Another step on our journey: Appreciate the trip & the feedback
We just launched our beta and we received some feedback in the last few days. It was tiring but it helps us learn a lot. As a product manager and as startups, we forget sometimes something important. There is always something to learn and we are on a path of never ending learning.
I feel weird right now. A sentiment of pride mixed with excitement. My cofounder, I know, feels the same thing. Last week, we finally launched our beta. We were ready for it and we achieved a level of quality that we wanted. Now it needs some tests before we start to work on new stuff.
A launch, even just a beta, is always different depending on the product, depending on the time you spent working on it, depending on the vision you had. You always have mixed feelings.
The whole process of building an app is epic. It’s a beautiful process. In one blogpost, I explained the reasons why every product manager, every entrepreneur should build their own app. The reasons are all valid and this is why I love this job, I love creating my product and being excited about it. I also love helping others in creating their products. And it’s only if you slow down sometimes that you notice it. It’s only if you slow down, that you are really in the moment to live it, to enjoy it. If you only look at the result, you are for sure, going to be disappointed.
With everything going so fast, so quick, we are impatient and pretty bad at appreciating things that we have right in front of us. Since we can’t stay in the same place for too long, we jump on the next thing without appreciating what we just accomplished. We just go forward because there is nothing else to do, right? We don’t see all the journey, all the climbing.
This is why we slowed down and decided to write this blogpost. We want to document more of our journey. We document it for those who want to read it and maybe push other people to do the same. Being able to know what happens when the door is closed is really hard.
Beta: a step in a journey
ReponseIO is a social listening and engagement tool. We wanted to build a tool that gives you the power back. We wanted to build a platform which help you listen easily to your community. Get to know who is engaged. Get to find out what people say about you and get a sentiment analysis of your conversations.
We didn’t do everything we wanted in our vision. We are not quite there yet. And it’s normal, you have to say stop in the journey. You have to build what you need and nothing more. You have to go out and get feedback.
So we started by this first version with a tiny part of our vision. We built an inbox for your social media accounts. You can add as many accounts as you want from Facebook and Twitter. You can also answer any message, review the sentiment of each of them, like them if they are public and finally answer them. You can’t miss anything, you can engage and react when your followers are engaging.
The beta was a way for us to make a checkpoint, a reality check of where we were. We wanted to know how people felt about our app. We wanted to stress our app and see what was working and what was not.
“The journey, the trip is also a learning process. If you slow down you can get more from it”
The beta is a good point to stop and think about what you have been doing until that point. This point that you just reached, does it makes sense? Are you still getting what you want?
There is no right timing for a beta. It doesn’t have to be necessarily at the beginning of your product. You can do a beta whenever you want. Each time you have a new feature or a new side of your product you want to try out and get feedback on. Each time this beta is a learning process.
The learning part of the journey
We didn’t talk yet to all our beta testers (and we want to!) so all the things that we learned until now was from observation, getting through the data and reviewing the logs of the app.
I think a sentence really well known in the startup world is “Get out of the building!” from the book Lean Startup by Eric Ries, we all aim to talk to as many people as we can. We want to understand their needs, we want to understand what they want. It’s difficult to be sure that we clearly identified their wishes. We have a certain guess before building anything. A beta is a stepping stone to clarify that guess. Some people will say that the beta and the MVP are two different things. The MVP should be a bit less than your beta. It depends on you, on your capacity. In our case, the inbox was the beta and the MVP.
The good thing is that today, a lot of tools help startups to learn more on their product and on their users. As I said, in another blogpost, we are using three tools + 1 for our app. We are using Intercom, Hotjar and Facebook. The +1 is Mailchimp that we use to contact our beta testers. Those tools were part of our journey and part of our learning process. We used them and the backend of our app to get feedback.
Obviously as you can imagine, not everything went as it was supposed to. It was impossible to connect on the first day. The messages were not loading. People got some trouble with the email signup. At least, some of our beta testers warned us and we thank them for that! We could restart the server and look at the problem and react quickly.
What I can say is:
“Be prepared for chaos, it will never go as you expect”
Feedback is an infinite loop
I see feedback as an infinite loop, it’s like you are getting information on a hypothesis, an assumption. Then you build something and you get feedback on it, whether it’s from tools or from people directly. Then you start again and again. In my other jobs as product manager, it was the hardest part. Always thinking that I was not knowing anything and I needed to start back again. Tangible data, qualitative data became like learning to breathe…
This is why I think that HUMILITY is one of the best qualities of product managers and startup people.
“Humility is something you need as well as a low ego.”
If you feel that you know everything and you arrive with big assumptions and never check if you are right or wrong (or didn’t even think you can be wrong), you will put energy in a lost cause. There is a difference between being convinced by an idea and being certain of something. Your ego and your passion can work for your project and your product. You have to put your ego in your project and not the other way around or it will fail.
As said above, the first feedback we took was a technical one. We looked at the different logs and what people had been doing in the app.
We also took a look at the different KPIs to understand how they were connecting, how many accounts they were linking and also the number of messages. How many they were liking and answering?
We tried to identify and solve everything that could be an impediment in the journey.
The biggest obstacle we noticed was the onboarding just after connecting the accounts. ReponseIO took some time to display to the user what was loaded in the backend.
We resolved that soon enough. We are now in the second phase of getting feedback, which is the conversational one.
Do you want to give us feedback?
Now, we are working on the next steps. We are re-doing the whole process and it will not be the last time. We are working on giving people more data and getting control of their community. Data which will help to know who is engaged and help act on it. ReponseIO is like a castle. We have been steadily working on the foundation. Without good foundations your castle, your product is going down one day or another. It’s just a question of time.
We hope it gave you a little glimpse at our adventure. Each and every one of our beta testers are going to receive a personal communication from me. And so could you.
“Do things that don’t scale” and “do it manually first to learn as much as you can” this is what we believe in and this is why we want to talk to all our beta users and as many people as we can.
Is there something you are missing from your social media tool? We are going to soon start a competition with giveaways for our community so follow us!!!
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