❌ Failed startup
✅ Successful startup

Standuply: Making $80K a month with a problem-solving Slack-first App

After seeing where problems were in Agile teams, Alex Kistenev and co-founder Artem, decided to do something about it. So they created Standuply which is a Digital Scrum Master Slack bot that runs standup meetings and team surveys in Slack. After being featured on the main page of the Slack App Directory in March 2017, within two weeks they got 750 new signups and reached a milestone of 1,000 teams. They haven’t stopped growing since.

Below 150K

Alex Kistenev

August 12, 2019

Sponsor Failory and get your business & product in front of +20,000 CEOs, startup founders, entrepreneurs, developers and marketers every month.

Do you want to grow your business? With GenM you can get free marketing from an apprentice as part of their training. The student will work 40 hours per month creating content, increasing SEO rankings, carrying out advertisement campaigns...

Want to take ownership over the growth of your business, but don't know where to start? Get 1-on-1 advice from vetted growth experts about your business.

No more changing developers every time you start a new project. With our full range of development services, no project is too big, too complex, too mobile or too software for us to complete. We’re the only web-dev partner you’ll ever need.

A 5-minute read that's informative, witty and free? That's Morning Brew — the daily email that delivers the latest news from Wall Street to Silicon Valley.

Hi Alex! What's your background, and what are you currently working on?

For the past 10 years, I’ve been a tech entrepreneur, today I’m 36. In 2008 I founded a web agency in the heart of Russia, in Siberia. Since then we’ve been working on various projects from clients’ work to building our in-house startups.

Three years ago we decided to focus on one thing and that’s become Standuply. Standuply is a Slack bot that runs standup meetings and team surveys in Slack. Think of Standuply as a Scrum Master that works in thousands of teams and applies the best practices.

Standuply makes money with a SaaS subscription and charges per user. The price range is from $2 to $4 per user. Today Standuply has thousands of customers from companies like IBM, Adobe, eBay and more.

I’m the CEO and my role is to grow the business from the marketing side.

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

The story started in 2015, when we launched a list of Telegram bots, BotFamily.com. In 2 months it grew to 2k/daily visitors, but we decided to put it on hold due to various reasons.

Later, we launched Ad-Exchange for Telegram bots, BotRevenue.com. VentureBeat wrote a full article about it. In a few days 300 bot devs. & advertisers signed up.

But we found that telegram doesn’t reveal any user data. No targeting was possible! Retention in bots was ~0,5%! We gave it up and switched to Slack.

Artem, co-founder of Standuply witnessed problems in Agile teams in his career of a Project Manager. Most of Agile teams need to check-in consistently, adjust processes and work on improving the performance. However, it’s easy said than done.

Standuply Team

We picked the idea, as we saw the solution. It was in 2016 when the chatbot hype was starting. I was excited about the new opportunities and shared my business ideas with Artem.

Together, we envisioned a digital Scrum Master. We started with a Slack bot for standup meeting to solve the main problems of checking-in with remote team members and long meetings. In 2016 in a few days, we got 300 teams signed up having landing page only. Now, thousands of teams use Standuply every working day.

How did you build Standuply?

I and Artem took our savings and started the work. We had a hell of a lot of motivation like there was no second chance. Our team was building MVP and experimenting with the Slack bot API for 9 months in 2016.

We changed the concept three times, and at some point, we were almost ready to give up. Later, we were lucky to find focus with the help of the Startup Sauna acceleration program.

Some people didn’t like the concept of a Scrum Master bot. Half of them didn’t follow Scrum. However, many liked that a bot can ask questions and gather answers, e.g., for standup meetings.

To embrace that, we decided to provide a user ability to change questions allowing a broader set of use-cases.

We redesigned our webpage and changed the product’s name (not a good move). It became ReportChef (like a chef that serves reports based on various recipes). After we made our positioning wider, it became unclear to visitors what we were doing. Ouch.

At that time about 50 teams were using ReportChef, and it didn’t feel like a strong demand. 

We talked with many coaches in Startup Sauna and narrowed our value proposition to stand-up meetings on Slack. That's how Standuply, as a concept and brand, was born. We launched it on a demo day at Slush.

Hire digital marketing interns. 40 hours for $49/month.

Learn More!


From Wall Street to Silicon Valley...

Are you busy? Sure you are — that's why you need Morning Brew. It's a free daily email that gives a quick 5-minute rundown of the day's top business news. Join the 925,000+ people who start their day with Morning Brew!

👉 Learn More!

Reach +20,000 Startup Founders!

If you are looking to get your product in front of founders, CEOs, VPs, web and mobile developers, makers, consultants, marketers, bloggers, product managers, and many other thought leaders, then we can help you.

👉 Sponsorships

Which were your marketing strategies to grow your business?

Standuply was featured on the main page of the Slack App Directory in March 2017. In two weeks we got 750 new signups and reached a milestone of 1,000 teams. Even since the feature ended we have still been getting a steady stream of new users from Slack. 

We relied heavily on content marketing in 2017 and continue to do so today. I published several long reads. It helped us to improve our SEO and led decent traffic to our blog. My posts received hundreds of thousands of views since then.

We launched Standuply and related Slack bot products many times on Product Hunt in the latest two years. At first, it was our initial launch that brought in our very first users. Next launches brought more users on board.

We also spread the news about Standuply, Slack bots and our blog posts on Facebook, Twitter, Hacker News, Reddit and on smaller sites. In all, that has brought us dozens of thousands of visitors in the last two years.

Also, we had a booth at three conferences in 2017: Chatbot Summit in Berlin, Slush in Helsinki and TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin. But, as a result, we had at maximum the same amount of signups from the three conferences as on a regular day with zero marketing budget. However, seeing how people react to a message on our roll-up is very insightful.

What are your goals for the future?

We set a short-term goal to reach $100k MRR which is a turning point for a SaaS that proves the real business potential. However, looking long term, our goal is quite simple, yet ambitious. We would like to provide a chance to have a Scrum Master on the team for everyone who can’t afford it. Number wise it will mean a million happy customers. 

We’re thinking long term and understand that it can take a decade or two to achieve that goal. But we have enough patience and motivation to bring it to life. 

Standuply Goals

What were the biggest challenges you faced and obstacles you overcame?

Everything takes time, especially in SaaS. So, we learned valuable lessons. Some of the most insightful lessons came while we were building our MVP:

We did tons of interviews. We spoke about customer pain points, workflows and listened to their feature requests. Interviews helped us to see a bigger picture. However, we were surprised that they didn't help us with new features.

To move forward, we needed the data on how our SaaS MVP was used and by whom. We didn't have internal statistics at first. It was like flying without radar. I can't imagine how we could work without it. Instead of shipping additional features, we should have built it from the start.

We found that having only one tech person on a project may lead to coder's block. One person can get stuck, while several people have a better chance of finding a solution. Therefore, having one developer on the team may come at a higher cost than two.

Your one-stop shop for everything dev-related.

Anything you need, our devs can build: complex e-commerce solutions, custom software or SaaS, beautiful WordPress websites… anything. We’ll fix, upgrade & customize your website, so you never have to worry about troubleshooting web stuff ever again.

Let’s get to work!

Grow your business. Get 1-on-1 calls with +100 mentors.

Learn More!


Which are your greatest disadvantages? What were your worst mistakes?

At the beginning of 2017, we had a beta that was serving about 200 teams. However, it was far from being perfect with regard to features and stability. So we decided to re-write the bot entirely to deliver additional features our users were asking for. Instead of 1.5 months, it took us 4 months. Oops.

After the release, the feature of adding answers didn't become popular. This is how we learned that additional features are not that important compared to core features. No matter how many nice tiny things you build, a product's success is about the core features people buy into.

Speaking of disadvantages, it’s the fact that not everyone uses Slack. It will be better for them, because Slack increases team productivity and for us so that we could have a larger market. 

If you had the chance to do things differently, what would you do?

Some people advocate starting to charge from day one. We didn't follow that practice. During the beta, our product was free to use. That decision had its advantages and disadvantages. We attracted more signups that way, but we also had users that weren't ready to pay at all.

Sometimes their feedback was distracting and demotivating. So next time I would start charging users earlier to get feedback from real customers. 

What are some sources for learning you would recommend for entrepreneurs who are just starting?

I believe comparing how you're doing with others helps you to have an understanding of your dynamics. For example, if you grow much slower than other companies in your niche, it means something is wrong, so your task is to find and fix it.

These resources are helpful with that:

Where can we go to learn more?

If you want to learn more on how to use Slack with more efficiency here’s the ebook we recently published: How to Use Slack.

And, of course, check out Standuply if you want better productivity for your team. Sometimes we share our insights on the Standuply blog, you’re welcome to check it out as well.  

✉️ Subscribe to our newsletter!

Invite us into your inbox and get immense learning and 80+ deals on tools to help you scale your startup (worth up to $50,000)!

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

👇 Other Interviews

ScrapingBee: From 2 failed startups to $3,000/month in 4 months
Pierre de Wulf
January 2, 2020
Up to 50K
Growing a SaaS to $40,000/year while freelancing
Jen Yip
June 3, 2020
Up to 50K
OneUp: How to bootstrap and be profitable in a VC-funded market
Davis Baer
June 26, 2019
United States
Up to 50K
Dick At Your Door: Making $25k/month Selling Chocolate Dicks
Adam Elliot
February 21, 2019
United States
Up to 50K
350 clients, $212,000 and 5 employees - The story of the modern chimney company
Mitchell Blackmon
January 14, 2020
United States
Up to 50K
MealSurfers: Exiting a $7K/Month Food Startup
Ali Jiwani
November 3, 2019
Up to 50K
Sharkius: From $80k/Month To Failure
David Kramaley
March 17, 2018
United Kingdom
Bad Marketing
People Management
Hubrif: Lost $10K Building the Netflix for African Short Films
Tobi Ogunwande
April 4, 2019
Web Application
Business Model
Unprepared Market
Tali: Burning Through $750k with Little Return due to Lack of Market Fit
Matthew Volm
October 10, 2019
United States
Haptly: Failing to Build the Technical Product after 10 Months
Nelson Shaw
December 18, 2018
New Zealand
Technical Problems
3 years & $50,000 burnt on KOLOS, an iPad racing wheel nobody wanted
Ivaylo Kalburdzhiev
February 19, 2020
No Need
Boston Apartment Hub: Failed to Grow a Side Project
Jon Sherman
March 17, 2018
United States
Unprepared Market