Are your users addicted yet?

I had a great time talking to Vietnamese Entrepreneurs last Thursday evening about “3 Lessons I Learned from Building a Killer Start Up“. I talked about 3 stories and 3 lessons from my Linked Senioradventure. Here are slides & pictures from the talk. At the end of the talk, I received a lot of very good questions on the topics of Start Ups, Nursing Homes and even Leadership. I want to come back on one question that was asked of me. Anh-Minh Do asked “Which lesson do you think is the most important one?”. I should have answered “Which one is your favorite child?”. Instead I chose the 1st lesson about “Measuring Engagement”. Having had some time to think back about that evening, I still stick to my decision.

And here’s why: Measuring Engagement is the one thing that is most overlooked. You are a Start Up. You launch your MVP. Slowly, you get users. You have not reached viability yet. As a Start Up, you are faced with 2 main priorities:

  1. Acquire new users
  2. Keep your current users happy

If I had to focus on one, I would pick 2). Because once you have 2), 1) will be a much easier goal to reach. On the other hand, if you spend most of your time on 1), you have an average product and you will lose the battle on both 1) and 2). It’s much easier to please 100 people than to please 1,000 people. As a Start Up, one of your main advantage over big companies is focus. Use it. Engagement metrics gives you an idea of whether or not your customer love your product. Back in 2009, Charles and I referred to it as the bar. Eric Ries called it viability in 2011. For a deep insight at a world class use of engagement metrics, read this great blog post: “How Netflix Uses Analytics To Select Movies, Create Content, and Make Multimillion Dollar Decisions“. For a deeper insight into engagement metrics, my friend +Chris Eilers (of oizoioi.vnoizoioi.com.my) suggested the bookLean Analytics. Eric Ries blogged about the book here. The assumption here is that you have funds and are not hard pressed for new customers that may bring you money. The reality is that if you are in the middle of validating your product, you are probably not going to receive significant revenue anytime soon. I would hope that you have planned for at least 1 year’s worth of cash-flow. For keeping costs low, I have to state the obvious:

  1. Keep your day job or find consulting work.
  2. Keep operational expenses low. Don’t spend on things you don’t need.
  3. Get free help (yay interns!)

Thank you to VYE, SaigonHub, startup.vn for organizing.

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