Reflections on start-up life: Week 21
Firstly a big thank you to everyone that has been reading this blog and sending their encouragement. I love to get feedback that people out there are listening and I’m not just talking to myself, so thank you.
San Francisco, the major event that has been looming now for several weeks, starts tomorrow. That’s it — there’s no time left for preparation. We are as ready as we can be, however good that is. I strictly speaking shouldn’t be writing this post (other priority things to do), but the commitment to a Monday post is so strong now I don’t want to let it slide.
So we’ve finally managed to get Tribalytic out the door. It’s here http://tribalytic.com — feel free to go and register for a beta invite. We are being restrictive at the moment, mostly because we haven’t got the time to focus on it that we’d like because of the San Francisco thing so we don’t want it to go too nuts while we can’t pay attention. If you sign up we WILL gradually release more over the next couple of weeks.
It’s felt so good in this last week to actually start demonstrating Tribalytic to people. Your rate of learning goes through the roof when you start talking with real potential customers. It’s been a great mix of formal presentations, some casual demos (sat down at the social melbourne breakfast and just showed interested people) and even a few different industries.
The feedback has been really strong in a few areas — the interface is easy to understand (once people figure out the Google control), they love the dynamic nature of it, the related keywords is proving very popular.
There are also a few holes too that need some attention. Now that people can see we can deliver the information, the feedback is turning specifically to how it’s delivered. Ultimately for businesses, a tool they can use to explore data is nice, but somewhere up the line, there is a boss or a client of some description who wants a monthly report. If we can deliver useful information in a pre-formatted way that saves time, that’s real business value right there.
The lesson is that getting out there and talking about it uncovers these things. In every demo, the message is loud and clear that reporting is important. Equally, while Facebook integration is something we’ve considered a problem because we don’t have it, the feedback has generally been that as long as our analysis is good enough, they’d prefer a tool that does Twitter really well, than one that does everything in a mediocre way.
Of course with every step, another dozen steps becomes clear. It always feels like there is plenty to do. The classic now is that because we actually have a product, focus has to be taken from the core technical aspect of it to implement some structure around the experience — a user sign up, beta invites etc. etc. While many of these processes are manual, there is enough there to still take a bit of time to do (and will be needed anyway when we launch for real).
Plugging all the elements together is also invaluable in teaching you how it’s all going. The funniest bug so far is searching for “bunnings” at the moment shows correlations with Easter, Bun, Hot, Cross, Hardware etc. You can see where this is going! We stem the words (reduce the to their common base) before indexing for several reasons (speed, space, generally better search results etc.) but in some instances, it’s a little too agressive. Bunnings (the major Hardware store in Australia) has been stored as Bun, and therefore we get all the interesting correlations with Easter!
- Showing working product to people.
- Spending time with generous individuals willing to look at our product and give us great feedback.
- Feeling like we are really getting somewhere. The light at the end of this tunnel is starting to brighten.
- Finally getting something out the door and loving it!
- Never ending drive to be ready and feeling like we aren’t quite there. We’ll go anyway.
- Always more to be done and not quite getting on top of it.
- Realising there are a few issues in the engine to be resolved still. Not unexpected, or a major problem, but engine work is generally slow.
Goal this week
- San Francisco and Chirp here we come!