Life of FBi | Non-Tech Start-up Founder

Looks like a Chinaman, Sounds like an Aussie, Utterly Confusing

Re-applying Lean Lessons Learned

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We‘ve been working on a new product line, Thread Tradition, for the last several weeks. It’s still in private beta, although if you ask President, Jack Reyer ( nicely, I’m sure he’ll pass along an early invite. Attending an Eric Ries Lean Startup talk during the week, it reminded me of some lean tactics we’d applied in the early months at Blank Label (and still are!).

Test as Many Forms of Traffic as Possible

Something I touched on in my last post, one of the biggest mistakes we’ve made is not testing different forms of traffic early enough, especially paid search. If you can’t be profitable on a channel where people are actively looking for you, e.g. for us “custom dress shirts” you have a problem. If they’re looking for you, and you can’t convince them to convert, what chance do you have on converting a browser or passer-by?

Three Yes’s to Product Development

We take three things into consideration when building and iterating product. i) Analytics. Why is there a high bounce rate on this page? Why is everyone buying the gingham shirt? ii) Customers. “Hey guys this page sucks, I have no idea what’s going on here.” ” You guys need to get more gingham, didn’t you know everyone’s buying gingham now”. iii) Product vision. What message are we trying to convey on this page. Are we selling to hipsters or business executives.

Talking to Customers Is  The Best form of Learning

TALK to CUSTOMERS! Talking I define here as a back and forth conversation. The best vehicles of talking are on the phone and on instant messenger. Don’t think you’re doing enough by throwing up a feedback tab on the right and answering a handful of people who bother to drop an email. We use Snap Engage for IM, just an awesome product. I’ve personally called hundreds of customers who’ve ordered to ask them about their experience. Some get annoyed because they want to keep the relationship online but the overall net is undoubtedly positive.

Start Thinking about CAC and LTV from Day One

Because our main sources of traffic for Blank Label for year one were press and word-of-mouth, we didn’t really think too much about CAC, we said PR is free so our CAC is zero! Awesome! Not awesome, because PR is hard to scale. And we definitely didn’t think about LTV. It wasn’t until only several weeks ago we started to seriously look at customers’ behavior over time rather than just at the single transaction level. Through talking to customers we get a better sense of how many dress shirts they purchase a year, and from that we can make better judgements of LTV and from that CAC. Wow we can actually spend $X to acquire a customer! That makes a lot more channels look profitable.

What lean lessons are you applying to your startup everyday?


Written by Fan Bi

January 29, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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