05 - Becoming Ruthless

Dear investors,

We're a Series A company now. Silly as it may be, I used to dream of this. When I first fell in love with startups, TechCrunch was my TigerBeat. The entrepreneurs adorning their pages? My Backstreet Boys. I held no aspiration higher than entering their hallowed halls.

A younger, dumber Josh's imagining of Techcrunch in 2017

The Josh of a bygone era could have never guessed that we'd get there. Twice. Or how ruthless he'd have to become to allow Metafy to grow at the pace that it has.

Becoming ruthless sounds cooler than it is. I'm not bathing in the blood of my enemies or stealing their livestock. Not as often as I'd like to, at least. Metafy is growing fast – faster than I ever expected it would. We're rapidly scaling both our customer base and our team. It's a tricky position for any founder to find themselves. It's not just a "me" thing. At least I hope it's not. You'd tell me if it was, right?

If I've learned only one thing in the first quarter following our $25 million raise, it's that the question is no longer "What to build?" but instead deciding what not to build.

Having a ruthless mindset means accepting reality. It’s a realization that you will have to make hard choices every day on where to focus. It’s a realization that shipping the perfect product is an illusion, and that trade-offs are always required to ship.

- Brandon Chiu, Ruthless Prioritization

Over the course of the next year, we'll be doubling down on the things that are working while focusing on a few big swings. I'm talking new bets with the potential to transform our business. Too many startups our size (and sometimes bigger) are taking on almost exclusively incremental work, they're stuck in a local maximum. Thanks to a now sizable war chest, we have a a comfortable margin for error. A luxury many of our competitors don't have. We're not dead if we spend a month on something with outsized potential, even if it doesn't pan out.

We'll be leaning in to that advantage this year. Stay tuned!

A recap since January

In Q4 of last year, we transitioned “off the juice”, in that we stopped doing promotional sales (once as high as 50% off) in order to get people to try out the platform. Going clean was a scary, but important, shift for us. Growth doesn't mean much if we're spending a dollar to make a penny. As a result, January and February were pretty dang flat. One of my fears was in having a product the market didn't have an appetite for, unless deeply discounted. That kind of shit will keep you awake at night. There was a brief period in which I worried I'd be forced to become a Twitter guru to mask the house of cards we'd been building.

Fortunately, I won't be jumping out of a plane for likes any time soon. March represented our 2nd best month ever for GMV, and our best month ever for both active coaches AND active students, all without creating artificial demand via deep discounting. March was our turning point – there's a clear need for what we're building.

We’ve attributed much of our continued organic growth to an improved strategy from both our expert success and outreach teams as well as a refined focus on building for impact, allowing smaller fires to burn. Our need to ruthlessly prioritize became obvious in February. Raising money can be a dangerous distraction. In January, we were admittedly going after too many things at once. Growing pains, growing pains.

The Breakdown:

  • Active Coaches: 456 -> 570 (+25.0%)
  • Active Students: 1812 -> 2323 (+28.2%)
  • Sessions Booked: 2549 -> 3599 (+41.2%)
  • Monthly GMV / Revenue: $149,160 -> 185,975 (+24.7%)
  • Cash on hand: $26,671,391
  • Monthly burn: ~$544k

# active coaches (were booked in that month)
# active students (booked that month)


Q1 was a time of realigning the “why” behind our priorities, resetting a mentality of intense focus, and laying the groundwork for an impactful year. I expect that all of the edtech innovation we’ll puke into the world this year will pay dividends. We're craftsman. The goal is to leave others in awe not just of what we've accomplished, but of how we've accomplished it. And how handsome we are. And then they’ll high-five us and refuse to wash their hands cause they’ll be covered in our ambition, and chocolate.

We spent most of Q1 getting our data in place for better clarity around what's working and how it should color our priorities. Sure, it's a bit of a snore, but stay with me. Here’s a great example:

We found that our Session Summary feature, launched in December, has resulted in a sizable 12% spike in student retention.

Data insights give us the ammo to dive back in and see how we can keep increasing the usage of this feature. Tons of opportunity. It’s free real estate!

Our home page had a glow up. This is our first real dive into improving discovery for users. We also had a focus around making the "why" of our existence a touch clearer. This lends to a solid foundation for us to build our marketing initiatives upon. We’ll continue iterating over this in the coming weeks and months.

Alongside the homepage, we've debuted the Hall of Heroes. We frequently see tweets from the community praising how their Metafy coach helped them win a tournament, hit the highest rank, or embarrass their friends. This is their opportunity to flex and our means of rewarding them for it.

Keep an eye on The Roadmap to see what we’re working on -  plenty of not-jank coming soon 👀

But wait, there's more:

  • Replay reviews are out of beta and in GA with functionality improvements and full screen mode
  • Redesigned intercom integration for improved user support experience
  • Higher impact video testimonial format
  • iOS mobile app has reached parity with the expert feature set available on web, including continuing to keep pace with the release of new features
  • Android mobile app now has integrated chat

How you can help

We’re hiring exceptional people, but I mean, who isn’t? That said, our standards are indeed very high. I want individuals on our team who light up when they see an incredible solution to a hard problem. Our highest priority hire atm is someone to own all things growth and marketing at Metafy. It'll be a hard job, but if we succeed, we'll have changed culture. If you're that someone, or you know someone, say something. I'll make it worth your time.

That's all for this month

Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you enjoyed it, please send me a tweet at @joshfabian so I know it’s worth continuing to do this. Okay, yes, subscribing would be more meaningful but I really need this validation, okay? Your undivided attention is the only thing that makes the feel-good juice in my brain activate.

From the Community

Some of our favorite tweets from Jan - Mar, in no particular order.

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