Anatomy of a Startup One Week After Launch

Our entire business is built on the idea that people can be trusted to do the right thing. It’s part of the reason why we let our customers set their own price. We have resellers where it makes sense to allow them to set the economics of the relationship, but we extend the philosophy to our direct customers as well.

When you let a customer set the price, you are doing something special. You’re earning their trust rather than demanding it.

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This type of business carries with it an expectation of transparency. It’s important that we are transparent about our performance as a business, as it helps to build that trust we are seeking. Not just the usual nonsense of “hey we just landed eleventy-seven new customers”, but real, honest transparency. So transparent that it hurts.

So let’s give that a crack.

We launched last week – how did it go?

Actually to be correct, we launched last Wednesday into a public beta. That probably means nothing to you unless you are immersed in the world of startups, so let me explain.

Public Beta: You can use the product and it should be okay, but every now and then shit will blow up.

So far very little has blown up, which makes this the most stable software we have ever released into the wild. It’s the little victories.

Give us the metrics already

Let’s share, because I love this stuff.

The three measurements we care about most deeply are:

  1. How many people signed up
  2. How many events have been made
  3. How many tickets have been sold

With each of those, we closely track whether they are growing, dropping or remaining flat.

The initial email

Over the last six months we have used content extensively to build a list of 689 people interested in Attendly. We sent an email to all of them on the day we launched to ask them to create an account and have a play.

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So 96 people took action and clicked the link to create the account? Yay!

Hang on. That’s just 14% of the list isn’t it? Boo!

Lesson learned: Building a list prior to launch is a great idea, but it doesn’t mean you won’t be ignored when you open for business. Getting someone’s attention is hard. Keeping it is even harder.

How many signed up?

We have been open for about a week, so here is the data from the 3rd of April to the 10th of April.

km_signups_3april_10april

That initial bump is the email blast bringing about 30 a day, with the numbers settling down to a much lower daily average of 5 in the second half of the week. Not altogether unexpected. Our aim is to consistently drive 500 or more signups a month, so at this run rate we are probably 25% of the way there.

The signup conversion rate is the percentage of people who hit our signup page and then proceeded to make an account.

km_signup_conversion_3april_10april

A signup rate of close to 50% is not abnormal, but it does mean that more than half of the audience ran away after hitting our sign up form.

People are hard to convince.

Lesson Learned: People will not magically sign up in large numbers just because you have spent 18 months writing code. Growth will come from great marketing, across multiple channels and over a sustained period of time.

Where did they come from?

For those of us who work exclusively on the internet, the world really is flat. Which I imagine is a comforting thought for the members of the Flat Earth Society.

countries_april3rd_april10th

Lesson Learned: If you are a member of the Flat Earth Society, you are a muppet.

What happened once they signed up?

We use Kissmetrics to track in-app behaviour, and we play close attention to activation points and revenue generating activities. Our activation point at launch was:

After signing up, did you create an event?

km_activation_3april_10april

That gives us an overall activation rate of 55%, which isn’t a bad start. As we get more sophisticated, we will start to care more about whether that event you created had a paid ticket, and whether you sold any of them.

If you are a reseller, you can create “clients” on our system and give them their own login, including detailed permissions. Did anyone create a client?

km_client_3april_10april

Only 6 people created a client? Clearly we have some work to do.

Have we made any money?

I got excited when I checked out Kissmetrics the day after launch and saw this:

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Turns out that was just our CTO Andy doing a test. I guess the tracking works Andy – thanks for that.

So no real sales yet, but this is perfectly normal. We have been in this ticketing game for a few years now, so we understand the lead time that event organisers require before they switch on their event.

Lesson Learned: It’s a marathon, not a sprint. The initial focus is to learn as much as we can about how people want to use the product.

Is the content strategy working?

We have a heavy focus on inbound marketing to drive awareness, including the generation of a lot of high quality content. We brought on an advisor to help with that a few months back.

Now that we have launched, it’s time to put the foot on the gas.

ga_uniques_3april_10april

In the week after launch we drove almost 25,000 unique visitors. Want to know how we did it? 70% of that traffic came from two blog posts we put up during the week:

The Real Story on how Google Analytics Got Started
Debunking The Myths About The Programmers Brain

Lesson Learned: Broad content marketing done well is a great driver of traffic.

Where to from here?

Our developers are going to be heads down, bums up for the next few weeks responding to customer feedback. We launched a great platform, but there are some user experience holes we need to plug pretty quickly.

We already have some awesome resellers on board who are out there selling right now, and we expect to have the first live events going later this month. On top of that, we have Skype calls set up to Singapore, South Africa, England, Australia and the USA over the next week to talk to potential customers.

Of course, if you wanted to check out the product for yourself you can grab a free account here.

Go on. Make me a happy founder.