The Hammerstone Podcast is back

Colleen and her business partner Aaron give an update on Hammerstone (Refine) in this crossover episode.

Aaron Francis 0:00
Hello, Colleen,

Colleen Schnettler 0:01

Aaron Francis 0:02
it has been a minute.

Colleen Schnettler 0:05
We are back.

Aaron Francis 0:06
We're back, baby. I mean, we've been talking the whole time, we just maybe haven't recorded every conversation. But we're back. Lots of interesting things to share. So where should we start?

Colleen Schnettler 0:19
Well, I think we should start with our announcement.

Aaron Francis 0:22
We got into tiny seed.

Colleen and I are officially funded. So

yeah. How about you tell us how exactly that happened? Because, you know, a little bit better than I do.

Colleen Schnettler 0:39
Yes. Well, I it's a little bit of a funny story. I applied to tiny seed, and then I mentioned it to Aaron. After I applied. Yeah, just like, Oh, hey, by the way, I applied for tiny seed. I hope that's okay. We're not gonna get in. So it shouldn't be a big deal. Yes. What can I say an important co founder relationship needs good communication. Yeah. So that was an honestly, it was fine. I was like, Sure. That sounds great. I love tiny seed. I also don't think we'll get in. And then well, we got in, we got in. Yeah, I mean, it's because of that video of yours. I cut from seven minutes to a minute. That's clearly why Well, you asked me to make I think he maybe did ask me to make a two minute video and I delivered just the most fire seven minute video ever. And later, I found out that you cut it down and I was partially offended. And it partially made sense. Yep. Yeah, I think this is just I mean, I feel like this is going to change the game. For us. I feel like it's a good example of shooting your shot. Like obviously, I'm, I wasn't even I was literally going through the application. I was like, Oh, maybe I shouldn't apply. Maybe we're too early. So good for us for shooting our shot. And the thing is, though, now the real work begins. Right? Like it's one thing to get funded. But we are a fundamentally conceptually a bootstrap company. So we are focused on revenue, not growth, if you will. Does that make sense? Yes, but we are focusing on growing the revenue. So Right.

And then as opposed to like a VC, if we raise if we go raise millions of dollars, and we're just trying to get as many users as possible, like we're focused on growing a sustainable, excellent revenue generating company, this should just really help us do it faster.

Aaron Francis 2:32
Yeah. So what this does is this frees you up a lot to focus more on the business. So I just got a job. So I'm like, I'm like two weeks into this new job that I love. And Colleen messages means like, Hey, I applied for funding, like, surprise. So here's the deal, this. So I work at planet scale now, which turns out is amazing. Like, it looks cool from the outside, it's even cooler from the inside. So this funding, what this is going to do is this is going to free you up so that you don't have to do all the consulting that you're doing. And this will help bridge that gap. And I will continue to work nights and weekends. While I work my day job at planet scale.

Colleen Schnettler 3:24
And I think it's also important to keep in mind is that was always our plan. I mean, even if we had even if you were in a position where you could quit your job, which you're not. But if you were, it would still put such pressure on the business to support two people full time. I think we are both in agreement that with or without funding, we had always planned to go this route, I'm a little more flexible. So I was always gonna go full time first. So this just enables us to do it faster.

Aaron Francis 3:52
That was always the plan break you free first. And then at some point later, I will join but yeah, this just speeds us up, which is awesome.

Colleen Schnettler 4:03
Yeah. Yeah, I am super excited to end to me, like when when I think about this, and it's kind of like, how do you what what is this money really gonna buy us? Like, what is this funding really gonna buy us? To me, it gives me the ability to focus on what's best for the business. There are many, many times I'm like deep in the code, which I'm happy to be there. But also that's not moving our business forward. So being able to big being able to think big picture and strategy. And these kinds of things, I think is really going to help us move faster, right, like fail fast. This is a big thing we've been talking about. Right? We haven't had the podcast in months, but you and I have been talking about privately is how do we fail faster on this and I think this freeing up of my time, so I can actually think distribution strategy pricing is really going to enable us to get there

Aaron Francis 5:00
Yeah, I think so. Yeah, I'm super excited. We have a retreat coming up with them, I think at the end of this month or something, but you and I also just saw each other in Austin like a couple of weeks ago, we, which was awesome, nice to be in person, again for that. Yeah, and this is, I feel like the past six months have been insane for me between conferences and going part time at tuple than leaving tuple. And then starting it playing at scale, and then getting funding. So conferences are over. I'm at a job now that I feel really, really qualified to do. And I like really enjoy it. And so I think everything is starting to slow down a little bit for me.

Colleen Schnettler 5:49
Excellent. And let's talk a little bit about your conferences. Is that part of your job requirement? Because I feel like you should not be speaking at any more conferences.

Aaron Francis 5:58
Um, I don't think it's part of my job requirement. I think they're happy when I go. And I I personally like doing them, but I don't like the situation. I got myself in where I had one in September, one in October one in November. Like that was a

Colleen Schnettler 6:16
lot. Yeah. You in November you had to in November. Yeah, that's true. Yeah,

Aaron Francis 6:20
I did. Yeah. Right about that. So I had one September, one in October, two in November, like a week apart. And that was bad. That was yeah, that was bad. But I enjoy doing it. I think I'm good at it. It's fun. I would just maybe like to do maybe one or two a year instead of for a month.

Colleen Schnettler 6:41
Well, I was gonna suggest to charging a speaking fee or something like, like, I know, you enjoy doing it. It's good for planet scale. It's good for you. But you've been speaking at so many. And as you said, you've had a crazy six months. And I think managing energy level long term is an important thing for us. So just a suggestion is you could just start charging a speaking fee.

Aaron Francis 7:01
Yeah, that's a good idea. I got paid to speak at universe and layer con. Okay. But long horn and full stack? You did not pay? Yeah. But yeah, I think that's good idea. That'd be nice to get at least some nominal fee out of it would would be nice.

Colleen Schnettler 7:22
One of the things speaking of our business and tiny seed, so I was speaking to someone before when we were kind of deciding, like, is this the right move for us right now. And just something he said that really struck me and has stayed with me is, when you think about how you want to build this business, yeah, you might want to only have this business for a couple of years. But think about it in a 10 year timeline, because there is a nonzero chance that one or both of you will be running this business for a very long time. So when you think about this, the reason I bring this up right now is because talking about how busy you are and your energy levels, and just for both of us like managing that long term. I think, you know, it's a marathon, not a sprint.

Aaron Francis 8:09
Yeah, I agree. I got I got real sprint T there for a minute with conferences. Yeah, so I agree.

Colleen Schnettler 8:17
And so I actually we haven't you know, you've been so busy. Even though I saw you last time I saw you, we didn't really talk too much product. So I would like to give a little product update, because Oh, me, my team has been crushing it. I know, some people are always on the fence about hiring. But man, it has worked out really well. For the rails product.

Aaron Francis 8:37
My team, what a boss, how many? How many people are on my team, there are three people on

Unknown Speaker 8:43
my team. That's crazy.

Colleen Schnettler 8:46
And I think you know, it's been so interesting, because I have learned so much working with these people. And just, you know, I've managed someone 15 years, 10 years ago when I worked at a fortune 500 company, but I have never managed. I mean, it's been a long time since I've managed contract developers. And I think it's been a great learning experience for me. And I have seen a lot of areas where I can improve. So I'm actively working on that. But anyway, that's off topic, I want to tell you about our product updates. So what we noticed when we started, we've had a lot of demand for the rails component. And so I did the first for the first five people and started onboarding them. And I noticed as you and I have talked ad infinitum, there is a hole in the visual aspect the UI. And so literally today, I'm about adjust version, the gem and the NPM package. All of the CSS styles have been pulled out of our partials into their own. Yeah, their own file. You can choose to import or not import or import and override as you desire. And way there's two big things and you can now plug in your own cost dump date picker. Okay, we switched to pick a day, I want to say switched pick a day No, we switched to flat picker. And the UI is so much better sorry, Date Range picker. But like, it's no jQuery dependency, like the UI, I think is just so much better. But we have written it in such a way that you can choose to plug in your own component there, which is huge. That was a huge, literally everyone asked for that. So CSS has been pulled out, that's been pulled out. And you can set up an initializer to scope all your stored filters, both when you save them, and when you load them, which is a huge deal. Because what was happening is people are having to override the create methods of the stored filters controller in order to if they want a custom attributes on their table. So it's like, it's just exciting. It's like three huge things. And you know, when you like, ship a product, you're like, Oh, like this thing is really, these three things were really, really bothering. Yeah. So yeah, styles

Aaron Francis 10:55
one is huge. I mean, because that's everyone's biggest complaint. Always.

Colleen Schnettler 11:02
It is. It's like I am so excited. It. Like I said, literally just version the gym 20 minutes ago. So it's no one's using it yet. But I am so excited for people to be able to override their styles are our guy who did that, like it was a tremendous amount of work, he is amazing. And he meticulously went through every single partial and pulled out the styles and put them in, like figured out how to name them. So they made sense and put them in their own file. And it's gonna make a huge difference. Because we have one guy who we have one customer who rewrote our overrode all of our views, which is not good. It was just it was not ideal. But it turned out a great experience was not a good customer experience, even if I write a, you know, a generator to dump all the views. And we might get there eventually, if you want to change the fundamental HTML, but you can get pretty far with just overriding the styles. So yeah, yeah. So outside, it feels really good to have finally gotten to this point. Yeah. Yeah,

Aaron Francis 12:03
that's a that's gonna be a huge relief and the, the initializer I like that, because that's, is that the same like scoping it down to teams and tenants and that sort of

Colleen Schnettler 12:13
thing? Exactly. If you have tenancy scoping that you want on your stored filters, it's kind of interesting how we include a stored filters partial in our package, like in the view. Yeah, so you don't have so the rails, I think you guys do it differently in Laravel. But like the rails part, if you go with the happy path, it includes a stored filter, partial, but the scoping, you have two issues there you have, what stored filters do you load? So, you know, our client has a lot of tenancy concerns. So you have to scope to a specific area, etc, etc. And then when you save a stored filters, what additional attributes do you want on that table? Since the Create update, you know, all the crud actions are in the gym? You don't really you did not have a way to hook into that before this got merged. So this is a big deal to cool. That's awesome. So it's like tools. Good. Feels good. And we sold a license yesterday, another one, so we're still selling them?

Aaron Francis 13:05
Before you could sneak in there and raise the price.

Colleen Schnettler 13:07
I know. I am. I'm gonna like I literally have the PR to turn that off, like ready to go, I think. And so he snuck in there bought it before I raised the price times 10s. Group. Good. We'll take your him.

Aaron Francis 13:22
Where to go guy?

Colleen Schnettler 13:26
Yeah, so I think product stuff is feeling really good.

Aaron Francis 13:29
Good. So I do want to talk about plans, like for the next month or so like some of the stuff that we figured out when we were in person? Sure. So I think we have divvied up kind of areas of responsibility for the next maybe several weeks, or maybe to the end of the year, because we've got Thanksgiving

Colleen Schnettler 13:49
holiday, I think and we have the retreat. So the next few weeks are kind of shot anyway.

Aaron Francis 13:54
Yeah. So we had a lot of good feedback from our internet friends. And I think where we landed is I'm going to focus on just like really driving home the Nova implementation. So that means doing whatever updates are necessary for Nova V for which shouldn't be bad. And then really focusing our landing page and messaging and sales and everything to strictly Nova, which doesn't mean which, you know, doesn't mean their vote goes away. But we're going to focus it on Nova and we're going to drop the price, I think, I think that's what we decided we're going to drop the price for Nova to be more in line with the Nova ecosystem. So that's my those are my marching orders. We're going to get that done and try to start pushing some sales through different Nova channels. And then on your side.

Colleen Schnettler 14:48
Yeah, so on my side, I'm focusing on replacing myself with the client and yes, I'm probably going to hire again. So if you're gone Director, Rails developer, and you'd like to join Colleen million my team, please let me know. Yeah. So I think I've been kind of on the fence about that, honestly. But I think where we are in the development cycle that is still the right move. And then the question is just how senior of a person do I need? So, yeah, I think I think that's a good move. I think I should do it. Like I said, I don't want us to be a consultancy, though, right? And so we are a product company, we want to be a product company. So finding that balance between consulting on the product for the client, like hiring someone to do that, versus trying to sell the product elsewhere, is a little bit tricky, I think. But I think where we are, because there's got to be a point. I mean, I think there's a point where we we just say, Here's your support contract, like not, here's Colleen or colleague person who was permanently embedded with you. But here's the support contract. This is how we define it. But I don't think we're there yet. Like there's other things. Yeah. Like, I think there's more product development to do and that they want that they are really excited about, that they will support the development of so I think that's the right move. So I do think I'm going to hire someone else. So that's, that's really, I mean, that's from now for the next couple of weeks trying to find someone and embed someone in there. That's a good fit. Yeah, that's a lot. So that's kind of what I'm focused on right now.

Aaron Francis 16:27
Yeah. And then beginning of the new year, prices go up like 10x. And yeah, we started trying to execute new strategies.

Colleen Schnettler 16:37
What I'm doing now is I'm going to remove the ability to buy it for $1,000 and do a call for pricing. Because I think the week we had talked about having a base price that's much higher plus an onboarding package, and you have to buy them together. Right. So executing on that, I think is something I'll do soon. I mean, like I said, I think I literally already made the changes on the website, I just have to push it live. So that's something I'll do soon. And then we'll see if anyone actually calls.

Aaron Francis 17:05
Yeah. I mean, if people keep calling it, you know, $5,000 product fee and $5,000 onboarding fee. That's good.

Colleen Schnettler 17:14
Yeah. So yeah, but I think the big push for the rail stuff will be after the new year, we have a lot of we have some product stuff we're working. I mean, we will always have product stuff we're working on. So yeah, I think strategizing, like how to come out of the gate fast in January. Is is good, is what we're gonna be working on. Yeah, I think so. I think it will be interesting to see if this kind of divide and conquer strategy works, or if we both need to be focused on the same thing, because I am a little concerned that not being focused on the same thing is not the right way to go. Yeah. Right. Like, yeah, the answer is Nova. And I help you with Nova, you know, like, maybe it's better to focus in hard on Nova right now. And I help you with email sequencing, and how do we use our list and all that stuff? And then later, we're both focused on rails, like, that's kind of the thing we'll have to figure out.

Aaron Francis 18:08
Yeah, that'll be interesting to see. Because I mean, we will be pursuing two vastly different strategies, you know, Nova 249, and rails at 10k, or whatever. Right? And it's going to be, it's going to be really, really interesting to see it. But then also, I don't know, how much help I am on the rail side more more than zero. Like, I think I'm good at talking on like, the demos and talking database level stuff, but less than 100% helpful. Yeah, it'll be interesting.

Colleen Schnettler 18:41
It'll be interesting, cuz there's so much we could do together. Like one of the things I think we got, one of the very good pieces of feedback we got from our internet friends was, no one really knows what we're selling. And you go to our homepage, no one people like, what what are you selling? I don't. So. That kind of stuff. I mean, there's a lot of room for improvement. I think there. Yeah. And that's something we could do together.

Aaron Francis 19:05
Yeah, absolutely. And I think for Matt Winson, who is listening, he would tell us that divide and conquer means that you and I work together to divide the enemy and conquer them. You can I split up to conquer separate enemies. So Matt, I know that's your hobby horse. And I am well aware that divide and conquer means Colleen and I stick together.

Colleen Schnettler 19:26
I didn't know that. That's a fun fact.

Aaron Francis 19:28
I think I actually did learn that from him when he complained about it to somebody else recently. But yeah,

Colleen Schnettler 19:34
so that is something we'll have to see. And I think, you know, as we talk about trying to figure out the best way to work together, given our circumstances, I think we'll figure that out in the next couple of months. Because if you're trying to do Nova and you There you go. If you're trying to do Nova and sorry, I'm distracted because you're blurry.

Aaron Francis 19:56
My amazing camera keeps going out of focus. So sorry about that.

Colleen Schnettler 20:00
Uh, okay, yeah. So I tend to think we would be better if we were both focused on the same thing. But we have two really interesting possible traction channels distribution channels here. So we do need to do both, I think it's worth our time to do both. So what we could do is kind of an experiment is see how november december goes with you focusing on November focusing on rails? And if we're kind of, like, we didn't make a lot of progress in either, then we can change strategy.

Aaron Francis 20:25
I think so I think it would be wise to spend the next two partial months, the next two holiday months working on both of these things, and then reassess and see if we should consolidate around one. But I don't think it's, I don't think it's crazy to say, well, let's try both for now get them both over, you know, the starting line of these new strategies, and then kind of reassess from that point.

Colleen Schnettler 20:49
Yeah, I mean, and for me to sell a $20,000 a year product is a whole new skill set. So I really want to learn how to do that, and see if I can do that, that. And that would make a huge difference, right? If we could go out there and sell, you know, $20,000 licenses, like that's going to change the whole game in terms of our revenue versus what we're talking about selling no before. But it might be you know, we have the high value funnel and the low value funnel, or that's not the right term, but you know what I mean, like the high touch funnel, and the low touch, high touch and low touch funnel. And it might be that, you know, 70% of our time is on the low touch funnel, because those are more of the traditional marketing activities, website, email lists, stuff like that. And then the remainder of the time is high touch. Since those deals take a lot longer to close, there's probably a lot of downtime, right? Like you have a call and they have to go talk to 15 people, and then you have a call. And so yeah, I'm kind of excited to like, try some like traditional, like sales strategies. I want to see how that'll work. So I'm excited for that. On the high touch side.

Aaron Francis 21:54
Yeah. And I think you'll be good at it. I think, Well, I think we'll both be good at it. But yeah, you talking to these rails people? I think you'll click in pretty quickly. Yeah. Anything else? I mean, it's been months,

Colleen Schnettler 22:09
it's been months. I mean, we're still growing. So that's exciting. We're still here.

Unknown Speaker 22:16
We're like,

Colleen Schnettler 22:17
I feel like it's all good news. At this point. We raise money. We've got a great team. We're still growing. We just, you know, distribution. I think at this point, it's it's distribution and product, you know, and product. There's still a lot we can do with the product. But yeah, I mean, it's all good things. Well,

Aaron Francis 22:35
you want to hear a bad thing. Let's talk about GitHub universe for a second. Okay, tell I went to this conference in San Francisco and thought, Okay, this is like, this is my big break. Like this is going to change my life. Right. Big deal. GitHub, yours. really honored to be there. And I spoke on Thursday, I guess. And I'm on my, my session is scheduled for like the garden stage. And I'm like, Oh, that'll be nice outside. Sounds lovely. On Tuesday, I go to rehearse. And I get like the like the pamphlet, the brochure that's like, here's the schedule. And I'm looking around the schedule, and the garden stage isn't listed anywhere on the schedule. I'm like, hang on. My talk is not like not not my talk my stage, like the whole thing isn't listed on the schedule that they're about to hand out to all the attendees. And then I look and I'm like, Okay, well, that's fine. It'll be live streamed. And so I asked my contact and like, now you're just a live stream, and like, oh, no, this is getting worse. And so I'm already kind of like, oh, this is a little bit embarrassed, like, my talk is kind of out in the yard, and nobody's gonna be there. And the time came to, like, do my talk and calling there were like, 10 people there?

Unknown Speaker 24:01
Oh, no, it was, Oh,

Aaron Francis 24:04
I was so embarrassed. I thought, I thought this was gonna be like a big, like, moment for me. And there's nobody here. So it's fine, because my, like, my GitHub contact was there. And she brought some of her the people on her team. And she said, it was an incredible talk. And she said, I want to I don't know how you submit it for a TED talk, but I want to submit it for a TED talk. I don't think that's how that works. But I'm, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. So that's really good. Like the, the, you know, the business development connection of like, this lady at GitHub really likes me, we work well together. She wants me to keep like, producing content for the readme blog. That's all really great. But man, I was just so embarrassed. I gave it everything I had like it. There could have been 10,000 people there and I would have done I've heard it the same way. And I feel good about that. Like, my job is to, you know, my job is to show up and do my job. And so I feel really good about that. But it was kind of like, play into an empty bar, you know, like, I'm up there just singing my heart out. And there's one drunk guy in the back. It's like, oh, this is.

Colleen Schnettler 25:19
So I was wondering what happened, because on that day, I had a call, like, around that time, but usually when you speak, like your Twitter's blowing up, and I kept checking Twitter, and I was like, Why is no one talking about Aaron's talk?

Aaron Francis 25:32
Like, literally no one was there? Oh, so bad. Oh, man. No. Yeah,

Colleen Schnettler 25:41
I would. I thought this of all the conferences you have been invited to speak at. This seemed like the biggest I too, thought this was gonna be like a huge deal. I'm sorry.

Aaron Francis 25:51
Yeah, thanks. I'm a little bit like, I shouldn't be embarrassed. That's not like, no, that's not my problem. And I'm a little bit embarrassed that, like, I got so excited and hyped it up. And then it was like Google, but hopefully, they have assured me that I will still get the video so hopefully, I can make use of that video won't be a total waste. Yeah. And I may have to crop the video, so you don't see like the four rows of empty chairs and then like my three friends out there. Oh, my

Unknown Speaker 26:22
goodness. That is not awesome. Wow, awesome. Awesome, man. Yeah,

Aaron Francis 26:29
it's good content. I'll write an article one day about, you know, playing to an empty room and it'll it'll make good content. So yeah, yeah. Well, anything else besides that? No,

Unknown Speaker 26:42
that's all I got. All right. Good to be back. Good to be back. See ya. Bye.

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Creators and Guests

Colleen Schnettler
Colleen Schnettler
Co-Founder of Refine, Founder of Simple File Upload
Cory Stine
Cory Stine
Audio Editor
2022, Software Social