The Future of Onboarding: Appcues Joins Hatch

Hatch Fenway continues its amazing run of bringing startup talent to the neighborhood by welcoming Appcues into their coworking hub in the Landmark Center. Appcues is an innovative software service that helps software companies create personalized user experiences without needing help from developers.

“Everybody wants to have a highly engaged user base, whether it’s on mobile or desktop,” says Jonathan Kim, co-founder of Appcues. “They [developers] want everyone who signs up to fall in love with their product and use it forever.”

The reality of current app engagement is not quite so rosy. According to Jonathan, even popular social media apps like Twitter and Facebook see a dramatic decline in user engagement after the first 90 days.  

“The fact that even they can’t retain more than 30% of their user base after 90 days is just daunting for everybody else,” Jonathan says. “Our goal is to help people have an awesome first-run experience, as the data shows that engagement trickles down over time—the better your first experience is, the more likely you are to stick with it.”

Appcues offers developers a software toolkit that focuses on customizable “onboarding”—the creation of a stimulating first impression through beautifully designed welcome pages, tutorials, tips and more that introduce the user to the world of the app and build “an ecosystem that helps [the user] fall in love with a product over time.”

“We like to look at [onboarding] as everything it takes in order to take a brand new person, a newbie, and turn them into a master,” Jonathan says.

The idea for Appcues was born from Jonathan’s own frustrations with creating onboarding experiences during his time as a software engineer for HubSpot. He worked on Appcues as a pet project on nights and weekends before he realized that he had a viable product. And like many startup entrepreneurs, he quit his job and began the hard work of building a business from scratch.

For 8 months, he labored over the Appcues software, working out of his apartment, the public library and coffee shops until he joined forces with co-founder Jackson Noel who helped grow the team and acquire customers.

Today, the dynamic company of eight is comfortably situated in Hatch Fenway where they can share ideas and best practices with startups like Toast and Shoobx. The team is just getting used to the neighborhood and sampling everything The Fenway has to offer, such as lunch spots like Sweet Cheeks on restaurant row. Their favorite bars thus far are Citizen and Hojoko.

“I’m excited to just be around more companies that I can work with and learn from. Right now we’re working to get the Toast guys set up with Appcues right now too,” Jonathan says. “I can’t imagine just being in an office surrounded by teams who aren’t doing what we’re doing…there’s so much we can learn from the other guys who are a little further beyond us.”

Appcues is built for “non-technical people” using a software toolkit that allows marketers and product managers to customize the onboarding experience and publish it into their products without code. This customization of Appcues has resulted in rapid growth and customer-driven innovation.

“We’re like a pretty scrappy team, and we let our customers drive our product decisions. They’re pushing us in a certain direction, and now we’ve got customers sort of doing very advanced things with our products,” Jonathan says. “When we moved, we had about 20 or so customers; we are significantly larger now. I think we’re onboarding about 13 million users through the system this month, with 700,000 requests an hour. All with a pretty small team.”

Jonathan tempers his excitement for Appcues’ success with real-world expectations.

“I wouldn’t call this a ‘success story’ yet,” Jonathan says with a smile. “When we are on the NASDAQ, I’ll let you know.”



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