From Note-Taking to Game-Changing: The Evolution of FuseBase

From note-taking to game-changing: the evolution of FuseBase

Everyone loves a good success story. In this interview, Paul Sher shares how he came to the US from Uzbekistan 15 years ago to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams. See how he and his team are growing FuseBase to become the leading client collaboration tool.

πŸ‘‡ Key Takeaways

  • FuseBase began as a simple note-taking app and evolved into much more
  • Paul and his team used SEO and an AppSumo campaign to get the initial users
  • The most important lesson Paul has learned is the transformative power of seeking out experienced advisors
  • Paul believes you must deeply understand your ideal customer profile’s pain points before marketing

Overview

Business Name: FuseBase (formerly Nimbus)
Website URL: https://nimbusweb.me/
Founders: Paul Sher
Business Location: Online (USA)
Year Started: 2014
Number of Employees/Contractors/Freelancers: 32

Tell us about yourself and your business.

Well, my story’s a bit of the classic American Dream. Born in Uzbekistan, I have always been fascinated with innovations and technology. In 2009, I took the leap and moved to the US on a work visa β€” it seemed like the place to be if you wanted to do big things in tech. After securing the legal rights, I established my own business and left the company I worked for, kicking off my entrepreneurial journey.

I ended up getting citizenship, and I’ve been building businesses online ever since. Today, I have over 20 years of hands-on experience in the tech industry. Initially, my small team and I built successful micro-apps β€” browser extensions and mobile apps β€” which were all acquired. I also built a great team of 20 awesome people. Wanting to build something truly global, I secured a $1M pre-seed investment for Nimbus Platform, pushing myself beyond the comfort of bootstrapping. In 2023, we introduced our final vision and transformed our note-taking app to FuseBase, an all-in-one solution for professional services.

You know how it is β€” you have separate tools for managing projects and others for presenting clients with the work. Combining a bunch of tools and apps often results in a scattered mess. FuseBase is the first platform to seamlessly combine collaborative spaces for both internal teams and external clients.

Our core features are white-label client portals and AI-powered workspaces designed to streamline workflow and enhance client experiences. We focus on serving solopreneurs and small-to-medium businesses across industries, including digital agencies, coaches and consultants, and event planners.

FuseBase website

How does your business make money?

FuseBase is a scalable B2B SaaS platform. Our primary revenue model is subscriptions, and we offer several subscription tiers designed to accommodate businesses of different sizes and needs. These tiers provide access to a core set of features, increasing functionality, storage, or support levels as you move up the pricing structure. Our pricing strategy aims to balance accessibility for smaller businesses with scaling revenue potential as our clients grow and their platform usage expands.

Additionally, we offer add-ons that customers can purchase to tailor the platform to their specific workflows, such as unlimited AI prompts for streamlined content generation and additional team member seats.

What was your inspiration for starting the business?

Honestly, the inspiration came from frustration! My business partner and I have worked with plenty of collaboration tools in the past, and they all felt either too clunky or not built for the fast-paced way modern teams actually need to work. It was like trying to run a restaurant kitchen with plastic cutlery and no fridge.

We became obsessed with the idea of a less chaotic, more streamlined way to manage projects, onboard clients, and centralize all the info everyone needs in one place. We were tired of the constant scramble, tired of juggling too many tools. The lightbulb moment was realizing clients shouldn’t need to dig through our behind-the-scenes chaos. They just want to see progress, maybe reference some instructions, and get on with their day.

So, to make FuseBase easy to understand, we often use the “restaurant concept.” Picture this: you’ve got a “kitchen,” an internal workspace where teams brainstorm and collaborate, store files, build projects… It’s the behind-the-scenes work, and just like a real kitchen, it can get a bit chaotic. Then, you have the “dining room”. That’s our client portals – clean, well-designed, and branded spaces, where clients check in on progress, access deliverables, and have helpful resources at their fingertips.

We love this analogy because everyone understands the difference between a kitchen and a dining area. FuseBase is all about fusing collaboration spaces while providing a clear separation to solve the problem of chaotic communication and messy client interactions. We streamline all the internal stuff so clients have a smooth, polished experience.

How and when did you launch the business?

Starting in 2014, we created several apps and browser extensions focusing on asynchronous communication and productivity. Then, we developed Nimbus Note, a note-taking platform designed for personal productivity, where users could keep their knowledge base organized. It had interactive documents, simple project management tools, and even offered basic client portal functionalities.

In 2020, we launched Nimbus Note on AppSumo, which led to its rapid growth and provided us with invaluable feedback from a diverse user base. While our note-taking app was undeniably successful, we, the team behind it, knew it had much more potential.

Over time, we realized there was a huge demand from professional services for a better way to collaborate internally and seamlessly interact with clients. This led to the creation of client portals, transforming Nimbus Note into what is now FuseBase β€” an all-in-one collaboration platform empowering service-based businesses to streamline their workflow and elevate the client experience.

How is the business funded? 

Initially, the business was bootstrapped β€” we used our own funds and some money from early private investors. In 2022, we got our first $1 million round of funding, which really fueled our growth. We’re currently gearing up for our next funding round to expand our marketing reach and put the pedal to the metal with AI development.

How did you find your first few clients or customers?

We heavily invested in search engine optimization to ensure visibility for our target ideal customer profile. This involved thorough keyword research, high-quality content creation, and technical optimization to rank well in relevant searches.

In late 2020, we strategically launched an AppSumo campaign to attract early adopters. We were exposed to a community of tech-savvy users eager to try new products. It brought in initial clients and generated valuable feedback that helped us refine our offering. The combined efforts resulted in a strong initial customer base that provided the momentum we needed to establish ourselves in the market.

What was your first year in business like?

My first year in business was a true rollercoaster. Initially, we focused heavily on development, creating our first suite of Chrome browser extensions. It was a period of intense work with minimal financial return. However, once we launched, we were thrilled to see organic users find us directly through the Chrome Webstore search.

The excitement was amplified when our built-in monetization strategies started to pay off. We saw revenue streams open through search monetization, early B2C subscriptions, and strategic e-commerce integrations. These early successes, even if modest, validated our product and the monetization model, fueling us to keep pushing forward.

What strategies did you use to grow the business?

Our growth strategy centered around creating products with exceptionally high retention rates. We focused on 100% organic growth, understanding that a sticky product was essential for long-term success.

My approach to product development was highly analytical. I thoroughly researched popular keywords to identify those with low competition. Once we pinpointed these opportunities, we developed MVPs and launched them quickly. If we saw initial traction, we iterated and improved the product.

This resulted in a network of apps we leveraged for cross-promotion. As our user base grew, reaching the first million became a significant milestone. It gave us the momentum to launch the following apps with immediate boosts in visibility.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

Early on, one of our biggest challenges was how much we depended on browser review teams. Especially with Chrome, their manual reviews could really slow down the process of pushing out updates. It often disrupted our development cycles and impacted our ability to respond quickly to user needs.

We realized the only way to work around it was to change our approach. First, we shifted to smaller, more iterative updates to minimize the risk of critical bugs that would further delay the review process. Second, we heavily invested in rigorous QA testing to avoid any hiccups. We also leaned on our active users, encouraging them to leave reviews, which definitely helped boost our visibility.

What have been the most significant keys to your business’ success?

Our success comes down to hard work and a committed team that never gives up. We’ve made our share of mistakes, but our key advantage has been our willingness to treat those missteps as opportunities for growth, pushing ourselves to learn and adapt.

Also, I proactively sought guidance from experienced mentors, understanding the value of learning from others rather than attempting to reinvent the wheel. Their insights have helped us avoid common pitfalls and accelerate our progress.

Tell us about your team.

About 32 awesome people passionate about building a tool that solves real-world problems are working with us now, most of whom are based in Europe. Our engineers are rockstars, the product team keeps everything aligned with our users’ needs, and the marketing crew… well, we’re still finding our feet!

We also have a dedicated implementation team focused on helping new users quickly set up their client portals. They’re experts at customizing everything for a smooth onboarding experience.

We’re a fully remote team, and a lot of our day-to-day collaboration and testing actually happens within FuseBase itself. This really shows how FuseBase is built with the needs of distributed teams in mind.

How did you make the transition from side hustle to full-time?

While working full-time, I saw that our apps were gaining organic traction and demonstrating a clear potential for growth. Recognizing this opportunity and noting the relatively low competition in the Chrome Web Store in 2015, I decided to transition fully into my business. While a fortunate market landscape contributed, I believe the decision to seize that moment was a key factor in our early success.

What was the turning point when you knew your business was successful?

Two clear turning points signaled our business was on the path to success. The first was when we started consistently acquiring customers within our ideal customer profile. Their feedback during sales meetings became invaluable for refining our offerings.

Shortly after, seeing subscriptions from these ICPs and observing that our key metrics, like churn and retention, matched industry benchmarks was another major turning point. This validated our product-market fit and increased our confidence.

Of course, the next challenge became establishing a strong competitive advantage to ensure long-term success.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned growing the business?

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is the transformative power of seeking out experienced advisors. Initially, I hesitated to ask for help, but I discovered the incredible value of connecting with those who have navigated similar challenges. Building mutually beneficial relationships with mentors has saved me countless hours and prevented costly mistakes.

What separates FuseBase from your competitors?

Most of our competitors are either complex project management tools repurposed for client work (which means clients are stuck in the “kitchen”) or they’re simple file-sharing platforms lacking true collaboration features. FuseBase strikes a balance by offering a robust workspace for teams and dedicated branded client portals.

We’re built specifically for the needs of agencies, consultants, and any business that provides ongoing services to clients. Our workflow and features are tailored to onboarding, recurring projects, and maintaining client relationships over time. We prioritize ease of use and the ability to adapt to different workflows, which is critical for the wide range of businesses we serve.

Also, our team is heavily investing in AI development. Imagine AI copilots that automate routine tasks, craft content drafts, or pull insights from past projects. This isn’t just a buzzword for us, it’s the future of how service businesses will deliver even better value to their clients.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

Invest time in finding the right talent, especially in marketing. Before sinking money into development, deeply understand your ideal customer profile’s pain points. Ideally, pre-sell your solution to gauge demand. Focus your development efforts on the features your ICP is actually willing to pay for and ensure you’re addressing a top-priority pain point. Remember that complaints don’t always translate into a market need. Build a strong foundation by dominating a specific niche rather than attempting to serve a broad mass market. This will help you stand out from billion-dollar competitors and make your marketing efforts more efficient.

What is your favorite quote?

I resonate with the “No pain, no gain” because challenges are where true breakthroughs happen. When facing setbacks, I focus on “Persistence, persistence, persistence.” This mindset has helped me overcome obstacles multiple times.

What are your future plans for the business?

Our ultimate goal is to transform FuseBase into the go-to platform for streamlined client collaboration. Just as Google is synonymous with search and Amazon with e-commerce, we want FuseBase to be the first thing that comes to mind when businesses need to work seamlessly with external partners.

If you had to start from scratch, where would you begin?

If I were starting from scratch, I would focus on identifying niche industries where technology adoption is still lagging. My goal would be to disrupt traditional workflows with innovative, tech-driven solutions.

Having worked within the tech space, I recognize that many solutions we take for granted could revolutionize operations for less tech-savvy businesses. AI, in particular, is an area ripe with the potential to create solutions that seem incredibly advanced to these companies.

What are some of your favorite books, blogs, podcasts, or YouTube channels?

I’m drawn to resources that help me develop across different areas. Carol Dweck’s ‘Mindset‘ has influenced how I approach challenges. Jim Collins’ ‘Good to Great‘ provided valuable insights on building enduring companies. I believe ‘Hooked‘ by Nir Eyal and ‘The Mom Test‘ by Rob Fitzpatrick are essential for building products people love.


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