We made the decision early on to be an "invite only" service. While it may seem counterintuitive at first, deliberately adding a barrier to potential customers, it makes sense for us. Many companies these days measure success with page views and subscriber counts, and any new member is welcome, whether they are a real person or an automated spam bot from the other side of the world. Anything to pump up that subscriber count is A-OK.
Fuzl is different. We measure our success by the impact we have on our students. One way we know we've done right by our students is if they (or their parents) are happy enough with their results that they are willing to recommend us to their friends and family. If our member count never exceeds the "hundreds" we'll be perfectly happy and can build a sustainable business we can be proud of.
A very large membership comes with a steep security cost, especially when it is filled with spammers and bots. Once spammers and bots are "inside" your site, they are much more capable of wreaking havoc. Our members include kids, so we are extremely concerned with their privacy and safety. Making the site invite only gives us a tactical defensive advantage. If the only people who can sign in are friends and family, or at least real people we've talked to ourselves, we are much more likely to keep things running smoothly and safely.
We did consider the fact that we are placing a small burden on our members by asking them to send out invitations. While this is certainly true, there's an argument to be made that this process benefits them as well. By keeping the site limited to real people, and ideally invited people who are more likely to fit in well with our culture, they are helping to improve our collective experience and security, including their own.
Finally, we considered the fact that this process involves an existing member sending an email or text to a person who's potentially never heard of us. This may raise a privacy concern from the recipient, i.e. "Did my friend just share my email with some random company?" With Fuzl, the answer is a resounding "No." While many companies require inviters to enter the email address of the invitee, and then ask you to trust they won't retain the email address, our system never even sees the invitee's contact information. We provide the inviter with a "join" link and they email or text it to the invitee directly. Again, it is slightly more work to send the invite, but keeps the invitee's info private.
One note of disclosure for the invite system: for invitees who use the "join" link, we do keep a record of who invited who. While this is some minor "tracking," which we try to avoid as much as possible, there is a security benefit. If we ever have a malicious user get "inside" and they start inviting other bad actors, we will have the capability to identify and mitigate the damage. We think this is worth the minor bit of tracking.