Monthly Archives: October 2013

Isn’t every startup like a platform?

Great article, looks to be a series I think, about platforms. This is from Ryan – ex twitter exec.

http://sarver.org/2013/09/26/what-is-a-platform/

I guess my angle here is I tend to think of any startup as a platform. It may not be that it fits the exact description for how the tech industry defines a platform but I like to think of the problems I work on as a platform play. It helps me in taking the long view since I think unless you are incredible lucky, like 3 year old instagram, most startups will be at it a while.

As I like to tell people – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Most platforms take the view of apps or software stacks that are available for developers to build on and the effect of this creates a network effect to further drive the platform. So iOS, facebook, twitter, microsoft, android and others are listed by Ryan as examples of platforms under the common agreement for how platforms are defined. All good – I won’t argue with that premise.

But when it comes to building your startup, no matter what it is – I think this platform methodology can help you define things to work on and focus on. I like this line:

This created a very powerful network effect that drove growth of both sides of the business (developers and users) where growth of one side directly benefited the other.

I think about how the growth on one side directly benefits some other side of your startup. So if you think of all the sides or facets of your startup – you can think about how work on one side can directly benefit another side – find ways to see if the network effect is at all applicable to your startup.

So when I think of spuul – I think of it as a platform for India video consumption and all the sides of the business are broken down in ways to allow me to see the overall product as a platform and to then focus my efforts on figuring how the sides of the platform can feed off each other.

Product management means many things to many different people – I will talk about my theory on it all later – it more closely resembles chaos theory than anything super organized. I realize that breaks a lot of know product management constructs right out of the gate but the craft, yes it is a craft, of making a digital product is an evolving field with many different ways to skin the cat. If I look at all the ways to skin a problem – looking at my product as a platform helps me to focus my efforts.

Looking forward to more from Ryan on this subject and seeing where I can apply it at work.

Also going to read this :: http://mitpress.mit.edu/sites/default/files/titles/content/9780262050852_Download_the_full_text.pdf

back to work…

A startup’s secret weapon – customer service!

I have always been preaching, even if it is not easy, that with how much work a startup does to get customers you might as well make them feel loved with your customer service so that they stay with you.

We had a slight glitch with our android app yesterday – being in the streaming business with video makes for some complex apps that must always work and are used 24/7. So when we have an issue the email and app store comments come in fast and furious. We figured out the issue and pushed a new app. Thank god for my team being available on a sunday to make it so.

So what do we discover after fixing the app – a nice google play comment like this:

★★★★★
App version 1.2.6
Oct 6, 2013 at 11:10 PM
Amazing Amazing app and even better service. Fixed bug within a day!!

Stuff like this is awesome since we all know that startups will have issues but being able to fix them and get feedback is priceless.

I also must add that this is where Google Play is ahead of Apple App Store since they allow us to see the comments and respond to them directly – which I think makes a huge difference in getting to user issues, keeps the trolls out and allows a company to manage their ratings up. All not possible on the App Store. Huge bummer.

Anyway. Customer service. Get on it.

Learning to scale

No – not talking about code here since I am far from an expert in scaling systems – that’s why I hire people smarter than me.

Talking about myself actually. I like to think I am fairly organized but I will admit that generally I feel as through I am hurtling through space and time grabbing things as I go and completing them but always feeling like I am on to the next thing quicker than I want to be. So if you can picture that then you will realize that the only logical choice I have is to focus on less things since time is not going to expand and excelling at my craft requires focus. I do believe strongly that running a product team is a craft and I can only get better at with experience and focus.

That being said I think it is important to try and give back where I can. I used to think this meant going to events or trying to stay plugged into the community but the effort to stay plugged in is time consuming and I am not sure there is much gained from it except for specific situations where I have met someone that I later became friends with or worked with. So this is important but I think one can see events as the be all end all when they are not. So choose your events wisely and attend them with the goal of getting the most out of them.

Apart from spuul, my current location for perfecting my craft, I obviously still want to stay in the community but this year I decided I would channel that focus a bit. I am finding that being involved in the jfdi mentor program has been just the ticket. I don’t know how best to do it other than jump in and make myself available. I am not always in town but when I am in town I plan on spending a morning at jfdi and get as many meetings as I can in the calendar with any of the startups that want to meet. Yesterday there were six busy, but largely productive meetings.

I like the one to many method in which I can spend my time but truth be told I am learning as much as I am giving. I think anytime one has to channel their energies into helping others one will get as much from it as they give. This model is allowing me to scale my time in the community better and hopefully keep myself plugged in.

If you are unaware of the latest batch of startups you can check them out here: http://jfdi.asia/portfolio/

I won’t discuss them here but check them out – some of them have even launched their services to the public so try it and support the products. I will admit I am partial to a few – especially the ones that give me shirts. #mentorspoils

October is a special month. Lots going on in the region, spuul will be launching some kick ass stuff and I am taking a holiday to Japan!

Carry on…