By Annie Hwang & Jason Cui
Despite all its craziness, 2021 was a pivotal year for Jemi.
We repositioned our product as the easiest to use ✨ modern website builder ✨, launched on Product Hunt and climbed up the leaderboards (#3 product of the week!), built numerous integrations and partnerships, and launched a ton of successful experiments that helped us learn more about our users.
Throughout it all we’ve remained fired up about our mission — to empower individuals to grow on the web. Since day 1, we’ve been lucky enough to partner with content creators and have now expanded our scope to include students, artists, startup founders, and beyond.
As we wrap up this crazy year, the following provides a quick summary of our learnings and wins from the year, as well as a snapshot of what’s to come in 2022.
When we first launched on Product Hunt back in July 2020, our focus was first on creator entrepreneurs. We launched as an “all in one monetization tool” where creators could sell anything from digital downloads, services, merchandise, and subscriptions.
Our initial product scaled up well, and for the remainder of 2020 we conducted countless of interviews and experiments to understand if our monetization focused product was resonating. Through these interviews, we learned that creators and entrepreneurs needed not only monetization tools, but also tools to grow their online presences and brands.
We kicked off 2021 by doubling down on user interviews. From these conversations, we learned that while many of these individuals wanted to monetize online eventually, they felt like they weren’t quite there yet. Instead, they needed tools to showcase their work and grow their audiences.
What they initially described sounded like a new-and-improved website builder. They’d say they wanted a way to showcase all of their Youtube videos and Twitch streams, and at the same time display links to all other social media channels AND also start a newsletter.
But given how crowded the website builder space is, we’d always ask — “why don’t you use product X? Or product Y? Doesn’t it solve your needs?”
We started to see strong themes in their answers. “Product X is not flexible enough.” “Y is too hard to use”. Even in a crowded market, creatives still felt they didn’t have a perfect solution that made it easy for them to showcase their content and build their brands.
With this learning, in March we started to doubling down on the journey to become the easiest to use website builder for creatives to build a super simple website.
The biggest challenge was in balancing flexibility and simplicity. Users needed features to build a website that truly represented them (customization features) and showcase their work (embedding videos, photos, etc.), but everything needed to be dead simple.
After months of building and iterating, we finally launched Jemi 2.0 on Product Hunt in Aug 2021. We were able to garner significant support from our community and had a successful launch — reaching #3 Product of the day and week!
The launch was a great success. We were not only able to debut our new framing to the world in a fun launch, but we also were able to validate our positioning at scale with a broader audience. Since then, we’ve been seeing consistent organic growth throughout the year.
The best part about the launch was that we were able to learn so much about our product and users:
- Product: We validated that Jemi’s strengths as a product are in its flexibility and simplicity. Most of the feedback we received highlighted how easy it was to build a personal website. Many mentioned our templates for being their favorite part about the product and how it makes it possible for them to build websites quickly.
- Users: Though most of our early adopters were Tiktokers, musicians, and other “typical” creators, we started seeing organic adoption from students, freelancers, SMB owners — basically any creative individual who wanted to build their presence online but wanted a simple, easy solution to do so. With this learning, we learned that our users aren’t necessarily just “creators” as the industry defines it (influencers, Youtubers, etc.), but any creative individual who wants to build and create their online presence.
These learnings have been critical for us in terms of providing us with direction and confidence. With this built up confidence, we wrapped up 2021 with a few more successful experiments in smaller niches to identify markets with tighter signs of PMF:
- Students — One of the most successful experiments we ran this year was the Jemi fellowship — a 3-4 week cohort-based program designed for entrepreneurial college students. Within just a week of launching the program, we saw natural adoption of Jemi in the student community. We started seeing art students using Jemi for their portfolio, student government candidates building a site to pitch to their student body, student organizations use Jemi to build out their club sites. During our interview sessions with students, many would call us “Canva for websites”, which was exciting to hear. Students will continue to be a niche we focus on in 2022.
- NFT collectors and web3 creators — In December, we launched a successful experiment to help NFT owners display all of their NFTs in a beautiful and customizable gallery. Our vision has always been to be the best website builder for creators and entrepreneurs, and that meant for NFT creators too. Since launching a couple of weeks ago, we received a ton of positive feedback. Ultimately, we were able to validate our hypothesis that NFT artists, just like any other web2 creator, could benefit from tools like Jemi to showcase all of their work.
Looking into 2022
Moving into the new year, we’re feeling more confident than ever in our positioning and product. In 2022, we’ll continue to double down on areas that are working and iterate rigorously based on feedback. Here are some of the high level focuses you can expect from us:
- An even more flexible and easy-to-use editor — Our biggest strength is our simple, yet powerful website editor. Our work here isn’t done and we’ll continue to make improvements to become an even more powerful and flexible tool for creators to build their dream website. Some of the features we have planned are text customizations, additional block types, and custom CSS to supercharge design.
- Building for creatives of tomorrow — The experiments we ran in the last 2 months of 2021 (student fellowships and NFTs) have proven to us that some of the niches that Jemi can find the strongest PMF are the “creators of tomorrow”. These user groups have not been served yet with a simple tool for their needs. We’ll continue to build features to empower this group and grow this community.
- Commerce — Commerce is still one of our strengths as a product. We continue to get awesome feedback and feature requests for our commerce pillar. We’ll prioritize some of these feature requests in 2022 to ensure that anyone who is hoping to build their income online can do so with Jemi. Some of the features that fall in the commerce bucket include carts for checkout, PayPal integration for memberships, and an improved Printful integration.
We’re feeling proud of what we’ve accomplished in 2021, and grateful for the consistent support from our community. We couldn’t have done any of this without you all. Thank you for being a part of our journey and we’re excited to grow with you all in 2022.