iSPIRT works to transform India into a hub for new generation software products, by addressing crucial government policy, creating market catalysts and grow the maturity of product entrepreneurs. Welcome to the Official Blog!
The iSPIRT product teardown (esp. for SaaS websites) is primarily structured around 5 key principles outlined below.
What is the problem you are trying to solve? Who is your target user? It is critical to have a clear picture of your target user persona, their problem and how your solution solves their pain point. Essentially establish your problem-solution fit and articulate it for the customer journey from Discovery → Conversion.
How do customers find your product? Is it through google search? Is there a channel they frequent? Have you identified your TAM (total addressable market), SAM (serviceable addressable market) and SOM (serviceable obtainable market)? Use this model to help identify strategies to have your SOM discover your product.
Your website is the first & most important way to establish trust & relationship with your customer. This is true even if you don’t use inside sales. What is your first message or hook for your target user persona? Are they able to connect your product with their problem and the path through which they discovered your product? Are they able to understand how your product solves their problem, and why they should use it? Once they identify with your message and establish trust & credibility the rest becomes easier.
Sign up 💰
If the customer has understood your solution and found it fit for their needs, the last purchase decision is the cost. As Suresh said
If the cost connects, signup happens!.
WoW! reaction 🌅
Post signup, is there a WoW first experience? Whether it is a try & buy experience or a first purchase onboarding, it is important for customers to experience some instant gratification for the grueling journey they just went through. Believe me, making a purchase decision can be taxing. If you can make this journey pleasant and the final destination fantastic, you have a winning product 🏆.
Do go through the video above and hear Suresh’s simple explanation. And if you like what you hear remember you can apply here for a teardown in your city.
Coming soon – 2017 SaaS Survey
While I still have your attention, we are excited to announce that we would be launching the third edition (2017) of the India SaaS Survey in a week from now. This survey is an annual exercise conducted jointly by SignalHill and iSPIRT to gather valuable data for drawing insights which help various stakeholders in the ecosystem understand this space better.
Please click on the following link to access last year’s survey results
Please stay tuned to this space. We will be providing a link to this year’s survey very soon in an upcoming blog post.
The amount of time & effort Bharath & Suresh provided to review and analyze each product before the actual teardown is simply inspiring. 🙇🏻. to their commitment to the community.
Recently, I got the opportunity to participate in a virtual product teardown session. After attending SaaSx4 teardown, and participating in PNCamp hyderabad tearddown, I was curious to see how it would work in an virtual format. In a teardown, you get critical (sometimes more critical than you expect!) feedback on your product, if you don’t mind being torn down in the process. I wasn’t sure how it would work when this is not done in person and you can’t see each other.
Post the session, I am happy to report that the effectiveness of the teardown didn’t get diluted too much because of the virtual format. This means that the teardown can be scaled and many such sessions can be run every month. Good news for all startups.
Enough about the process! In this post, I want to share 3 simple lessons someone would have taken from our virtual teardown of 2 companies. They stuck with me also because these were quite similar to what I saw in the PNCamp product teardown session as well.
Lesson 1: Spend time clarifying the messaging on your website
In most cases, I found the messaging to be confusing. When I would question the founder to understand what should be there, they were not very clear themselves. It is important for founders to be extremely clear about the message they want to convey to their potential clients. One way of getting clarity in your own head is to work on your website content copy and if you can nail it down, you will have improved clarity in your head as well.
Lesson 2: Build the differentiation into the product
It wasn’t very clear what the differentiation was in many cases. Even when it was clear, the differentiated messaging didn’t come out from the product. For example, if your product’s differentiated offering is that it is for teams, then the product, in every step of the way to onboarding, should bake the notion of team – setting up team, communication within team, teams working with other teams, manager of the team, etc. Otherwise the differentiation doesn’t sink in.
Lesson 3: Think like your customer
Most often, I saw founders thinking from their own perspective when describing the product, or building the product. This is cardinal sin. Your customer doesn’t care what you think, they care about what they think and what they get. For example, one of the products competed head-on with another product in WordPress plug-in; competing product had 1M installs, this product had 10 installs. Of course customer wouldn’t choose this product, ever. It is more prudent to think like the customer and position the product differently rather than passionately try to go head-on against this category leader.
These are simple and straightforward ones and it is not that founders don’t know them. Problem is that they get so busy solving their day-to-day problems, sometimes they don’t zoom out and think about these basics. Attending teardowns can sometimes serve as reminders for some of these points. If you are an early stage startup, consider attending one of the teardowns.
Before writing something down about our experience at the recently held Product Nation Camp (PNCamp) product teardown session, I think it would be better to give a short perspective on the overall event from the viewpoint of a fairly reclusive startup in the B2B Saas space.
UrbanPiper has been around for some time; however, for a pretty long period, we haven’t taken part in any SaaS focused events. Well we did, but all of them were in Bangalore. The ones that we attended too, were mostly about networking with hundreds of people milling about and ready to deliver an elevator pitch if you so much as said “hello” to them. Nothing inherently wrong about such a gathering, but if networking isn’t your one-all-be-all purpose, these events stop making sense once you’ve attended one or two of them.
The PNCamp was suggested to us by one of our advisors. Not sure what to expect, the only reason we agreed to go was because we hadn’t attended any event for a decent length of time.
The event turned out to be a delightful experience — spread across a full day (Saturday), it was a small (80-100 people) gathering of focused individuals from a curated list of startups, with an evolved sense of SaaS business and products reflecting a matured outlook towards problem-solving. There was a team (including the founder) from the matured startup – Zenoti, which anchored most of the sessions and did all that they could to share their learning with the rest of us fledgling startups. The day’s events were well regulated to avoid any feeling of drag creeping in, and at all times, it felt like everyone was invested with a great deal of interest and purpose to contribute to each other’s box of learning.
The product teardown was the first session scheduled after a short inaugural talk by the PN team and the guest of honour – Mr. Jay Pullur (Founder of Pramati Technologies).
As it usually is with all things unprepared for, UrbanPiper was invited as the first startup to step up for the teardown. Not having any previous experience of a product teardown, I had no idea what good or bad was in store, and that in a strange way helped me calm down and focus upon telling the audience a good narrative about the UrbanPiper story.
THE TEARDOWN PROCESS
The teardown allows the speaker, a representative of the startup core team, to speak about their startup for 5-10 minutes. As part of the initial presentation, some basic questions are asked by any member of the audience. These questions are usually of the nature to understand a bit better about the proposition of the startup.
Once the presentation is through and the first wave of questions answered, the team from Zenoti takes over. They systematically explored aspects of the technology platform – the finished product, product interfaces, on-boarding process – but it all starts with the “deconstruction” of the website.
For us, the UrbanPiper website (https://urbanpiper.com) had been an effort to put up a decent web presence. Where “decent” merely meant that it was better as a façade than what our competitors had, and it somewhat managed to convey the platform’s proposition.
The following is what we felt manages to tick most of the checkboxes when it came to a Saas-based startup’s website:
The next 15 minutes was a logical and well-executed act of unravelling the pointlessness of doing things half-baked and half-thought. While the focus was directed towards our website, but it didn’t take much effort to see signs of the same problems when it comes to setting a product vision, selling, pricing, negotiating, fund raising, marketing, etc.
The primary theme of the teardown can be summarized as:
What have you built and how do you intend to sell it
Does your website echo the thought-process expressed in #1
The website teardown focuses on:
The messaging around the primary proposition of your product/platform
The explanation of how your target audience can use your platform
The long-tail value of using your product/platform
How has your platform made a difference for the merchants/clients who have been using it for quite some time
As ominous as a “teardown” sounds, the first thing to know is that it’s a very friendly event. Instead of feeling defensive about getting “exposed”, it is best to view the teardown as a get together of well-informed friends who point out the gaps in your plan to save you the blushes in the future. Think of the last time when a friend of yours pointed out that your fly is open – that probably best sums up the purpose of the teardown.
Another important aspect is the quality of feedback–you have some of the best minds, who have most certainly been-there-done-that, offering you their undivided attention so as to offer you advice which is best suited for you.
For us, the key takeaways boiled down to:
Narrow down the area UrbanPiper wants to focus on. Instead of positioning the platform for every merchant, it would make it much easier to scale if we simply focused on being the best in one domain, and then decide to pursue another one.
Overhaul the website to focus on simple messaging instead of using buzzwords, which would most likely make no sense to even the people you’d like to sell to.
Break down the journey a merchant would have from not using our platform to the benefits of signing up and thereafter.
Last, but certainly not the least, build out the product and the website with a focus on selling globally. This involves a change in setting out a more global plan, but the start needs to be with the website–which should reflect in no uncertain terms the intent to cater to a global audience.
It’s been a week since the PNCamp, but we have already finished work on the first iteration of making some much needed changes to our website. This iteration is by no means a finished product, but it certainly embraces some of the direction that we should be taking with our platform’s positioning.
It gives me a lot of pleasure to unveil the new look of our website–
While this is just our first iteration, there are some key elements that we wanted to address:
Focus the messaging around the domain that works for us.
Take the visitor through various parts of the platform in a gradual and relevant manner – the features should unravel themselves as an easy to understand narrative.
Use styling which gives the site a crisp look and feel, such as to measure up to the expectations of a global platform.
Add a blog (https://urbanpiper.com/blog) section to write about the platform and make a visitor find out more. Not to mention, reap the benefits of better SEO.
Prominently showcase a video which ideally has a current merchant talking about the platform.
THE WAY FORWARD
We have just begun an interesting journey of making UrbanPiper relevant for the next phase of growth. During the PNCamp, Sudheer (founder of Zenoti) had suggested that I read a book – Crossing the chasm (Geoffrey Moore). I’ve just read the first chapter of the book, and already it feels like there’s going to be lots to learn from it.
Whatever be in store, it will surely help us rediscover ourselves at an important juncture of growth for UrbanPiper.
If I were to pause for a moment and reflect upon the events and the actions we’ve taken, it’s not like there was a grand revelation or something. Working in startups, we all carry a bunch of latent thoughts. However, in the everyday hectic operations of running a startup, we often lose “perspective”. If we’re lucky, then we have some good friends from other startups with whom we hang out regularly, and exchange notes, which in-turn helps us gain some of the lost “perspective”. But then, having friends from startups which have tread a path similar to yours, call for rather long odds.
Events are usually good to meet an eclectic group of individuals from the startup world, but then, most of them are primarily about networking, and soon lose value for all the effort that needs to be put in for attending them. And then, we just become lazy, letting our latent thoughts remain buried, while we continue to endure every aspect of a tunnel-vision syndrome.
For what it’s worth, the Product Nation Camp, was certainly a refreshing take on the idea of a startup conference – or rather, unconference. You’ve got a room full of smart people, doing smart things, and wanting to help you see things differently – to help you gain some of your lost perspective.
Whether you’re an early stage, late stage or VC funded startup (pun intended). There is one thing all of us struggle with always and that is ‘Growth’. So, how to keep this repeatable in constantly changing market dynamics?
Acommunity is a great place to learn, unlearn and grow at the pace you never imagined. For SaaS startups in India(bravery award goes to you), SaaSx is a community built by thought leaders for other builders to nail this process in and out. #SaaSx4 was a tech event that provided SaaS founders the opportunity to network and share product insights with other SaaS founders.
How we got into #SaaSx4 Product Teardown..
Widely is an early stage SaaS startup, we’re right now hustling, learning and trying to respond to the amazing traction we’re receiving. While all this was happening, we got a call from Prasanna K to attend SaaSx, that was the first time we heard about Product Teardown and horror stories around it. Imagine your product being grilled down to levels in front of the whole community.
It did seem scary, but we said YES!
Because very often when something scares you, it’s the very thing worth doing.
This was my first SaaSx & by the end of the day, I was left amused and happy to become part of the SaaSx community. It is by SaaS founders for SaaS founders, hence, the learning becomes easier & straight cut out for us.
UnConference, Product teardown & Fireside chats, also in between meeting Investors (trust me that was not the driving force for anyone joining in there), the energy was to learn and grasp as much as possible. When you hear guys like Girish, Sudhir, & Avlesh talking about their mistakes, you feel confident within.
There comes the Scary Product Teardown
So, how it began?
I was called on the stage, Bharath, Avlesh and Shekhar ready with their inputs. The hall was full of awesome SaaS founders, including those of India’s best SaaS companies, interacting constantly over the good and bad parts of products(Imagine receiving suggestions from the experienced).
Introduction: I went up and gave some context to the audience
Widely helps online businesses to acquire new mobile users, increase conversions and grow user retention with nothing but their existing website by upgrading it into a progressive web app in minutes. Introducing native mobile app features into a website, the plug and play setup with the analytics based dashboard to trigger and customize a Progressive Web App (Mobile Web App).
Product teardown segments & Widely’s State
Product teardown was segmented into three sections primarily, Finding Customers, Keeping Customers & What is my market.
Widely’s primary traction channels are SEM and SEO,
Also, our customer segment is a marketer or a product manager.
For us to convert a website visitor into a customer is a simple 2 step process, a signup and then 15 minutes plug & play integration into their website.
These details were used in teardown, and so teardown was designed in a way to be helpful for others struggling in the similar space.
The Teardown began
As an early stage startup with a goal to reach the global audience, we’ve identified search and ads as great ways to go ahead. So, exactly this was the first step, Widely’s SEM at one side works great, SEO is where our keywords don’t match. That was eye opening to me as sometimes while building and selling the product we tend to forget most basic things.
Then came product landing, with few ifs and buts, here we saw our moments of wows & learning, in the form of better representation.
Bharath pointed out key areas we need to improve upon during Sign up too, although this is something we’re constantly working upon and rigorously followed making website our best marketing person, but exactly the point, improvements to become sticky for the set of next 100 customers should be the focus.
The final step to Setup!
So, out of all signups we get every day there are many who don’t integrate (A huge loss to our marketing efforts), there could be many reasons, we’re constantly using visualizations and website conversion optimization tools to see where our funnel breaks and fix those parts immediately. For us to come at something which we saw next would have taken some next 100 signups we believe,
The next step of teardown focused on our claim of no coding required, though that is not required but looking at the setup it feels a coder is required, and for us targeting product managers this doesn’t look related at all.
Suggestions by Bharath for the setup screen
The designs in themselves speak louder than words and hence, something we loved instantly, apart from great design and user experience inputs. We got great insights from,
Girish — Website landing page heading should initially focus on technicalities, then functionalities and later on the larger message when the brand is big enough.
Ex: Coca-Cola — open happiness.
Ex: We say ‘Upgrade into a Progressive Web App’, this is good for us initially as an early stage startup, segmented only for the crowd who knows.
Shekhar — Asking telephone numbers from our initial customers is a great way to increase conversions rapidly, our signup should have that one field.
The last but not the least,Product Positioning and Market
As there is this increasing need of brands to be accessible by all mobile users, we get queries from enterprises, brands, services/agencies related to our solution, we’ve been on and off on where to focus and what we should leave. This also made us change our pricing many times.
The last part of teardown was a relief when the founders sitting there, Shekhar & Avlesh made us believe you don’t need to stay at one, until you get where the best market is. All this made sense, as then we could generate higher revenue by understanding our value add to the users.
At the same time, we received Girish’s point of view on growing freemium way and onboard as many users as we can,
So here is the beauty of SaaSx, you get everything, now it is going to be a tough fight within the team to choose a way.
An enthralling experience in Widely’s product journey, SaaSx, and product teardown happened to be extremely helpful. In my opinion, teardown is a great way to eliminate blockers and move faster against competition and changing market.
I’d like to end by a note I sent out to Avlesh, Shekhar, Bharat & Avinash.
Definitely I’m in awe and I’d like to mention Product Teardown of Omnify & Product Teardown of 99Tests, these were our fellow product teardown startups, they have explained the process extensively to explore further. Hope it helps more SaaS startups growing and hustling.
#SaaSx4 is a leading tech event that provides Saas founders the opportunity to network and share product insights. Product Teardown session was one of the key highlights of this year’s event held in Chennai on 17th March, 2017. The goal was to help SaaS entrepreneurs gain actionable product insights. Entries were invited from innovative SaaS products from all over the country.
When we, at 99tests got the first email invite for the Product Teardown from iSPIRT, our first thought was that, this was about UX and we might not be a good fit for the event. We then had a conversation with Prasanna who explained to us that product tear down is about Business Discovery of our Product and retention of customers. Basically, a session that will enable to understand your product from a customer’s perspective. This piqued our interest in the #SaaSx4
A panel of established SaaS founders and mentors that included Avlesh Singh, CEO, WebEngage, Bharath Balasubramanian, Director of Design, Freshdesk, and Shekhar Kirani, Accel Partners, were assigned the task of selecting the final products for the event. The first screening call with the panel was very interesting. It was a 30 minute call where we got the chance to showcase what 99tests does, and how it works. We answered questions about revenue, SaaS model, our core value proposition, and how we delivered our services.
With only three slots left, the pressure was on us as we waited for the results. After a few days, we finally got the message that 99tests was selected in the SaaSx4 Product Teardown. We were pretty excited and looking forward to all feedback on our product from eminent members of the Indian startup ecosystem. We admit that we were also a little nervous that our mistakes would be out in the open!
Key Takeaways From The Event
Software products chosen for the product tear down session were critically analysed by a team of expert SaaS mentors and SaaS founders. The aim was to understand the customer onboarding process, retention and discovery of business opportunities for the products. These insights helps entrepreneurs in answering key market questions like:
Who is my customer?
Who could have been my customer?
What characteristics of my customer makes them like my product?
If I am successful, who will come after me?
Our Experience At The Product Teardown
In the next call that we had a call with Bharath, Director of design, Freshdesk, we explained how 99tests actually works. The key questions were around customer on-boarding, understanding how much of our service was self-serve and how much was fully managed.
On D-day, we were a little nervous, wondering what aspect of our product would be showcased to a room full of SaaS founders. The first teardown by the first team did give us a hint into what would come next.
What We Learnt About Our Product
The first part of the teardown was about seeing how the search keywords map to our target personas. It was good to see one of the teardown companies having website that perfectly matched the keywords that they were targeting. In our case, we learnt that on our page, the content did not contain enough matching keywords that a customer would type in. This makes it difficult for them to find us.
The next feedback was on our homepage. We found that it was using too much of testing concepts. Moreover the Home page did not clearly highlight the functional message of Automation Testing by Crowd, our USP.
The last set of feedback was on customer on boarding. Here, we learned that our product asked too many questions that assumed that our customers would know a lot about testing. This is causing a lower sign up to the demo page. It was also great to learn that we needed focus in terms of countries, based on how customers would perceive our product. The most useful feedback that we got, is that product owners were not clear on how much time they needed to spend with 99tests on a daily and weekly basis. although they could get started in only 30 minutes.
Overall, we got the feedback, that we do have a fantastic product, but the messaging was not yet sophisticated enough for an international audience and could be improved. 99tests is very thankful to iSpirit, Bharath from Freshdesk, Avlesh from WebEngage and Shekar from Accel for the opportunity to be a part of the Product Teardown at SaaSx4. The feedback and insights we gained from the SaaSx4 Product Teardown was very helpful in identifying areas that needed improvement and also in gaining new ideas to make our products great.
A week or so before #SaaSx4, I woke up with an early morning call from Prasanna (SaaSx Volunteer) to tell me that they have nominated Omnify for the Product Teardown. Honestly, I jumped out of bed and my first reaction was like Ohh sh*t.. Not the Teardown!!
But then he said that they will select three companies out of the few nominated. So I agreed for a Hangout call hoping that we will not be selected.
So, Why did we do it?
I think, as a startup it’s good to go through “Make & Break” cycles which helps building a stronger product. Incidentally, that week we were sort of doing an internal teardown of our product and our conversion funnel. After the first hangout call with Avlesh, Shekhar and Bharath, I realised that it is indeed a great opportunity to get external feedback as we will be making a lot of effort this year on Product Design and Marketing.
Also, best part about the SaaSx community is the positive environment where no one is judging others and it’s all about learning from each others mistakes. Guys like Girish, Avlesh and Sudhir openly talk about the mistakes and learnings so others can benefit.
So, in the same SaaSx spirit we decided to participate in the Teardown for the benefit of us and anyone who can learn from our mistakes.
About Omnify (to give some context)
Omnify helps small businesses to Sell and Schedule their services online through One, Simple Platform. We have built comprehensive scheduling for Group Classes, Appointments, Events, Camps, etc. which can be easily sold as Packages and Subscriptions through Omnify.
Goal of the Teardown
I had multiple calls with Avlesh, Shekhar and Bharath before the teardown. The purpose of the calls were to have better understanding about Omnify and see how they can help.
After some discussion, we decided to find gaps in our conversion funnel; right from discovery, signup, onboarding to setup.
Our major channel for getting customers is Search. Hence this part was focussed on our SEO. Interestingly, we got a thumbs up for this part as we have already put some work into our SEO. There is so much more to do and scaling our Top of the funnel is currently our Top Priority as pointed out by both Shekhar & Avlesh.
The best part about Search is that it shows “Intent” which has a direct impact on your conversion. For SaaS startups (especially at early stages and targeting global market) this should be the most important channel for customer acquisition. Hence, my advice for anyone who has not yet worked on their SEO is to atleast get the basic On-Page optimisation, Major Keywords and URL structuring right. It is a time consuming project but it will be worth your time and effort.
In case you have no clue where to start, just hire an SEO expert from UpWork for a $100 project to do an SEO Audit of your website.
Action Plan: We are now spending a lot of time on Keyword optimization, Improving on page optimization and figuring out ways to churn good quality content at scale. Will share our learnings with some data once we can.
Bharath did a great job pointing out few key issues in our website that may be affecting our conversion and also did a comparative analysis with our competitor’s website who has probably spent millions of $$ to optimise it for the target audience.
Although we had spent quite a lot of effort on our website as it the most important part of our company and our doorway to customers across the world.
Although, there is a lot of room for improvement but here are a few things that we already worked on.
Good Design breeds trust.
Simple things like SSL certificate (https) improves trust in your website.
Transparency — About us page with photos and social profiles of the team.
A big chunk of the website visitors are probably coming through mobile, so it’s super important that the website looks and works great on any mobile device.
Today, everyone has very little patience. So if it takes more than a few seconds to load a page we might lose potential customers. Simple things like image compression, lazy loading, etc can be very effective to improve speed drastically.
People scroll through the pages in seconds, it’s super important to have enough visual content like images and videos to grab their attention.
Our messaging on the landing page should be more targeted and simple to understand.
Improve Trust on our website through customer review, case studies, etc.
Learn from our competitors on targeting.
Content language should be optimised for the biggest market (US in our case).
We should have country specific landing pages for at least our major markets.
Action Plan: We are doing a sprint soon to optimize our landing pages with more targeted content and adding customer reviews + case studies.
We are also going to try Zarget (https://zarget.com) to experiment and improve our website conversions. Thanks for the dinner Arvind! 🍺
This is where we already knew our funnel is broken and although we have already been working on it, we got good critical feedback and suggestions from Bharath.
Interestingly, this is one of the most ignored pages for most startups (including us).
Even small things here can increase drop-off or conversion.
In our case, I think we got away with small ux issues as Omnify is a business product and the value of a Free trial outweighs the effort of the signup. But, needless to say we are making it simpler.
Onboarding & Setup
To give more context, our current onboarding process is a wizard that appears on Home page of the Dashboard for new users and stays there until completed. One major issue with this is that once you navigate away from Home there is very little hand-holding.
This is how it works currently:
Setup Business: Basic information and contact details.
Setup Services: Comprehensive and a little time consuming.
Website: Auto-created but valuable only after a few services are setup.
Attach Payment Gateway: Connect Stripe or Paypal.
Bharath suggested a simple 2 step onboarding process for Omnify.
Our Onboarding needs more customer hand holding.
Setup needs to be simpler or create Website with Sample Services for Instant Gratification.
Auto-fill wherever we can.
We believe in fast iteration and are already redesigning our onboarding and setup. I will share a detailed post on our Onboarding redesign later but for now, here is a Sneak peak on what we are upto (Still iterating):
Market and Positioning
Last part of the Teardown was about understanding the target market and our positioning.
There were 3 points that were discussed.
Understanding our Target Customer
Omnify can be used by anyone who provide services and scheduling is an important part of their business. Most prominent segments are fitness, wellness, sports, kids activities and recreation.
Horizontal or Vertical SaaS
This was one of the hot topics at SaaSx and I am hoping for more content on this from the community.
In case of Omnify, we started as a vertical SaaS product but went through a customer discovery process thanks to Inbound Marketing and pivoted to Horizontal SaaS.
Since we didn’t have control over who was signing up, we thought we might as well turn it into an experiment to understand demand and gaps in the market. After working with hundreds of customers across different categories and 50+ countries, we learnt that we are solving a core problem for a wide set of customers who behave very similarly.
Hence, our view of the market changed to horizontal.
While it’s extremely important to choose the right geography if outbound is the core channel for customer acquisition, businesses like ours who run on Inbound Marketing have an advantage of understanding different geographys at due to lower cost. Saying that, we are currently picking up few key geographies with better volume and conversion rates to put our efforts on.
Leveraging existing market segments is easier than creating new segments.
Overall, product teardown was a great experience and we would recommend other startups to do both, internal and external teardown of your products regularly. It’s a great tool to find gaps in the product so we can iterate fast and grow faster.
Big shout to Avinash, Avlesh, Bharath, and Shekhar for putting so much effort into the Product Teardown.. taking calls at 8am on a Sunday, spending time going through our product demos, etc. Thanks guys, it was super helpful.
Also, it is truly a pleasure being part of such an amazing community of Entrepreneurs and I would like to thank everyone who worked hard for making SaaSx possible. Already looking forward to the next one.
The volunteer team here at PNCamp are excited to share their list of candidates for the live Product Teardown Session. These companies have been selected to have their products analysed by our expert panel of in minute detail over a 2 hour long session. We expect that the feedback that they’ll get to take back from the session will be relevant and valuable in improving their product’s readiness.
Priyanka, Wishberry.in – help independent artists raise money for their projects from their fan communities
As you can imagine, it wasn’t easy for the curation team to go over the details of each company and pick out the right ones. If you haven’t been selected, or would still like to apply for a slot – do get in touch with us through pncamp.in.
So, you got a startup. Great! You have a product ready and a few users/customers too, Awesome! I am sure you are super excited to take it to next level, right? But thats when the hurdles begin.
Users just do not understand it Users don’t go beyond certain point Our product is awesome, but Product lacks stickiness I am not sure how to position our product We have different kinds of users, how to deal with varied expectations of users I don’t know where to find large number of userbase I am a technical guy, I don’t know how to market it User growth is very slow, we need some cool growth hacks
If some of these thoughts/challenges are lingering in your mind too, then you are not the only one. Trust me pretty much every startup goes through these hurdles in its early days. Sad reality is, vast majority fail to cross these initial hurdles and die early death.
“Almost every startup has a product, what they don’t have is users/customers”
If you are an early stage startup with a working product thats been used by a few users/customers and you are struggling through some of the above mentioned challenges, then look nowhere and block your Calendar for Oct 8th, 2016. iSPIRT is bringing PNCamp in Pune focused towards all the early stage startups.
PNCamp in pune is your grand opportunity to get candid feedback on your product and its marketing. If you are a startup with a prototype or product at an early stage with few users/customers but struggling to get further traction, then PNCamp is a great place where you could get an opportunity to showcase your product and seek feedback, inputs and suggestions on specific to your product. At PNCamp, experts will take product teardown sessions on following aspects.
How to build a right product (great and useful product)
How to market your product (product marketing, communication, KPIs)
How to achieve 10X user growth (Use Analytics, customer feedback loop, sales tactics)
At PNCamp, India’s some of the most successful entrepreneurs are coming together to host one day focused camp and work with selected group of startups on their product, market and sales growth strategies. This one day focused action oriented efforts are equivalent to your one year of badly struggling to figure out things in dark.
Here is whats going to happen at PNCamp –
“You involve me and I learn maximum”. Keeping this in mind, PNCamp is structured in a way to maximize real action oriented learning. Its no Gyaan, No B.S. All real action, real stories, real candid feedback, real strategies, real action plan, real work toward real results. At PNCamp, successful entrepreneurs who are expert in their specific area of product, marketing, or sales growth will discuss their observations and learnings.
In case of B2B products, things such as the product quality, security, product learning curve, analytics, integrations, etc might be driving factors for initial success whereas in case of B2C products its visual appeal, user friendliness, pricing, discounts, customer loyalty, social appeal, etc could trigger the success. Hence each product need to be looked at it from various angles. At PNCamp, specific sessions are dedicated to deep dive in these areas. In B2B track, experts will discuss building a right product for B2B market, getting traction for your product, marketing strategies and sales funnel. In case of B2C track, the experts will delve into building products with focus on mobile an analytics, finding right KPI and organizing everything around it, product communication, and building a successful customer development strategy using feedback loop. After every session, a few select product startups will be given an opportunity to present their product, marketing strategy, or growth strategy. Experts and fellow participants will do a product teardown and give a deep dive feedback. In all 12 startups in B2C space and 12 startups in B2B space will get an opportunity to present and get detailed feedback.
Product teardown: In this section, select startups will provide a quick walkthrough of their product website/app. As each startup will get limited time to present, key is to stay focused on most critical or concerning area of your product. Experts and fellow participants will provide feedback on core functionality, usefulness, right fit of the product, visual and experiential aspect of the product. In the past, such product tear down has help entrepreneurs get amazing inputs in matter of minutes. Moreover it has opened up doors for more insightful beta users from the cohart. Product teardown session focuses on product flow, functionality, identifying specific KPIs and using analytics to derive insights, and immediate critical aspect that might be hindering product traction or stickiness. Founders will get actionable inputs that can be applied next day and see improvements.
Marketing/Communication teardown: Great number of startups have good products but fails on its marketing. Product marketing is all about positioning. It is all about clear messaging and creating a “hook” in user’s mind. Unique compelling product positioning is always a challenge, especially when your product has potentially multiple target segments. If your product positioning is correct, then it helps in driving marketing and create a growth strategy. In this section, select startups will get teardown about their marketing and communication strategy, how to build initial traction, building a customer feedback loop, how to think specific KPIs and organize things around it, how to use analytics to tweak marketing funnel, etc. Is the message clear and compelling enough to click with your audience, can it be improved further, etc. In the past, founders used the session feedback to improve their product message, website communication, emails, etc for which the group continued giving feedback.
Growth hack / Sales teardown: This is a piece everybody wants and wish for but is very difficult to achieve. Experts will ask select startups to present their current growth strategy and provide working session on building a growth strategy. B2B sales strategies, setting up sales engine, inside sales strategies, etc will be discussed along with tools and techniques. Useful tools, techniques and trends in B2C market, use of inbound growth hack techniques, from customer acquisition to conversion, retention and achieving viral growth will be discussed in detailed. This is a hands on session where startups will be asked to create a plan of action.
Get naked – At PNcamp, everything is transparent. So, one may think, “How can I disclose my trade secrets with entire group?”. Indeed its a valid concern, but its upto an individual founder whether and how much information they want to share with fellow participants. Our experience is that, getting naked has helped entrepreneurs more than shielding or hiding behind curtains. Plus, one unsaid rule of the camp is, “Whats said in the camp remains within the group”. Product nation is building a community of trustworthy entrepreneurs who are passionate about helping each others. Hence, its expected that you bring a transparency and will maintain confidentiality.
So, enough said about the camp and its structure. PNCamp, with this full action oriented day is looking forward to bring ton of insights to you through direct feedback and critical inputs to help you take your startup next level. This is a MUST attend camp for any early stage product startup. Do not miss this unique opportunity to catch the brains of experts and fellow participants through product feedbacks and interactions. So, if you are an early stage startup looking to take your startup to next orbit, then register yourself right away at www.pncamp.in Lets build great product nation, one prodct at a time! See you at PNCamp.
Guest Post by Abhijit Mhetre, founder at Canvazify. He is passionate about startup innovations and is a volunteer at iSPIRT
Last Saturday in Chennai at the SaaSx3 I had the privilege of participating in my first “Product Teardown”
A Product Teardown, “or simply teardown, is the act of disassembling a product, such as a television set, to identify its component parts, chip & system functionality” – Wiki
In the context of the teardown of my company, Hummingbill, a Software as a Service (SaaS), it involved a deep dive into the company’s Idea, Discovery Process, Landing Page, Sign Up, and its “Wow” experience.
(image courtesy of Suresh Sambandam of Kissflow)
But before getting into the details of the teardown I want to make mention of the audience in front of whom I presented, and the panelists who judged me. This teardown event was among several sessions during this year’s SaaSx – a conference cum meet up of India’s best-in-class SaaS founders, among whom in the audience were Girish Mathrubootham, founder of FreshDesk, Avlesh Singh, founder of WebEngage, and Pallav Nadhani, founder of FusionCharts. And as impressive as the audience was, so too were the group of panelists critiquing my company. They were, Shekhar Kirani, partner at Accel Partners India, Suresh Sambandam, founder of Kissflow, and Bharat Balasubramanian, director of Design at Freshdesk. The entire experience was an honor, to say the least.
So! how did it all go down?
The panelists had me up on stage with a projector showing our website, and we started with Shekhar and Suresh who was requested a description of the Idea of Hummingbill, which included a snapshot of the problem, solution, and our characteristic customer and user.
(bear with my plug!) Hummingbill is a Gmail plugin that automates accounts receivable management for organizations that track hundreds of unpaid invoices from hundreds of customers. Our characteristic clients are SaaS and advertising companies. Currently, these companies use QuickBooks Online, Tally and Zoho to manage their invoices, but the problem is that these softwares make invoices inaccessible to those who need them most – sales reps and account managers who are among many things also responsible for payment collection. Today, the only window accounts and sales staff have into Accounts Receivable is a manually generated, manually distributed weekly aging report sent from the finance team.
Second, we discussed the Discovery process of Hummingbill:
or how businesses find us on the web. Because Hummingbill is more of a direct sales organization at-the-moment, we were let off-the-hook on this one, but for any disciplined SaaS company, they must be extremely conscientious of the “keywords” they use on their website to make their website more likely to be found by their target customer on Google. This is called Search Engine Optimization. By identifying those keywords – e.g. “Invoice Management” and “Accounts Receivable” – and carefully placing those keywords into their website, businesses can improve their performance ranking on Google which allows them to be more easily found by their target customers.For an example of a highly search-engine-optimized website, have a look at Hiver. They are one of my favorite examples of a company that carefully updates its website over and over again to improve its performance for specific keywords within its category.
Then, after discussing discovery, Bharat critiqued us on the Design of our website
A lot of learning happened here. Some of the key takeaways were:
If you have big customers like we do, put them up at the top of your webpage. This helps build trust in your product.
Use the most accurate language possible on your landing page for your target users. Don’t be generic. During the event, the title on our landing page was “Get Paid Faster” – Suresh pointed out that this title would be an empty statement for our target users, CFOs and Heads of Finance. Instead we should use more accurate language like “Reduce Days Sales Outstanding”.
Add a second Sign-up button at the bottom of your landing page. This makes it easier for people to sign-up for your product .. .which is just good for everyone.
After the Design step, Bharat walked us through the Sign-Up process
or onboarding experience of Hummingbill. This step is where new users enter in their contact information and preferences, and then are guided through the software product. If you’re not familiar with SaaS, then you should know that this step is the first impression customers have of your product, so it can “make or break” a business. It’s the reason why, for example I didn’t use Ola cabs, a very popular taxi service in India, for a whole year – I found their sign-up process clunky and time consuming, so I immediately switched to their competitor taxi service. And similarly to how I fell-off of Ola, SaaS founders need to be conscientious of their target customers’ patience, less they lose them at the first step to using their product. Building a fluid and intuitive sign-up process takes significant discipline to decide which information to collect from users now vs. later, and which features of the product to show now vs. later. For inspiration on great onboarding experience, check out UserOnboard.com to see examples of how some of the best tech companies in the world sign-up their users.
And last but not least, the product teardown ended with the functional Wow of Hummingbill. The functional Wow is simply the moment when users experience the 1 or 2 features of your product that fulfill the value they were seeking and found on your website. This is where products can close the deal and why it’s important for companies to get to that functional Wow delivered as quickly as possible. For example, if a company has a CRM product, then the functional Wow would be something like guiding the new user to creating a “prospect” customer in their sales pipeline, enter in the prospect’s details, and then move the prospect to becoming a “lead” in the CRM. For Hummingbill, we like to Wow users during onboarding by getting them to:
1. Generate an Invoice
2. Track the invoice in Accounts Receivable
3. Receive an email aging report
This functional Wow helps confirm to the users why they signed-up for your product. Seeing is believing, so the best practice here is to show your users the functional Wow ASAP
All-in-all the Product Teardown was an excellent learning experience for my team and I
As a public forum, it forced me to look more carefully at Hummingbill through the eyes of my target customer. Because SaaS is very much a numbers game – about driving as much traffic to your website, then trying to convert as many visitors to becoming users of your product, then trying to convert those free users to becoming paid users – SaaS is all about constantly iterating your website and customer onboarding experience to improve those conversions. Do teardown your product yourself. Though it’s an exhausting process, do it with a potential-user who can be honest with you and give their feedback in real time as they visit your website, sign up, and try your product for the first time. Best of luck in this process and keep doing it because it’s the only way for early stage companies, apart from marketing, to ensure they will have a constant growth of new users.
I took SaaSy bus to attend SaaSx3, a fun journey networking and ice break session among SaaS founder The sessions were on common challenges from funding to hiring right resources and also instant mini FinTech RoundTable (picture below).
The venue was at Chennai (Mahabalipuram) well described by above tweet and event started with afternoon session by Pallav Nadhani of FusionCharts on Referral Marketing. The discussion started emphasizing needs of marketing starts before existence of the product and continues with product and marketing should not be looked in silos away from the product. One question for SaaS founders is whether their startups are geared to leverage product features to perform self-marketing of the product The session brought some real examples of SaaS firms who have already done this successfully.
The impact of using “Powered by Logo” inside your product features on B2B2C websites that are focused on end user was highlighted and is more effective to target customers from new geographies where your product has not been adopted and are in early stages of entering new geography.
Nemesh of appointy stressed importance of backlinks (two lines of codes in the product), that became part of Google search when someone searched for a tool for appointments. Other suggestions include:
Sell lower price plan without option to “White label” product offering. After product is adopted, the lowest price plan can be offered as “Free forever plan” without white label option.
Find a WordPress plugin that is active and popular. Buy plugin and add one line in this plugin and publish the plugin.
#OneThing session happened where SaaS founders were asked to share a set of one things that creates significant transformation in their startups.
We did not predict, we performed action
Upgrade Field on Sales approach to Customer Success approach
“Support and train customers for first 45 days increased NPS score” – Think of it as customer Success Channel that is needed in scaling stage.
Keep high touch with customer and experiment how to maintain high touch with customers being online and not on-site. Leverage and experiment with cloud telephony, gamification and customer management.
Product Tear Down session where SaaS founders offered their product to be teared down by expert SaaS founder and audience. The experience SaaS founders published guideline template based on which they will provide feedback to brave startup like Zipboard and CanvasFlip and here are comments that apply to lot of startups found here too.
You first need to go deep focusing on the right customer segment before going broad.
While building a branded website, remember that website home page needs to convey emotional, functional and technical aspirations to connect with your audience. One good example is slack website, it is inspirational.
While displaying metrics of your product on the website, show metrics that creates positive impression in mind of prospects. Small number may not create right impression.
Remove small irritants. Devil is in details.
Does your product features pass Tooth Brush test? Ask, ‘Is this something people use once or twice a day and does it solve a problem?’
No right or wrong strategies, only shades of right while building startups.
People who teared down choose right words to share comments to the founder who offered his product for tear down, also adding kind words “Do not become defensive. Their inputs are to improve not to criticize”. SaaS founder in the audience really liked the positive impact of product Tear Down session and followed with asks to #ispirit to have more startups in Product Tear Down sessions and suggestion for virtual Product Tear Down session.
There was another #OneThing session focused on what is one thing that in last 12 months worked well for SaaS startup with Aditya Sangi of Hotelogix , moderated by Prasanna
Alliance building approach steps – find complimentary product. Check whether your product adds to their value offering and whether other product have efficient reach to your customer target and whether joint offering creates value for your customer base.
Do not keep building a lot of non-core features in to your product and make the world as your competition and end up with no partners.
Am I building the product right or am I building the right product, both are different, very important to understand by @skirani#SaaSx3
One attraction in SaaSx#n is story style presentation by Girish of #freshdesk, who genuinely shares learnings from his journey. This time the story had movie effect and learnings from the movie are
Everything need not be data driven. You can do things that people would notice and they will notice when things are on high quality bar.
Do what is right for customers first. Help sales team to develop focus on customer success by incentivizing to help customers first.
Started with sales team of young minds fresh from college and they started with focus on number of agents sold rather than revenue of agents sold. Once they were more customer focused and time arrived to scale, a change was implemented in discussion with sales team to change their focus to revenue earned per sales team member.
The importance of alignment between marketing and sales using instances from freshdesk journey.
Hired fresher’s following hack “Hire them for attitude and you can get them skills”. I liked the fact that the hack was implemented in sales and marketing function and not only in engineering.
Similar to other startups, freshdesk also got junks as prospects. They pruned not only junk and also channels where hunk data originated from. More junk arrival from channel lead to removing channel, leading to arrive at list of channels that worked for them.
Girish once again demonstrated that he was a hardcore Rajnikanth fan in real life too by creating a real movie style experiences bringing young talent who accompanied him at the start of #freshdesk journey in sales and marketing on to the stage. He created right impression that success is attributed to team’s effort rather than individual effort. Consider to be special in the days of “Winner takes it all”
Girish complete the movie with some thought provoking questions “Are SaaS founders aiming high?”, “Do you want to be happy with small year on year growth?”
The sea breeze was cool. And the SaaSy people went cool as well. Kiruba unleashed some tricks for networking that had the participants engaging in banter, fun and games on the lawn. It also wore off the participants from postprandial somnolence (carb coma) after lunch. The SaaSy bus by then had arrived from Bengaluru, and the participant number swelled to 150 or so.
Using your product as a marketing tool
Pallav Nadhani set the theme for #OneThing discussion involving of Siddharth of Practo, Nemesh of Appointy, and Ankit of AdPushup. He cited examples of MailChimp, which sends annual reports about the number of mails sent through its service, and Rancore, a research organisation that sent reports about Share Point, a Microsoft product for developers. He said that research reports set benchmarks for what works. He spoke of referral marketing and commission paid on referrals to existing customers as strategies to acquire customers without much of a marketing spend. Avlesh of WebEngage said that marketing does not exist in silos away the product. He spoke of incorporating the marketing element inside the product itself.
One strategy is using the “powered by *product logo*” inside the product to attract more prospects. This was especially used in a novel way. WebEngage chose a customer (of course, after a due diligence) to sell its low-priced product in an unpresent geography. Then the logo was added in the product to attract more customers in the region. The customer acquisition cost is reduced as a result. Nemesh of Appointy (which helps businesses to schedule appointments) has 118,000 customers, all of them acquired at zero cost of marketing. This was done through backlinks (two lines of codes in the product), which would indirectly show up in the Google search when someone searched for a tool for appointments. Ankit spoke of four strategies to customer acquisition without much marketing spend.
The VC speak
Mohan from Norwest said the SaaS multiples have compressed in the United States – it’s five times the revenue now rather than the 10x number that was the norm until sometime ago. He also said that SaaS companies have a history of not making a profit but was confident that it is possible to build a profitable SaaS company in India, which is capital-efficient.
Tarun of Matrix Partners clarified that now the focus has shifted to profitability of SaaS companies rather than growth. He said that growth expectations are tempered according to existing market conditions. Now, liquid capital is not available easily. He agreed that there was a time when growth was the focus when the capital was easily available. Now that capital has shrunk, it’s difficult to have a growth at the cost of profit strategy but the one focused on profits is the best.
Tearing down the product
Frictionless sign-up, a clutter-free website and a shortest path to functional wow! are some of the elements of the SaaS product that is self-serving and sold to remote customers. Three products were at the receiving end … er … learning end from Suresh Sambandam of KissFlow, Bharat, head of UX at Freshdesk, and Shekar Kirani of Accel. While Suresh focused on the sign-up aspects, Bharat gave feedback on design whereas Shekar pinpointed the market focus. Zipboard, Hummingbill and Canvas Flip were the three products that were reviewed on stage.
This was easily the most popular segment of the day. There was laughter, there were learnings, there were moments of revelation, and on top of it, the three products wouldn’t have received such an honest feedback elsewhere. Shekar’s advice was worth a weight in gold especially for Zipboard and CanvasFlip. He was laser sharp in identifying the right customer segment and market and the entrepreneurs in the audience were overawed by his clarity.
The audience felt that Product Teardown deserves to be expanded in future editions of SaaSx. Peer feedback is valuable and helps to refine the product to make it efficient to acquire more customers.
The grand finale of the day was Girish making a fantastic presentation on his journey – from $1 million to $5 million. At each stage in the presentation, he called in the team members who worked on identifying a specific problem and explained what worked and what didn’t. What came through was the endeavour that propelled everyone at Freshdesk to work towards a common goal. What made these young guys work like men (and women) possessed is the specialty of the Freshdesk culture. Not much detail can be revealed, as we have to respect the fact that Freshdesk is a funded company. But what Girish said at cocktail was taut: “When I am on stage, if some guy thinks if he can do it, I can also do it, I am happy about it” It is suffice to say those who were at the hall were pumped with inspiration by Girish to think big and if you need that, you have to make it to SaaSx. See you there!