Episode #19 - Duncan Hamra and Tyler Bell – Co-Founders of M...

Tue, 6/9 3:24PM • 32:33


people, member, stack, code, piece, works, integrations, zapier, tyler, support, login, product, build, vc fund, log, site, user accounts, companies, forum, big


Tyler Bell, Duncan Hamra, Ben Tossell

Ben Tossell  00:03

Hello, welcome to the show today we have Dunkin and Tyler who are the co founders of member stack. Welcome. Well, thank you super excited to be on. This is very, very cool. Yeah, appreciate it. Hopefully. If you'd like to do sort of a quick 3060 92nd intro of who each of you are, and, and what member stack is, we can dive right into it.

Duncan Hamra  00:27

Cool. Yeah. Our career stories are pretty short. I don't know. Todd, you want to go first?

Tyler Bell  00:32

Sure. Yeah. So um, I went to went to college for computer science. And about a month after graduating when I was trying to figure out what I was going to do as a career. Duncan and I, we were working on on some side projects, and they all had the same problem of we needed payments and we needed user accounts. So we started looking into a product, a SaaS product that would help us out personally and that's really how members came to seem to be?

Duncan Hamra  01:01

Yep, yep. So I do all the design, all the product side of things. And then Tyler writes all the code. And I guess up until recently, we were just a team of two. But now we were up to a team of six.

Ben Tossell  01:15

Well, not so what's the how quickly is that going from two to six?

Duncan Hamra  01:22

It's been, maybe for some people wouldn't be too quick. But for us, it felt very quick. But it's been like a total game changer. So I guess in November, I want to say we were too. And then Molly joined the team. notic joined the team about the same time and then Josh just joined the team and then Lydia will be joining next week.

Ben Tossell  01:42

Awesome. Yes. I mean, we did a we did a seminal so path where it was just me for a long time and then all of a sudden, there's like, people aren't seeing me like holy shit. There's like people who can do stuff that I don't like, I'm not very good at or I don't like have to do any more. Surrender early on. And I don't know how early in the tech story I discovered you guys, or you just got to me, I can't remember how that happened actually. I like it was just like every support thing was just, you every time you'd send a loom back waiting on this, hey, fix this as they fix this. And I've seen it with a few different products like we've searched at the moment for a forum. And that's like a similar situation we've got now where I'm just like pinging said CEO and saying, a me again, is a problem. So how have you found, like, support growing with the product and how, like, how has that changed over the last? It must be like, Is it 12 months or even going must be gone somewhere near that, right?

Duncan Hamra  02:50

That's about right. I think we launched about 13 months ago at this point. And it's been it's been really fun. I think it's The first word that pops out during support some days really difficult, really hard. And that's just more of like a volume kind of thing. Where at the beginning, when we had I was looking through, we have a folder, I have a folder on my computer of screenshots of like cool moments. And at the beginning, it was like, Oh, we had 10 people sign up, we have 10 people in our community. So it was really easy to be able to do videos for every single person. And now we have about 600 or so. So it's just it's still exciting to make those videos. It's just there's too many to do in a day. So that's been the biggest thing is trying to take that excitement and like that willingness and the desire to like, we see a problem. It's like, Oh, we know how to fix this. It's just I only have 24 hours in a day. How are we gonna like actually help all these people?

Ben Tossell  03:43

Yeah, and I guess you've hired is that one person on support? Or is there more time on servicing like a growing community these people as well.

Duncan Hamra  03:56

So that's actually our biggest everyone on the team does support And now we have Josh doing customer success and Molly doing customer success as well. So I'm transitioning out of doing that full time essentially for the last few months and they're picking up more of that.

Ben Tossell  04:11

Yeah, I mean for me as a founder, which is like automatically in a support role from where the building first moved from the first day It seems like that say it's one of those hundred things to let go I think like, you know, you need to because the time it takes but equally it's like, you can't you to scale your own time and do do things that you like you need to do other than just answer people will pick me up for me. I'm always guilty of going back to going back to that and yeah, I'm interested in hearing how, how is that going for you so far? Like, it doesn't feel weird. You try to be strict on processes and people and say like, you do this, but I won't touch it or look at it. Or even more transitional Yes.

Tyler Bell  04:58

No, I think one thing that goddess early on with the customer support sided member stack was it really got to the point where 90% of our time was going into customer support. And we weren't producing any new features. We weren't. We were, we were having a difficult, difficult time fixing bugs. And I think that helped us make the transition where it's like, okay, we really need to bring on people and we need to trust them with the customer support just so we can just have Duncan and I can get more back onto the product side of things.

Ben Tossell  05:26

Yeah, I think it's probably one of those things. It's a bigger issue in your head than is actually like in practice. Like it's usually like, Oh, no, but the poor will never be the same again, something will change but it's never let's not fall off a cliff. Right. So it's sort of those things so yeah, as we didn't really mean to go into the customer support side of things stay away. That was just one of the big, like big pieces that I found like super helpful with member stack especially in the early days of No code, like, Oh my god, I can do a membership now. And I build on webflow. And before manda stack, I think I was using, like type form and then like just sending people a password to pass a protected page. So it really has been a game changer for us to be able to have memberships and create that, like, logged in function log down out function. I'm curious to see what you've seen, sort of built over these last 18 months with, with members how what what has been some of the sort of the bigger things built with member stack and the most surprising things?

Duncan Hamra  06:38

Yes, maybe Tyler we can just like bounce back and forth on these. But uh, when we first got started, we actually designed just like websites for a replicated a couple big websites. So like Spotify and Netflix and just sites that essentially had user accounts. And there was some content or service that was gated behind those user accounts. We just said, All right. We want to replicate this We want to allow people to have some content or service and then be able to charge people for that. And then without actually having to interact with every single person have done login, make a payment, get some value out of that. So that was the use case we built with that was the use case we had in mind when we built member stack. Since then, people have run with it in all kinds of ways. You know that more than anybody? But Tyler, what are some what are some bigger ones?

Tyler Bell  07:24

Yeah, it's a it's a good question. It's, it's like so about a month ago, we really wanted to do a breakdown of all of our different customers and figure out if we had like, majority that that use minute members a certain way and we found that there's really not a majority is it there's so many subcategories of how member stacks being used. It's kind of difficult to pinpoint, like its exact use case. But I mean, we've seen companies from like Duncan just describe like you're just trying to get content. And then we have companies that are that are trying to get their members to pay more like on online. Setting like gyms. So we have a few gems using member stock. They're just like really doing their gym membership online through member stock. And then we have some more like enterprise level companies using member stock for. It's like employee directory. So

Ben Tossell  08:18

kind of a mix of everything. Yeah, I suppose it makes it hard. I think it's weird. And I've seen this as a common thread in the no code space of that, when people are building these tools to solve a problem for when it's almost like when no code is good to hand like people in the no code space, get their hands on it. They then say, well, cool, you've bought it for this reason, but I can see that I can build use this thing and completely change what it's useful for my use case, but it still works. Does that make it harder to decide what you're going to build next and what like the priorities are for for the future of members there?

Duncan Hamra  08:55

It was, for a little while it was it was getting really complicated and hard to keep track of things. It all felt very emotional for us to get all this feedback and try to decide, alright, what are we going to build. But when Nick joined the team, one of the first things he did was set up an air table, where every piece of feedback we get goes into this air table, and it has a weighted score an average and then it's associated with their information so that we're able to every week go into it, organize our roadmap based on a little bit of our gut feeling and where we want the company to go, but also, what is the actual feedback we are getting? And how important it is to these people? And then how many of them do we think there are? So we've made it more scientific? But yeah, it definitely if we didn't have that, it would be a nightmare to try to keep organized. Yeah, and actually one other thing on that. It's really cool. Getting a diverse set of like requests and use cases forces us to kind of go lower level and say, What is a feature we can implement that's going to help as many of these people as possible, as opposed to just doing exactly what they're asking or building that specific feature.

Ben Tossell  09:58

Yet is often the They're trying to solve the problem. They're thinking of it or they come to you with the exact specific. This is the specific problem I'm trying to solve. But really, that problem could be a way, like way broader piece that others would fit into the same slot to, which is trying to figure that out between what they've said, what they mean, and what they're trying to do. Because often, people are very different with with all of those pieces. What are some of the big next things for manufacturing? Where Where is the product going? I suppose.


Yeah, so I'd say, actually, Tyler, do you want to touch on this a little bit?

Tyler Bell  10:40

Sure. Yeah, I could say a couple of the features that we're kind of excited about that are coming down the pipeline. We can't give any time estimates yet but we can definitely share like some things that we're we're excited about. So the first thing that comes to my mind is just like social login. So people being able to sign up through you know, user sites. Through Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, it's kind of like all the normal social logins and then another big one for us will be PayPal like we want to be able to keep supporting stripe but also offer PayPal as a payment gateway

Ben Tossell  11:16

the the big things that you've seen and I suppose it must be full for that. Firstly sort of coming through what are there is it just the people don't like using email and password because I've seen that a lot recently where people do like this email magic link thing and I don't know that I understand that as like a better way to login. Not it'd be like a hate that way more than having to remember a password. I don't know what you see.

Tyler Bell  11:43

Yeah, I think the the goal is, especially for a like a membership that's paid like you want to get that person you want to get that member to pain as quickly as possible. And if it's a matter of just clicking on like their their Gmail button to do that, then I think Think that might help conversion rates. And I feel like that's a lot of the feedback that we get from people that really want social login, I think are looking at it from like, it's just going to shorten the time it takes for someone to

Ben Tossell  12:11

sign up on my site, which is benefit. Okay, that makes sense. Obviously, there's like, one of the obvious pieces in the membership, like add on world is connecting this to another piece of software, whether it's a forum or a slack community or whatever it is, what what are you seeing there? And is there like some commonalities, or is it a case of just like one thing at a time?

Tyler Bell  12:42

Yeah, that's a good question. So like, right now we have our Zapier app, which is fairly basic, so like we will be expanding the Zapier app, but another common request is Integra mat. Just have an official app with Integra mat. So that is something that we're that we will also be working on. parabola is is one thing that we know we want to integrate with. And then up until recently, we've actually been looking at doing a direct integration with air table. We see a lot of our users using air table and like these really awesome ways, and they're doing it through Zapier. So anything we can get any, I think we can get member stock just closer to a direct air table integration, it could it could help a lot of a lot of our users out. Yeah, I


mean, kind of, but you tell him,

Duncan Hamra  13:28

oh, sorry. I was just gonna say and kind of like as a company, how we're trying to, like, restructure and think about these things. It's like the broad buckets, we get our just integrations, broadly speaking is like most of the requests we get, and that falls into payments, front end, like website builders, and then like business tools, tools you use to manage your business. So we're trying to set up the groundwork to be able to easily integrate with as many of those things as possible.

Ben Tossell  13:55

Awesome. Yeah, the Yeti one's obviously interesting for me because I don't know if you've seen my table, but I would probably wouldn't show it to many people. Be a wee dust. I mean, that's exactly what we do is everything that goes through our web flow sites, goes through Zapier goes through into air table back through Zapier, back to webflow. As like, there's multiple steps that each of these pieces, all is passed in member stack data through back and forth. And it's like, it works 95% of the time, but then when there's one thing that breaks, it's like trying to figure out where that breaks, why it's breaking and how to like, fix it and things like that. So yeah, be interesting to see how the new integrations and things come, come along and help help some of those pieces. Do you see people building like, because we've had other member products on and send to the founders and things who have payments as part of their life. Offering. And they always see the community piece as, like almost the next step or like, Okay, we've got a forum, we've got a slack community, do you see any of that in able to log in with member stackers? was one of those pieces? Or was that be sort of after some of these integrations first?

Duncan Hamra  15:22

Gotcha. So is that that's kind of like, like circle, for example, being able to integrate this to so that you log in on one and like the information you have an account with both now.

Ben Tossell  15:32

Right? Yeah. Yeah. Because I think the way like, I'm honestly selfishly asking this piece because of makeup pads having, like, there's a site where you can do stuff, but there's like a community of people who all want to chat and we've had Slack, which was okay, because actually, people are always logged into slack anyway, but then we tried to have a discourse forum. And then it's like, Okay, well, here's another login and that one's like, what is As makes sense, and it's like a weird situation now we've just started using circle for to move people away from slack. And I must be so many people who have a business or a product or community that they're trying to have this like, extra chat piece. and wondered, yeah, how? How you think about that anyway, because I mean, there's one case of having just like linking these two up and saying, when you become a members back customer to make a pad, you automatically get an invite, which is obviously what we do now, which is all fine. And then once you're logged in, you're logged in, which is okay. But yeah, I just wondered how you see those pieces like connecting a bit more closely.

Tyler Bell  16:46

Yeah, um, I think there there is a clear path for us to do that. And it's, it's a it's called single sign on.


It's something that we don't have

Tyler Bell  16:54

yet in member sec, but it's something that we're working towards and we think with single sign on It's It's literally what it sounds like. You'll have your member stock login and you'll be able to use that to log into services like like tribe and slack and kind of any, any other platform that supports single sign on.

Duncan Hamra  17:14

Yeah, the dream is like a single login where, like you as a business owner, right? You have the discourse forum circle maker pad. Ideally, they log in once they're automatically in all those places. Just seamlessly, like that's the dream.


Yeah, and I mean, even.

Ben Tossell  17:32

It's just so difficult building any product, right? Because as soon as he was that came came along, and I was okay, cool. We've done that piece now. Now, I want to make sure that all of the profile stuff that's happening in a member stack in my air table in webflow in the forum is all like, in one place, too. So there's always like, it's always like another thing where it's just, oh, just one more thing, just one thing. So I understand the, like, the whole complexity around it. Oh, but I just yeah, I mean, I was just wondering because you see a lot of people building things. And having a community led plunked on as a piece and a lot of people just don't understand that there's often like separate logins of things even, I think even webflow, for example, have their forum, his own discourse, I think, and I'm pretty sure that's another login. Like it's not your webflow login. But I've never, I always wonder why big companies, like, I don't see messages sent a web for over two seconds to say, like, well, I'm just not logged in. But I mean, I definitely get those messages. So that's it. Yeah. I'm curious to see how how you think about building membership? I mean, I used it with webflow. I know you support a bunch of other platforms. What has been did you start with web flow and is that like, the number one platform for you to support and then doing the others as well?

Duncan Hamra  19:01

So we definitely started with web flow. It was kind of where we got our starts. Essentially, quick, quick story. I was going to college for graphic and web design. And I was there for like three months. And at the end of the semester, it was a Senior Portfolio day, and everyone was showing off their websites. And that previous weekend, I had discovered web flow and built a website. And my website that I had built in a weekend was better than all the senior projects. Not because me just because web flow just made it that much easier. So I just left school and started. I just called myself a web flow designer and started building websites. So that's kind of how we got in and where we saw the need initially. And kind of the question when we got started was like, This is clearly a need here. Is it really that big of a need elsewhere? And as soon as we launched member stack, we started getting requests from outside of flow. So we see ourselves like starting there, but expanding outward and working in ideally everywhere.


Yeah, how

Ben Tossell  20:00

was the no code movement, as will sort of say, how is this sort of space grown and I feel like some tools don't even try and be a no code tool. And I've been saying on other episodes about, you don't have to be a nuclear tool to be part of a no code solution. And often people in the no code space will see a tool, see a way that they can implement that thing? and say, Oh, yeah, that helps my use case, no matter if it's the thing that you meant it for. And sort of just carry it and say, yeah, this is our tool like, you're on with me now. And this is like, I'm pushing this as a no code. Part of my no code stack or whatever else. How have you seen the no code movement sort of affect how memory stack has grown and how much so popularity has had because to me, I hear about it all the time, especially in our circles, and, and we were, we were together in the no code conference back in November, when you could be in person with people Yeah, there's just like, yeah, a ton of people just talking about the

Duncan Hamra  21:07

Yeah, I think if I could, I guess if I could summarize kind of the whole no code movement, my experience of it in like a particular conversation, kind of how that conversation goes, it's like when we explained member stack, we're like, oh, yeah, if you have a website, you can add, like user accounts and payments to it. And they're like, Oh, that's cool. I have a website, or like, Oh, you can do it without code. And then they their face lights up. And they're like, whoa, wait, wait, wait, say that again. What was the first thing you said? Because now I care. Right now this, this means something to me. So it's like, and I started debate, start a lot of conversations. But I think that's the thing that's like really valuable, and that's helped us a lot of people look at it and say, ooh, this applies to me now.


Mm hmm.

Duncan Hamra  21:49

Yeah. And I guess and Tyler, I don't know if you want to speak a little bit to what's interesting about it is we get a lot of interest from developers to like know code has an appeal in that space as well.

Tyler Bell  22:00

Yeah, that's That's true. That's actually one thing that surprised us early on like, So initially, we were like, oh, developers aren't going to use something like member stack, they'll just code it themselves. And we've really found the opposite. When developers find member stack, they, and we don't really have developer focused features right now. And they're still okay with that. They'll just hack together what we have kind of like the no code movement, or the after the no code world to kind of work for their use case, which has been super interesting.

Ben Tossell  22:32

Yeah, I think I was chatting to someone, I think on the podcast and saying that same for everyone when no one wants to, like, no one wants to rebuild the same things over and over again. So then when a developer has to spin up, like the payment systems or whatever, for a new project for someone, it's like, I don't have to do all that. Is there something just easier, and then it probably gives them the platform to then go above and beyond with that we've hired a developer to use support Typically members stack like attributes to then do things that are sort of. I mean, it was no code to me because it got someone else to do it. But it was essentially just like adding a script. And then the setting works on this on the side that pushes stuff back and forth. So we've definitely seen this like crossing off. Oh, yeah, well that it's already handled up. I don't have to worry about the payment system. Member stack already gives me this stuff. I can just use this stuff and then pass like, other things through in it makes makes my job easier. So we've seen a bunch of that too. Yeah, how do you think okay, what do you think this no code movements gonna go? Do you think? It's a phase? Do you think it's like, it's just getting started? Yeah, listen to what you think of the whole space in general.


Yeah, I guess. Tyler you want to go first? 200. I've been thinking about this lately.

Tyler Bell  23:58

Yes, it's a good question. Um, for me personally, I feel like the no code movement is not a phase like, I feel like we're just kind of right on the beginning of, of the of the movement, really. And I think the reason why is because I need



Tyler Bell  24:15

Essentially, anytime you empower the business owner or the designer to do things themselves, where they don't have to go and hire a third party, like a, like a developer, and you keep giving them resources to do that, I think they're gonna keep doing that. I don't think there's ever going to be a time where people will stop using a site like webflow and start like, doing HTML by hand again, like I don't, I don't imagine that happening. So I don't I feel like the no code movement is more than more than just a phase.

Ben Tossell  24:44

Yeah, I think. Yeah, so the first step of enablement, right. It's not like, Okay, well, you could have these types of tools. But because we don't like the new code movement, we're going to sort of go back to like the old old way of doing it. Yeah, it's interesting. And yeah, you, you actively embracing no code is like part of the culture and the DNA of member stack is part of like, we're we're an ACO tool, we help you specifically in that round, because I know that like, a bunch of companies either didn't and now sort of do all, like, still not really wanting to tie themselves to this whole milk movement.


Yeah, it's,

Duncan Hamra  25:28

we don't have the messaging, like on our website, so that might be parsh part of the answer there. But I think kind of the DNA of it is within member stack, right? Like our goal. And you can see this in our forum, for example, is like our goal is just to take the goal they have, and then figure out remove as many barriers as possible. And sometimes we become the barrier. And then the best way to fix that is with like, $10 on Fiverr, where someone writes a tiny bit of JavaScript for you. So if that's the solution, we're not purists, I guess what I'm trying to say like if code is required, get some code. But let's find like solutions that work within your constraints, whatever that is, and for a lot of people, and I think like, broadly speaking, that's the trend right now, most like a lot of people have this goal and can see what a solution would look like with software. I have this problem. I can imagine what the software would look like. I even have the website builders to build it. But I missing these other parts, these like essential business components. But I don't have a budget to hire a dev team custom dev shop for 30 grand to build me a site. Right, like that's so when no code is the solution. We are all for it. Yeah.

Ben Tossell  26:35

Yeah. Yeah. I think a lot of people avoid saying no. I mean, it's difficult to avoid it completely as well, for me to make that specifically. Because we don't necessarily want to be. We are the no code platform for no code people for no clue. Like, it's not like that. That just happens to be that you don't have to write code to do these things that we're showing you how to do. That's like the opposite. second order effective of what what it is we're trying to do. So we're just sort of round off shortly and just wanted to hear a bit about the decision that you decide to raise. raise some VC money, I suppose recently. So tell us a bit about that. What happened? Because I know we, we were speaking in in November about like, your decision whether to do it, like what was the path and you've really dug thinking through thinking through these things? I suppose. So I'd love to hear how you decided and then what was the what was the story there?

Duncan Hamra  27:38

Sure. Yeah. It was quite the decision making process. I say intolerant I we get we can bounce back and forth on this story. But essentially, we, like I said, started number stack is just a way to solve a problem we had was like, we want to build more software and it's just too slow to do it. So let's build this then see if it works, then started getting more traction. Did a product launch? Which Thanks for your help on that, because that got us a good bit of attention from some venture capitalists. And we actually a couple days after that launch, we were doing back to back demo calls. And we got on a call, we're like, Okay, cool. How do you want to use member stack, blah. And the person across the table was like, I'm so and so from this VC fund. I want to invest in you guys. I don't want to use the product I want. A lot of people use the product. And it was like from that conversation, it was this, like them pulling us along, saying, like, check it out, you have this huge opportunity to empower so many people. And these are the barriers like to get to that goal, we can help you take down those barriers, which money is part of that, but like experience, and just the fact that they've been there and done it before has been the biggest benefit so far. But also money for hiring the team building out the team, right. So yeah, it was a gradual process of letting them convince us that yeah, this is what we need to really help as many people as possible.

Ben Tossell  29:02

Muslim so what where's where's member stack gonna go then is? Because right now it's sort of still in a gated content phases pose. So what's the next? What's the big ambition for why you took on this money and got this team in place and things are what's the next few years look like expose?

Duncan Hamra  29:24

Yeah. Yeah, I know. Tyler, do you want to speak to that a little bit? I think either of us can answer any of these questions. So

Tyler Bell  29:31

it's a it's a good question. I mean, honestly, the first thing that comes to my mind is just mainly on the product side.


Like the the biggest

Tyler Bell  29:39

benefit of us having or being backed by a VC fund. Our multiple VC VC funds is just we have money to build a team and focus on the product. And like one thing that we've like looked at so far with our current user base and customers is that like number stack works great if it fits a certain business. model, like we've got several business models. And if it doesn't, if your company doesn't fit one of those models, then like member sex just unfortunately not going to work for you. So we really want to create a more flexible system where people can really create essentially any sort of like business model they could they could think of as the first thing that comes to my mind.


And I guess

Duncan Hamra  30:21

what kind of like how we see member stack going forward, is we want it to be the most highly integrated, like the most beautiful out of the box, the most flexible in terms of like design business integrations, like the idea is, is flexibility in quality as quickly as possible. Like we're confident someone's going to do this and whoever does it, it's gonna have a massive business on their hands and help a lot of people like we just want to be the first ones to do it.

Ben Tossell  30:48

Yeah, awesome. Well, I'm like glad I'm along for the ride. And yeah, I mean, the mistake is a key piece of, I'll make a Patty's where it is today, and we can have done it without member stack, which is crap to you. You both have done this. It's awesome product and like we've got that flexibility to push it to things that may be annoying for you to try support, but it's like things that we've been, we've been pushing the front lines of, um, but yeah, really appreciate you both coming on when you just sort of tell them where they can find you and where they can find member staff and wrap it up there.

Duncan Hamra  31:27

Cool. Absolutely. And this is in the feeling's mutual. I'd say this is a bit it's felt like a journey that we've all gone on together. It has been never it's never annoying. I will say that. And it's so wonderful working for people who run their own companies and who are figuring this stuff out at the same time. it real quick story. We had some problems like technical difficulties the other day with member stack, and instead of getting angry emails from people we just had everyone like pouring out love and support saying it's like, oh, this is a good sign. You must be growing really quickly. I love that like you guys will be in a cup in no time. So it's just this is just a Such a cool community But to answer your question, member stack.io is I'd say the best place to go to learn more about member stack we have an unlimited free trial. So anyone can like set up a site, test it out just like some dream project or client project or whatever, get it going. And only when you're ready to actually turn it on and start having people sign up. Then you can sign up for a paid account.


Awesome. Well, yeah, thanks so much both for for coming on. Yeah,


it's been a blast it this

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