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#24 — Common Paper's Onward Journey to Growth ft. Jake Stein | CEO

#24 — Common Paper's Onward Journey to Growth ft. Jake Stein | CEO

Join us in exploring how an early-stage startup ventured into the PLG world, their trials, and successes in building an easy-to-use contract management product.

In our latest episode, we sit down with Jake Stein, the CEO of Common Paper. He sheds light on their journey of adopting a product-led growth approach within the SaaS landscape. From the initial stages of customer engagement to developing a robust, self-serve platform, Jake shares the strategic pivots that helped scale their customer base. Hear firsthand how Common Paper's innovative take on contract standardization is carving a new path in the industry.

Listen now on Apple, Spotify, Castbox, Google and YouTube.

Key Timestamps

  • (0:00) Introduction: Discussing the importance of customer interactions in PLG.

  • (0:50) Background: Jake Stein's journey from Wharton to founding CommonPaper.

  • (1:58) CommonPaper's Inception: Addressing the inefficiencies in traditional contracts.

  • (3:21) Vision and Strategy: Transforming contracts into digital interfaces for efficiency.

  • (4:01) PLG Decision: Choosing PLG over SLG based on past successes and strategic goals.

  • (8:57) User Re-engagement: Strategies to bring back users who had previously signed up.

  • (10:58) Community Building: Creating a committee of over 45 attorneys for feedback and standardization.

  • (13:18) Product Development: The transition to self-serve capabilities and early user feedback.

  • (14:37) Early user engagement: Strategies for re-engaging users who had previously signed up but dropped off.

  • (15:34) Product Hunt launch: Significant impact on user sign-ups and the role of investors in promotion.

  • (16:45) Mixed feedback from Product Hunt: Initial product limitations and user engagement.

  • (18:01) Rapid feature implementation: Strategy of quickly adding features based on user feedback.

  • (20:10) User onboarding: Strategies for early user engagement and customization.

  • (22:12) Outreach customization: Tailoring outreach based on user engagement and potential.

  • (24:25) Evolution of pricing strategies: From answering early user queries to structured monetization.

  • (26:30) Per-seat pricing model: Transition to a more effective pricing model for better conversion.

The Genesis of Common Paper

  • Foundation: Jake Stein and Benjamin's search for a streamlined contract process led to the creation of Common Paper.

  • Vision: Transform contracts into API-like interfaces, making them structured and understandable.

  • Challenge: Standardizing legal agreements was the first hurdle, aiming to make them as universally understandable as API documentation.

Embracing a Product-Led Growth Model

  • Strategic Decision: A deliberate move towards PLG, leveraging Jake and Benjamin's past experiences with successful ventures.

  • Customer Development: Over 100 early conversations shaped the product strategy, setting the foundation for a scalable PLG model.

  • Transition: The gradual shift from initial high-touch interactions to an automated, self-serve platform that facilitated growth.

Evolving Product and Market Fit

After a foundational period of direct customer engagement, Common Paper began fine-tuning their product, informed by robust feedback. The journey from a rough initial offering to a more polished, self-serve platform marks a critical phase in their growth story.

  • Early Engagement: Extensive one-on-one discussions laid the groundwork for a self-serve model.

  • Product Refinement: Feedback from 100+ customer development calls shaped the platform's evolution.

  • Market Alignment: The team's efforts led to a product that resonated well with users, reflected by increased adoption.

Scaling and Community Building

As Common Paper's product matured, the focus shifted towards scaling and leveraging community input for further development. This stage was pivotal in expanding the customer base and refining the product to meet a wider range of needs.

  • Community Collaboration: Formation of a committee comprising legal professionals to contribute to the platform's development.

  • User Growth: Transition to a more automated system, leading to a doubling of the customer base within months.

  • Feedback Loop: Continued reliance on customer feedback ensured that the product remained aligned with users' evolving needs.

Reflections and Future Directions

Reflecting on the journey, Jake Stein acknowledges the pivotal moments that have defined Common Paper's trajectory. From the initial customer feedback that shaped the product's early version to the strategic pivots that spurred growth, Common Paper has embraced change while adhering to its vision of simplifying contracts.

Looking ahead, the focus is on refining their platform, expanding the user base, and continuing to innovate in the contract standardization space. The goal remains steadfast: to deliver a product that not only meets the current demands of the market but also anticipates future needs.

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