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The Long-termism of A Note-taking Service

At a night in the winter of 2021, while having a hotpot with Plidezus, we joyfully agreed that the ultimate goal of building flomo is not the quantity of users, the revenue, or the estimated value.
Instead, what we are pursuing is that flomo could sustain decently as long as possible.
This is more than talk. It will influence each decision we made.

No funding

Honestly, flomo still raise zero funding till today. We pledged our own money in the earlier stage, now it could pay for itself.
Though a few venture capitals and some friends of angel investments showed their interests since last year, we refused all of them.
There are quiet a few users believing that only funding could lead to a guaranteed service. Nevertheless, we won’t choose such a path. I reckon they only see the exterior situation rather than the truth.
It is easy to ignore the cost of funding while being overshadowed by the light of it.
Simply speaking, the money is not coming from nowhere. The capital has their own wishes, the core of which is return. The venture capitals that invest in startups will require a pretty high return considering they are in face of a high risk. Sometimes they expect to have hundred-fold or thousand-fold returns.
I am not saying this is wrong. It’s righteous. If a company’s business is prospecting enough and it could win a few key developmental elements by funding, then it is reasonable to cooperate with venture capital, which means they could both get rewards from this collaboration.
To be frank, note-taker is not a business with a high ceiling that venture capitals can hardly get what they want from. And of course I don’t see any necessities in this business requiring funding.
So what will happen if a business with a not high ceiling collaborates with a venture capital demanding for high returns? There are quiet a few examples speaking for themselves.
Many brands are devastated under such circumstances.
We don’t expect such a thing to happen on flomo.
To flomo, no funding is a way of sticking to long-termism.
As for those friends from angel investing, they are willing to support flomo out of trust. We appreciate that very much, and we do hope to bring good enough returns to them. However, we are not that confident to make such a commitment. So we could only turn them down.

Cost control

Ability minus desire is freedom.
So, first, do not make your desire exceed your ability; second, continuously improve your ability.
It is a common rule that could be applied to people as well as to companies. Companies are facing more difficult challenges. It is hard to be threatened by survival for most people, while for companies, they are threatened by it every day.
Therefore, flomo has a very strict control of cost.
It is known to all that flomo only has two full-time staff. One reason is that we both are competent to carry out the work (I am not showing off!). But another reason is the survival.
We apply the rule of cost-control to almost everything. Say, why don’t we use SMS for login? Because it takes money. And for a long time, we only use an “out-of-dated” single-core server. It is so diligent that covers almost everything. Not until a few days ago did we use more than one server. And there are a few standard services not being equiped. For example, though we have studies the ElasticSearch for several months, we still didn’t deploy it. Our friends were astonished. Well, it takes time and money to do so. At least we are running fine.
We haven’t been so belt-tightening in our whole lives 🤦‍♂️. But this provides flomo strong survivability as well as freedom, which allows us to pursue what we truly want.

Subscription

flomo will never rely on profits on advertising. In a business model of advertising, the advertisers are true users. While users’ attention is a commodity an app provides to advertisers. This runs counter to the problem we want to solve for our uers.
That’s why we choose subscription as our main business model. Each year or month you pay a few dollars for PRO membership, and you can cancel it when you feel you don’t get what you want.
We never encourage you to pay for a multiple-year PRO membership in advance because we hope you can have the right to cancel it.
Well, it is a kind of pressure to sustain your subscription, but it is worthwhile.

Contribution and rewards

Now you have understood three general rule of us operating flomo:
  • No funding
  • Cost control
  • Only subscription
We know we are not saints. So by conforming with all these rules, we could achieve our ultimate goal: to survive as long as possible with decency.
And we believe that we will see enough returns if we stick to these right choices and providing values to you.
As one of our friends once metaphorized:
Returns are the shadowns of contribution,
I mean, if being arranged properly.
When you chase the sun, the shadow follows you.
But if you chase the shadows, you will be apart from the sun.
Away from the light means away from the shadows eventually.

Serving another seven years

Many users once consulted whether they could buy permanent PRO membership.
We understand their points and selling permanent PRO membership could raise our incomes evidently. But we always tell our users that flomo will not offer permanent PRO membership.
Besides the right to cancel subscription I mentioned above, a more important reason is that we won’t make any commitment if we don’t have confidence.
But there is one thing we are very sure of, that is, we will reserve service guarantee deposit to cover another seven-year service of servers and labor cost.
Only when we have to give up on flomo (well, not possible really), which generates the state of sustaining flomo, will this deposit be used. And if the server and labor cost increases, we will definitely increase more into this deposit.
This means we make a commitment every day that we will serve you another seven years until we can’t make this commitment at all.
Perhaps seven years is not long enough, but this is what we could offer right not. If we are more capable, we expect to add this duration to 20 years.
Besides this, we also provide the data export feature, which is exclusive to PRO members previously, to all our users. But considering controlling the cost, we have made restriction, which is that you can only export every seven days. I believe this is enough for most of you.

Finally

Well, we don’t want you to subscribe to flomo after reading this article or any other articles. It is not necessary. The only reason you should subscribe to flomo is that flomo does provide values to you.
If flomo doesn’t satisfy your needs, then it should come to an end.
This is the path we chose.
Last modified 4mo ago