#28 Notion - It's not just a SaaS Product, it's becoming a Way of Life!

Notion for some is a productivity tool. For me, it’s a way of managing your life. It is “all-in-one workspace”, a no-code tool that allows teams to build wikis, share documents, take notes, manage workflows and any other products that users want to build for solving their specific problems. I use it as my content management system to write blogs, my notetaking system, my personal website, a gallery for my son’s lego builds, a database of my book reads, a todo list, a project plan and much more!

With a little over a 100 employees, Notion is at a $2 billion valuation after their latest raise in April 2020 and has recently reached annualized revenue of $30 million.

I decided to dive deeper and share my views on the vision and product strategy.

Vision & Product

  • Vision 

    If you have a laptop, you should be using Notion for thinking and collaboration, and communication. - Ivan Zhao, Founder - Notion

  • What problem does it solve? 

    As they explain on their website, “Google Docs made typewriters multiplayer. Dropbox brought file cabinets to the cloud. But conceptually, they evolved little beyond their Industrial Revolution ancestors. We duct-tape everything together with emails, copy/paste and countless open tabs.” So that’s where they stepped in and created a space that combines all of these elements into one product.

    Notion gives power to people to make their own tools and workflows without writing code.

    Notion blends much of your workflow into an all-in-one workspace. A task list? A product roadmap? A design repository? They are now all in one place. You can even customize your own workspace from dozens of LEGO-style building blocks. Solve your problems your way, bounded only by your imagination.

    “Notion fuses the best of [Evernote, Google Docs, Keep, Trello, Asana]—and others—into a rare renaissance app, proficient in countless methods of creation and organization. I can’t put a price on the peace of mind that comes from an unfragmented life. Wait, yes I can: It’s eight bucks a month.”

  • Revenue Model

    Notion offers free and paid accounts, ranging from $5 to $25 billed monthly

  • Why is it relevant today, and why will it continue to be relevant?

    • We are building more stuff digitally than ever, managing more things digitally and we have been using the apps handed over to us, but things are not always perfect to suit our needs. We want to build our apps the way we want - block by block - like a lego

    • Notion is inspired by a system at Xerox PARK called Small Talk. At Notion, they try to be as great as the Smalltalk system → The end-user can modify the tools as they use it.

    • In the right hands, using Notion feels for non-developers like finally gaining the superpowers of a developer who can set up their own custom software. And its flexibility can be used by project managers, productivity superfans, recruiters, executives, product teams—pretty much anyone who needs to use computers to get things done. By removing the need for toggling from tool to tool, Notion has created a workflow that is seamless and, most importantly, in one place. 

    • Many SAAS products were built out of a need for flexibility in Word and Excel. Today, however, maybe we need a product that can bundle up whatever we want into 1 product - and that can be built by us!

    Some Interesting Notion Templates and Use Cases

  • A Portfolio wiki website

  • A resource list

  • Some of the best Notion Templates here

The Customer

  • Who is the target customer? 

    • Anyone who wants to become a builder of their own apps, solve small problems but faces the challenge of not being able to code.

  • Who is the expanded customer? The market beyond early adopters. 

    • Anyone who uses a laptop!

Early Customers 

Notion struck gold with the right balance of product, marketing, and education.

  • The product itself is accessible, customizable, and scalable.

  • Initial marketing by YouTubers got the word out.

  • Then came the education component, and the Notion Pros, like the wonderful Marie Poulin and others, who provided configuration education. 

With APIs coming along the way - Notion is unstoppable.

Hooks

How does the Notion attract new customers? This fuels growth.

  • 3 Key steps

    • Community - Notion has built a 46,000+ member Subreddit around their product! A passionate and active community that shares templates, talks about challenges encountered as they use Notion.

    • Ambassador program - They launched Notion Pros as an experiment to see which members would be interested in working closely with the Notion team to improve the product, stay connected with the community, and find even more potential Notion users. They have 60 pros as of now, each one with their followers.

    • Amplifying positive community feedback - Notion embeds real tweets from real people directly on their homepage.

    What is their Growth Loop?

    • Building a scalable growth loop with 250+ templates - Because of the infinite number of use cases Notion has, Notion users, have built an impressive gallery of templates. As more templates are shared in Reddit circles, Slack channels, Facebook groups, etc., more potential users are being introduced to Notion, and existing users are finding more use cases to tie their workflows and systems into Notion even further.

How does it retain existing customers? This sustains growth. 

  • Fantastic Customized onboarding process - Based on the outcome each user is seeking, they are redirected through a custom flow post onboarding quiz.

  • More micro-communities - Notion’s built up an engaged community of users who love to create systems that work for them and then share what they’ve created with their peers. Templates are so popular that some Notion members are even creating their own newsletters just for sharing templates every week.

  • Competitors - In addition to Excel and Word (these are competitors to most SAAS companies)

  • Accounting SaaS 

  • Wikis

  • Personal Productivity SaaS

  • HR SaaS

  • Project management SaaS 

  • Content scheduling SaaS 

  • Event planning SaaS

  • Real estate SaaS

Notion is a Product that I think I have a “crush” on !❤️

It’s just a matter of trying it out for yourself and seeing how it fits into your workflow. I am very excited to see where Notion is headed next. 

And as they continue to grow and find new ways to completely transform the way we work, I know I’ll be there cheering them on. 


Some references from here - https://foundationinc.co/lab/notion-strategy

Thanks for spending your time choosing to read this essay. Would love for you to share this in your network. I would appreciate that.