Replacing the Free Site with Free Trials
To our visitors, fans, supporters, and customers:
When we first broke ground on Stormpulse.com, Brad and I were just a couple of fresh-faced entrepreneurs attempting to create something amazing. Five years, 61 million visits, and 17 million visitors later, we can look at this work of two founders and a handful of amazing contributors and feel a real sense of accomplishment for having come this far.
But of course, we can’t stop there. We now have a growing list of customers and prospects that want us to keep pushing our service forward. Alongside this rising mountain of feature requests, we also have an expanding vision for weather mapping and alerting that can transform the way people manage their operations before, during, and after weather that impacts their business.
As a bootstrapped company on the web, keeping up with these demands means continually reviewing and revising our business. One of the biggest questions that we’ve faced since Day One is how much to give away for free. Give away too little and we may fail to grab the attention of new visitors that share the site with friends and colleagues through word-of-mouth. Give away too much and we risk treading water and disappointing, rather than growing and improving the service for our customers.
Over the years, we’ve tried balancing these concerns by experimenting with advertising (which unfortunately makes the experience worse and worse), consumer subscriptions, business subscriptions, and larger enterprise sales and business development.
In the end, I believe we’ve learned that maintaining a completely free site isn’t sustainable, nor is it in the best interest of the people that benefit the most from our service. Some of the world’s most important missions are using Stormpulse every day, from U.S. military bases to manufacturing facilities to transportation and shipping and energy companies. We want to continue serving these missions to the fullest extent of our abilities.
To succeed at this, we have to have a laser-like focus. And so, after serving up over 120 million pageviews, we’ve decided to replace the free site with free trials. Beginning in April, visitors will be asked to sign up for a free trial and then decide if they are going to continue using the site for a yearly subscription, or whether they will instead use one of the many free sites available on the web. Plans will start with individual subscriptions, with additional tiers of service for businesses that need to add geographic data to the platform or take advantage of our rules-based, customizable weather alerting.
Many people have asked us why we can’t also have a consumer subscription. As our support and development teams grow, splitting our attention may become practical. For now, we’re choosing to focus on the needs of leaders inside operations centers, corporate security teams, and supply chains, all of which can be greatly affected by the weather.
We’re looking forward to a bright future of continuing to improve our service, which so many have come to know and love and expect to remain the best on the market. We’ve got some incredible ideas waiting up our sleeves.
We’ll be sharing updates in the coming days on the new plans and pricing that will be a part of this change (hint: they’re a lot simpler and better than ever before) (Update, 4/4/12: Here they are, as well as free trials). As we go through this transition, we’d like to hear from you (as always). You can share your thoughts with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks from this Florida native,