November was a hectic month thus I couldn’t get to read as much as I would have liked. I could finish just one book in the entire month
The Everything Store by Brad Stone (4/5)
I’ve been a Twitter user for about 6+ years and have started accessing Twitter via their Android app a few months back. Not surprisingly my usage of Twitter has grown manyfold since I’ve moved from Tweetdeck to Android app, and frankly the reasons are obvious.
1) Great app
2) Continuous availability/access
The android app for twitter is one of the most beautifully (think usability) designed apps. It has just the right buttons at the desired places, most intuitive functionality and easy on the eye. Here’s a little example of the nifty app’s detailing
As you can see, the timeline view has app the possible things a user would want to do
General – Most Used (Excluding replies, discovery etc)
Pertaining to a tweet in Timeline
Now all these are great but an extra case comes for Retweets. Not only would I want to interact with the tweet but I might also want to follow the person whose tweets are being RTed
Yes, that little highlighted icon is what caught my attention. Here ‘Chris Messina’ who I follow, RTed a tweet from Samantha (whom I don’t follow). and Twitter’s app cleverly shows a tiny icon along these tweets which lets users follow the person whose tweets are being RTed. A quick click on this and you are done
That’s a nice example of putting relevant features beautifully without affecting the user experience. I’d love to talk more about the app sometime.
Last week, some of the renown stalwarts of ‘Growth Hacking’ descended to computer history museum, Mt view to share their lessons and experiences at the 3rd “Growth Hackers Conference” organized by Gagan Biyani and Erin Turner. I was tuned in to twitter to follow the action while some of the best minds mesmerized the audience
I recently made a purchase on Amazon.in and couldn’t but wonder at their checkout process. Just too many clicks for comfort.
Here’s how it works at present
Step 1) Product Page
Step 2) Edit Cart or Proceed Page
Step 3) Sign in/Sign up Page
Step 4) Delivery address Page
Step 5) Delivery options page
Step 6) Payment Method Page
Step 7) Review Order Page
Step 8) Billing Address Page
Step 9) Order Completion Page
Phew !! With these many clicks Amazon is making sure that only the users absolutely committed to make a purchase are the ones who make one.
Nine steps to the order confirmation page. Wow. Let’s try to see if we can make things a bit better (less clicky)
Step 5 (Review order page) – Page 4
Though in the new order we are down to Six pages from Nine (33.33% lesser pages). I am sure this can be optimized by at least one more page by clubbing ‘Review Order’ and ‘Delivery Address and Options’ Page. For now 5 pages are good enough.
Eventually a one click checkout for single product purchases is in order .
What do you think?
Despite all the jig bang the Indian cyber space has kinda been hostile to the incumbents of online dating ecosystem. Dating as a concept is yet to catch up here but some of the newly launched mobile apps seemed determined to change that.
Thrill, is one such new dating app on the block ( H/T @pacificleo). Android based and targeted for Indian users.
Founded in Nov 2012 in Singapore by Josh Israel and Devin Serago. The USP of the app is that on Thrill, women have the absolute power to decide which guys to accept and reject.”He applies. She decides” goes the tagline
Apparently women in a man’s network have to approve for him to be able to join. Not sure, how it is actually implemented though
Let’s check out the app
1) Welcome Screen
The metros figure up on top of the list followed by other cities arranged alphabetically. Good thing
3) Apply & Wait
Thrill isn’t an open platform (at least it wasn’t when I used it for the first time last month). You apparently are placed in a queue to verify your profile and make it look exclusive. A social share in hopes of moving up the queue is a bonus. I didn’t share socially but got an approval in a day or so
We will only connect you both if the feeling is mutual
4) Gender Selection, Sign up and Social profile Access
Three screens to select gender, choose sign up via social profile and then grant access is an overkill.
Show screen 4b) first and add profile access disclaimer there itself. Ask for gender only if the user hasn’t filled in their gender in their profile.
Also, WHO/WHY would anybody sign in with their Linkedin Profile on a dating app? I’d be really interested in knowing what % of signups happen through linkedin. (Use Twitter or Google instead)
Comments: As a first time user, I have no clue what a “Match Batch” is and what’s the deal with “Points”. Anyways, I’d click “Start Your Thrill” as the call to action is quite powerful.
6) Starting Thrill
a) Select Category
Comments: This screen isn’t that intuitive, some overlays would help a newbie figure out how to go ahead.
b) Rate Category
Rating a category bit didn’t seem needed and also added an unnecessary extra step in the flow
7) See Matches
Based on how you rated various items you are presented an unlock batch of matches, you can unlock some of them initially by shaking your phone or eventually by buying credits (Freemium mode #goodone)
This page where the user is supposed to choose how many points do they want to purchase isn’t quite clear. I am not sure if Deal 3 is for 500 points or 500 Rs. Also, some help on how much is 1 point for, and a few basic FAQs in form of a link etc would be of appreciated.
Overall the app seems to be very neatly designed(UI and UX), is fairly fast and has an interesting take on dating. The concept of rating various categories and items in them to be able to find a matching profile is fairly intuitive.
Initially it had some bugs (app freezing or crashing during certain events) which were fixed in subsequent updates.
I haven’t used dating apps so don’t really know what the ideal/expected scenario is. Do users keep using the app actively or they find a match or two and leave?
Apart from the extended workflows required for certain actions I am apprehensive on how would they solve the
Customer On boarding- 3/5
Look and Feel – 4/5
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
The concept of conversion funnel is quite old and surprisingly still not as widely used/referred to. Be it an e-commerce website or a social network, there are two, rather three aspects of workflow and analytics
For e-commerce sites aka pipes the conversion is applicable for customers only, while for social networks and other sites aka platforms where value is created and consumed by two parties we have to keep in mind conversion for both of them to be able to achieve the end goal.
Let’s consider a job portal and see what the conversion funnel for it will look like.
Note: All these steps don’t necessarily need to be followed in the same order. For ex: A visitor can land directly at a job listing page via Google search
The above mentioned four points are the simplest way to accomplish task of applying for a job but there could be a lot of other variants which though complex/indirect but would still reach to same goal. For instance instead of clicking on a job category page link the user does a search and goes to search listing page. One way to look at such alternate paths is to create a funnel for each one of them
These are some of the possible routes (for ex: some visitors would neither search or browse and just exist from home page itself). In best case scenario you should know precisely the split of people who searched, browsed and existed. Further, you should create separate funnels or each search and browse loops.
Let’s say the home page had 100 visitors. Searched = 30, Browsed = 55, Exits = 15
The conversion funnel for search would look like
Visits (100) -> Search (30) -> View job listings(10) -> Apply(2)
The conversion funnel for browse would look like
Visits (100) -> Browse(55)
1) -> View job category page (15) -> View job listings(10) -> Apply(3)
2) -> View job listings(40) -> Apply(5)
By considering the drop off at each stage you would be able to pin point the problem. For instance if only 1/3rd people are clicking to view job listings after search, maybe the search isn’t that efficient and needs to be worked upon. You could further zoom into this by dividing all searches into two categories.
In the above example only 20 searches had results against them, which means the click through rate for search is 50% and not 33% as perceived earlier. Now could consider improving this rate and on the side figure out how to reduce the cases in which no search results were shown.
Similarly from View listing to Apply. You can break this task into the below mentioned to be able to see the exact stage of drop off
View job listing -> Click Apply Button -> Login/Signup -> Apply
I’d end this post by stating that, you should try to use the workflows/flowcharts to identify various stages of a user goal and then analyze data across them to be able to identify the issues and fix them
To be continued…
Here are some of my favorite quotes for anyone fascinated by data
If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine. – Jim Barksdale
PS: Top 15 is the new top 10
Just like “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department”, for start-ups
Hiring is too important to be left to the HR department.
In the previous post I talked about ‘Who to hire for your start-up‘. Many of you agreed to most of what I shared so the next question that comes out is how to hire these guys. As @mohak put it brilliantly
Recruitment is marketing. If you can’t hire well, you can’t market well
If like most others you are finding it incredibly hard to recruit your A team here are some obvious and not so obvious tips
These 10 ways should help you with your hiring. Do share what you think about them and if you have any experiences around start-up hiring that others can benefit from
Update: Here’s another super geeky way to pick up nerds
Hiring is undoubtedly one of the hardest part of doing a start-up. Getting the right set of people to work for you is easier said than done and almost every start-up founder is in ‘always hiring’ mode.
Despite the fact that there are a lot of cool(and many funded/profitable) startups run by some really smart folks with a vision, they are unable to attract/find the right kind of talent and end up with mediocre to bad hires.
Given the dynamic nature of a start-up the last thing founders want is to hire somebody who isn’t sharing the same vision, thinking on the same frequency(macro level) and walking the same path. Not only are bad hires bad for the roles they are hired for, they are terrible for the company culture in general and set the barrier low for other/potential hires and might just end up setting the company back instead of moving it forward.
Traits of BAD Start-up Hires
As an entrepreneur you must always be thinking about iterating the hiring process and make sure that even if you move to other bigger things, the people who take hiring calls must be on the exact wavelength as you and should not hire people just to fill roles. You MUST make sure that the person who is in charge of hiring should be A class her/himself and is always thinking on how to get incredible people on board and also how to make the workplace best suitable for brilliant people.
I’m particularly rigid about hiring great people and feel very strongly about it as I believe a bad hire can actually undermine the speed and efficiency of one(or more) good hires. Not only will they take up time, they will leave you with bad aftertaste which will last for a while, so it is best to hire people who will not just be at par with your expectations and company culture but are likely to take things to the next level.
Formula for a Great Hire
Great Start-up Hire = Smart + Passionate + Committed to your cause
So you should evaluate your hires for these 3 parameters, the ways you choose could be different but it is critical to evaluate them on all these parameters. A fancy yet apt term for some such hires is “Entrepreneurial Lieutenants”. These guys are what I call “Mini-CEOs” who take complete ownership of their respective divisions and run the show mostly on their own. A major thing that I look for is “compliance”, it is very important to make sure that people start following what you tell them almost immediately. Anybody who doesn’t take this seriously won’t last for me.
Some of the ways which I use while hiring are
a) Love for product/service – It’s best to find someone who’s a happy customer and wants to spread your message
b) Love for domain – Next best is to find someone who is passionate about the domain in which your start-up works. Someone who believes in better healthcare deep inside will come out with a lot of creativity and empathy for your customers
c) Love for founding/core team – Someone who is in awe of the founders or core team and wants to work with them is another reason.
Another great thing about committed people is that they think “Long Term” which is a huge differentiator. The sheer fact that someone is thinking of spending the next 3-5 years (yes, it’s as long term as it gets in most startups) or more implies that they’ll be motivated enough not only to do their job well but also go out of the way to do things that’ll help the startup become better in various other aspects for which they might not be directly responsible/accountable just like we all do things for our family or friends where we are emotionally invested.
It is painful to see start-up’s not thinking about hiring hard enough and making sure the right hires are given all the freedom and autonomy to weave their own stories. I like how @tarunmatta puts it, if someone would to write a story on your start-up who do you think would be the key characters (except you) ?
If the answer is none or 1-2, you have a huge task at hand. You need people to build upon the vision and spread it along with you. These people are the ones who would be almost as sensitive or paranoid about the big and small things alike and would spend endless hours obsessing about problems your startup is trying to solve and how to come up with beautiful solutions.
I know enough founders who are brilliant but someone haven’t been able to manage to build a great middle level management (for the lack of a better/startupy word). You need driven people who will manage various aspects of the business and relieve you of your routine tasks so that you can solve higher order problems. They will also help in making sure your vision/company culture is embedded in the team at large. Do all you can to hire these folks
If you can get someone who is smart, passionate and committed to your cause, give them enough salary to keep money out of the table for now and next few years to come. Also, whenever possible offer them ESOPs. Incidentally I haven’t heard many start-up founders talk about ESOPs but I am a big believer is offering ESOPs to folks who you think would be instrumental in charting the course of your company. ESOPs in many cases will get you more loyalty than $$ which any other company could offer and with ESOPs (however small) the employee has another reason to push the envelope harder and make sure that the company makes it big for them to benefit.
Recommended Read - The Mechanics of Mafia (Peter Theiel’s Startup Class Notes by Blake Masters)
So, what do you think about ‘Start-up’ Hiring?