If you hadn’t heard, Bugherd is celebrating 10 years of helping teams get valuable feedback on website designs, builds and content. So let’s party like we’re 10 years old!
Normally in Australia we celebrate a 10th birthday with a party and some uniquely Australian food, like Fairy Bread, Cheezels, Tim Tams, party pies & sausage rolls, BBQ Shapes and possibly a birthday cake from the Women’s Weekly Children’s birthday cake book (vintage edition preferred for millennials and older).
Sadly for our Melbourne team, we are still working from home. We won’t be meeting in the office to celebrate with culinary delights and to reminisce about 10 years of BugHerd. Instead, we’re bringing the party to you, our amazing and supportive customers who have shared the journey with us so far.
Please take a moment to make some fairy bread (or whip up a cake creation) and join us for a quick trip through the world of BugHerd. Some of our original staff are kindly sharing 10 of their BugHerdiest memories.
If you don’t know the BugHerd story, you may like to read BugHerd – the start up that refuses to die for some pre memory-sharing context.
1. 2010 – BugHerd origin story
BugHerd was born in Alan and Thuy’s home office in 2010. Alan Downie, co-founder of BugHerd and now Splitrock Studio, recalls that it started with his desire to find a quick and easy way to share feedback on a website. According to Alan, he wanted to be able to tell Matt (BugHerd’s other co-founder) “I want this button to be blue”.
Thuy has always been part of keeping BugHerd running with the quote “boring, behind the scenes things like paying bills, book keeping, payroll and chasing up unpaid invoices.” All the things the rest of the Splitrock Studio and BugHerd team are eternally grateful for.
“On the flip side, I also do fun things like organising Christmas shindigs and sending surprise goodies to the staff 😁” Thuy also claims honours for coming up with the name BugHerd.
2. 2012 – Growing BugHerd
Finding focus was the theme in 2012 and through early 2013. Concerned by burning cash and at the advice of an Angel investor, Alan made a decision. “In December 2012 we made the decision to focus on one core metric, our ability to onboard customers.
At the time we converted about 4% from Trial to Sale. When we broke that down we found that only about 30% of people that signed up ever installed BugHerd. I knew we could do better. I set the goal… we had to double that number.”
Thus the BugHerd browser extension was created (through months of innovation and iteration). Activation increased from 30% to 65% – smashing the goal Alan had set! The testing and learning had only just begun.
“Having been bitten by the experimentation bug, we tested a change to our pricing. We tested dropping the offering of a free plan. We had hoped that the increase in average revenue per user would make up for a potential loss in customers. In fact, the opposite happened. Our conversion-to-sale doubled. We learned that unless you ask people to pay they unsurprisingly, won’t. This took us from 8% conversion to 16%.”
It was almost too little too late, because by March 2013 we were nearly out of cash. We (the founders) went without salaries for a couple of months, and with the help of a couple of timely government grants, managed to keep the doors open. I’m glad we did, because we saw 400% growth in the subsequent 12 months, jumping from $10k MRR to $40k MRR by the end of the year.
3. 2013 – Growing the team and creating the culture
Marketing smarter was the 2013 theme, with Chanie Hyde joining as employee number 4 bringing her marketing nous to BugHerd. Current CEO, Stephen Neville also started as a marketing consultant in 2013.
Chanie’s highlight in the earlier days at BugHerd include a lot of hackathons and fast paced trials. “But the most memorable was when we created Reddit factions at a company retreat. There are so many reasons why BugHerd as a company has always been awesome but this was an excellent example of a company paying attention to each team member’s skills. We built a game as a team over the course of 3 days, we also had the chance to connect and work together on a singular goal that didn’t feel forced or totally lame.”
4. 2014 – Bring in the developers
James Coleman & Jesse McNeils joined and started weaving some coding magic around BugHerd. For James, the highlights are many, but it’s the work he’s contributed to that stands out.
“It’s hard to pick – so many things are memorable but in different ways. Perhaps what I’m most proud of is “mobile screenshots” (where you can create a task without the extension, but still get a screenshot!). This was on the radar for a few years and got attempted a couple of times with no real success. I ended up with enough time to dedicate to it where a reliable solution was found, and it is still in use today! The current team is improving it constantly and our users love it, which makes me very happy.”
5. 2015 – Unforgettable events and an introduction to illustration
Thuy recalls organising an unforgettable event in slightly fancier settings than the team was used to…
“In 2015, I organised a 3 day retreat for the team to bond, talk about culture and product and have a little hackathon. It was hosted at Chateau Yering – a heritage-listed mansion in the Yarra Valley which was a liiiiiitle fancy pants for our eclectic group of 12! The super elegant setting and fine dining was not what most of the team were used to, but I think that’s what made it memorable.”
The BugHerd visual brand was born as Illustrator & Web Designer, Sher Rill Ng joined the company.
6. 2016 – A new design aesthetic
Things started to slow down in 2016 for BugHerd. Sher Rill recalls that her newly minted illustrator skills had a chance to shine though during this period. She developed the visual style that BugHerd still retains today.
“In the first half of 2016, things were winding down a bit at BugHerd while we were figuring out our next steps (and ultimately a hiatus). I had also acquired some new (art) skills and was pretty eager to see how I could apply this to the design work I was doing. With more time to work on the smaller details, we were able to define a more cohesive design style between the BugHerd app and our website. Likewise with the illustration style getting a slight upgrade, and becoming more recognisable as part of our brand.”
Ultimately though, 2016 was the year when development of new features stopped for BugHerd. Essential maintenance was kept to ensure remaining customers were supported.
7. 2018 – Re-ignition of the product that wouldn’t die
After winding things down, BugHerd’s faint, but steady heartbeat received a reinvigorating jumpstart in 2018. Steve returned permanently as a new set of eyes on an old problem, and set about revitalising a product that hadn’t received much attention for two years.
“We knew we had a product that our customers loved so we just went back to basics and focussed on doing the things people had been screaming out for. It hasn’t always been easy, and anyone who has worked with a legacy application can attest to that. However, it has been worthwhile.”
8. 2019 – Getting the band back together and more
Chanie, Sher Rill, Jesse and James returned (after some time away from BugHerd). It’s a testament to a business that people want to return. It certainly makes for an interesting case study, the likes of which you can read here. And Why return? Chanie sums up why it was an easy decision to return to BugHerd.
“I feel proud to have contributed to so many cool things at BugHerd and there’s a big reason I came back. I can be myself, have the freedom to create and have the motivation to do great work and feel supported in doing so.”
9. 2020 – What a year!
As Australians, I’m pretty sure we thought the bushfires in our new year were going to be the worst of 2020. Boy, were we wrong!
Like a lot of companies worldwide, we were unsure of what was going to come of this year. We’re certainly not the only business who have had a roller-coaster of a year. When working from home became a norm across the globe, we’ve all seen an increase in the need for tools that enable remote collaboration.
We’ve been really pleased to hear from customers that BugHerd is helping them collaborate despite the isolation. We’ve delivered some exciting features to enable collaboration and we’re looking forward to delivering more in the coming years.
10. 2021 – onwards and upwards
After 2020, we’re not crazy enough to try and predict next year. We do know that there is a real positivity within the team at BugHerd and excitement about continuing to grow. We think our CEO Steve sums it up well, so we’ll let him have the final words.
“I think it’s been all the incredible work the team has put in over the last few years. BugHerd was in an interesting place, though not totally forgotten, when I came back.
I am extremely grateful for the effort of everyone involved at BugHerd. Today we are going from strength to strength and I am very excited about the next phase of our future.”