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Relationship Status: It's Not That Complicated

Abby Sullivan Mar 24 2020


Today, we take a look at 3D printing for COVID-19 testing. Plus, we're conjuring up the power of mentors and doubling down on relationships. 



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Recurring relationships: not complicated

Zuora Founder Tien Tzuo says, "Now is the time to double down on relationships."

We’re seeing a lot of solid input com in from founders, entrepreneurs, and C-suite level execs during a time of pandemic—in health, in safety, and in business.

And Tien’s latest is no exception. 

But why relationships? Tien is highlighting the power of subscription by pinpointing the effects of COVID-19 on every party in the recurring revenue relationship—which we know to be the core of the operation (and if you're not regularly checking in on these relationships with a number of metrics, you're setting yourself up to fail).  

We've seen the subscription business model rise immensely in popularity in recent years. The industry grew 350% between 2012 and 2019, and subscription businesses amped up revenues about five times faster than S&P 500 company revenues during that time. And with good reason. 

“If you’re running a subscription business that hasn’t been immediately affected [during the pandemic], you are probably grateful for the power of recurring revenue to help you weather this storm,” Tien writes.

Because unlike one-off sales, you can count on recurring revenue as a stable base of future income, and you aren't looking at a precipitous drop in revenue and the need to slash expenses to boot. 

For larger businesses who are relatively new to digital services, or are just beginning to test the waters, Tien says now is actually a good time to move forward. Simply put: You’ll want to have these services ready to go when the economy comes roaring back. "Nothing about this moment changes the broader macroeconomic shift towards subscriptions and services." If anything there's a rediscovering of the importance of these two. 

On the flip side: For the subscribers out there, Tien pleads, continue to support the services and organizations you like and find worthwhile. This business model works both ways, and now's the time to shine your loyalty on the companies doing it well. 

And finally, for the locals: If you’re a local business that doesn’t currently offer a monthly subscription or a membership plan, he advises you to consider doing so. Gartner research predicts that in 2020, all new entrants to the software market and 80% of existing companies will offer some sort of subscription package.

You likely have current loyal customers that would love to support you, and capitalizing on brand loyalty can get you far. Make happy customers into happy subscribers. Because dedicated customers are the bread and butter of a successful ROI

This isn't to say that starting a subscription company is easy. With a heavy reliance on recurring customer relationships, the subscription model requires constant focus on providing long-term value. Providing that level of consistent and compounding value can happen only when businesses understand their customers at their core—and that happens early on with the planning of the company.

If you're a beginner in the market, we have some sage advice: We put together a nine-step checklist that walks you through how to create a subscription service. Click here for our Complete Experts Guide to Building a Subscription Business

If the (Zuora-coined) Subscription Economy is about anything, we can attest, it’s a fundamental return to relationships. It’s not about transaction, but connection.


Don't go looking for perfect

David Cancel talks mentors.

I'm always on high alert for DC's newsletter to arrive in my inbox. We know him as the LL Cool J-loving, five-time founder, investor, ProfitWell neighbor, and good guy over at Drift. The cool thing about his newsletter? It's comprised of the exact email content he sends to his team each Sunday. (So it feels like we're on the inside operation.) 

This go-round, he's bringing to light: mentors. Because in this business, the power of mentors is hard to deny. “I talk about mentors so much because I discovered the power of modeling so late in life,” David confides. “I grew up in a time and place where I never heard of or was taught about this powerful idea.” 

We've heard the same from folks in this space before, like Chief Instigator and mentor himself, Dan Martell, who says that mentors were the pivoting factor for him in completely turning his life around. (We're talking high-speed car chases and time in prison to seriously respected personal and professional growth milestones). 

So what's the talk about? How do you find said mentors? Do you dedicate your search far and wide, or do they simply appear out of thin air? I admittedly have never sought out a mentor, and have been lucky enough to find them in facets of my life in natural ways. 

Although I understand some aren't as fortunate in this realm. So seeking a mentor out might just be your play. DC knows it's important to know what to look for, but perhaps just as useful to know what not to. People make big mistakes here, like: 

Looking for perfect
The biggest mistake that prevents people from ever finding a mentor is searching for perfection. We're all flawed. Focus on the positives you can extract. 

Asking first vs. giving first
As Jim Rohn said, "poor people should take rich people out to dinner.” Most people expect successful people to give to them vs. giving in turn. Your potential mentor has something you need and you probably don't have much to give them. Remember to give before ever asking for something in return—because the price of that is well worth it. 

Aiming too high
Make your mistakes with early mentors. Don't make them with your dream mentor. Like anything else worthwhile, it's a skill you have to learn. Work your way up. And keep upgrading your mentors as you progress. 

And he leaves us with a hack: The ideal mentor is in-person. Because with this, you learn via osmosis. If that’s impossible, DC says, lean on books and YouTube videos to encapsulate yourself in what they have to offer. 

We’re curious to hear who your mentors are—whether they’re well known publicly or a member of your close knit circle. Is finding a mentor even a worthwhile venture? Or is this just another fluffy "growth hack"? Send me your thoughts to

You can also sign up for DC's newsletter, The One Thing, here


Formlabs support for COVID-19 response

3D print swabs might be in the future for pandemic testing.

The team at Formlabs, creators of 3D printing hardware who also offer a subscription service for printing pros, is joining forces with a leading Boston-based hospital (and several others around the country) to 3D print swabs used for COVID-19 testing. With the latest design, the team is able to print almost 300 swabs per build platform on the Form 3B with the same biocompatible, autoclavable material as Surgical Guide Resin, a biocompatible material designed for 3D printing. 

At present, the Formlabs crew has 1,000 printers ready to help. The process is undergoing clinical evaluation, but when it’s been clinically-assessed and ready to print, Formlabs will alert its community. 

They’re also reaching out to that community to connect those in need with those who have engineering, clinical, and 3D printing resources to offer. If you are working on COVID-19 related projects and need access to 3D printed parts, or if you have access to 3D printers and are willing to volunteer your time and equipment in the fight against the pandemic, they’ll do their best to connect available printers and relevant services to the people who need them most.

Will Formlabs help shape the future of testing? There's a lot to discuss here, as the coronavirus conversation is everchanging and, seemingly, everlasting. You can always reach me at I'm all ears. 

If you're interested in volunteering or know others that may be, head here for all the signup info. you need. 

That’s it for your March 24 episode of Recur Now. If you are not already on the list to receive daily episodes, head to to sign up.

This has been a Recur Studios production—the fastest-growing subscription network out there. If you find use for this show, subscribe for more like it at

By Abby Sullivan

Content Marketer

Subscription market insights you won't find anywhere else.