A log of articles, blog posts, and podcasts, that I've read and listened to in recent month.
I mostly read about topics related to mobile UX and UI design, and to React Native development and deployment.
Got to this gem, through one of the articles: SXSW Keynote - "You Know What? Fuck Dropdowns."
Did not finish: Transformational Leaders episode.
Robin van Lieshout is the co-founder and CEO of Insided, a customer success community platform for SaaS companies. What do you do if you've built a great SaaS product, but no one seems to care about it? In 2010, Robin launched a SaaS company in the Netherlands. He was able to pre-sell the idea to T-Mobile for a six-figure annual contract. It seemed like the perfect way to start his business. And in the next couple of years, he grew the business to around 40 customers. But he started seeing a worrying trend. The majority of his customers weren't actually using the product.
He knew that it was just a matter of time before those customers churned. So he made the decision to refocus his business on a new customer segment – high-growth SaaS companies. But when he started reaching out to his prospective customers – no one seemed interested in his product. His sales team couldn't even get people to reply to their emails. They wondered if maybe they were trying to solve a problem that his target market didn't care about.
Robin had to figure out what was going on and he had to do it quickly.He spent a lot of time listening to recordings of sales calls, talked to a lot of prospective customers and eventually realized that they didn't have a product/market fit issue – they had a messaging issue. He and his team didn't understand their target customers well enough. And so their messaging was off and as a result, their sales efforts were failing miserably.
Once they eventually got their messaging right, things started to click. They started making sales and growing the business again. Today, they're doing just under $10 million ARR. In this interview, we talk about how Robin figured out the right messaging, how he optimized his pricing to increase the average contract value and how he's now generating 100% of his leads through inbound marketing.
Sabba Keynejad is the co-founder of Veed.io, a UK-based SaaS startup that provides a simple online video editor. Sabba and his co-founder Tim were frustrated working with complex and time-consuming video editing software. They realized that for many tasks, these products were overkill. So they set out to build a simple online video editing tool.
They failed to raise seed funding so they had to work contract jobs during the day. And then they worked on their business at night. A few months later they applied to YC and made it to the final interview. They flew out to the YC offices in Mountain View excited to be on a cusp of a big break. But they were rejected by YC because they weren't making any money.
So 48 hours later, the founders implemented a paywall and had their first 20 paying customers. It was a promising sign that they were solving a worthwhile problem, so they kept going. But by August, they had less than one month's runway left and knew they were going to struggle to make payroll. So they doubled their prices with little to impact on user growth.
Today, they're generating over $10K in MRR and are growing 50% month over month. The key takeaway from this story is that failure is part of life. It's how you bounce back that matters.
Renat Zubairov is the CEO and co-founder of Elastic.io, a hybrid integration platform that helps businesses connect APIs, and on-premise and cloud applications quickly and securely. In 2012, Renat and his co-founders were working for a company where they were doing a lot of integration work. They realized that they weren't the only ones feeling the pain.
Eventually, they came up with an idea to build a SaaS integration platform. They used their savings to start their company and spent the first six months building a product. But they didn't talk to any customers. So when they eventually launched, it was hard for them to find customers. Even giving away the product for free didn't help much.
But when they started charging for their product, something interesting happened. They started attracting better quality customers. And the feedback they got from those customers allowed them to build a better product and serve those customers better. They realized that they could charge even more for their product by targeting larger companies.
Today, a typical customer pays them around $10K a year and they're currently doing around $2.5 million in annual revenue. And they've been growing over 100% year over year (YOY) for the last 3 years.
Bryan Helmig, CTO and Co-Founder of Zapier, discusses managing distributed software teams. Marcus Blankenship spoke with Helmig about how to create a productive remote culture, collaboration patterns and tools, the challenges of time zones, special challenges that managers face, and the extra importance of clear communication on remote teams.
Jay Kreps, CEO of Confluent discusses an enterprise integration architecture organized around an event log. Robert Blumen spoke with Jay about the N-squared problem of data integration; how LinkedIn tried and failed to solve the integration problem; the nature of events; the enterprise event schema; schema definition languages; the use of an event log in single node and distributed databases; how the concept of an event log was generalized from a database to the enterprise; the initial development of Kafka; the evolution of Kafka in the last four years; the addition of a SQL-like interface to Kakfa; operational requirements around the use of Kafka as event log; how programs get their events into Kakfa; adding new databases to the Kafak-centric architecture; applications that consume and produce internal events; correctness and how to handle bad events.
In this Hasty Treat, Scott and Wes talk about the non-glamorous skills that will improve your life as a developer!
In this episode of React Native Radio Josh Justice interviews Yassir Hartani. Yassir writes a blog about all he learns while programming with React Native. They begin by discussing his article about React Native Navigation. Yassir explains why he prefers React Native Navigation and walks Josh through the article.
They move on to share tips for getting into React Native development. Yassir shares the differences between React Native development and developing on the web. He explains the difference in base components, syntax, and naming. For those used to developing on the web he recommends using styled-components.
Next, the discuss best practices for upgrading and explain why upgrading in React Native can be painful. They discuss tips for improving user experience including, keyboards, clickable buttons, native feedback, and safe area view. Developer experience tips are next. Yassir recommends building for both iOS and Android, test for both platforms as well. They also recommend testing on a physical device. The panel shares other testing tips and gives error tracking recommendations.
This week, Josh Warwick teaches us how to build applications that work offline and on poor connections. He explains 6 approaches to working offline and when and how to use them.
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:
I work for a software consultancy as a senior product manager. For 5+ years, our team of 40 designers, developers and QA has designed, built, deployed, and operated a large SaaS platform. We are passionate about evolving the product, know the domain well and managed to improve a lot of processes in the client’s company. We go way beyond “just development”. The problem is that the client’s internal staff treats us poorly, especially when it comes to product decisions. As a product manager, I have all the responsibilities of a respective in-house specialist, but almost no power. When I refuse to prioritize a feature that does not make sense based on data and user research, the client’s customer success reps go crazy and escalate it to the CEO. I have seen email threads where internal employees call us “offshore resources”… How can I change this situation? I don’t want to leave this job because I really like the product I am working on, as well as the team.
Connor asks: “I recent round of layoffs at my company has me thinking about my future as a software engineer. Every layoff I’ve been through, the more tenured employees are the ones let go. I also, generally speaking, haven’t seen a lot of older software engineers (50+) in the companies I have worked for. I love programming, but can I reasonably expect to stay employable in this field for the next forty years?
This week we continue with our “best of best” content, discussing the all-time best leaders in the industry! Of course, our very own, John C. Maxwell has poured leadership into thousands of people. Laugh along as Paul and Mike bicker over who they think have the better top picks…who do you think had the better picks for top movies, books and now leaders? When you think of a leader, who comes to mind? John C. Maxwell, Mother Theresa and Abraham Lincoln to name a few.