Alas, the new year is (finally!) upon us. 2020 has come and gone, and boy... what a weird one.
Like the rest of the world, our business (and our lives) look so, so different now than they did at the start of 2020.
We grew and learned in many ways that we felt would be valuable to look back, reflect on, and share. So here we are 🙂
In addition, we thought it'd be fun to give you an overview of what's to come with CrewFire.
We've got a lot in store over the next months, and as always, we remain excited to be building and growing alongside you.
Let's get to it.
CrewFire 2020 Review
Over the course of 2020, CrewFire went from being a tiny little side-project app, into a (still early) sprout of what's shaping up to become a meaningful business, product, and platform over the years to come.
Planting the seed
At the beginning of 2020, Frederic and I were working on a different business called Telefuel.
Despite having successfully raised a small pre-seed round and launching the product to early traction over the course of 2019, as the pandemic hit in early 2020, Telefuel's financial prospects became increasingly uncertain.
Around March 2020, we decided as a way of helping us alleviate the financial burden on Telefuel, I would turn my focus to CrewFire (which I had been maintaining as a small personal side-project at the time).
Around April, pandemic in full swing, it became clear that Telefuel wasn't going to make it. The funding markets for early stage startups had completely dried up, and we had just a few months of runway left in the tank with no clear path to profitability in that time frame.
At the same time, CrewFire was showing signs of potential. Early conversations I was having with target customers were bearing signs of fruit - and we ironically saw an early uptick in trial signups as the world economy moved online.
So, we made the tough call. We sold off Telefuel's main cashflowing asset to an interested micro-PE buyer, and paused development on the rest.
At the end of April, after winding down Telefuel, Frederic joined me full-time with CrewFire.
Launching CrewFire 2.0
We worked heads down through the early summer, reworking everything: the product, the pricing, the positioning, and more.
We added new activity types, brought a Community section into the product, created e-commerce integrations for referral and affiliate tracking, implemented in-app cash payouts via PayPal and ACH, reworked the ambassador mobile UI, and more.
It was enough of an evolution from the original CrewFire, that we packaged it as "CrewFire 2.0" - and took it to market.
And the market responded powerfully.
In June, things started to click, and we experienced a surge of interest and growth that was a singular experience in my entrepreneurial career to date.
Once we launched CrewFire 2.0, we started finding our footing. We were then able to narrow down to better understand exactly who we wanted to serve, where we're creating the most value, and how to effectively communicate that value.
Building out team
Once we started to grow, we realized we needed to build out our team so that we could increase our bandwidth. With more power behind us, we were and are able to keep pushing our company to new heights and become really intentional with all aspects of the business.
That small dip in the map above was due to an influx of customers but a lack of bandwidth, so we decided to make our first full-time hire. We hired Taylor, our Customer Success/Support Manager, in October. (she's the best you will love her when you come on board with us)
We then started laying the foundations for building out the skeleton team that took us through that initial traction and helped us get our growth back on track.
Over the past few months, we have experimented with different team members and contractors that have helped us create our hiring strategy for what is to come next.
Back in November, we flipped the switch and released our newest version of CrewFire.
CrewFire 1.0 was built in a less mature programming language, Golang, and we knew that over time, this would hinder us more than it would help us.
When we launched the newest version of CrewFire in November and the new release, while really worthwhile in many ways, was not short of growing pains and lessons we learned after we released it to our customers.
Through the procese learned the importance of a strong QA process, as we had quite a few issues we needed to iron out after the initial new platform release. We learned a valuable lesson and have now made sure that we are prioritizing quality and stability going forward.
The CrewFire 2021 Roadmap
Now that we have reviewed what happened in 2020, it's time to dive into what our plans are for 2021! We have some big projects in the pipeline, so get ready for those to rollout, some of them as quickly as Q1!
For our Product
First, let's take a look at what is to come on the product side of things for CrewFire.
We are always proud of the work we have done but are never satisfied, and we know we haven't even begun to reach our fullest potential.
One of the biggest strategies we will continuously work on and improve is our process of streamlining and smoothing any issues, bugs, and quirks that some CrewFire customers experience. We want to make sure bugs and issues get resolved as quickly as possible.
In 2021, you can also expect a major overhaul to our design, usability, and experience of using CrewFire across the product for both brands and ambassadors.
And, something super exciting is on its way - the implementation of our first mobile app! So you better stay tuned for that.
New Features & Updates
We have a variety of new features and updates on the roadmap and are already in the process of developing some of these new features in-app.
You can expect a variety of new features that will make your time with CrewFire that much more powerful, efficient, and seamless.
Look out for new CrewFire features in the early part of 2021, including:
- New activity types: We have some new ideas coming for activity types that will help your ambassadors stay engaged and excited to work alongside your brand! 2021 - spicing up your activity roster!
- Improvements to the community: We want our community tab to mirror that of a Facebook group, but even better, stronger, and more polished, so you and your ambassadors can stay in-house and continue to grow those rich relationships.
- Improved messaging & communication: We want to work on improving our communication system in-app so that you can have a more direct conversation with both your ambassadors and between admins.
- Improved notifications: We are planning on improving our notification system so that communication between admins, ambassadors, and the whole team is incredibly effortless!
- More data, metrics, and analytics: We want to help you be able to track how your ambassador program is actually helping your brand grow! So lookout for more in-depth analytics, metrics, and reporting right from within CrewFire.
- Deeper e-commerce integrations: In 2021, we will be launching deeper e-commerce integration, especially with Shopify, including automated rewards and metrics!
For the Company
Lastly, we want to give you insight into CrewFire internally and what you can expect in 2021 from us. As we grow, we are going to continue to grow our team.
We have a fresh new vision and plans for the long term!
Vision & Mindset: Long Term
The 2021 mantra for CrewFire is think bigger and longer-term. Instead of looking a few quarters ahead, we are planning for for the long haul: 5-10 years out.
With that, we are getting big with our ideas of how we want to build and grow CrewFire, our product, our team, culture, and more.
We're taking the time to get intentional about where we want to be across all these areas over the next year, three years, five years, and even ten years down the line.
We've dialed in and rallied around a mission to help independent brands, entrepreneurs, and consumers grow together in a world increasingly dominated by monolithic tech superpowers.
We have our goals and vision on a clear map and will keep striving until we reach those goals, and we hope you come along for the ride!
Building Out The Team
As we scale, we're getting increasingly intentional as we build our team. Though we're still small, we'll be maintaining a rapid pace of growth over the year, and will be expanding our team accordingly.
We'll be propelling CrewFire into its next phase of growth and evolution, so with that, we will be planning to hire leadership roles in Customer Success, Operations, and Growth.
We will also be hiring team members in the Engineering and Product department, so we can continue with our rapid pace of innovation on behalf of our customers and end-users.
So that's what our year ahead looks like!
Despite all the uncertainty in the world, we remain as focused and committed to delivering and serving meaningful value to our brand customers and end users - and this year will be no different.
What does 2021 look like for you?
What is in the pipeline this year for your brand? We want to hear about it!
Ready to turn your customers into your army of brand ambassadors? If so, check out CrewFire's epic demo video to see how you can drive more referrals, word-of-mouth, and user-generated content for your Shopify store.