Startup Stories: Lessons Learned This Week

Hi there! Hope you are doing great, and that there’s some helpful startup tips in this week’s post:

Mind Your Messaging

Kinda along the lines of what I mentioned in last week’s post about ‘Always be demoing’, don’t snub the trusty ‘ol trade show, either.  Last week we did our first exhibiting event at Market NY Expo at the sprawling Jacob Javits Center in NYC. And y’now what? It was awesome! Might need to rethink this headline!We met great people, networked, got some biz dev stuff in the hopper (reseller program, anyone?) and some awesome feedback. For instance, our booth graphics said “All Your Apps…On One Dashboard. Free!”  Several folks thought we were in the apps business, as in creating mobile apps. Good take away.

I was also reminded that people who visit your booth at a trade show almost never read your copy. They could stand there for minutes, scanning all your material and still ask “So what do you do?”

Free Should Mean Free

Another one? People have some serious concern about what ‘free’, as in business freemium, means. Many thought it must mean we are going to make money from selling ads within the app. No way! Once we told them certain folks would eventually pay us for more Insights or advanced features, they were satisfied. So we need to make that crystal clear in our communications.

Cohorts Are Important!

Get yer cohorts over heh! Hey these reports should drive your business, and we’ve discussed the value of cohort analysis in previous posts. We are setting up ours now, including the time between when someone initially signs up for Dasheroo to when they connect their first insight, and most importantly (especially when we launch our billing solution!), Initial Signup to a Paid Account. If you aren’t instrumenting your biz on cohorts you are leaving money on the table!

Automation is Necessary

I learned a great lesson! With the rapidly growing number of new users we are getting (thanks!), I cannot any longer manually review and enter into our CRM solution Salesforce, each person. I really really enjoyed doing that, as it gave me so much insight into the profile of our users – the type of business, where they are located around the world and so on. I personally researched and entered our first 2,500 users. But now, it’s an automated script right from our database into SFDC.

So the lessons are: 1) get your user data under control or die. Like I said, we’re now pumping in all our signups into Salesforce. But that’s only the first step. I’m looking at InsideView as a solution to appending all the vital information like company name, company size, & geo. 2) Although this will automate what I used to do manually, I will always do some random, manual spot checks to make sure I never lose sight of the type of users we are attracting.

Have an awesome week and keep on Dasherooing.

Startup Stories – Lessons Learned This Week

Last week after I posted about what I learned raising our Series A round, I got a lot of positive feedback. And a few folks suggested that I should post a regular ‘lessons learned’ series, especially as we grow in our early startup stages. Great idea, and something I wish I woulda started a year or so ago when Dasheroo was just hatched.

Anyhoo, these won’t be too lengthy. Doesn’t mean I don’t learn something daily, but I’m gonna keep it brief anyway (is it OK to use ‘anyhoo’ and ‘anyway’ to start and end two consecutive sentences?) Also we’re not going to be too literal about ‘lessons’, it may not be a lesson,  just a ‘thing’.

Here we go, some interesting things from this past week:

  • Glengarry Glen Ross

    Image courtesy Glengarry Glen Ross

    ABD (Always be demoing): It would be so easy for me to say “hey, it’s simple. Just go in, connect an app or two and voila! you’ll have a dashboard in 5 minutes. You don’t really need a demo, do ya?”  Well, demos allow you to connect with people, give them your vision and most importantly, get live feedback! Plus it keeps you fresh & on your toes, and who knows you might get a great review. Thanks Small Business Computing and SaaScribe!

  • Keep in mind the importance of enterprise-level selling early on: We’re very focused on getting Stripe, our billing solution, in place and we announced three pricing editions. These are all under $100/month (our entry level ‘Tall’ edition is free, and until June 15, 2015 our ‘Grande’ version is free too!) and we plan on converting and upgrading users at these pricing editions through the app, no salespeople needed. That’s awesome, but read here for a very insightful article about the importance of establishing enterprise-level sales early on if you truly want to become a huge, global and valuable business. One tidbit: “…SaaS businesses that focus their cultures and organizations solely on this model will eventually face significant challenges when trying to scale beyond initial adopters to build and grow from a larger base of revenue.”
  • Don’t just QA your app, QA your www too: We got a few slams this weekend about the mobile experience on our website (poor or no scrolling) after the awesome folks at Y-C Hacker News mentioned us. Hey thanks on 2 counts – we had one of our best signup days so far, and it highlighted a poor user experience that we jumped on immediately.
  • All I know is, if I was applying for a job at Dasheroo (or anywhere for that matter), I’d make sure to get an account and poke around the product before my interview. I was reminded of this, this past week as I was conducting initial interviews for a couple positions here. Almost no one had bothered to create an account! Seriously? And you think you can talk about selling or marketing it?!
  • My new pal, Ted Rubin, who owns the phrase “Return on Relationship” loves bleu cheese stuffed olives in his martini. Gotta love that!

So what do you think? Lemme know if it’s B.S. or onto something good, and what could be improved, OK?