In these blogs, I tend to focus on problems, because challenges and mistakes occupy most of my time.
If you’ve read my earlier blogs, you maybe sensed that the road so far has been hard and stressful.
Which is true. We built our website four times with three different models, and each time I learned a ton of stuff to apply to the next iteration.
In January this year, I called a staff meeting and stated I didn’t think that what we were creating was ‘awesome enough’ to cut through.
We had to rethink the entire plan – again. I remember the looks of disbelief and exhaustion on their faces: I, the leader, admitting that a year’s work wasn’t good enough.
We had to start from scratch again. It was one scary conversation with the team – and an even harder one with the board and investors. But I knew I was right and, deep down, so did everyone else.
The challenge was to inspire everyone that we could do better.
This time we’d build something that worked, engaged, and our first few attempts had not been in vain. We had learned a lot; now we were in a position to make the right product.
For some strange reason, I’m wired to be tenacious. I can keep going indefinitely even when there’s little sign of progress. But it’s hard to keep a team motivated for long periods of time, if they don’t feel they’re getting anywhere.
Once we decided to make the change, we put our heads together, redesigned our strategy, and back in April started building the Posse you see now.
At first, it felt great to promote a product everyone believed in. After five months, everyone still thought we had a great idea and were on the right track, but stamina wears thin once you’ve been working long hours with no end in sight.
Then everything changed
Last week, everything changed. Things started to fall into place, and I wanted to write this post to describe what a glimpse of sunlight looks like after a long, dark winter.
At our Tuesday staff meetings, we all examine the site metrics from the week before. We’ve only been live for twelve weeks and, for the first six of these, our metrics had flattened out after launch.
We’d developed fast and last week, for the first time, we saw engagement and growth improvements from that work.
More people are joining every week, more stores are being listed every week, and users are returning to add more places, comment on their friends’ stores and use our social search.
We run an advisor program of fifty Sydney marketing students who each visit monthly, in groups, to give us their feedback. The advisors are always positive but a couple of weeks ago I noticed a shift in the way they talked about the site.