January 3, 2023
What 2023 Brings for Contractbook
2022 didn't go as expected.
I've already said a lot about the macro-economic development. After years of bullish market conditions and record-breaking investments, we see valuations decline, companies shut down, and layoffs across the entire tech industry—mainly due to rising interest rates creating a less favorable investment market for startups.
In Contractbook, we've felt this development as well. As announced in November, we sadly had to reduce our headcount and say goodbye to some talented people. The definition of a good company simply changed. We could no longer focus on topline growth. Instead, we had to adjust our burn multiples, introduce more cost discipline, and re-organize the company to secure more efficient growth.
Still, there are grounds for optimism.
For Contractbook as a company, we've outperformed the market, nailed our product-market fit, and seen incredible exponential growth in the usage of our platform. And for the tech industry in general, which I believe can come out stronger and healthier.
Honesty makes tomorrow’s winners
It’s generally said that a struggling vine produces grapes of better quality. When you restrict its water supply and make nutrients scarce, the vine will concentrate on its fruits while the roots shoot deeper to scavenge enough resources. With some restriction, the plant will sense that this is not the ideal place to be a grapevine and focus on reproducing by making grapes. If the vine is too comfortable and has everything in abundance, it will put most of its energy into making leaves and shoots.
In this instance, growing vines serve as an analogy for scaling a company. The new challenging market conditions may push us to create better quality companies.
We are forced to think differently, revisit the fixed formulas and break with our habits. The winners of this market will be the most honest and self-critical companies: those with the courage to admit mistakes and the resolution to correct them. It’s brutal to admit defeat and kill darlings, but an honest self-assessment will help companies become more self-conscious and make better long-term decisions.
2023 for Contractbook: Focus and simplicity
For Contractbook, 2023 will be about focus and simplicity. To stay in the wine-making analogy, we’re focusing on making fewer top-quality wines for our super users rather than mass-producing wines for whoever will buy them.
Instead of chasing users in large quantities and adding complexity to our product through new features, we will focus on creating the perfect user experience for our ideal users. We have designed a handful of valuable workflows based on thorough research and best practices. These use cases are designed to solve core problems in the operation of a modern company, and they are proven to add value equivalent to 4x ROI.
Meanwhile, we will focus on making our product simpler and more intuitive by doubling down on user experience. After years of adding depth and complexity, we’re now concentrating on simplicity and ease of use.
Contractbook didn’t become a bad idea overnight. On the contrary, all our usage metrics are through the roof and bear markets only increase the need for proper contract management. Now is the time to translate that into proven value for our users.
In 2023, our goal is to get in touch with every user. And every ideal customer in Europe and the US. To help them utilize these workflows to save time and money in uncertain market conditions with a tight economy.
Best ever vintage
There is a feeling of crisis in tech. A feeling that the heydays are over and a bubble has burst. The media has been quick to declare the party over, and you can even detect an element of schadenfreude in some articles.
The pessimism is understandable. Investors will have less patience, and funding rounds will be fewer and smaller. But this is not the time to throw in the towel. This is the time to mobilize extra energy.
The digital movement is still going strong. Despite recent layoffs, we’re generally in a labor shortage crisis dictated by demographics, so we need digital technologies to increase productivity. Tech adoption and usage is growing in most sectors, and we’re just getting started. The hype around ChatGPT shows the tremendous potential of emerging technologies and the data economy. Some funds have cooled their interest, but digitization is still one of the two grand infrastructural transformations of our times (the green transition being the other).
We might still be in a weird post-pandemic economy. Lockdowns boosted some tech companies as investments went from atoms to bits. Now that society has normalized, the market is adjusting. Tech loses momentum, but it has a lot to take from, and the sector is still way better off than in 2019.
We, the tech startups, are still the most ambitious companies in the world. We are still making the biggest leaps. We are still the pioneers of progress. Now, we are forced into some healthier habits. It’s challenging, sure, but it’s also an opportunity to improve in the long run.
2022 was tough. We made mistakes, the market conditions worsened, and we had to be honest and self-critical in a way we weren’t used to. But it also forced us to make the right decisions. I believe that 2023 can be our best ever vintage.
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