently fixing them. With your help, we identified the top issues and solved them. We brought on a new product manager who has now taken ownership of the product with my full support. We implemented better development practices like code reviews, hired two quality assurance engineers to test everything, and adopted the mentality that no user-facing bugs are acceptable.

And I'm happy to tell you today that we've turned a corner. Performance is up 10X. Bug reports are drastically down. Our sales and customer success teams no longer say that product malfunctions are the primary reason for lost opportunities. We've launched a new, working, and stable iPhone, iPad, Android apps, and Outlook plugins.

It's been a long road, but we are there. We still will have product issues that we stamp out quickly, compatibility issues that we'll help you with, and under-the-hood improvements our engineers work deep into the night on.

The platform of January 2014 is almost incomparable in quality to the platform of January 2015. So now, now we can go back to moving forward. We have a big focus on usability right now, to make what we have even better. We have a killer roadmap driven by what's best for the user that we're starting to move forward on. With an assurance of quality over quantity of features, we have so many improvements coming down the pipeline. I can't wait to show you how they look, work, and more importantly, help you with your key relationships.

Onward and upward.