Happy 10th Anniversary Aha! — A Decade of Bootstrapped Success
10 years. Aha! grew a lot in that time. As individuals and a team we learned that gratitude is fuel for success. Although we never listed it as one of our core values, today it shines brightest: Gratitude. Taking a moment to slow down to notice the good fortune that you have in the moment is how we maintain stamina for future achievement. Expressing gratitude is a positive practice (one that we try to do daily at Aha!). Today I have much for which to be thankful.
It is with the deepest gratitude that we celebrate another Aha! milestone — 10 years of bootstrapped success.
Aha! began with a bold idea for how we could help people build products and be happy doing it. People told my co-founder Dr. Chris Waters and me that in the big universe of software development, roadmapping was a niche concept that would never amount to anything meaningful. We smiled and suggested that our experience showed us that the vast majority of companies needed a more disciplined way to connect business and product strategy to what they actually built. There had been too much software waste for a very long time.
(Side note: When someone tells you that they think your solution solves a niche problem? Go for it! All great companies start by solving one problem first. In our case, we ended up defining a new category of technology — roadmap software.)
Chris and I knew we could make an impact if we shared what we had learned and did it with a care for people. Between the two of us we had founded several companies, two of which were acquired by Aruba Networks and Citrix, respectively. This time, we wanted to do it our way — 100 percent bootstrapped, entirely remote, with no sales team, and no drama. Hire the best and set folks free to achieve. Treat our customers the way that we would like to be treated. In many ways, it was a back-to-basics approach: Create a great product and a great place to work with few distractions.
There are so many moments that brought us from where we started to where we are now. Crafting the abridged timeline below brought back a flood of memories — many happy and some bittersweet too. We have worked incredibly hard with amazing people along the way. Looking back on the company’s history and all we have accomplished together is truly humbling. These are just a few of the highlights:
April 2013 — Aha! begins in Menlo Park, California, with the beta of Aha! Roadmaps
May 2014 — More than 250 paying customers
July 2014 — The Responsive Method is formalized
December 2014 — First team “onsite” and the beginning of many company rituals, including a biannual book assignment
May 2015 — Special practice of sharing gratitude (we call it #hatitude) takes form
December 2015 — LinkedIn names us #1 on list of “top voices”
February 2016 — The first of many accounts with more than 60 paid users
October 2016 — Acquisition of Roadmap.com and new community for product teams
April 2017 — Lovability is published and becomes a #1 bestseller on Amazon in three categories
June 2017 — First-ever employee achievement awards for exceptional effort
June 2018 — Aha! celebrates surpassing $40 million in ARR and 200,000 users
August 2018 — Aha! ranks #143 on the Inc. 5000’s list of fastest-growing private companies
February 2019 — The team launches a best-in-class collaborative text editor
September 2019 — Aha! Cares establishes a new model for corporate giving for remote teams
January 2020 — New workspaces for IT, project management, services and business teams
September 2020 — Introduction of formal training through Aha! Academy
October 2020 — Aha! Ideas launches as a standalone offering
March 2021 — Forbes names Aha! to the top 100 list of America’s best startups
May 2021 — Early access program for Aha! Develop
March 2022 — The company blasts past $100 million in ARR and champions The Bootstrap Movement
October 2022 — Aha! Create – the expert's digital notebook for product builders launches
April 2023 — Aha! celebrates 10 years of bootstrapped success 💙
A decade is a long time (a tenth of your life if you are lucky). But a decade is also relatively short when you think of lasting businesses. Looking ahead, we are more energized than ever about the idea of daring to deliver — for our customers, for our colleagues, and for our communities.
Our vision remains the same as when we started the company: a world of lovable software. And our mission is to help people build it and delight in the work. We are thankful for the position we are in and commit to continue to do our best to make the future better tomorrow than it is today. We know that it cannot always be, and that there is inequity in business and the world, but we will continue to learn and do our part.
Leading Aha! is a joy and privilege for Chris and me. We are reminded of this every day — from major product launches to meaningful interactions with customers to the little moments with teammates in between.
Over the last few months, many folks have asked me what will happen with Aha! in the next 10 years. My answer has been consistent: “I am not sure.” Who can predict the future? It is really hard to know what the next 12 months will bring. All we can do is continue to honor our values and pursue our goals with integrity. We hope for continued success and hopefully we will keep inspiring others to build high-growth businesses in more sustainable ways.
We will do what we think is right — no matter what way other companies or markets are leaning. We will look out beyond quarters at a world where digital experiences are increasingly essential to human advancement. We will provide a tightly integrated suite of product development software so people can build better products. And we will continue to breathe deeply and dedicate ourselves to the opportunity ahead.
We would be honored if you continue to join us on this remarkable adventure.