Lean Startup Challenge: Weekly Reflection 3

At the end of last week, Lean Startup Challenge started eliminating teams. Luckily, Grafpad is still in the challenge, but things are getting harder. I’m excited to see that there is a group of users that keeps coming back to use Grafpad repeatedly, but this group is currently pretty small (less than 20 people). There has also been a number of suggestions for Grafpad improvements. Two of the most popular ones are ability to collaborate on the same file online and being able to use Grafpad on a tablet PC. I want to assure the readers that there are definitely plans for collaboration system and touch screen functionality is already being worked on, but both will take some time to implement.

Second, I wanted to talk about the changes made to Grafpad during the current week. The biggest change some of you might have noticed is the new interface, or rather new icon theme.

I have been getting some complaints that the old icons were tiny and hard to see. I think the new ones should be a lot more descriptive. I am, however, considering adding ability in the settings to switch the icons to smaller size for those with less real estate on the screen (netbooks, for example). The second change is the color scheme, it seems like orange and black works a lot better than pink and purple. Now that the main page has already been changed to the new color scheme, modifying the app itself to be consistent was a no-brainer.

The second change many of you might be aware of is that I decided to let free users store one SVG file per account on our server. I’m still trying to decide whether this will be a temporary, promotional service during the alpha or if I will allow those who sign up later to use it as well.

I want free users to enjoy the app, but this is a business I’m trying to run after-all, and it doesn’t look like ads alone can pay the bills yet. Speaking of which, as part of this week’s changes, ads now do appear in the app as well.

Another change, that many users will probably appreciate, is that I finally managed to fix zoom on Safari. While at it, I added some other minor enhancements to zoom as well, one of them being a text box that allows the user to zoom in/out by typing in zoom percentage.

This week’s metrics were trickier to gather, there were a lot of inconsistencies and I had to rely on internal web2py hooks to obtain accurate data rather than KISSmetrics or Performable. Maybe the guys running those services didn’t like what I said about them last week and decided to take revenge (I’m joking). Most-likely, it’s actually flaws in the way I’ve been measuring the data that are now getting exposed as I get more return visitors.

Acquisition: 0.58%
There were 111 new visitors to the site this week. However, this week the main source of visitors was from an announcement on Linked In Python Community group. The group has 19,121 members, but the chances of a member seeing the announcement are pretty slim (they don’t get shown to the members unless they happen to be visiting the group during the 2-day period that it stays on the main page). Many people are members of 30+ groups and visit Linked In less than once a week, let alone one of the groups there. So I definitely would not trust that all 20k members saw the announcement (probably less than a quarter of them actually saw it), but this is the only data I have, so I will have to go with it.

Activation: 9.91%
There were 11 new registrations this week. In a proper statistical experiment, I wouldn’t trust a data set this small. Unfortunately, it’s the only data I have to go on now, and it’s double the percentage from last week. I will leave this experiment running for another week before making a final decision, but it does look like changing the look and giving users free storage increased the rate of new sign ups.

Retention: 36.36%
Out of 11 people who signed up, 4 of them logged in more than once. Last week, 5/14 people signed in more than once. Just as last week, I don’t think this data is statistically significant. I must admit, however, that people who signed in before, seem to be returning more now, there were 38 return logins this week.

Referral: 0%
It still seems like no one is spreading the word about Grafpad yet, it’s possible that some people are, just not through the social media links.

Revenue: 0%
Looks like Ramen noodles for me this week again.

Plans for Next Week
Next week I plan to try using Google AdWords for acquisition instead. It’s becoming clear that my current methods alone don’t seem to be working anymore. I’m also thinking of removing the extra steps from sign up process to encourage better retention rate. For example, instead of showing users the EULA and asking them to finalize the registration through their email, it might make sense to just give them a link to the EULA and allow them the first login without having to do email confirmation. I’m also not getting as much new feedback about the app anymore, so I might need to start actively asking other engineers, students, and designers (the target audience) about the kind of functionality they’re looking for (either through forums or meetup groups).

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About Alexander Tsepkov

Founder and CEO of Pyjeon. He started out with C++, but switched to Python as his main programming language due to its clean syntax and productivity. He often uses other languages for his work as well, such as JavaScript, Perl, and RapydScript. His posts tend to cover user experience, design considerations, languages, web development, Linux environment, as well as challenges of running a start-up.

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