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Oliver Sauter
Oliver Sauter

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Memex — Grant Report #6 - May '21

About the Project

Memex.Social enables people to better collaborate in doing online research and get paid for curating quality content.
In one product you have:

  • Reddit's collaborative curation of web content
  • Google Doc's (collaborative) highlights on every website & PDF
  • Pocket's ease of saving and highlighting content

10min Speed run of all features: Watch >>

Project Update

We now launched all of our expected features for the grant period and more. We are ourselves amazed what we were able to put on the road with just $100.000. We raised almost double the money the year before and were not nearly as efficient in deploying these funds. Our efforts to improve our user research and product development processes and skills have paid off.
Happy also to share our learnings with anyone who struggles.
If you like to hop on a 30min call, you can check for a time here:

This last month was also a very productive month.
We launched 3 new features:

Co-curating and co-annotating collections.

People can share invite links to collections so that other people can contribute by adding pages, annotations and replies.
Screenshot 2021-04-02 at 11.03.59

Improvements to the sharing annotations UX.

Before, sharing was quite laborious. You needed to add pages to a collection and then share the annotations for each page.
Now you can bulk share all annotations on a page or all annotations on all pages in a collection. You can also set the annotation status as "protected", so their privacy status never changes in a bulk activity.
Screenshot 2021-04-02 at 11.33.02

Dashboard Refactor

Our work to make the collaboration features fit into the current UI, and make the dashboard ready for faster iterations in the future.

Screen Shot 2021-05-05 at 23.28.02

Screen Shot 2021-05-05 at 23.28.25

Original Objectives

  1. Sharing Collections with pages and annotations: Launched
  2. Paying curators with the Web Monetisation standard: Launched
  3. Refactoring the Dashboard: Launched
  4. Annotating PDFs: Launched
  5. Research document outlining further integration potential with the Web Monetisation Standard
  6. Learnings from integrating WM into Memex
  7. Stretch Goal: Collaborative Collections: Launched

Apart from that we launched several smaller features that were clear user needs coming from the interviews we had:

  • TextExporter to copy-paste search results, page items and annotations in custom formats Screen Shot 2021-05-05 at 09.57.12
  • Readwise integration to be able to automatically send highlights to Readwise and from there to apps like Roam, Notion or Evernote. Made it a premium feature. Gave us a sizeable bump in our revenue.
  • Inbox of saved items to implement "Getting-Things-Done" workflows and get people to "Bookmarks-Zero"

Key Activities Last Month (March)

  • We raised another 25k.
  • We had our highest grossing month in April, earning 1200€ in pure sales, growing by 30%. Also we grew our user base from 15k to 18k free users.
  • 40 Personal User Onboardings/Interviews in the past 3 weeks
    • Main insight: Focus on making Memex cloud-first and enabling Memex users to collaborate with non-Memex users.
    • Secondary insight: Our approach to run the user interviews as productivity consulting worked super well. We had a response rate for our interviews of almost 50% and got very qualitative results and almost all people become new really enthusiastic users that we can further engage with user research and our upcoming supporter plan (similar to Roam's believer plan that charges $500 for 5 years in advance).
  • We have set up our first collaboration through integration into another product, Memex powers their data collection efforts and the ability to use curated content in their editing tools, allowing them to easily reference Memex annotations, and collection pages.

Communications and marketing

As we developed new features we have continuously posted Tweets about this to our larger community. The latest work on the collaboration features we have not yet discussed in public.
We are right now in the phase of doing 1-1 onboarding calls with our existing user base to the collaboration features.
Our approach is to invite them to a "Productivity Consulting Call" going through their research problems in-and-outside of what Memex can provide and through that introduce Memex, discover bugs and new feature requests.
This phase will last for the next 3 months until we have built up enough product maturity and enthusiasm/momentum in our user base to launch Memex.Social publicly.

Next Steps

Moving Memex to the cloud

Because of (bad) legacy feature decisions, Memex was an offline first product, creating immense hurdles for a multi-device experience and good development speed. It's our main blockers to become a scalable and profitable product. Our top priority now is to create a cloud-native experience with eventual offline-support.

Viewing and replying to followed collection's annotations in the context of a page

With this, users can see the annotations of the collections and people they follow in live websites and PDFs, and reply to the threads there.

Developing a bookmarklet or a Via-Service (similar to to view, create and reply to annotations made on pages without having Memex installed

With this, non-Memex users can view and reply with annotations of other people

Enabling Collection subscriptions, like Substack.

From our interviews with a dozen creators in the personal knowledge management space, Substack newsletter authors and bloggers (with about 500k followers), we've seen a big demand for having monetizable collections.
We'd love to do that with the WebMonetizations, but Coil is missing critical features to make that possible. See next section for more info.

What community support would benefit your project?

Unfortunately Coil's payment options are currently very limited, allowing little flexibility in implementing different business models for creators. What is needed is the ability to make one-time or recurring donations to enable both tipping creators and subscription models.

A more extensive summary or our experiences in working with WebMonetizations you can find in the post "Learnings from integrating WM into Memex"

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