2017 has been an exciting year.
We have come a long way from first having an idea about opening up InstaSuite for the world. Even though the product has been in development since early 2016, only in 2017 was it able to generate traction and interest the way we intended.
Here are some of the key highlights from InstaSuite/Kyvio in 2017:
Bringing out InstaSuite to the market
We decided to bring out InstaSuite in April 2017 by using Zaxaa as an underlying payment platform, via a public launch. InstaSuite was initially soft-launched in October 2016. However, Suzanna reached out to us because she wished to have a marketing team leading this launch in April. Now I cannot go into the specific numbers, especially the money made during the launch, but I can tell you that during the launch-week, we added over 2,000 new customers to the platform. These were customers who were able to get an exclusive deal to use InstaSuite and become part of a community that would grow and help each other in online business.
We were happy to bring out InstaSuite to the market, and since that day it has continued to grow. Over time, with user feedback and a competent development team, have been able to get to the stage where we can confidently compete with many other tools out there that have been around for twice as long as we have.
Building out our development processes
Having worked with the previous team that developed InstaSuite, we realized that the development process was incomplete, and not scalable. Steven vd Peijl, our CTO, decided to take it upon himself to create better development processes.
What followed was months and months of ongoing engagement with the development team to make sure that the entire team was working towards a common goal, and working in a way that will allow us to improve the platform performance dramatically.
Since then, numerous changes have impacted upon the process and the platform, which includes an entirely new infrastructure going from a mere 4 servers to 35+ servers that will allow us to scale dramatically from 2000 to 100,000 customers overnight. Now, proper procedures are in place for submitting and documenting the code, as well as for publishing it on the live site after having tested it through multiple different test stages, via numerous team members; which has allowed us to streamline our processes and overcome challenges as they come.
Improving code quality and standards
Other than needing to reform the development process, we also needed to improve the previous “spaghetti” code. Spaghetti code refers to the hap-hazard coding which doesn’t have the long-term overview of the project in mind. Previously, InstaSuite was put together as a combination of 6 different apps. We had to improve the coding standards to provide consistency and reliability on the platform.
Steven led the entire process to refactor, that is to improve the code so that we had better structure and standards within the coding. From here on, anyone who joins our company will be able to hit the ground running with developing new features instead of spending time trying to unravel and understand complex spaghetti coding, allowing us to scale faster and serve this platform better.
Hiring people with the right skill-set
One crucial change that we made with InstaSuite/Kyvio is that we hired excellent people to work with us on the platform. This involved paying over and above what we were comfortable, to someone to come in and lead the product. As you will see later on, because of some business decisions, we had to let some of the original developers in the company go; which meant that it was even more important to hire and train the right kind of people to work on this project over the long-term.
Quite often product owners wish to hire someone temporarily to work on a project – on project-basis. We did not want to do that because Kyvio is a sophisticated platform for real business owners using it every day. We want developers and marketing staff who can work with us for a long time. We were also successful in hiring the right kind of support staff to work with our community and support our current customers. In fact, some of the team is even active on the weekend. This is something that we plan to continue in 2018, as our customer base grows over time.
Acquiring 100% shares in InstaSuite
This one was an easy call for us, but a tough call for Suzanna. Suzanna has been struggling with health issues for quite some time now, and she decided that it would be best for her to focus on other things instead of InstaSuite.
So late in 2017, we agreed to completely buyout Suzanna’s shares within the company. Suzanna was able to walk away and continue on other projects as well as focus on her health, and we were able to fully acquire InstaSuite and grow it the way we wanted to. As you will see on our roadmap, we have quite a few ideas and ambitious plans with InstaSuite/Kyvio, and we will continue to grow it to fit market needs.
Rebranding to Kyvio
After purchasing 100% of InstaSuite, we had to decide whether we wanted to continue with this branding or switch it over to something different. Insta- brand belongs primarily to Suzanna (and Facebook, ha!), so we considered it a good move to switch over to something else. Plus, having our brand would help us narrow our vision and our focus to give this platform 100%.
Steven and I deliberated for quite some time and decided to rebrand InstaSuite as Kyvio. We talked about for quite some time on our retreat in Thailand and agreed that rebranding it to Kyvio would provide as great opportunities to brand this platform the way we want, as well as in some ways start afresh.
Rebranding has been a complicated process because we had to acquire a new domain which cost a little over $2,000, and we also had to recreate the layouts within the platform. So if you have been our customer for quite some time now, you will notice many changes over time. These changes are necessary to both make this platform user-friendly, as well as help us stand out from our competition.
Running Webinars to acquire new audience
We have been quite active in doing both training and sales webinars, which has allowed us to showcase the power of Kyvio to both our prospects as well as our customers. In 2017, we did over 40 different sales webinars for Kyvio, as well as over 50 separate training webinars about Kyvio and how people can use it.
This follows over 10 hours of video training, as well as a very extensive knowledge base which we continue to improve and expand as the platform keeps on growing. Expect more of this in 2018.
Customers becoming affiliates
One exciting thing that we have noticed in 2017 is how our customers are becoming our key affiliates. Our focus during this year has been to give the most value that we can to our customers, and over time many of them have stuck with us as they enjoy using the platform. In fact, they have started recommending Kyvio to other people, and are getting paid in turn.
We have very loyal customers who have also become some of our most prominent affiliates. They are enjoying the platform a lot, which makes it easier to recommend it to other people!
New Features Every 2 Weeks
Based on user requirements as well as what we think to be important, we have been adding new features every two weeks. During 2017, we have added over 150 new features to Kyvio, 24 new releases and an average of 16 code commits -a day-. Making it the most rapidly developed platform out there.
Many of our customers have commented that they have not seen such a dynamic platform before, and that makes us happy!
Preparing a new module
Finally, we have spent a good few months in 2017 to create new modules that will become part of the Kyvio platform. Silently, we have been working on two different modules. One of them is Smart Products – a product builder. This will include the possibility to sell anything – physical products, digital products as well as of course, membership products including one-click upsells/downsells and easy cross-sells.
As for the second module, well, I cannot reveal it just yet! You have to wait to find out more about that!
Was it all roses & sunshine in 2017?
In 2017 many things went right, but some things did not go quite right.
As mentioned before, when we took over the code base and management of the development team we quickly figured out that the lack of coding standards was going to be very painful. The spaghetti code made adding new features very hard and fixing existing bugs even harder.
It took us, months, to get to a point where we could spend more time on new features and improvements instead of just fixing one bug and suddenly seeing seven more pop up. Moreover, we are still working hard on rebuilding and refactoring major parts of the code, but the progress the team has made is very impressive nonetheless!
Due to this, we did miss some of our set deadlines such as the launch of Smart Products & the Smart Membership module-rebuild. These are now set to launch in February.
Regarding marketing, we faced stiff competition from other similar platforms out there. Obviously, platforms like Clickfunnels and Leadpages are direct competitors regarding some functionalities. We have more features, but these platforms have been around for much longer, and their marketing and reach is strong.
There are other similar platforms as well, perhaps cheaper, and less supported than ours, but because of the price-point, money-conscious users migrate to these platforms. Interestingly enough, those users are now starting to come back to Kyvio 😉
One of our significant challenges with a tool like ours is unique positioning. Because Kyvio is a comprehensive marketing platform the ‘all-in-one’ angle pops up quite often, but it is not an angle we want to go with as ‘all-in-one’ is like a general practitioner (GP or family doctor)…they know a bit about a lot but aren’t good at anything specific. Plus, we DO want to offer our users the BEST in each of the different modules we offer.
So what’s next? Well, for starter – going Modular – more flexibility for the users
While we are building a handy tool with 6+ modules, there are people out there who are already married to their autoresponders, support desks and so on. For them, getting an entire suite might not be the best idea. So to support such users, we are going modular in 2018, which means that while all tools inside Kyvio integrate well with each other, we will structure things so they can exist as stand-alone. This would allow new users to pick and choose the modules they wish to use, and pay for only those!
Of course, one challenge is that your legacy tools might not play nice together with ours. However, we do appreciate that everyone has unique needs, and we are trying to fulfill as much as possible.
The future is exciting! Our plans & goals for 2018
First of all, January is going to be one heck of a flying start of 2018 for Kyvio! We have a significant launch on a very well-known website for SaaS applications which is going to set the tone of massive growth for Kyvio this year.
We are working very hard to completely redo the full Kyvio interface to a more modern, more comfortable to use and sexier look. The first phase of this considerable interface update will be launched very soon now for the first few modules.
Speaking of the modules, we are also renaming each module to be more consistent with the module branding to:
- Smart Funnels
- Smart Memberships
- Smart Products
- Smart Mailer
- Smart Affiliates
- Smart Agency
- Smart F.. D.. (soon to be announced 🙂 )
Secondly, we are also working very hard to switch our software architecture to “micro-service,” which will allow us to modularize the application for better scalability, easier and faster updates and further increased stability.
As mentioned earlier we are planning to re-launch (internally) the Kyvio Core (Smart Products, Smart Funnels & Smart Memberships) early February. With a complete rebuild of Smart Memberships and of course the new module Smart Products. We can’t wait to have this ready as we need it for ourselves badly!
During the same time, we will also start inviting a select group of Kyvio users to start testing out our secret new module, about which we are also extremely excited!
There is a LOT more planned development-wise for Kyvio, you can see the entire roadmap here.
In the meantime, if you have not already – go ahead and sign up to Kyvio – we will be increasing prices later this year once new modules are in place, so don’t wait any longer.