Really Simple Systems goes Free

Thursday, 21 October 2010

This week Really Simple Systems launched its Free CRM product, Really Simple Systems Free Edition. Freemium products are hot topic these days, with commentators divided as to whether they will actually make money instead of just taking market share, so I thought I’d run through the logic of what we’re trying to do and why.

The decision to launch a Freemium product was driven by three issues:

  1. We weren’t really making any money from one or two user systems by the time we had run through a pre and post sales process
  2. We wanted to get a larger market share in the US, where we have some customers but nothing like the numbers we have in the UK, and we don’t have $1m to throw at offices and marketing
  3. If we didn’t do this, somebody else would

We could have probably sorted out 1) by streamlining our sales process. The traditional solution to solve 2) is to raise cash from venture capital but in my experience VCs add a huge amount of pain and cost to small companies and no strategic value, and then walk away with a disproportionate amount of cake at the end. And as to 3), there isn’t an alternative but to be there first, if you believe, as I do, that cloud software will become a commodity offering with correspondingly lower and lower prices.

There is also the challenge that to offer a free product, it really has to be easy to use as we can’t afford to talk people through how to use it, and as the whole ethos of the company is to make CRM really simple, doing this would force us to improve the ease of use of the core product, which would be good for everyone.

So, it will be a learning process for us. We need to work on the documentation, help videos and data load process to help people pick up the product more easily. Our target is to sign 10,000 users in twelve months which will make us the largest (bar none) supplier of cloud CRM systems in the world. All we’ve done so far is put the product on our site and issued a press release and we’re signing up 15 users a day so far, so I think the 10,000 might if anything be on the low side.

As we said in the press release though, “We’re going to make life tough not just for conventional CRM vendors, but for Cloud vendors with high prices and high cost bases.”

Watch this space!