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MagicBell YCombinator Application

MagicBell successful YCombinator application from 2021 winter batch (YC W21).

The notification inbox for web/mobile applications.
MagicBell is the notification inbox for web & mobile apps. As consumers of many apps, we have personally experienced the growing volume of notifications - many of which add to our anxiety instead of helping us manage it. MagicBell is on a mission to end this chaos and help every app deliver a stellar notification experience. We do this by offering a beautifully designed notification inbox that apps can embed in their products in minutes. We do all the heavy lifting related to real-time delivery & syncing, web & mobile push notifications, email notifications, and even notification preference management. We sit at an interesting intersection of a dev tool & a productivity tool for end-users. We are helping every app make its users more productive!
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If you have a demo, what's the url?

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Describe what your company does in 50 characters or less.

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In-app notification center for web & mobile apps

What is your company going to make? Please describe your product and what it does or will do.

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MagicBell is an out of the box, notification system with multi-channel delivery. Notifications are created via the API and the embeddable notification center can be fully customized to match your product's UI and UX. Companies with existing email notifications can simply bcc them to a project-specific email address to roll out MagicBell to their users within 30 mins. You can think of it like a smart router for your company’s notifications to your customers. MagicBell enables you to think in terms of users and respect their notification preferences, instead of being bogged down by the complexity of understanding platform APIs for different channels.

Where do you live now, and where would the company be based after YC?

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Barcelona. After YC, I’ll continue operating from Barcelona. The business is a Delaware C-corp.


Please enter the url of a 1 minute unlisted (not private) YouTube video introducing the founder(s).

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Who writes code, or does other technical work on your product? Was any of it done by a non-founder?

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Hana (founder) is writing the code with Josue, core team member.


How far along are you?

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We have a stable MVP delivering over a million notifications a month for two B2B apps. Here is what's already deployed: * The core APIs (notifications/preference management) * Javascript based In-app notification center with real-time updates * Email source and delivery channel * Open-source libraries for React (to build custom interfaces) and Ruby (for creating notifications and managing user preferences in Ruby/Rails apps). In terms of traction, we are signing up one enterprise lead a week through content on our blog.

How long have each of you been working on this? How much of that has been full-time?

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About six months, of which the last month has been full time.

How many active users or customers do you have? How many are paying? Who is paying you the most, and how much do they pay you?

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* MagicBell is powering notifications for SupportBee, my previous company with over 500 enterprise customers and 20,000 enterprise users. * We are live on another B2B product in the SaaS collaboration space. They are using the free tier. * We are currently onboarding a series-A funded insurance marketplace in Europe. They have signed a contract to bill them at $299/mo once they go live in October.

We're interested in your revenue over the last several months. (Not cumulative and not GMV).

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August $999

Anything else you would like us to know regarding your revenue or growth rate?

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The august revenue is committed but not yet realized since we are still waiting for our EIN to set up our bank account and Stripe. We hope to have it all in place by the time YC sends out the interview invites.


Why did you pick this idea to work on? Do you have domain expertise in this area? How do you know people need what you're making?

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I am working on MagicBell because it's a problem faced universally by B2B apps, and one I have experienced personally at my last company - SupportBee, a shared inbox product. There, we deliver over a million notifications a month to our users. Before MagicBell, we spent a significant amount of time writing code to figure out whom to notify (based on the activity and their preferences), delivering the notification via email, and providing customer support when it wasn't delivered timely. When our users asked for an in-app notification center and mobile push notifications, we realized that we'd have to do a lot more work, especially if we wanted to avoid duplicates across channels. We talked to other companies at our scale and validated that they struggle with this problem too. Instead of solving this problem just for SupportBee, we decided to build MagicBell.

What's new about what you're making? What substitutes do people resort to because it doesn't exist yet (or they don't know about it)?

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Currently, the only substitute is building the notification system in-house. Based on our experiences, and user interviews, it takes a team of two engineers (frontend+backend) and a designer a minimum of two months to build a basic real-time notification center with multi-channel delivery. The team needs to understand and use APIs from Twilio and Pusher, etc. Usage analytics, debugging logs, fine-tuning the UX, or performing any day-to-day maintenance and troubleshooting is even more work.

Who are your competitors, and who might become competitors? Who do you fear most?

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Twilio provides APIs for delivering notifications on different channels and hence could be considered indirect competition. In fact, Twilio just participated in the Series A funding of XXX, that’s solving the same problem, albeit with a different approach. It's possible that companies like Pusher or Onesignal offer a competing product in the future.

What do you understand about your business that other companies in it just don't get?

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In an ideal world, everyone would use our API from day one and skip building email notifications entirely. However, today, most companies have already invested in their email notifications and are reluctant to switch to a new API. We find that it's vital not to underestimate this inertia. To help them migrate to MagicBell, without writing any code to talk to our API, we let them bcc their existing email notifications to us and embed our notification center in their product. This setup takes less than 30 mins. Over time they can start using the API to build new notifications. This quick and low-risk way of delivering value to their users significantly reduces the friction of adoption.

How do or will you make money? How much could you make?

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We charge a subscription fee for MagicBell's APIs and UI components. The pricing depends on a combination of the number of channels, active user count, notifications volume, and data retention period. Given the business model and deep integration into our customers’ code-base, we expect low churn and healthy expansion revenue (150-200% YoY). At an average revenue per account of $4k/mo and net revenue retention of 150%, we expect to make $30million/yr in the next five years or so, given the right growth capital. The first-mover advantage, combined with the growing market opportunity and our team's expertise in SaaS, makes this a realistic target.

How will you get users? If your idea is the type that faces a chicken-and-egg problem in the sense that it won't be attractive to users till it has a lot of users (e.g. a marketplace, a dating site, an ad network), how will you overcome that?

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Our blog post describing the challenge of building a complete notification brings us one lead a week. Given the search volume for relevant keywords, we plan to publish more valuable content to double down on organic user acquisition. Additionally, we are implementing several channels to generate growth - cold emails to targeted companies, a freemium model with a MagicBell branded widgets and partnership with providers of channel APIs (email/text/push). We hope to accelerate all these efforts with the additional funding from YC.


Please tell us something surprising or amusing that one of you has discovered.

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Restaurants and hotels spend an insane amount of money on electricity but obsess over keeping lights turned off in toilets. Who hasn’t found themselves in a dark toilet because the motion sensor flicked the lights off while you were doing your business? :)


What convinced you to apply to Y Combinator? Did someone encourage you to apply? Have you been to any YC events?

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While I have a great team, as a transgender female founder, I lack the industry network to make this business become the industry leader it can be. I can benefit tremendously from the advice, connections, and support that YC offers.

How did you hear about Y Combinator?

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I have been building tech companies since 2007 and known about YC since then. In 2012, I applied with my last company (SupportBee) but didn’t make it in.

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