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Bright Association Press Interview With Chief Apricot

Lori Halley 17 March 2014 0 comments

Recently one of Wild Apricot’s service partners – Webbright Services – interviewed Dmitry Buterin, our Chief Apricot who offered “An Insider Look at Wild Apricot”. 

Here are some excerpts from the interview with Lamees Abourahma of Webbright Services as part of their Bright Association Press series. 

Lamees Abourahma: “...as an entrepreneur, I was curious to learn about the inception of Wild Apricot and what makes this software unique.”

Wild Apricot Inception

After six years of providing custom software development to small and large organizations (under the name of Bonasource), Dmitry Buterin decided he didn’t want to be in the service business and was looking for a product idea. “We did a lot of work for small associations and clubs and noticed common needs… need to keep track of membership, need for members to sign up for events, and need to be automated. “SaaS [Software-as-a-Service] looked like a very good opportunity” said Buterin, “let’s invest money upfront to build this software and have thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of organizations who can use it, and maybe build a business around it”.

In 2006, Buterin came up with the name (Wild Apricot), built the software, and the rest is history. Wild Apricot has recently been ranked the #1 membership software company, serving over 6,800 paid membership organizations worldwide, with 70 team members in offices in both Toronto and Moscow.

…Wild Apricot was designed with the small volunteer-based organization in mind. The majority of Wild Apricot customers are professional and trade associations and clubs. “Our customers typically have a budget of $0 to $100,000 (but not many in this range), and a membership of a few hundred members to a few thousand, up to 15,000 members.”

Wild Apricot is an all-in-one software package that offers membership management for automating new membership processing and renewals, event management for event publishing and online registration, online payment for membership fees, donations, and event payments, a website content management system (CMS) for allowing site administrators easy edits and updates to the website, email for member communication with blast emails or e-newsletter publishing, online donations and finance functionality. ...

What Makes Wild Apricot Special?

According to Buterin, there are two differentiating factors that make Wild Apricot unique: (1) Wild Apricot is a product-only company, and (2) Wild Apricot "listens". As a software company, Wild Apricot provides technical support for customers but relies on service partners, like Webbright, to provide additional services such as website design and development, consultation, and 3rd party integration. Wild Apricot strategically positioned themselves as a pure software company in order to focus on making the software better and more visible. “This is a double-edged sword,” said Buterin. “Wild Apricot is a complex software… for those customers who do not have the required skill set to setup Wild Apricot for their membership organization, they’re more inclined to go to our competitors who offer these services. [Furthermore,] our competitors have an additional revenue stream by having a service department in the company.” Even without the extra income from services, Wild Apricot is currently investing an impressive $250,000 per month on research and development (R&D), while offering monthly plans for customer on an average fee of $50 per month.

Another differentiator for Wild Apricot is its development methodology. “I recently came to realize this because it’s natural for me,” Buterin said. “But we [are different because we] listen to our customers.” On the one-month anniversary for each customer, Wild Apricot sends a survey to these customers and get hundreds of responses back. They distribute this feedback to their team members, read each and every survey, and respond to these customers. “Our customers are amazed when they hear back from us. They treat the survey as a black box to vent their frustration but do not expect anyone to read it.”

In addition to the anniversary surveys, annual surveys, and other requests they get through customer support, Wild Apricot have an active forum, called the Wish List, where customers can request features they like added to the software and other customers can comment on these requests. Wild Apricot leadership closely monitor the Wish List, engage in discussions with customers to understand their needs, and use these requests to create their Road Map of features to include in future releases.

…The biggest Wild Apricot release yet, release 5.0, is expected around May/June of 2014. “We’ve been working on this big update, release 5.0, and it has been a challenge. Once we have this release, we plan to expedite our schedule frequency of releases until the end of the year.” In Release 5.0, Wild Apricot is rewriting the entire content management system (CMS) from the ground up to give them more control and allow them to add more functionality not currently possible with the original technology.

… For more details on what will be included in the Version 5 release, you can read Version 5.0 Preview on Wild Apricot online help pages. 

Want to check out the entire interview?

You can read the full blog post or listen to the audio of the interview with Dmitry Buterin – “The State of Wild Apricot, Past, Present and Future” on the Webbright blog here.

About the Bright Association Press:
 The Bright Association Press is an interview series, hosted by Lamees Abourahma, Webbright founder and president, featuring association executives covering topics related to membership management, recruiting, retention, marketing, IT, and other related topics. We’re talking real-life professional associations’ challenges and unique solutions.

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Monday, 17 March 2014 at 8:30 AM
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