The importance of solid monetization goals and a clear pricing strategy...

The importance of solid monetization goals and a clear pricing strategy – With Marie Martens (

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In this episode, we talk with Marie Martens, co-founder of, a new and successful form-builder tool. has made a big splash, hitting $1.2 million in yearly revenue, attracting 250,000 users, and converting 4,000 of them into paying customers in just three years—all in a very crowded market and without taking any outside investment.

The secret sauce? A smart pricing strategy that sets their credo and helps them make very difficult decisions easily. Sometimes against the grain of traditional beliefs. 
Marie shares how keeping things simple and focusing on delivering great value to free users has been key to their success.

Here’s what we cover:

  • Choosing to bootstrap gave the freedom to shape their pricing the way they wanted.
  • Why avoiding maximizing revenues at all costs actually… maximizes revenue (and margins).
  • The importance of a straightforward, easy-to-understand pricing strategy.
  • How to balance in your pricing model what makes sense for business vs the experience it gives to the user
  • Why offering a lot for free can set you apart from the competition.
  • The pros and cons of lifetime deals and discounts, and why they often don’t work out well.
  • Effective ways to gather and use feedback from users to improve your product without needing a bigger team.

 Tally is the simplest way to create forms, for free.

Salva (00:01.568)
Hello, welcome to reasonable product. Today I invited the founder of a company called tele dot C S O sorry. And I’ve got with me Marie. Good morning, Marie.

Marie (00:17.351)
Good morning. Thank you so much for having me.

Salva (00:19.694)
Thank you. I was extremely happy having you today because you’re building something in public and when you’re building in public, you’re a little bit more open perhaps to sharing what’s behind the scene. And I’m extremely interested by knowing the story beyond Tali. Would you like to introduce a little bit what Tali is and what you’re doing?

Marie (00:33.415)

Marie (00:43.047)
Yeah, of course. So yeah, my name is Mari. We’re based in Belgium and I founded Tali together with Philippe, who is my technical co -founder, but also partner in life. We founded it together in 2020. And actually Tali was kind of born out of a bit of a frustration that we experienced ourselves. You know, we’ve had used a lot of form builders before.

But you have Google Forms, which is free and you can do a lot with it, but it didn’t really have the look and feel that we were looking for. And then other form builders like a Typeform or a JotForm can be really expensive, especially if you’re indie hacking, which is our bootstrap, which is what we do. And that’s kind of how we came up with the idea, like what if we can build another type of form builder?

We’ll probably talk about it more in a bit. So that’s kind of how it’s Ali was.

Salva (01:45.39)
How is the industry called? It’s form builders. How would you?

Marie (01:50.865)
I would say four builders. Yeah, I think that’s the term that is generally used.

Salva (01:56.814)
And you were brave enough, so you said, to fight giants or either free giants or paid giants and fully bootstrap, right?

Marie (02:02.919)

Marie (02:07.751)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So we kind of made like the conscious decision to bootstrap. We felt like we wanted to try this, you know, on our own. So it was just quite a challenge, but also kind of fun to do. Also, I have a background in marketing and Filip is an engineer. He has founded other startups before as well. So we felt like, you know, we had the…

the skills in -house to at least launch something and see how far we could get and also do it at our own pace and make our own decisions, especially then pricing -wise because we decided to make the tool largely free. And all of that combined made us decide to bootstrap and not raise investments. I guess it’s also a bit linked to the face and…

our lives where we are at. We’re a young family, we have two young kids right now, so we kind of also need the flexibility to be able to work where and when we want and to do things at our own pace. And yeah, we always had to dream to build some kind of sustainable business for our family and that was kind of the goal when we started.

Salva (03:31.182)
It’s also very brave, right? You get a young family and you say, we’re not going to raise money from VCs or from investors. We bootstrap on our own. You’re both in the same boat, if I understand with your partner. So it’s also very brave, isn’t it?

Marie (03:37.765)

Marie (03:44.293)

Marie (03:47.879)
Yeah, I mean, it was stressful for sure. I think what helped is that Philip had sold his previous startup, which gave us a bit of a financial runway to at least try like the whole startup thing for like a year, you know, and being able to still pay our bills because he had the first years we didn’t have any salary. So that definitely also helped us with making this decision.

We also didn’t have kids yet when we launched Tally, so they came shortly after. So we kind of did everything at the same time, which I might not recommend. Yeah. So yeah, I think the financial aspect is definitely important because, you it takes a while until you have, you don’t know if you will have enough revenue to, you know, to pay yourself. So you kind of need to jump and hope for the best, I guess.

Salva (04:18.382)
So Talib was the first kid, literally.

Marie (04:41.863)
So yeah, we’re pretty happy that we managed to get to that point that we can live out of.

Salva (04:49.422)
And that’s a good point. So before we get to the details, probably it’s interesting to say, you start like two, three, no, four years ago now, right? 2020 you said, so almost four years ago. Right, so probably the question before getting into the different steps is where are you today? Success wise, was it successful?

Marie (05:00.453)
Yeah, almost summer 2020.

Marie (05:09.127)
Yeah. Yeah, so we were bootstrapped in still. We were three people. Well, actually, the two of us, the founders, and then we have a part -time freelancer helping us out with customer support. So we’re three people in total. And we now have a revenue of 100k MRR, and we have 250 ,000.

users or people around the world that have made it that.

Salva (05:42.638)
So it’s 100k per month, so it’s a little bit more than 1 million euros, right, we’re talking.

Marie (05:49.451)
A 1MK dollar, but yeah, we’re talking a dollar almost in euros as well. But so it’s a bit more than a million per year. Yeah.

Salva (05:50.382)
Dollar, okay.

Salva (06:00.462)
Yeah, so a little bit more in a million in a year, we’re going to get to this point because it’s very interesting to understand what is the mix between paid users and non -paid user, right? But before we get them, how did you decide to get into a so crowded market where you’ve got free, you’ve got paid, you’ve got giants like Google, I think Microsoft have got their own alternatives as well. How did you even think about doing this?

Marie (06:10.179)

Marie (06:22.597)

Marie (06:28.103)
Yeah, good question. Some people call this crazy indeed. I think it comes from the idea that it is a bit easier, especially when you’re bootstrapped, to claim a small percent, like 1 % of a very crowded space, than to claim 100 % of a niche. And that’s definitely something that we felt like was true.

we don’t have the marketing capacity to build the market ourselves, right? So we needed the tool that we knew there was demand for, which is definitely the case with form builders. You know, every company or freelancer or startup needs a form at one point on their journey. So the demand is definitely there. And we felt like there was room for a bit of a different player because in the end, you know,

forms are kind of boring, you know, it’s not the most sexy product out there. And we’re also really, we’re huge fans of Notion. And we were talking about how crazy it is that they kind of managed to make, you know, from the start, like note taking, fun again, and it’s a product you just kind of want to spend time in. And we thought, how could we actually translate that to forms? Like, how can we make forms, you know, fun and

easy to use and affordable at the same time. And even though now there are a lot of players, four years ago, we also had a lot of players, but there were less smaller players. And yeah, we felt like there was space for one more, especially because also we are so small. We don’t need to have one million customers. We only need a very small…

fraction of the market to be able to make it into a profitable business for ourselves.

Salva (08:30.702)
Yeah, so I understand part is due to the fact that there is a need in the market and it was still untapped. And the other part was somehow related to your ambitions where you say, we don’t want to be Google forms anyway. We want to make something which is sustainable for us and it’s a profit generator eventually. And today, I guess it’s profitable if we look at the numbers. That’s my understanding.

Marie (08:36.293)

Marie (08:42.937)


Yeah, indeed. Yeah, correct.

Marie (08:53.767)
Yeah, it has been profitable pretty early on. I think in the first year we got to like 5K MRR, but then the second year we got to 30K and then to I think we doubled that again. So it became profitable quite fast. Also because we don’t really have a marketing spend like it’s product growth, the product sells itself. So in this, you know,

Looking at it this way, it’s a good model to have as a bootstrap.

Salva (09:28.046)
So if you take this from a positioning perspective, so you’ve got completely free options almost like with Google. You’ve got very expensive, if I’m not mistaken, I’m not an expert of this, very expensive alternatives with JotForms or Typeform, for example. Is it a conscious choice to be somewhere in the middle? And how do you define this positioning?

Marie (09:34.447)

Marie (09:46.063)

Marie (09:53.767)
Yeah, I think it was a very conscious choice in the beginning to just make most of it free because our product is actually our biggest acquisition channel. So because people, when they use it for free, people share a form with our branding on it. They share the form with their respondents and those people also get to see our brand. So the free users are actually really important for us because they help us grow.

our brand without having to spend a lot on marketing. So making it free was like a no -brainer for us since the start. And then of course, yeah, there needs to be some kind of business model behind it to be able to support all those free users. What we didn’t like about the existing players is that the pricing is mostly volume -based. So you would create a forum, you collect 10 or 100 or 1000 submissions, and then you have to start paying.

which is an experience that we didn’t like. So we opted for offering features instead of charging for the submissions. So we don’t have a volume -based pricing. But we created, we offered everything that you need to make and customize forms for free. But if you’re, for example, a company, you want to remove our branding, you want to link your forms to a custom domain.

things like that. Then we have Stally Pro at basically a fixed price, $29 a month or $290 a year, mostly aimed at the needs of companies or startups basically. And the pricing point there, we didn’t do a lot of research or experiments there. We basically just

went for I think the cheapest plan that we could find with competitors and we just took that price and we’re still using that price point tool today.

Salva (11:57.71)
I like it. I’m putting my pricing hat on and one side says, oh, they didn’t do any research. But the other one feels like that’s actually very good, right? Because you’re not focusing a lot on the pricing points, but rather on the pricing model itself. That’s what I’m hearing. What you really cared about is how do we price it? Not necessarily is it 29, is it 39, is it 25?

Marie (12:04.741)

Marie (12:15.653)

Marie (12:21.191)
How much? Yeah. No, we felt like also, you know, we had no clue to be honest as well, like what would be a good pricing point. So we thought we just need to provide a lot of value so people love using our product and then we’ll figure out pricing later. So we just, you know, put this price point on it and…

Yeah, in the end, I think it kind of worked out for us. I’m not saying we’ll never like change pricing or anything, but like this this tier is kind of I think it’s probably underpriced, but we’ll, you know, we’ll have to see about that in the future. I think the most difficult decisions for us were always like, what do we offer for free? Because we almost offer everything for free. And especially if you want to make, you know.

a living for yourself, it’s sometimes a hard decision to offer even more for free. But usually when we build something, we just think like, okay, can we do it for free? What’s the cost for the company? Will it make us grow? Is it something that has been requested a lot? And if possible, we add it to the free plan. And so yeah, that’s kind of how we came up with the model indeed, and focused a bit more on the model and different

differentiating ourselves there instead of the actual pricing.

Salva (13:43.598)
So I heard an element, I don’t know if it was me or if you actually said that, which is the difference between what would make sense for the business. And you were talking, for example, about volume billing or usage -based billing versus what experience it provides to the end user. You said, does not an experience people might make sense on books? Yeah, because the more forms, the more you pay, the more value.

Marie (13:59.399)

Marie (14:03.673)

Marie (14:08.837)


Salva (14:11.79)
But at a certain point, it’s not only about value as such, it’s also about the experience and how people feel about it. Is it so?

Marie (14:17.927)
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s something because we’ve experienced that ourselves. Like we would create a form for, you know, in our previous jobs, for example, and then you would collect 10 responses and then you would hit this paywall. And it’s so counterintuitive because you’re like, but I create a form to get responses, right? I don’t want to like pay more. Well, of course it makes sense business wise. And, and.

get why the big players do this. For us, it kind of makes sense to do the opposite, especially because pricing is also a differentiator for us. And it is something that our users definitely value. It has downsides as well, because we don’t have volume -based pricing. You also attract abusers, for example, right? Because there’s no limits. They can just use your forums and

user automations to send emails and that happens unfortunately a lot. So yeah, you can ask how scalable it is indeed, but experience wise, I think we still believe that, you know, this is the way to go for us. Yeah.

Salva (15:32.814)
And you can always add safeguards, right? To avoid the anomalies or the particular points, I guess.

Marie (15:36.263)
Yeah, indeed. Yeah, we had to introduce like a fair use policy just to say like, okay, it’s free, there’s no limits, but you know, there are of course certain limits to extreme high usage or views. And so those indeed get detected. And usually, yeah, the outliers indeed. Yeah.

Salva (15:56.428)
only the outliers.

Salva (16:00.622)
Excellent. And so you also mentioned that this was your first pricing point. So you start from the beginning. You said, we want to get a free plan and we want to get only one paid plan. And then you almost roll the dice and you said there’s going to be about 29.

Marie (16:15.535)

Marie (16:19.463)
Yeah, that’s kind of how it happened. We also did this on purpose, like we wanted to keep it simple. Another thing that we don’t like as a user experience is when you have like five different plans and you’re not sure which one will fit my needs. We also didn’t want to have any misleading pricing. We just wanted to keep it super simple and straightforward. So…

basically saying it’s free and then if you want something extra, you can just upgrade to pro. It really just made sense for us because its simplicity is really important in our product, but also in our marketing. And that’s kind of how we went for just the one price point. And yeah, we just didn’t get to changing that yet. It might make sense in the future. But I still think it’s one of our strengths, actually.

Salva (17:15.022)
Yeah. So here, it might be suboptimal from a purely pricing perspective, but it contributes in terms of simplicity, which actually is this differentiator, and it brings you more volume and conversions, I guess.

Marie (17:20.751)

Marie (17:27.087)

Yeah, correct. Yeah, that’s exactly how we see it. And then again, that comes back to the fact that being bootstrapped, you know, we can make this decision. So we don’t have investors breathing down our necks to raise the prices because it doesn’t always make sense, you know, business wise. But then again, it comes back to this being our USP, you know, being simple and straightforward.

So for us it definitely makes sense to… yeah.

Salva (18:00.078)
Do you have the impression that if you got investors, they would say you have to create more plans or you have to to reach the prices?

Marie (18:08.007)
I’m not sure. That’s what you see happening with other players. So I cannot say for sure. I don’t have experience with having investors on board. But I do think it is something that could happen. I think there can also be more pressure on revenue from the start, which kind of forces you into making different decisions or using different pricing models.

So I think it could be, but not sure, to be honest.

Salva (18:41.934)
And if I look at the numbers, so you said two plans, very easy, a free one. So you always have to create an account, I guess, technically. So all your users have got an account. And you 250k users registered, roughly. And then you said about 1 million revenue. If my math is correct, this adds up to roughly 1 ,000 paying users, something like this.

Marie (18:49.767)
Yes, yes.

Marie (18:58.277)
Yeah. Yeah.

Marie (19:06.943)
No, so right now we have around 4000 paying users, but so only 2 to 3 % of our entire user base is paid. Yeah. Yeah.

Salva (19:20.43)
is paying. Right, and that was the question. So your ratio is in a few percent of free users versus paid user. How do you consider how good is good enough? So do you give yourself a target? Say we would like to get this ratio paid users, non -paid users.

Marie (19:28.295)
Yeah. Yeah.

Marie (19:38.215)
Yeah, we looked for benchmarks, which was not that easy, you know, like specifically for our space. We found some from like the type form early days. I think 3 % is kind of what we were going for. So that’s, you know, in our own forecast, that’s like the percentage that we use.

Of course, what is good enough? Yeah, that’s a good question. I think that’s kind of our target number, and it has worked for us until now. So that seems to be good enough. We will need to see if we can keep that up, of course, in the coming years.

Salva (20:25.614)
And did you find it, so how difficult is it to, you know, in a freemium model is a, is it pretty established now, it’s been years and everybody, I mean, it doesn’t think about this anymore. How easy is actually to convert people from free to paid in your experience?

Marie (20:42.695)

Marie (20:46.791)
It depends. I feel like we have two groups of users. You have people that just immediately upgrade, right? So they’re never really free users. They’re like, okay, we just need these features for a business, you know, and 29 is actually kind of a no -brainer for a company to pay per month. So there’s that. We also have users that literally tell us, like, we’ve gotten so much free value out of the…

product that after a while we just kind of, you almost want to pay for it, right? And that’s kind of what we, you know, what we go for, you know, is that people really love using it and don’t mind paying for the product. We’re very careful with pushing people to upgrade. We actually don’t, you know, we have certain, certain features that are locked in the product.

but we don’t send emails, we don’t push in any way to upgrade. So we really let the product do its thing. And I think there’s probably a lot more that we can do on that front, to have people upgrade. But then again, we also don’t like the…

endless email sequences or you get discounts or you get asked to upgrade. And that’s again coming from the experience point of view, something that we also would not appreciate ourselves as users. So there as well, it’s pretty simple. You can almost access everything in our product. But if you like, I want to remove the branding or I want to customize a bit more, okay, I’ll pay. And so users usually find their way.

into upgrading. Of course, the bigger we get, the more companies and the bigger companies that also get to know us. And, you know, those are usually the people that just upgrade immediately or, you know, even pay a take a yearly subscription because the price point is pretty low.

Salva (23:01.902)
Yeah, it’s still the same, right? It doesn’t matter where it is for a team, isn’t it? So you… It’s 29…

Marie (23:07.631)
Yeah, so if you’re with 100 people or with two, there’s no difference at this stage. So it’s not like we have enterprise pricing yet, because that also didn’t make sense in the start. We didn’t have enterprise users. We’re getting more requests from that end, so we need to see how we will handle those.

But no, so it’s not at all volume based, it’s just one price point. It doesn’t matter how big you are or how high your usage is.

Salva (23:45.486)
So when you look at these, even if you don’t build by usage, but when you look at the usage of your customers, do you have the feeling sometimes say, oh, we’re leaving money on the tables. There are people, I mean, without the abuse in mind, just looking at the regular usage, say, oh, wow, these guys are getting so much value and we are not capturing it.

Marie (24:00.455)
Yeah, for sure. Definitely, all the time. But then again, it reminds us of what God is here, right? And that’s the model and that recipe still works for us. Of course, I think one day it will also make sense for us to have some kind of enterprise plan that has features.

that enterprise companies need and then maybe you can introduce seats or not, but that’s still to be seen. But I feel like there’s definitely money left on the table. The question is, would changing our free plan also hurt our company in terms of growth and marketing? So that’s always kind of the balance we need to try to.

try to find. But yeah, I think you could probably make more money out of it.

Salva (25:07.022)
So what I like of this is extremely subtle what I’m hearing is that, yes, there might be money left on the table. And if you’re reading a book, they’re going to tell you, oh, you know, do value -based pricing. These guys are using that much. How it comes, they pay in 29. Doesn’t matter if there are 20 people using it is one buck per person is nothing. But at the same time, you’re very, very loyal to your strategy, which was simplicity. And even if it’s suboptimal, what I’m hearing from a

Marie (25:17.507)

Salva (25:35.566)
purely price and theory perspective, it pays off in your case because it makes you loyal to the overall strategy you’re following. Is it so?

Marie (25:40.967)

Marie (25:46.087)
Yeah, indeed. And it just always comes back to how do we grow? And that’s because of our free users. And the moment the product would not be free anymore, we would also grow less faster. We would need to invest more in marketing. We would probably need to grow the team. And it would bring a lot of different things into play. So indeed, it’s kind of sticking to the strategy, which isn’t always easy.

We also talk to people and consultants and people tell us all the time that there’s money left on the table. But we’re pretty careful and we want to be smart about it, if we would ever change pricing, because I think it could hurt us as well.

Salva (26:34.318)
So the second element that you’re saying is that, so first of all, it’s yes, you’re leaving money on the table, but it’s on purpose. It’s part of your strategy somehow. It’s part of your product itself in the USP. And so you can’t really remove this. And the second part, I don’t know whether it is what you intended to say, but that’s what I heard. There is a part which is related to margins. So yes, you’re leaving money on the table, but at the same time, you’re not spending in complex marketing automation. You’re not putting 20 people in marketing and so on, right?

Marie (26:44.515)

Marie (27:03.943)
Yeah, indeed. And then it also comes to the question, how much do you need, right? We’re a team of two or three. We’ve reached 100 km or hour. It’s not too bad. No, so we’re pretty happy with that. And that’s also a factor to take into account because the team is so small.

Salva (27:08.032)
Mm -hmm.

Salva (27:12.596)
Such a bad, is it?

Salva (27:20.846)
Totally in.

Salva (27:29.774)
And that was one of my questions. Exactly. So when you look at your KPIs, I’m hearing your total revenue is not necessarily the highest KPI, but you’re looking at margins to some perspective, which is also normal because it’s a…

Marie (27:44.255)
Yeah, we’re mainly looking at user growth and subscriber growth as well. Not necessarily at the margins, it just comes from being lean and being bootstrapped, kind of.

Yeah, I think, but our main KPIs are like, you how much can we grow in terms of users and of course revenue. Only it’s sometimes hard to, you know, to put targets on that for ourselves because what do you base them on? Like now we have a bit of historical data from the last years, which of course helps, you know, and we kind of, we’ve…

been doubling our revenue every year and we kind of want to do that again this year. But of course it will slow down at one point. So, but yeah, hard to predict the future.

Salva (28:44.43)
So when you talk about metrics and users and growth, you include in this one also usage, I guess, or just growth like adding users, or charn, or.

Marie (28:55.943)
Just growth like adding users. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, our churn is, I would say, it’s probably pretty high for SaaS in general. And I believe it is higher for form builders as an industry because you don’t really live in our product, right? It’s not like Slack. You have it open all day. You can maybe make a form one month, and then maybe you don’t need them anymore for the next year.

Salva (29:23.502)
It’s a project.

Marie (29:25.223)
It’s more project -based, especially for the smaller companies or freelancers. So that’s definitely one thing. So churn is, I would say, higher than.

than a normal business, I think. Yeah.

Salva (29:46.542)
And you’re opening another interesting topic, which is I call it subscription fatigue. And I wrote about this lately. You say basically people don’t have this need all the time, which is I can understand people don’t need forms every day. Some do, not everybody. There’s also another component, I guess, of just yes to another subscription. It doesn’t matter how expensive it is. What’s your experience with this?

Marie (29:54.885)

Marie (30:11.463)
It’s not something we’ve really experienced. When we launched, we had some requests for like lifetime deals or one -off payments, but we always kind of said no to those. So it’s not something we really experienced. I think maybe because of our pricing, I’m not sure. But I don’t think we really see the fatigue in there. I think it would also be difficult for us to…

to change the model into.

Salva (30:44.654)
else in.

Marie (30:46.759)
not subscription -based. So it’s not really something that we see happening for now for us accused.

Salva (30:55.47)
And what I’m hearing is also if there is fatigue is among the people who are actually not taking your subscription is potentially is not among the ones who are paying today. There would be more people who are not taking in the first place, I would guess.

Marie (31:07.143)

Yeah, I think, I think indeed, like we see also competitors being launched, you know, usually with lifetime deals. And I think it also might attract a certain amount of audience. I would see it more as like you launch and you need funding, right? So you could use lifetime deals for that just to collect money. I don’t know if afterwards it really…

it would really make sense for us. It’s something we haven’t tried. I haven’t heard of users that don’t use Tally because there is a subscription. So I couldn’t really say.

Salva (31:49.646)
So because we were speaking about this I didn’t even consider lifetime deals. What’s your opinion about lifetime deals?

Marie (31:57.427)
Good question. Yeah, I mean, I feel like…

Marie (32:06.983)
I think it’s been the same like discounts, right? It’s always a topic for us, like should we give discounts or not? And I think it might be the same with lifetime bills, I’m not sure. What we experience is that people that ask for discounts kind of always end up in a higher, they always need more support resources from us somehow. I don’t know if it’s the –

the type of users or if it’s the price point, the cheaper it gets, the more support you need to offer. This is what people often say and I do think that’s true. So that’s something that kind of made us doubt even about giving discounts because we feel like our product is already very free. So maybe it doesn’t even make sense to give discounts. We still have some, but we’re not sure what we’ll do with them in the future. Lifetime deals.

I think I would, I’ve read a lot of negative things about lifetime deals or founders who kind of regretted doing it because of the audience they attracted with them. They were not necessarily always like passionate users that would give you feedback, but more looking for deals and then trying to resell those. I’m not sure if that’s true as well. I think if you need money to kickstart your business.

I think it is kind of a good way to raise money. But I don’t think it’s something that we would consider doing. And we’ve never done, we got a lot of requests in the beginning also to do those types of like AppSumo deals. And we always felt like it just didn’t really feel right. So I’m not sure, we haven’t tried it. So I cannot say if it’s like good or bad. I think it really depends on your…

personal situation, the type of product you sell. But I would more lean towards not doing it. Yeah.

Salva (34:12.366)
You know what I like about this, Mariusz? I’m pretty much on your side with this. My personal opinion about LifeDeal is very, very strong. I think it’s bad for business, it’s also bad for users in reality, because if you’ve got a company which is not sustainable in the first place, the company is not going to be there in four years anyway for your LifeDeal deal. You’re basically paying for one, two years in advance and that’s all. You want to work with companies as a user who can afford to be in the business. If you’re savvy enough as a user, you would understand that.

Marie (34:27.783)
Yeah. No.

Marie (34:32.773)

Marie (34:37.671)

Salva (34:40.11)
I don’t believe they actually make sense, but they’re there. And as you say, there might be the sparkle for some company. But what I really like about what you’re saying is not necessarily the conclusion is the fact you’re dealing with very, very complex pricing questions where companies are getting crazy and they look very easy to you because you’re very, very clear about your strategy in the first place. So you know where you want to say, and you set this very strong and really like this. It’s not very common. You say, we want to be simple.

Marie (34:47.269)

Marie (35:02.617)

Salva (35:09.07)
We want to give a lot of value. So all of those consequences are pretty easy for us. Is it something you feel when you’re taking those decisions?

Marie (35:18.535)
Yeah, and I think as well, because we’re such a small team, right? We also cannot afford to, you know, think about these things for days or months because, you know, things need to move forward and the simplicity just helps us in taking decisions and in keeping it simple. And it needs to be simple because we’re too small to make things complicated and to run the business.

Salva (35:43.406)
So I’m going to guess there is one thing which is complicated anyway. That’s just a guess, which is, so you mentioned you’ve got free plan, one paid plan. What are the elements that are free? What are the elements that are not free? My guess would be this is something you’re asking yourself.

Marie (36:00.391)
Yeah, yeah, and that’s the hard part. Of course, the easy part is the ones that cost us more money. There’s things like connecting your domain. There’s just features that cost us money server -wise or whatever. So those are paid. That’s like…

I mean, besides just server costs. And we do have, I think that’s probably the topic of most of our discussions is when we launch a new feature, should it be free or should it be paid? In the beginning, it was quite easy. I think the biggest doubt we had is when we launched like a whole set of options to change the design of your forum, like customize it. And I thought that should be paid and Filip.

I thought it should be free. And so he won, we made it free. And then now it seems like such a no brainer, but at the time I thought, wow, that’s a lot of value, you know, that’s like really giving everything. But then again, it kind of helped with.

You have all the tools you need to create a good looking form for free. Why would you not use the product, right? And the product is our biggest acquisition channel. So it totally made sense. So yeah, we decided to make it free. Now, usually it’s a bit easier because we are looking into some more, what would I say?

enterprise features, which like, yeah, it makes sense to put them in the paid plan. But the default is free. And I think we always have like a healthy, you know, amount of discussion about those. Because, yeah, but I think that would be the hardest part, you know, choosing what’s free and what’s not. Besides that, we didn’t really have

Marie (38:13.031)
super hard product decisions. I mean, we need to say, no, a lot. We need to because we are small and we just need to only build what makes sense for us at this time. So that’s kind of difficult as well, because in the beginning, we kind of wanted to satisfy every user. And of course, we had to stop doing that, because we just cannot, you know, we don’t have to develop the resources to do that. So I guess that might be even harder than.

deciding what’s free and what’s not.

Salva (38:44.642)
You said customization at the beginning was a topic and then it seemed so natural and so much of a no -brainer. How do you decide it was a no -brainer? What lets you tell today this was right? That our decision was right to make it free? How do you measure the impact of this decision?

Marie (38:51.301)

Marie (39:04.429)
So we don’t have hard stats on that. It’s mostly user feedback, which we get a lot of. We’re pretty active on social media. We’ve had a Slack channel with, I think, over 3 ,000 users in it of people just providing this feedback one -on -one. And if it gets promoted, you often…

see that the look and feel is praised and the design of the forms. So it’s definitely something I think that has paid off. But we don’t have, you know, we haven’t measured it. I think that’s difficult to do as well. I guess that’s more of a good feeling that we have.

Salva (39:49.038)
But you don’t measure it with hard numbers, but I hear it goes more in this, again, this bucket of it makes a consistent product that aligns with your strategy and say, oh yeah, it has to give this value to be valuable for our users.

Marie (40:00.473)

Marie (40:05.191)
Yeah, indeed. At one point we realized like, what’s our recipe for success, right? And we pinpointed it to three things. Like, it’s simple, Tally is free, and it’s pretty personal because we as founders are there to offer support. You can talk to us, you know, it’s like our story, right? It’s bootstrapped. It’s…

We’re a small team and I think those three things always help us when we need to make difficult decisions.

Salva (40:38.19)
And if you’re still on this fencing features, like what makes the difference between the free and the paid ones, the ones that where people say, oh, I need this, now I’m gonna pay. Do you have a way to measure? And what do you say, what is this feature that lets people put the credit card on your website?

Marie (40:58.399)
Yeah, we actually, that we do measure why people upgrade or we ask like, what’s the main feature? And of course removing the branding is one of them because it just makes sense as a business that you don’t, you know, that you want your own logo, you don’t want another brand on it. So that’s a main trigger. And then having the custom domain is also very important.

Salva (41:06.604)

Marie (41:28.391)
We also have, for example, payment forms. So we have a Stripe integration. You can sell products through our forms and we don’t, so we kind of lift off the Stripe, our commission. So there’s no fee. So that’s also a reason, you know, to upgrade.

Marie (41:51.303)
Big users can also access code injection, custom CSS, so they can basically fully, fully, fully customize their forms. So it’s a combination of those. But I think the removing of the branding and the custom names are the most important ones.

Salva (42:07.054)
So two categories, one is more rational, which is why should I pay you more commission? I don’t remember how much it is, like 5%, I guess you’re taking on transactions going through your payment system, right? So at a certain point, it just, when this 5 % out balances the 29 bucks, then you’re better off. So this is the rational part. So you sell partially on rational and partly on emotional with the branding part, I guess.

Marie (42:20.729)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, indeed. Yeah.

Marie (42:28.133)
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Marie (42:35.239)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, you can see it like that. Yeah, indeed. I think the branding is just more of a, you know, there’s freelancers that don’t care, you know, about our brand being there. And usually businesses, that’s like the first thing they do. You know, you just kind of want to make it look and feel like your own. It’s my form indeed. Yeah. Yeah.

Salva (42:50.318)
OK. It’s my form. And I guess this branding stuff is also, I was reading somewhere, it’s also your first acquisition channel in the other way. So there is actually a cost for you in removing the branding. Because saying, if you just look at this cost plus wise, if you say, I’m going to price my features just because they cost, then it doesn’t matter when there is right or wrong. But.

Marie (43:06.055)

Salva (43:17.644)
the branding doesn’t cost you everything, but that’s actually not true because even the branding costs you in loss of marketing somehow.

Marie (43:25.447)
Yeah, indeed, indeed. And…

Yeah, the branding is so important for us, you know, because it is what makes us grow. And actually, last week, it was funny because we got a feature request. So when you upgrade, the branding is being turned off by default. And you cannot even switch it on. It’s just not there, which is also, again, like…

probably leaving some, not money, but branding opportunities on the table. And we got a feature request from a user saying, I’m a paying user, but I would love to show your branding on my forum because I wouldn’t mind promoting you. And so that also made us think again about, okay, yeah, maybe we should offer this, but again, we started from what’s the best experience? You know, you pay.

And then there’s formulas that they still leave the branding on, but you can turn it off, right? It’s like opt out. And we just felt like, no, you know, you pay, it should just not be there. And now we got to the point where people actually asked to turn it on, which is the best position for us to be in, because now it would maybe make sense to give it as an option. Yeah.

Salva (44:47.246)
This goes to this immaterial KPIs you are talking about to measure success. It’s not really something you can measure in numbers, but when you’ve got people saying, I’m paying because I believe there is the value, not because I want to remove the branding. It’s a little bit similar to what you were saying before. People say they feel they have to upgrade not because they need to remove something, but just because they’ve got the feeling they want to contribute.

Marie (44:56.793)

Marie (45:03.077)

Marie (45:12.999)
Indeed, indeed. And that’s something we hear quite often. And that’s just, I truly believe that comes from the value we’re giving for free and for a lower price point. And from the, I think the honesty in that as well, which makes people just, you know, love your product and promote it as well. You know, those are also the people that will be your ambassadors and especially the ones, you know, that…

our early users that are kind of proud to use the product. They are the ones that spread the word the most as well.

Salva (45:49.614)
And so if you look at your product path until here, if you could, what would you do differently? Or what would you do differently next time?

Marie (46:00.423)

I think what we noticed in like year two is that the product was kind of, you know, growing faster than the team was obviously. And we kind of got, came to this point where support, because we have a lot of free users, we have a lot of support tickets as well, became really overwhelming for us. And we kind of got to a standstill where we were just doing support, technical support, just.

getting kind of drowned into the day to day and couldn’t really focus on building new features, growing the product. And it got to a point where we were really stuck and we had to hire a first team member, which was also, it’s pretty difficult when it’s just the two of you and you live together and you sit in the same room and all of a sudden need to include someone else and there’s nothing documented, there’s no processes.

So we had to, of course, go through that first hurdle. But just the hiring wasn’t really… Afterwards, we realized that hiring was only one part of the solution, that we had to become a bit more strict on our own resources in our time. And so we had to make some decisions like, for some parts, we don’t offer support. If you want to…

write custom code or custom CSS, you can do that. It’s available in the product, but we’re not going to write it for you, you know, which is something we did do in the early days. Things like that. We cannot just email us anymore, which is something you could do in the beginning. And it’s helped us a lot. You could just email me or Philip, or you could join our Slack and you know, five minutes later, you would have a conversation with us. It’s of course not scalable.

Salva (47:53.582)
It doesn’t scale. Yeah.

Marie (47:55.941)
And, you know, doing things that don’t scale helped us a lot, but at one point you just have to scale. So, you know, we had to introduce some kind of support ticket system where you have to go through the form and things like that. We had to close our Slack channel for new members because it just became a 24 -7 support channel. So that was something that was quite a struggle for us because providing the support is also what we believe got us here, you know, and…

We learned so much and it shaped our roadmap and it helped us grow the product and we got to learn our biggest fans through our Slack community. So that was something difficult and I think maybe next time, I don’t know if we would do it differently, but we would probably be more strict on our own time. Also in hiring, we haven’t been super successful. That’s not us.

straightly related to the product, but we’ve tried to grow the engineering team. We’ve tried to replace Philip. We didn’t manage yet. So we’ve, that’s a whole different story. But I think product wise, if we would do it all over again, I think we would do a lot of the things that we were doing now. We would go for a product growth type of model.

Salva (49:23.662)
Mm -hmm.

Marie (49:26.151)
I think we would go for a product that is viral and that is meant to share, that can sell itself. I think we would go for the same market as well because you just need a bigger team if you want to move up market and there’s compliance and there’s all those things. So I think there’s a lot of things that we would repeat and learnings are more I think in the actual running of the business than…

than the product itself. Of course, we’ve shipped features that we thought would be really important. And then people don’t seem to use that often. We got definitely stuck in some trap of, we just need to ship every week. But maybe those features were not really that necessary, stuff like that. But I guess our biggest learning curve was like in.

How do we run the business around it? How do we build a team? How do we manage the financial side, taxes, all of that. That has been quite a journey as well.

Salva (50:21.486)
Mm -hmm.

Salva (50:31.95)
Which is reusable, right? I guess once you learn how to pay taxes, you can probably re -adapt. It’s not the funniest part, I guess, but it’s…

Marie (50:34.917)

if you know, we know how to do it now.

Salva (50:41.614)
And I was thinking about you mentioned, which again, I like very much many times, like getting feedback from the users, getting feature requests, which doesn’t mean you’re going to do everything, but at least you can listen to your customers. What are the channels? You mentioned Slack, you mentioned email, but how do you structure this, especially when it’s just two people managing all of this?

Marie (50:55.367)

Marie (51:01.543)
Yeah, so in the beginning, we did this manually because again, we believe that if we would not do it manually, we would lose a lot of important information. So every time someone asked us, so it would be Slack, would be email, would be on Twitter, it would be on Reddit, any channel. We would basically capture and write down that feature request and we would keep manual votes in a database that we have.

doesn’t scale, of course, as well. So the next year, we introduced a feedback board. We use Scani for that. So we made the switch to people can actually create their own feature requests and upvotes. And through those upvotes, you get a priority list, which makes it easier for us as well to prioritize what to work on.

So that, and I think besides that, our Slack channel is still one of the most valuable sources of feedback for us. Especially because the people who are in there are like, or heavy users or people that have used it from the start. And that are really like kind of with us on this journey. So sometimes if we doubt about something, we can also just ask them in Slack, you know, how would you approach this feature?

Salva (52:26.03)
your sounding board.

Marie (52:28.881)
It’s really our sounding board and I think really has been very valuable for us throughout the years.

Salva (52:37.646)
And so when you understand that what you want to get like passive feedback, like people getting to you, it’s more to end up voting our feedback board and you get features up voted. And once you want to check what’s behind, so when it’s you interviewing, let’s say when you do your own discovery, then it’s going to be through your power users. Is it so?

Marie (52:49.871)

Marie (53:01.319)
Yeah, indeed. And can be a combination of those because when people upload or they create their own feature requests, we also have their email address so we can contact them. We also make sure if we then actually ship the feature that we let them know, which is also always a very nice experience because we’ve actually, you know, we do actually listen and try to build what people ask. So yeah, for sure. And then our power users, we also have like,

an expert group is people you can actually hire to build forms for you. And so those people we can, you know, we can always reach out to and ask, you know, like more technical questions or just use them as our sound.

Salva (53:49.358)
Wow. And do you have the feeling to include this great chat? And again, thank you very much, Marie, for being very open. I think it’s a unique occasion to have somebody who’s an entrepreneur like you sharing the numbers, sharing the pains, what’s working, what’s not working. Do you have the feeling that going forward, you’ll have to do something differently? How do you look at the future? Is there going to be a moment where you’re going to have, I don’t know, a company size like hundreds, a thousand employees?

and scale it or it’s going to stay a little bit more of the same.

Marie (54:24.647)
I think the big team has never been our goal. I think we would like to grow it to a size where we can rely on a team just to keep the business running and we have a bit more headspace for strategy, I would say, which is not really the case right now. But then I’m more thinking to like…

five to 10 type of size of team. Our goal is not to become like the next Google Forms or Typeform or anything like that. So I don’t really see that happening. So for now, I think, you know, the recipe is working. We haven’t invested, we don’t have any marketing spent, which is something we want to change this year because now we’ve built up some revenue. And so we have some budget to try experiments.

speed up growth. So we’ll have to see where that takes us. So that will answer some questions this year. I think the team size will also grow, but I would be surprised if we would end up with a huge company one day. I don’t think that’s something that would, you know, on a personal level, make us happy. We really love to do what we’re doing right now. And if we can.

continue to grow as we are doing now, I think we’ll do more of the same.

Salva (55:56.43)
I completely understand. And again, I completely appreciate the strategy and the goal beyond that. When you think about your offering, do you think at a certain point it will have to evolve or not at all? You say, it’s not only because of the man on the table.

Marie (56:12.499)
Probably. Probably. You see that a lot of SaaS businesses also start to plateau or hit a certain level at some point. So we’ll need to see when that happens for us. I think the offering probably will need to evolve. And it will probably evolve into just introducing probably like.

maybe a higher priced plan for those enterprise needs instead of a lower tier, I would say, but I think our free tier will continue to stay the same and we’ll make sure to keep on adding value to that. But I think naturally the offering will evolve at one point. It would probably not be very smart to just keep it as it is for…

for the next five years. But we don’t have any concrete plans yet. It’s something that we’re starting to think.

Salva (57:13.71)
So change in the actual offering, change on actual price point, but not on the strategy which is below here.

Marie (57:21.447)
Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t think we will do that.

Salva (57:25.198)
Excellent, and Marie, thank you very much. I’m a user, so just a small disclaimer, I’m a user of your tool, so I can vouch for how good and easy it is to use, but why don’t you tell everybody how to, you know, again, the website again, and your pitch.

Marie (57:42.055)
Yeah, so you can find us at tali .so, that’s our name, or at taliforms on Twitter. And basically, we call Tali the simplest way to create forms for free. So you get access to unlimited forms and submissions. And it has a pretty intuitive interface that works like a text editor. You can just start typing and build your form from scratch. That’s about it for Tali.

Salva (58:09.23)
And I know you get a lot of contacts and emails, but if people would like to contact you, what is the best way of doing so?

Marie (58:16.135)
Yeah, so I think the best way would be to send me a DM on Twitter at Miley Martens. It’s my handle and I’m pretty active on there. And for any support questions or anything else, you can also reach us at hello at tally .iso.

Salva (58:34.702)
Excellent. Marie, thanks again. It was extremely interesting and useful. It was really a pleasure having you today at RISML product.

Marie (58:43.655)
Thank you so much for having me. I enjoyed the conversation as well, and I hope the listeners found it interesting as well.

Salva (58:49.198)
Thank you, bye bye.

Marie (58:51.783)

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