Socialcam: Concept to MVP to 250k users in under 3 Months


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  • Justin Kan\nHere to talk to you about Socialcam\nDidn’t realize that it actually costs you money to be here -- going to try extra hard to make this worth your coin. But if not, ask Rich for your $ back.\n
  • Here to talk to you about our new app Socialcam\n250k downloads, first 6 weeks\nLaunched 2 months ago\n\n
  • In order to understand how we got here, it is important to understand where we came from.\n\nLong before we started working on Socialcam, we started this company\n
  • started from a crazy idea that I had to create my own live, 24/7 reality show on the web. \n
  • Think Big Brother, but with a less entertaining cast of 1.\nWhen we started, I was not aware of the Lean Startup philosophy\n\n
  • Consequently, we:\n* invested thousands in building a hardware platform we didn’t know that anyone wanted (they didn’t)\n\n
  • * LAunched our show\n\n
  • * immediately abandoned our hardware after launch to use commodity hardware i.e. laptop with evdo card\n\n
  • * accrued a $43,000 bandwidth bill in the first month (our total cash on hand was somewhere around $20k at that point)\n\n
  • * then abandoned our idea in entirety when we realized that no one wanted to watch a show about Justin\n\n
  • only silver lining of this process was that we finally started listening to user feedback\nThe users told us “we want some way to broadcast live video too”\nso we started building a platform for live video\n\n\n
  • and then we immediately stopped listening to user feedback\n\n
  • The next four years was a war of attrition, a slog, a death march. But you didn’t come to hear about building a live video site, you came because you wanted to hear about mobile, which is the hot new thing. \n\n
  • So, I’ll just say that in the 3.5 years after launch we became\n* the largest live video site\n* 30mm users watch over 60mm hours of video every month\n* revenue generating\n\n
  • Unfortunately, We did all of this without employing lean startup methodologies or doing real customer development, not because of it -- which was extremely painful.\n\n
  • \nAnd so we continued, until about six months ago. Six months ago, what happened was we’d grown and achieved all these things, and gotten a ton of experience in consumer web, and scaled ourselves pretty significantly (both our capacity and our headcount). At the same time, we started to realize that we thought offering a live platform alone was a limited market -- live video was always going to be better for some times of video, and worse for others.\n\n
  • \n\nSo we started thinking about how we could attack a bigger market. And finally, finally, finally we started looking around our site and observing what people were doing.\n\n
  • One of the things we took a look at was the mobile app.\n\nA few months previous, we’d launched an app for Android and iPhone that let you broadcast live video. The apps had gotten a couple million downloads cumulatively, but one thing we pretty quickly noticed was that people were:\n\n
  • * only going live for a few minutes at most (holding up a camera sucks)\n* most views were coming from archive views (unlikely that your friends would be on their computers when you went live)\n* despite these major hurdles, people were still using the app to create video\n\nWhy?\n\nPeople were using our live video app to record and share video. Yes, the existing solutions are really that bad:\n\n\n
  • Existing solutions were that bad\n\nYou could email it, which would attach a .MOV file to your email\n\n
  • You can MMS it which has a limit\n\n
  • You can upload it to Youtube\n* people didn’t have a youtube account\n* people dont think of youtube as the place for friends and family videos\n* its a bajillion step process\n\nWell it turns out, most people don’t want to share live video from their phones -- hell, they barely know how to share recorded video from their phones!\n\n\n
  • Instead they were using our app to:\n* Upload video instantly to the cloud (click stop, done)\n* Share immediately on Facebook and Twitter\n\nSo, that is when we started working on a mobile app to let anyone easily share video from their phone.\n\n
  • So we finally found a problem that we felt users were desperate for, and started trying to tackle it.\n
  • Critical design decisions:\n* Streaming upload\n* No live video in the app\n* Sharing built into the work flow\n* tagging users who are not yet in the app\n\n
  • Product Timeline:\n* October / November - decided to do research into mobile\n* December 1 - 15 - started putting together a spec\n* Dec 15 - Jan 15 - vacation\n* Jan 15 - Feb 28 - development\n* beginnging of March - Launch\n\n
  • * Did a lot of customer development and planning first\n** looked at other apps in the space\n** looked at how we were using the app\n
  • \n** every week we had a mobile challenge lottery, where someone would win 50 bucks\n* Wrote comprehensive specs, and stubbed the API and started mockups well in advance\n* challenged the team to achieve by a certain deadline: SXSW\n\n
  • Team:\n* 2 iphone devs\n* 1 android\n* 1 product designer\n* 1 backend\n* me\n* assorted help from existing teams in setting up infrastructure\n\n
  • Marketing plan:\n* Starting about six weeks before launch (at this point when the product was very nascent), we started planning news stories every week. these were:\n
  • \n** blog posts we wrote about startup related stuff (got a placement on Techcrunch)\n
  • \n** launched a viral landing page\n** launch video\n** launch party in SF\n\n
  • ** sxsw promotion - gave away fiji trip\n** previews of the app to writers\n\n
  • Some of these things worked, others didn’t. The key thing was that we planned enough stuff so that we’d have consistent coverage\n\nAfter the launch, many friends of mine told me they were impressed by how much buzz we’d gotten from socialcam. -- but I was always obsessed with the things that hadn’t worked a little\n\n
  • Launch (needs improvements):\n* more time for in house testing (this was a bit constrained by our launch deadlines)\n* more instrumentation from day one\n* more efficient use of our marketing dollars (hindsight is 20/20)! The video was our throwback to the old way of doing things :D\n\n
  • Since launch:\n* Everyone on the team has taken vacations\n* We’ve tried to iterate based on:\n** our own opinions of the app (it is good to work on something you want to use)\n** looking at the data (figured out where the falloff is in the creation funnel, and optimized those things -- this is a work in progress!)\n\n
  • \n
  • Example:\n* one mechanism for spreading the app is to let users tag their friends in videos, then the friend sees the video, and downloads the app\n* Got tags up to .55 per video from .36, by introducing a different work flow\n* seems pretty obvious -- but it took the data to figure this out\n\n
  • For the future:\n* continue to observe how customers use the app\n* look at the metrics of what people are doing\n* iterate the app\n\n\n\n
  • The future market:\n* Smartphone cameras will replace handheld video cameras (flip)\n* Some software will power that video ingestion to the web\n* That software will be us :)\n
  • \n
  • Socialcam: Concept to MVP to 250k users in under 3 Months

    1. 1. SocialcamLean Startup Circle - May 12, 2011
    2. 2. Invested $ in building out hardware platform
    3. 3. Launched our show
    4. 4. Immediately abandoned hardware post-launch
    5. 5. Started drowning in bandwidth bills!
    6. 6. Changed idea :/
    7. 7. Users Hey, we want to broadcast live too! Us Ok.
    8. 8. Users Hey, we want to be able to do X Us Absolutely not.
    9. 9. Skipping slightly ahead...
    10. 10. 3.5 years after launch• Largest live video site in history• 30m users watching over 60m hours of video a month• Ka-ching! Revenue generating.
    11. 11. Hey, should we ask our users what this herp-a-derp feature should do?JTV Engineer Nah. Us
    12. 12. Thus we continued...
    13. 13. Now what?
    14. 14. JTV mobile app• Users only going live for a few minutes• Most views came from archives• Still, users were creating content
    15. 15. Using our JTV app for:• Uploading video instantly to the cloud• Sharing immediately on Facebook and Twitter
    16. 16. Hooray, a real world problem!
    17. 17. Early decisions for Socialcam• Streaming upload• No live video in the app• Sharing built into the work flow• Tagging users who are not yet in the app
    18. 18. Product Timeline• Oct / Nov - Started doing research• Early Dec - Spec• Mid-Dec to Jan 15 - Vacation• Jan 15 to Feb 28 - Client Development• Beginning of March - LAUNCH
    19. 19. Keys to getting product out quickly
    20. 20. Socialcam Team• 2 iPhone Engineers• 1 Android Engineer• 1 Product Designer• 1 Backend Engineer• me (project manager)• Assorted help
    21. 21. Marketing
    22. 22. Marketing• Wrote blogs (and contributed blog posts)• Viral landing page• Promo video• SF Launch party• SXSW promotion• Demo’ed the App to writers
    23. 23. Needs Improvement• More time for in house usage and testing• More instrumentation from Day 1• More efficient use of marketing dollars
    24. 24. Since Launch• Everyone has taken a vacation!• Iterated based on: • Our own usage • Looking at data
    25. 25. • Tagging lets users tag friends in videos • User sees video, joins app• Tags increased post change from .36 to .55 per video• Seems pretty obvious in retrospect!
    26. 26. For the future• Continue to observe how customers use the app• Look at metrics of what people are doing• Iterate the app• Repeat
    27. 27. Why we think Socialcam is worth working on• Smartphone cameras will replace other video cameras• Some software will power that video ingestion• That software will be Socialcam :)
    28. 28. Questions? Comments?