StartUp Founder Smugness: A Growing Problem Exists!
As many of you readers know, we run a successful SEO practice here in the Hamilton area…and it’s really what gets up up each day. That said, you may also know that we work damn hard here too for our startup community…and I am only one “spoke” in that wheel…but it surely provides us with lots to do – and to think about too.
Enter my point today – that as a startup founder you need to speak to your customers BEFORE you bloody well go off on a tangent – lengthy rant on!
I was excited a few days ago, to find over on techcrunch.com a great piece there on a new SaaS product that I thougth just might help me big-time in my own new startup, a mobile app, and I read that I could use this new product to help market my own startup. Cool I thought….and that’s what led to my total frustration with the founders of same.
I clicked the link on techcrunch, and found the site and looked around…nice looking site….and I had a discount code in hand from the techcrunch site too…so I thought, sure, for a 90 day free trial – let’s give it a shot! Sad mistake….
I clicked on the “Sign up for Free” button…and got a form to fill in but the form had NO text to tell me what text to enter where…just very nice looking white boxes. Hmm…okay, so maybe a page refresh might….nope. Didn’t work. Hmm…okay so three fields…maybe I’ll try – email – password – password confirm – and then click on the Sign Up submit button….and yes! That worked….and I now get the SaaS package listings to choose from and I wanted the “Indie” one, so a click there led to that IE warning you get if the site does NOT have a Certificate that is valid….but I clicked on the not recommended “go to the site anyways” text button and yup…another much longer form again with no text to show what needs to be filled in any of the fields. No way to fill that one in…and I’m stopped cold. Can’t become a customer. Can’t ask for help as there’s no support button. Can’t do anything…but sigh at the founders’ “customer-lost stupidity” and surf away.
Wait, you say. Maybe there was an issue with my own computer and what the founder’s had “expected” me to be using…and yeah, my thinking too and that get’s this rant to the crux of the matter!
As a long long long time computer user (since the 70’s) I know a thing or two about the boxes we base our lives on. In this case, I was using a new win7/IE9 combination – like over 50% of the world does. It’s my own default browsing setup – I use what my clients use and for them all, it’s the default windows software that is on more than 90% of the computers out there.
Am I ‘biased’ here? No more than anyone else who uses a computer, IMHO as 90+% of the world uses a PC. And the various versions of IE run at slightly over 50% of the world too…so….I am definitely “in” the majority of users. Also, as my own experience has shown, I’m also “in” the business usage majority too.
So “what” you’re thinking…the founders of that SaaS service could care less, is what!
Think about it. You want to launch a business startup, a SaaS service aimed at the busines world – and your site won’t even work with the majority of business computers out there. What does that say about that SaaS product that you want folks to buy on a monthly sub…..yup. I agree…founders mired in their own technology bias…sigh….
But I did think – hey, maybe if I email the founders I can get some info on why their site is so arrogant when it comes to the segregation of users…of customers, so I did just that. I found a way to contact them and complained that their form didn’t work as well as the discount code either. And I got a reply….sigh…and what I got was a standard “boiler plate” email response. No mention of the items that I’d listed as problems, no mention of the fact that the founders neglected to include us Canadians, no mention of anyting at all other than “sign up for a great SaaS service”…sigh…
So I replied back and said “whoa” wait a minute…I’m a potential customer who can’t even signup….what part of that doesn’t bother you….and why is your site not working for me? And yes, I did then get a further answer too….from one of the founders it appears – here’s what he had to say….
Very sorry for the trouble. Obviously this is not the experience we want to have. We currently don’t support IE9, just Chrome and Firefox and Safari.
You’re completely correct that we need to make it easier for Canadians (and other international users). The coupon code wasn’t being accepted because it was valid only for the first 100 users and those were scooped up quite quickly! Hopefully we’ll be able to get a new web dev shortly; currently I’m doing that work as well and it is definitely not my forte! Again, sorry for your trouble. Hopefully we can earn your trust and win you over. Please do let me know if there’s anything else I can do…”
As you can see, this founder readily admits that they made the site “work” for only about 30+% of the browsing world! And that 30% is not the business majority, those who actually have the funds to pay for this SaaS service. Mistake. Big mistake. As the founder put it so aptly here – they are aware of the bad experience, of the loss of trust between the customer (me) and the SaaS product (them)…but oh well….what “rush” to market would mean that you arrogantly NOT allow 50+% of the world to become customers?
And that gets me to the point, here of my rant. What kind of founder does NOT think about their marketplace? What kind of founder does NOT think about which segments can afford their offering and then appeal to them? What kind of founder uses their own, biased sense of the technology to use and doesn’t consider the majority of users? Here’s some folks who preach just the opposite…to engage customers to learn what you DO NOT KNOW!!!!!!!!!!
- Dan Martell over on Velocity on founders & customers….
- LeanStartUpMachine vid on customer awareness…
- CashToStart on technology and customers…
- Jason Cohen on 10 things I’ve never heard…
Remember, you will need consider “who” the market segments are that you’re trying to sell to….and then go after them via your technology rather than locking them out…don’t you agree?Google