Tag Archives: Wishberg

Forget coding. Startup founders should focus on Product & Design.

Last year (2011) learning coding was hot, may be it still is. Sites like Code for America came up; startups like Codecademy, Learnstreet, Udacity, etc came up that were focusing on building products that enabled others to learn coding in an interactive way. Then it looked like a kind of movement, a revolution in making.

Being a startup founder some of those effects trickled down to India – that made me seriously consider coding. And there were some other reasons as well. We started¬†Wishberg by outsourcing product development to another company. As deadlines were missed repeatedly, this whole ‘founders should be coders’ effect started growing on me.

During this phase I did two things a.) started hiring our own engineering team b.) learn coding inspired by this noise. I started learning very enthusiastically to an extent that my bio read that I was learning to code. Going through multiple forums, registering on these websites, taking lessons on LAMP stack and so on. A bit of background, being a engineering student (though Mechanical) – I had some basic coding background. Few years back, I even built some basic websites, did a bit of javascripts, etc.

As we started hiring engineering talent I asked myself two questions –

  • Will I ever come up to the level of proficiency that matches our engineering team?
    No. I was no where close to them.. while I was doing ABC of coding, our team was super involved in deploying code, implementing Redis / Node.js, building scalable architecture, mobile infrastructure and so on. I didn’t want my team to tell me I suck on programming (which I knew I did anyway). More importantly, I wanted the team to focus on building our product and not spend timing teaching me code or correcting my code.
  • Will I ever hire anyone who has learned programming through online sites?

I also checked with few technical founders who raised investments; few agreed that being a tech founder was probably a added advantage while raising money. But many of them also mentioned that post investment they spent more time finding product-market fit, doing business, improving their product, user experience, managing investors (many a times!) and eventually spending lesser and lesser time on coding themselves.

Eventually all startup founders end up focusing only on consumption side of product (front end user experience, improving funnels and conversion metrics) than the one under the hood. This is when I gave up my decision to learn coding and started focusing on learning design (user design and user experience) which is as core to product as technology is. I started spending more time understanding design tools, design patterns and implementing them on Wishberg. I am no where saying underlying technology, architecture, speed, and scalabilty are not important.

For online businesses, there is no doubt scarcity of good engineering talent; but there is more scarcity of product designers and even much more scarcity of product managers. Startup founders knowingly / or unknowingly start getting into product management role.

I have been a product guy for about 7 years and now feel that I should have learned design long back. Our team not just gets product documentation from me, but also product designs including all scenarios and exceptions. There is a certain clarity of thought which engineers appreciate and exactly know what is to be built – which save lot of time while shipping code / features. Every month, we look at data, un-design by removing clutter, remove additional clicks and aim to improve conversions on every step.

Geek Example – The 2012 Formula 1 Season had 12 teams of which 4 had the winning Renault RS27-2012 engine on their cars. Yet there was only one winner – The Red Bull Racing team. The original Renault team (now Lotus Renault GP) which manufactured and supplied the RS27-2012 engine to Red Bull team stood fourth in overall 2012 championship. In fact Red Bull won the championship for last 3 seasons with the Renault engine. What really mattered – the product RB8 chassis. More importantly the people driving the product, its team – drivers Sebastian Vettel & Mark Webber, Team Principal and Chief Technical Officer.

Concluding Notes:
What engine you have under the hood (technology) matters. What car / chasis the engine drives (the product) matters more. But what matters most is who is driving / leading it. Don’t get over obsessed with technology, focus on product & design.

So all those who complimented us on Wishberg‘s product design & usability… need a hint on who was the person behind it? Yours truly.

Naming your startup right!

Agree there are many articles on the topic – ‘Naming your startup!’. The only reason I am writing yet another post is because I’ve suffered the pains of naming our startup wrong.

The earlier version of Wishberg was Tyche’d. Tyche is the greek goddess of fortune. It meant luck in Roman. I came up with a new word – Tyche’d, which according to us meant getting lucky or getting fortune. My initial reaction – this was the most brilliant word, only next to Google or Twitter. We were so convinced with this name – we just went ahead and registered domain, company and other identities. We pronounced it as “Tai-Kee”.

There were signs all over that we’re wrong!

  • Early signs: Our accountant, hiring consultants, candidates we were interviewing always had this question to ask – “Sorry, but how do we pronounce this?”. We thought they would get used to it.
  • Next signs: Investors reached out to us – “Hey Pravin, heard you’re building a product called Tiched. Tell us more about it.” We thought they would get used to it.
  • Next signs: We announced the product in Dec 2011. Our friends and users started asking us – “How to pronounce this name? How to spell this name?.” We thought they would get used to it.
  • The bad signs – Post launch, we started reaching out to users and friends how their product experience was. Answers – “Oh, yes. What is the name of your product. It is called ‘touched’ something right?”

And there was a time we got used to this question – “What is your startup called? How do you pronounce name of your start-up?” Unfortunately we ignored all the early signs. This was a big lesson we learned – spotting signals when things are going wrong or are not according to the plan. As a startup founder, one needs to be open to change always – business name or even the business itself (pivoting).

By April, we were already setting up our team and working on the revamped product. We decided to rebrand from Tyche’d to something simpler, something people would find easy to recall, relate with our product and its core proposition of ‘wish’. It took us many days to choose with from multiple combinations. The last set of 50 choices included –

Wishmatcher, Wishpug, Wishbull, Wishberg, Wishkite, Wishrite, Wishfold, Wishtro, Wishhawk, Wishbyte, Wishsome, Wishjini, Wishtake, Wishpair, Wishtiles, Wishting, Wishnix, Wishmile, Wishred, Wishmatch, Wishport, Wishe, Wishper, Wishboard, Wishbud, Wishbuddy, Wishbuds, Wishpix, Wishtown, Wishcity, Wishworld, Wishtree, Wishspot, Wishon, Gowish, Wishkart, Wishspace, Wishhunt, Wishhunter, Wishpal, Wishmate, Wishmates, Wishgrid, Wishgram, Wishhub, Wishwall, Wishpage, Wishweb, Wishrank, Wishsurfer, Wishybee, Wishling, Wishpool

We called every friend of ours asking them whats the best choice! The final two were Wishpug v/s Wishberg. (Btw, now I own many of the above domain names)

Wishberg was selected for two reasons:

  • Many of our friends related with Wishberg cause of other similar brand names – Carlsberg (Beer), Zuckerberg (Facebook founder), Bloomberg (News), Iceberg (Titanic), Goldberg (WWE Wrestler)
  • Wishberg ~ Iceberg. Wishing is just the tip of our platform, there is more to come.

Today almost everyone from our accountant, employees, partners, friends, family and most importantly our users know ‘Wishberg‘.

Feedback / Advice –

Of simple startup names that work –

  • Single letter words – Path, Square, Fab, Uber
  • Twisted Spellings – Lyft, Digg, Disqus
  • Tongue Twisters – Quora, Twitter, Bitly
  • Double letter words – Instagram, Foursquare, SendGrid, Facebook, AngelList, TechCrunch, PostMates (Wishberg goes here).

I did a bit of research, and found following excellent articles about ‘Naming your Startup’. If you are at a similar stage of naming your product / startup – make sure you read all of them –

Talk to as many people as you can to cross check if your startup/product has the right name. Spend over a month just to make sure you have got it right. This is the identity you are building and it will be with you for rest of your life.

Another good way to collect User Feedback

As a product guy for many years I have used multiple methods / tools to collect user feedback. Some analytic tools that are under the hood like Google Analytics, Omniture, Kissmetrics, etc and others that are on the face of user like WebEngage, UserVoice, etc. If you love your product, any amount of feedback that you receive will be less.

For Wishberg, we wanted to hear more and so we introduced a feedback screen on the logout page. When any user logs out of his Wishberg account, its right there for users to share how their product experience was. Try out how this works on Wishberg, alternatively below is the screenshot of same.

Wishberg Feedback

The rational behind doing this is simple. If you have noticed, few years back when you logged out of web email services like Yahoo or others, they placed a huge banner advertisement on the subsequent page. Many of these advt banners had a CTR of 3% to 6% making it the most prime properties for advertisers. We replaced that advt spot with feedback.

Users have been very vocal in telling us what the love/hate about Wishberg and also pointing out what they want in the product. For a product owner it is probably the best way to collect feedback, equivalent to talking to your users. I hope to see many more product owners doing something similar to this.