Finding the right people and building a kick ass team— that’s all you need to worry about. That’s how we built our beta of Finic in just four months. That’s all I wanted to say. The end.
OK, fine, I’ll open up a bit more and try to make this post useful and applicable.
#1 We hired a kick ass team in less than a month
A huge part of building a kick ass product is having a kick ass team to build it. Everyone knows this.
Four months ago, we had nothing.
We decided not to outsource our development. We needed to hire a team of developers and designers to build Finic.
Really good engineers and designers already work somewhere, and getting them to leave that place is very tough. It’s like asking someone if they would divorce their husband or wife so they can date you. It’s very hard to convince them if they’re happy with what they have.
We found people by asking for referrals. Here is the process we went through:
- We asked ourselves: Who are the people we’ve worked with from other companies that we’re continually impressed with?
- Where are those people now? Do they like their job? Can they refer someone who might be interested in working with us?
- We asked the best people, the biggest influencers, and the most well-known investors for a referral of someone who would be interested in working with us.
- We made a list of everyone who already likes us (acquaintances we knew from our previous ventures, friends of friends, folks who showed up at our past events) and reached out to ask for a referral.
- We found that great people tend to hang out with other great people. We made it our job to reach out to great people we knew and ask them for a referral.
We hustled hard. We first hired our CTO Arkadiy Dorokhov. Arkadiy helped us hire the entire team of developers and designers in under a month.
It took a little over a month for the team we hired to get used to working with one another. Once the team members identified with the company mission, were comfortable working with each other, and understood their role and how they can move the needle, we were off to the races. Productivity shot up big time.
It’s been a total of four months since we hired our team, and I can honestly say this is a dream team!
#2 Mockups, wireframes and design of Finic
The first step was to write down the description of Finic and why we wanted to build it.
I also sketched out how the tool and concept will actually work. My sketches looked like this:
I made around 20 different wireframes before our designer Oleg Yagolnikov got involved. My sketches, wireframes, and mockups were a starting point for him.
Oleg turned these first wireframes I made into a gorgeously designed website.
#3 Development of Finic
This way everyone (designers, engineers, founders) felt they were part of building the product.
Disagreements between business folks, designers and developers is a normal part of building a product together. Everyone has their own opinion. I learned that if you let everyone be heard no heated arguments will erupt. We came to compromises rather quickly in all our disagreements.
Since our team only consisted of seven people, it was easy to have quick meetings and make sure everyone was on the same page regarding any outstanding issues.
We stressed about figuring out the logistics of processing orders. Some employees thought we should use Shopify. We considered it and even started integrating with it. In the end, we decided against it since we wanted to limit our dependence on huge third party solutions. We went with a simple credit card processing solution instead.
Our front end engineers turned beautifully crafted mockups Oleg produced into CSS code for our website.
We finished Finic Beta in a total of four months.
#4 We missed a lot of deadlines
The very first deadline we set for Finic was to launch beta on February 15th, 2015. We failed to make that deadline.
We moved it to February 25th, then March 10th and then March 20th. We failed to make all those deadlines.
Why did we miss our deadlines?
- We moved to a new office, so we spent time arranging our office.
- We added a lot of new functionality which was not in the original spec.
- We wanted (and still want) to make everything look perfect.
We ended up launching our Finic Beta site on March 25th.
Does it look perfect? Not yet. We still have lots of bugs and missing functionality. We’re working on it— this is why it’s called beta!
#5 Gathering feedback
Immediately after we launched, we knew we needed feedback from people who do not know us, people who do not know our product at all.
We used UserTesting.com and ordered 10 testers to sit down with our website and record their screen as they tried to use Finic. They gave us feedback and comments about our product and user flow.
It only took five hours for all recordings to be ready for viewing. I’d say the recordings were eye-opening and extremely insightful for our team. Crucial elements in our user interface, which we perceived to be user friendly, were actually very confusing.
It was apparent that a lot of functionality, language and user flow required improvement based on the feedback we gathered. We made a lot of changes to significantly improve our user interface.
Here is a sample recording and feedback from one of the testers:
It was apparent that a lot of functionality, language and user flow needed to be fixed based on the feedback we gathered. We made a lot of changes to significantly improve our user interface.
Here is a sample recording and feedback from one of the testers.
#6 Testing user behavior on our site
We decided to run some Facebook ads to test user behavior on our new site. We were curious to see which pages people navigated to on our site, what flow people went through, and how long would they spend on the site. We wondered how the website performed in terms of load times and site speed.
Although we didn’t receive any conversions (people who clicked over did not buy anything), we gathered tons of useful data about user behavior.
Those three sales notifications you see was placed by us.
Before running Facebook ads, we made sure to set up the following on Finic:
- Google Analytics
We spent over a week going over user behavior data we recorded. We fixed issues, bugs and problems we found.
The version we have now is much better!
#7 So here we are. Finic Beta is live.
It took four months to get to this point. It’s April 9th, 2015 and Finic Beta is finally live!
I would love to hear any feedback you have. I’ve seen the power of feedback, and I want to gather as much of it as I can.
Please, please, please send any comments or questions which come up as you look at our site, even if they are teeny tiny.
Any bugs you see— please let me know as well. I hope we caught many of them, but I’m sure you’ll find a few that got past us.
Please do not go crazy promoting and sharing our beta site just yet. We are still in the testing mode and don’t want to get too many orders at this point.
What’s next for Finic?
Right now we are working on fixing bugs and improving our user interface. A big new feature we plan to work on next is a referral program for Finic.
We are also running many A/B test with Facebook ads. Our goal is to run Facebook ads for about two months and grow our sales to 300-400 orders per day. At that point, we’ll have enough data to make further predictions and decisions.
That’s it. Give Finic Beta a whirl. Like it? Hate it? Confused? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear whatever is on your mind!