Pivoting with 3,500 users

Posted by Benjamin Dell Benjamin Dell on .

This is post number 2 in a series where Benjamin Dell, Updatey's founder and CEO, shares his experiences building the company, hunting down KPI metrics, experimenting with growth hacking, customer development and, most importantly, his love for failing fast and early.

You've launched your product, people are signing up, paying in fact! Everything's progressing as it should.

Except it's not.

We had over 3,500 registered users, yet - and let's just call it entrepreneur's intuition - I just knew the product wasn't working as effectively as it should be.

This is the position I found myself in after launching Updatey back in January 2014. A month in, and although we were making money, I could see quite plainly, that the conversion, adoption and churn rates were way off. Something had to be done. The question is, do you market harder (the answer's no), tweak the existing product (possibly yes, but knowing when to stop tweaking is important) or pivot the product entirely?

With user churn at 35.7%, something had to be done

When you see that people signing up to your product just aren't converting to paid customers, then you know it's time to get real. Bottom line: "you're just not delivering on your promises". Assuming your product functionally works (i.e. it isn't crashing) then arriving at this conclusion should ultimately lead you to challenge yourself on the product's "raison d'être".

Back to basics

Reminding yourself about the reasons why you built your product in the first place is a good place to start. In the case of Updatey, our objective has always been to help keep project managers, their teams, clients and stakeholders in the loop without getting caught up with the 'clutter' that many PM tools seem to bring with them. It was this mission, that I felt we had departed from a little. Sure, our timeline is gorgeous and does a pretty good job at presenting the progress of your project to those that need to know, but you still had to invite people to first register at Updatey before they could view it and even then, there's always more information you'd need to show them other than just the timeline.

On the other hand, we were seeing a bunch of users loving the concept behind Updatey, but leaving due to a lack of more advanced (and let's be honest, fairly standard) features such as being able to assign users to tasks, defining dependencies and commenting on milestones. The list goes on.

With the above in mind, it was clear that our renewed objectives should be two-fold:

  • To make it even easier for project managers to share the status of their project with their team, clients and stakeholders - in effect, to go back to the original, founding principles of Updatey.
  • To add a new suite of Project Management tools (in an 'Updatey' way of course) to enable our customers to manage their projects entirely in Updatey.

Pivoting is an inherently destructive task

Or it certainly can be if your aim is to tackle some pretty big problems. We're now feverishly working on Updatey version 2, causing us to re-write entire sections of the site. The net effect, will be a leaner, meaner - ok, prettier and more effective - Updatey.

If anything should be learnt from this process, it's that no matter how much research, planning and thought you put into the product when delivering the first version, you are just never going to know how effective it is in the marketplace until... well, until it's in the marketplace. Be prepared, open and honest about challenging your initial ideas and just get on with it. Which reminds me, I really should be getting back to work.

If there is a specific topic you'd like me to talk about, I can be reached on Twitter @bendell