...and that someone is Wild Apricot!
Wild Apricot will be celebrating its 5th Anniversary this coming July 2011.
We've been lucky enough to have a number of our original clients from 2006 still with us today -- next month, Apricot Chat will showcase some of those clients.
This month, we learn a bit about the history of Wild Apricot by chatting with Dmitry Buterin, our Chief Apricot and CEO.
A Brief History of Wild Apricot
Wild Apricot was originally a product of BonaSource Inc., a custom web application company established in 2001 with headquarters in Toronto, Canada (where we remain today). Wild Apricot software was launched in 2006.
Having working with a number of small associations and non-profits, BonaSource recognized that they had the most to gain from simplifying and automating their day-to-day tasks, but that custom software (which can cost tens of thousands of dollars to develop) is out of reach for most of them. We developed Wild Apricot to help these kinds of organizations, and we're very proud to say that as of this month, more than 4000 are paid customers, with thousands more using our free ad-supported version. Because of this success, we are now 100% dedicated to Wild Apricot.
Where did the name "Wild Apricot" come from?
We chose it because it's fun! A 2006 blog post explains the rationale behind the name:
"We are very passionate about our product and we wanted its name to reflect its uniqueness and personal nature. We want people to have fun when they are using Wild Apricot and smile when they look at our name and logo."
In 2009, we held a contest to name our apricot mascot. The winning name was "Fuzzy", and he's certainly traveled the world over, helping small associations and non-profits do their work with minimal administrative hassle.
A Chat with Chief Apricot
We have over 20 clients from 2006 that still have Wild Apricot accounts. We've watched them grow as we have grown. For a subscription-based software, it's very cool that we still have so many original clients that have stuck with us throughout the years. I asked Dmitry how he feels about these longest-lasting clients:
"I am very grateful to those people who had faith in us and decided to take a chance on our product which was a new entrant to the arena. They persisted with us as we built up and expanded our offering, and for me, it’s the best validation that we have been doing something right.
When we were starting out, people were telling me we could never make it work: small non-profits are very fickle, a large percentage of them shut down every year for financial or other reasons. Due to board rotation they switch software often based on the personal preferences of the current leadership team members. And yes, we saw a lot of that, and had to build our business very lean and flexible; for example, we do not maintain any sales people and do not pursue RFPs – we rely on the word of mouth, ease of finding us on search engines, and transparency in opening a trial account and evaluating Wild Apricot. We keep improving the product all the time, and we have managed to build up our client base to 4000 paying clients as of today, as well as reduce our attrition rate (percentage of clients who drop off) every year."
Thanks to the first clients that started giving us feedback, we've been able to grow Wild Apricot to be what it is today.
Wild Apricot has certainly faced it's share of challenges and successes during its first 5 years of existence. I asked Dmitry what he felt was the biggest challenge we've overcome so far.
"One huge challenge is to balance out the hundreds of requests and suggestions from our clients, and take them into account in our product development plans.
Even though we have a clear focus on the non-profit sector, it includes a broad variety of organizations – professional associations, trade associations, social clubs, sport clubs, charities, activist websites, etc. There is a ton of commonality -- that’s the raison-d’etre for Wild Apricot -- but also lots of unique requirements, and many different ways that people run their organizations. So, for each request, we have to do a lot of thinking, and deduce from all these various requests what the simplest possible solution is that will meet the needs of the largest number of clients."
It's true -- I sit beside one of our product analysts, and the number of scenarios that we go through before developing a particular function is enormous.
Despite the huge scope of functionality that our product aimed to conquer, we seem to have done a fairly good job so far. We have many positive reviews from our regular customer surveys, and well as the number of great reviews on LinkedIn and Capterra, and we can only hope to get better as we get older.
"We took on a very large task – the scope of Wild Apricot product turned out to be very broad, from contact, donor, and database management, to online member self-service, to website hosting and content management, to event registration, online payments and donations, blog module, discussion forum – and more is on the way. We are very grateful for ongoing input from our clients and the dialog we have been maintaining through our forums and regular surveys.
With every update (major updates are released several times a year), we will keep improving our product to deliver on our vision: easy to learn and use, a single, integrated system to cover a full spectrum of administration automation tasks, at an affordable price for any small non-profit. We also have really big plans for opening up our platform so that we can collaborate deeper with designers and developers, and deliver cost-effective custom-tailored solutions to our clients."
For more technical information about some of our upcoming plans, check out Dmitry's May Software News post, where he provides a behind-the-scenes look at some of our upcoming developments.
Stay tuned next month to hear about some of our original Wild Apricot clients!