After 161 Subscriber Conversations...

Case Study: The Bottleneck

Hey everyone,

A different post today instead of the usual deep dive into a company.

I want to share the results of the conversations I’ve had after talking with 161 (!) subscribers in the past ten days. And how you can still add to the roadmap if I haven’t had a chance to talk with you.

But first, a summary of how we started the Bottleneck.

The Bottleneck was a complete accident.

In October 2023, I quit my job as the COO of a YC-backed startup called At Firstbase, we helped over 30,000 startup founders incorporate and manage their businesses. Our office was in NYC, the company was growing, and I loved my job.

But I had to quit because I was about to go through a major life event. My wife and I would have our first kid in January 2024.

So, with no plan for the future, I quit my high-paying gig in October 2023.

Naturally, the first thing I thought to do was write my story on X. And the tweet went viral with over 100,000 people seeing the message (well, viral for me, who had 300 followers at the time). This is the tweet:

By January of this year, we hit 10,000 subscribers and I decided to experiment. I sent out a survey in January to understand what a paid membership program could potentially look like.

I received a variety of requests, including:

  • Software tools

  • A community of operators

  • Notion templates

  • Deep dives on other companies

And more.

So I decided to build all of them! On Feb 1st, we went live and have grown to 60 paid members.

However, I wasn’t satisfied with the results. I’ve seen some awesome and not-so-awesome usage with the membership.

I decided to dial in the offer for The Bottleneck newsletter and the Bottleneck+ Membership.

I spoke to 161 subscribers. These people included:

  • COOs of the fast scaling companies

  • Small business owners trying to figure out how to scale

  • Hungry young managers looking to figure out how to 10x their productivity

Here are the top 3 charts that helped me determine my Q2 roadmap.

Chart 1: What people love about The Bottleneck.

People love The Bottleneck! Well, some parts anyway. My key takeaways are:

  • I’ve nailed the formatting of the newsletter, from brand to content structures

  • Readers like you prefer more in-depth analysis than surface-level information

  • Operational content is tough to find so The Bottleneck is scratching that itch

Chart 2: What people want The Bottleneck to work on

And some people REALLY don’t like The Bottleneck. These were my takeaways from these conversations on where I could improve:

  • My efforts to monetize through paid membership and ads disrupt the reading experience.

  • People don’t have the time to read these newsletters. Many skim to get to the content they want to read. A few suggested sending shorter emails daily instead of weekly.

  • The paid membership has too much going on. The offer needs to be more clear.

Chart 3: What people wished The Bottleneck offered

If you notice what people requested, they are all similar.

You all wanted to build deep connections to help develop yourself into a better operator.

A place where you could share ideas, war stories, and get help solving problems from people who have faced these issues before.

Thanks to everyone who chatted with me. As I move forward, The Bottleneck will change for the better.

Please respond to this email if you want to provide any other feedback that I might have missed.

It could be a compliment, what I could fix, or something else you would like me to offer. I read every single email!

So now what?

You know me. I have a thousand and one ideas (I’m that rare idea guy AND builder). But I want to make sure I provide the right product to you.

I’m still digesting all the conversations I’ve had the last week.

Here’s my promise to you.

I’ll give you the step-by-step game plan on Wednesday.


If you’re as pumped as me, can you respond to this email with a “Deal”?

Chat soon,

Rameel from The Bottleneck


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