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Hackernoon logoHow To Overcome All Challenges And Create A Great Password Manager App by@keepsolid

How To Overcome All Challenges And Create A Great Password Manager App

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@keepsolidKeepSolid

We create online security and productivity solutions. Our products: VPN Unlimited, Passwarden, Goals, and others

Creating a new product is never easy. From the moment you come up with a new idea to the moment you actually launch it, months--if not years--can pass. And after your product launches, you need to make sure that you never stop improving it, so you don’t fall behind your competition.  KeepSolid has already brought several products to market, and each of them has had its own successes and challenges. Here’s the story of our journey to launch our latest product, Passwarden.

Our path to success actually began with one of our first products, a virtual private network solution called VPN Unlimited. At the time of its launch, we only had about 10 competitors.  Most of them had a very “greedy” monetization model: They charged customers based on their amount of traffic and connection speed. When we entered the market with VPN Unlimited, its name spoke for itself. We didn't charge customers based on their connection speed or their traffic volume; our subscription model was based only on the amount of time the user had paid for (one week, one month, etc).

At that time we only had four employees, one iOS application and two servers (one in Los Angeles, and another in the Netherlands). Now we have 100 people on our team, and we support all popular platforms--iOS, macOS, Windows, Android, Linux, browser extensions, and profiles for WiFi routers. We provide services to 25 million users on 500+ servers around the world.

In addition, we’ve launched a White Label program for partners, so they can easily create their own VPN applications or use our software development kit (SDK) to protect traffic for their products. 

This might have been a nice time to just relax and enjoy our success. But by 2019, a new trend was starting: Our competitors began to team up with manufacturers of other products, or began to create their own additional services. As a result, our VPN solution started to lose its position in the market.

Keeping Ahead of the Competition 

We realized that we needed to take the next step and create a product that would maintain our competitive advantage.  First and foremost,  we wanted to build on all our experience in encryption and data protection--because our mission was to protect the privacy of every person who uses the internet!

We did some research, and were surprised to find that fewer than 5% of web users worldwide use password managers. This eventually led us to the idea for our new product, Passwarden: A password manager offering encryption that’s so strong, only the user has access to their data.

But to persuade people to use our password manager, we needed to provide applications that worked on all platforms. We also needed to stand out from the competition, so we added several features that weren’t originally in our work plan. These included a “duress mode,” which lets users enter a special password that deletes all sensitive data. We also added two-factor authentication and the option for customers to share passwords and data with other authorized users. Adding the sharing feature required fundamental changes to our encryption algorithm and the storage of encryption keys, so we decided to include it in the product right from the start. This means that people who use any version of Passwarden are able to share their passwords with others, just by choosing that option from the main menu.  

We didn’t seek any outside investment to build this product, so the launch turned out to be a serious challenge: To bring Passwarden to market, we needed a team of 30-40 people.

We decided to shift employees off of several other projects and form a dedicated Passwarden team.

It was a conscious risk: Work on other products stopped and we knew that Passwarden would not  generate any revenue until at least a year after the project started. But we decided to do it, because we were facing stiff competition--and as the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention.” And because we were under pressure to succeed, we were able to achieve much more than we normally would. 

Challenges on the Road to Success 

As is often the case in software companies, for 80% of the time the project went as planned and we didn’t experience any problems. But closer to the end of the project, issues began to appear: Development on different platforms was going at different speeds. At the same time, for mobile and desktop platforms there were already established rules of work and libraries for encryption--but for the web client, we had to make more of an effort to ensure that the encryption was reliable and the application was easy to use. 

We also wanted to make sure that users could log into Passwarden with the same account they used for our other products, like VPN Unlimited. But to protect Passwarden accounts, we had to enable two-factor authentication--which meant adding that feature to our entire product line.This resulted in a lot of unplanned work--but we couldn't postpone the product release, because the costs for developing Passwarden were increasing and we didn’t have revenue to cover them.  We were quickly approaching the point of no return. 

What helped us overcome these obstacles? The answer is simple: Our team. By this point in our company’s trajectory, KeepSolid’s staff were people who really believed in the idea of Passwarden. If we had tried to solve these problems through traditional management approaches, we would have been forced to choose between attracting additional resources, extending the development timeline, or reducing the product’s features. But when team members are truly invested in a project, these calculations aren’t needed: All team members focus all their efforts and abilities on the project--enabling it to be delivered on budget, on time, and with a full feature set.

The end result is Passwarden, an industry-leading product that keeps your passwords--and your data--safe across all platforms. Passwarden users have access to free customer support, with a team working 24/7 and aiming to provide answers within 3 minutes of receiving a request.

Passwarden users can also add MonoDefense--a package of security products that includes our VPN Unlimited virtual private network solution. A MonoDefense subscription costs only $5.80 per month when purchased for a year, and a Passwarden subscription costs $3.30 per month if purchased separately.

Believe it or not, today we’re still at the start of our product development roadmap for Passwarden: We’re constantly working to improve the product and release new features, and we’re preparing to enter the market of family and corporate use. We also want to reach customers around the world, so we’re adding new languages and localizations.

Passwarden is currently available in English, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, and Turkish--and this is just the beginning. We’re also adding new products to the MonoDefense package in 2021. As always, we’re very interested in receiving feedback from our users. Tell us about your experience with Passwarden, and what you’d like to see next--and we’ll integrate your suggestions into our product development plan.

When you create a new product, obstacles are inevitable. The competition never sleeps, and you’re constantly racing to scale up and improve. 

But with the right mindset and persistence, you can overcome challenges and see your idea through until it becomes a reality. That’s the beauty of the Passwarden story.

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