Critical Early Feedback Loops

This little startup is, as evident by this blog, a fairly open venture. It is open in the sense that we will openly discuss a lot of the behind the scenes development and business ideas. I think it’s a more interesting model to follow than a traditional closed and secretive one. I’m not worried about giving away ideas to competition — there’s already a big competitive market in the health and nutrition space. A lot of the good ideas are obvious. It all comes down to execution.

This site and blog have been live for quite some time now, but in another sense it’s still in stealth-mode because the site has not been promoted at all yet. The only people that have seen the site at this point are a select few friends that have been told about it, and a few random people who have stumbled upon it from google searches.

Choosing the right time to open up and invite the world in will be a tricky choice. Ideally, it will be as soon as possible. Getting lots of feedback from real users early on is invaluable. It saves a lot of work changing things later, when it becomes substantially more difficult to make big changes. It gets us past the ‘fail fast’ milestone where we can learn very quickly if this whole endeavor is a waste of time, or worth pursuing. If this turns out to be a product no one wants, we get to discover that fact much sooner. It also gets us establishing a revenue stream sooner.  However, if we bring too many people in too soon, when the product is still buggy, ugly, or missing critical features, we risk losing all those early visitors that will dismiss the site and never come back.

Even the small handful of random users that have onto the site have already taught me some invaluable lessons. One thing I was surprised to see that the majority of people who logged in did not bother to set up their user profile and nutritional targets. I can only think this is for one of two reasons. Either it’s not clear enough in the UI that they need to do this — it currently shows a bright yellow message at the top of the screen with a link to open the nutritional target wizard, and maybe they just aren’t seeing it.  The other possibility is that people have privacy concerns and are not comfortable typing in their birthdate and weight.

As a result of this, I will soon be adding an account set-up wizard when you log in the first time, that makes sure you set up some preliminary targets. I will also make it clear that the privacy policy will keep their information strictly confidential.

I think the best strategy will be to continue this slow-burn organic growth without any advertising, until the first phase of beta testing is through and the site’s teething issues are worked out.

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