In the Hot Seat – Actual Reports
We asked Tanel Tähepõld, CEO of Actual Reports, to take the Funderbeam Hot Seat to answer common questions asked by investors and learn a bit more about the future of the business.
Tell us in a few sentences about your company and the product.
We enable software developers to focus on building their core functionality.
PDF documents like invoices, reports, shipping labels etc. make up a big part of any business software. It is crazy how much time and effort it takes from a company to develop essential solutions for managing PDF documents — something seemingly so simple.
We bring all the needed functionality to the company with one simple API connection so they can pour all their resources into building the core functionality that sets them apart from their competition.
Tell us how 2021 was for PDF Generator API; what were your key challenges?
Even though I am afraid to sound a little cheesy, I would say that 2021 was the best year that we have had so far. We have consistently grown organically and very gradually, but in 2021 we finally felt that we have the product-market fit to switch to the next gear and accelerate our growth by magnitude. Looking back, I am pretty happy that we decided to do that — a year ago, we had 101 monthly subscribers, and today it has already exceeded 230 customers.
The key challenges we faced were related to the speed of growth; it was pretty clear that we needed to rethink our dev-ops and infrastructure set-up. In addition to the technical questions, I was and still am a little worried about how we can keep our personal approach towards the new users in the context of receiving considerably more signups. Oh, and I almost forgot – recruiting has never been such a big challenge as it was in 2021.
What are your primary goals for PDF Generator API in 2022?
It is quite clear that what has brought us here won’t take us much further. So far, we have achieved great things with the help of external contributors and part-time employees, but the potential and the opportunities we have built for ourselves are now at the scale that we need 100% commitment to bring them home.
In other words, it has been a long time since we were a nice side hustle, and it is now time to start thinking and acting as the serious business we have become. I say serious, but it doesn’t mean that everything in our company must be serious — having a fun and supportive work environment is as important to me as achieving all the growth targets.
What is the outlook for the SaaS Sector in the coming year?
Over the last few years, we have witnessed a strong movement of low-code / no-code platforms. There are several platforms that anyone without coding know-how can use to realize their craziest app ideas. In addition to creating entire applications, these platforms also provide better than ever opportunities for prototyping and creating a proof-of-concept. This is definitely a trend that will continue affecting the whole SaaS industry.
Hand-in-hand with this trend goes the philosophical debate about building vs buying, and it seems that more and more companies ditch the approach of building everything by themselves.
Are there any key trends in the SaaS sector significant to PDF Generator API?
Well, yes, definitely. The trends I just highlighted are significant for us and, in essence, show the mindset change in software development — I do what I am the best at, and you do what you are the best at. We would live in a much better world if everybody would focus on their strengths and not try to be semi-good at everything. Think about it as the Swiss army knife — it has all the tools, but if you need a screwdriver, you never pick up the knife but an actual screwdriver.
Who are the company’s principal shareholders and management, and are there plans for future hires or positions?
We are such a small company that the organization is as flat as possible. It means that when it comes to the management, yes, I have the right to sign documents, but when talking about making decisions or choosing the direction we want to go, all voices are heard.
The plans for new hires are very ambitious. As I explained, our set-up and team are insufficient today to bring us to the next level. So I am looking for some A-list talents ready to commit to our cause 100% and move mountains with us. If you know anyone who’d be interested, then please let me know; I’m accepting all the help available.
Can you profile or paint a picture of a typical customer of PDF Generator API?
We target document-heavy SaaS businesses, where the end-user has to create different documents as part of their daily business. For example, accounting, ERP or e-commerce software. But defining our typical customer is challenging — as I said, we have just over 230 subscribers — the customer base is too small to make any fundamental conclusions based on that. However, we have more and more financial services providers as customers, a few telematics businesses and even a national airline company.
Describing our typical user, however, is much easier. Our regular user is a senior developer or product manager focused on becoming the best at their work. They have fully embraced the idea of buying vs building, enabling them to move on very fast, fail, learn and move on even quicker after the lessons learned.
What is your key message to customers, and how do you get that information to them?
As software developers and/ or product managers often discover our business, we do not want to bombard them with too many messages. Our customers know extremely well what, why and when they need it. I think the best approach for us is to ensure our API documentation is always up to date and that the service itself is easy and fast to set up to run practical experiments. Other than that, we prefer to stay out of the way of our customers.
When it comes to potential customers, I would want them to embrace the idea that buying is OK instead of building it in-house. Ultimately, we will get much further if we go together.
What would you say are the biggest challenges ahead for PDF Generator API?
Hiring. Definitely hiring. Other than that, I would say that we are in a perfect place — a lot of the critical groundwork has been done, and the foundation we have built is really good, whether we talk about marketing, product improvements or entirely new business verticals.
And what area/geography/sector presents the most significant opportunity for PDF Generator API?
Today, most of our revenue comes from the United States, so the most significant opportunity, I would say, is the fractioned market of the EU. You may ask why, because there are 24 official languages in the EU, and tens of thousands of SaaS businesses prefer to serve the customers in their mother tongue. So, we already have the best service on the market; making it available in multiple languages is peanuts compared to everything else.
If you could give investors just three words to describe the future of PDF Generator API, what would they be?
Stable — once the customers commit to us, they are loyal.
Diverse — no single industry drives our growth, and the nature of our service is equally beneficial to a NASDAQ-listed software company, an international Bank or an Airline company.
Growth — we have no plans to slow down and know exactly what to do.
How could Funderbeam investors help you?
Talk about us to your friends. Tell your development lead or product manager about us if you work in a software-based company.
Other than that, refer awesome people to us — we are currently looking for a full-stack developer and a product marketeer.