Building and marketing a lightweight time-off management tool
Founding Member (Communications)
Pause is a time-off management tool and Obvious’ first-ever homegrown product. It moves away from the cold and predatory designs of traditional HR software to make time-off management fun, encouraging, and easy to process.
Our founding hypothesis: Modern workplace tools need to evolve with the times. For time-off tracking tools, in particular, disruption in transparency and employee-first focus has been a long time coming.
Remote teams and small enterprises (including start-ups and agencies) with up to 100 members.
Within this market, our primary user segments are:
HR and founders who create staff time-off policies and manage tools.
Individuals who plan and apply for time off at their organisations.
All data as of April 2022.
Pause is free for non-profits.
Active organisations: 113
Paying organisations: 45
Active users: 3,330
Total leave days booked: 21,384 (since April ’21)
MRR: $2,089 (₹1,58,672)
All data as of April 2022.
Star rating: 4.7 out of 5 (80 reviews) on G2
Product Hunt: #3 Product of the Day, Golden Kitty Awards Top 10 finalist in the Work From Anywhere and Best Demo Video categories
Monthly search impressions: 47K
To press ‘pause’ today is to recharge for tomorrow.
Pause is designed to be team-first, anti-burnout, transparent by default and as simple as possible (hat tip to Dieter Rams).
Worked with restraints
Instead of adding features, restraint gave us more time to focus on perfecting existing features.
Avoided feature bloat
We set up features that users need and kept the nice-to-haves for later. Do less, achieve more.
Went user-first instead of systems-first
We tried to make processes and setups dead obvious so users don’t have to spend time figuring things out for themselves.
Put power in the hands of the least powerful actor
We built Pause for openness and equality. However, we did keep in mind that software can’t solve what’s culture breaks.
Favoured information push over pull
We push all relevant information to our users, at the right time and in the right place, so they don’t have to go hunting.
Set defaults, but in moderation
We didn’t expect Pause’s benefits to be instantly clear to users, so we set some defaults to show them immediate value.
Pause is our first-ever homegrown product, so it was a study in a lot of things: building a product from scratch, pitching to customers, and marketing it organically.
Given that we were bootstrapped, we needed to effectively market Pause using the resources we had. Here’s our extensive list of marketing outputs:
Search engine-optimised marketing website
We made Pause easily discoverable, targeting direct and indirect keywords such as
leave management and
Pause brand assets and tone of voice
The Pause tone of voice is friendly and empathetic while also being assertive. This has been carried to our brand assets, particularly our logo and taglines.
Value-centred articles and pillar pages
I kept the listicles to a minimum, writing value-centric articles and pillar pages targeting the right keywords. This strategy continues to bring us 60% of our organic customers.
Engineering-as-marketing mini products
I partnered with engineering to develop complementary tools that appeal to our target audience and increase our sales TOFU. The free burnout test and downloadable public holiday calendar are very popular and continue to add to our sales funnel.
Product Hunt launch (profile and demo video)
I collaborated with design and engineering to direct a demo video that both appealed to the PH audience and roped in new potential users. This video was a Top 10 Finalist in the Golden Kitty Awards, and Pause ranked #3 Product of the Day on launch day.