A View from Above

17.03.2011.

Četvrti po redu post nam stiže od Vladimira Oanea, mladog preduzetnika iz Rumunije čije sjajno predavanje na How-to-Web 2010 konferenciji u Bukureštu nam je skrenulo pažnju na uber-kul startap uberVU. Veoma smo zahvalni Vladimiru na ovako dobrom postu i nadamo se da ćemo uskoro imati priliku da ga vidimo i čujemo u Beogradu. Bez daljeg odlaganja – bacite se na post.

uberVU is a social media management and monitoring platforms. We let companies all over the world use our service to manage all their tweets,  facebook posts and more, but also monitor and measure what is going on all over the social web.

A company sets up a dashboard where they can track their company, their products or their competitors. We let them engage with people that complement or recommend their products or get new leads form people that are bad-mouthing their competitors.

The idea originated in 2008. We had a marketing agency and we were doing a lot of social media for ourselves and our clients.

Managing all that and measuring was a big mess. We looked around for tools but all we could find were old, boring, clunky and expensive services created specifically for big companies. We wanted a cheap, what-you-see-is-what-you-have, off-the-shelf product that small businesses can use.

There was no service like that so we made one. True story. :)

Seedcamp FTW

The biggest problem we had to overcome in the beginning was recognition. We were lucky enough to find out about Seedcamp two days before the deadline for the 2008. submissions. We applied, got invited to an interview and then after a week of mentoring we were declared the winners.

Being a Seedcamp winner offers you tremendous advantages.

Seedcamp brings you all of the sudden in the limelight. For us this meant getting meeting with top VCs in London and having access to charter customers. We were able to raise a seed round three months after Seedcamp and really speed up development.

Two years after Seedcamp, uberVU is a growing profitable company. We have offices in two countries and PayPal, The World Bank and T-Mobile are among our customers.

But it was not all a smooth ride. Looking back we made a countless row of mistakes.

DOs and DON’Ts

The customers

We waited too long to charge our customers.

Waiting to get the perfect product before you can charge is a big a BIG mistake. Having paying customers that are giving you feedback can offer a lot of clarity and focus.

We now say “shipped is better than perfect” but in the early days we cared more about vision and perfecting the product to every detail.

We also had no idea that there is process called “customer development” or a book called “The 4 steps to the epiphany(PDF).

All our development ideas came from us and not from our customers. And when we engaged our potential customers we were asking stupid questions like: “Do you think this product is good enough?” or “Would you pay for a service like this?” and no wonder we got very positive answers.

Nobody wants to be the bad guy telling you your product sucks or that they will never pay for this.

The people

But we got some things right too, though some happened by accident rather than by careful planning. We have an amazing team. uberVU is a big family and I love most of my colleagues. They are wonderful people.

But we haven’t done anything special to get here. Even worse, there were moments when we never payed attention to this. How stupid was that?!

The team is all that counts and usually the companies with the best team are the ones that win. Knowing other companies that struggle to get one extra developer or marketing guy I now know how fortunate we have been so far.

The looks

We also cared about design from day one. Not as a strategy. We just hate ugly products.

That was a smart choice as now most of our customers are convinced to use us because of our beautiful interface.

If you are competing with enterprise tools that look like that have developed in the 80’s having a clean interface helps a lot. People inside the companies are still people. No wonder people keep talking about the consumerization of the enterprise. As people use more and more “consumer” products at work, ugliness and slowness will not cut it.

We live in a world where people expect Apple-like interfaces.

To sum it up

So if I was to send myself a message in a bottle back in time it would go something like this:

• Move faster.

• Pay attention to your team because they are more important than you think now.

• And launch whatever you have right away. Don’t wait.

• Charge for your tool.

• And don’t worry so much. Relax. Things will be ok.

Autor: Vladimir Oane

Vladimir is the CEO of UberVU – 2008 Seedcamp winner.

He is a driven entrepreneur and a great adviser when it comes to offering feedback to newly born startups. Before UberVU Vladimir was involved in various startups on the Romanian internet scene.

You can stay in touch with Vladimir on Tumblr and Twitter.


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