So, What Happened In Beijing? | Jan’22 Update
In the second half of 2022, I had the opportunity to spend 4 months in Beijing as a member of the MiraclePlus Fall’22 cohort (more details here) - here’s a summary of my time there and some lessons learned. It ends with a quick product/company update for anyone interested.
1. The Vertebrae of Start-Ups
The first lesson was to build the “Vertebrae” of our company – the 6 core/fundamental areas any early-stage company should be solid about.
Although we had a strong understanding of our customers’ pain points and the solution we want to build, this 6-point breakdown helped us to sharpen our focus and get us on the right track.
Point 1: What?
What are we building? Explain in one sentence.
It is imperative to define our solution in simple, layman terms. Within one sentence, people should be able to understand exactly what we do and for whom.
This one took a few iterations, but we finally narrowed down to:
CL1CK is the data-driven decision-making engine for e-commerce brands.
Point 2: Why?
Why are we building this solution?
It’s a given that we should have a clear understanding of the paint points we are trying to solve.
All start-ups identify a pain point as their starting point – so what exactly is the pain point we are solving for our customers? How big is this pain point? How often does it show up in our customers’ daily lives? What are they doing about it?
This requires in-depth research, surveys, and interviews to procure a combination of quantitative and qualitative insights. We invested resources, time and efforts to consistently engage with e-commerce stores (and other potential stakeholders) to understand their daily workings and pain points.
At CL1CK, to put it quite simply, we aim to solve the problem of inefficient + ineffective A/B testing for e-commerce brands.
E-commerce owners either:
run A/B tests, but don’t know how to optimize it >> miss out on valuable conversion opportunities
don’t run any A/B tests >> miss out on valuable conversion opportunities
They may not know what decision to make as they are faced with multiple choices, while on the other hand customers interests are constantly changing so they must frequently A/B test to keep up with them!
Point 3: Why now?
Why are we entering the market now?
From our workshops, I learned that it is mainly due to three reasons:
1) Governmental regulation
A shift in government regulations can create a conducive environment to build start-ups in certain industries. An example for this would be the increasing global support for green energy production - governments all over the world are passing new laws and regulations which make it easier and cheaper to build companies that work in this field.
2) Behavioural change
We’ve all seen this recently – increasing adoption of remote work and “work-from-home” culture due to Covid led to a spike in productivity and project management apps.
3) New technology
The reason why start-ups exist is because they work on something new and different. And the curve of this new technology’s development can be “linear, super linear or exponential”, as put by Garry Tan in this YouTube video. Based on this curve, we can predict the most viable time to enter market with a better solution. The best example for this would be Steve Jobs entering the smartphone market in 2006 with an inarguably better product, the iPhone 1, while incumbents had been working on a solution since the early 1990s.
Looking at these three fundamental reasons, the third reason would be most relevant for CL1CK. A/B testing tools have been around for a while, but none address the specific pain point that CL1CK does.
Point 4: How?
How are we solving the pain points?
In other words, what is our solution? This solution should, for obvious reasons, actually solve the pain points.
This one is more closely related to product development. We conducted several rounds of experiments with our beta testers and identified a few north star metrics that we aim to improve for our clients. These quick rounds of testing allow us to keep in consistent touch with our customers and focus on features that truly drive value for them.
Point 5: Why Us?
Why is our team the most suited for this idea?
It is key that an early-stage team has 2 things:
1) the motivation (or one can even say obsession) to solve the pain points,
2) the key skills required to build the solution
Over the past few months, we added crucial hires across product development, data analysis and marketing to our small but passionate team who are driven to solve the problem of inefficient A/B testing for e-commerce.
Point 6: Traction
What traction or validation do we have until now?
We paired extensive market research with robust surveys and interviews with our target market. We compiled several hundred hours of interviews and customer feedback to understand the problem and refine our product. Additionally, we regularly tracked metrics like landing page conversion rates, duration spent on app, churn rate, session recordings and more to validate the use of our product with existing customers. Together, we were able to gather sufficient strong validation for our solution.
2. Foundations Before Setting Goals
In the very first Office Hour (where we meet partners one-on-one for 20 minutes), we started off with setting our 12-week program goals. In my excitement and optimism, I wanted to be super aggressive for the next 12 weeks, with ambitions to double (or even triple!) our revenue. This was quickly shut down by the partners, and rightfully so.
Instead, they recommended us to shift our focus to setting our sales foundations – analyzing our current userbase, reducing churn and finding the one channel that will effectively and consistently bring in customers. Focus more on building a strong core.
This was followed by weeks of testing and experiments to find the most optimal channels. This eventually provided us the right foundations to scale. This shift in mindset not only helped us build a strong foundation but also shaped our team’s approach to growth and retention.
3. Demo Day in a Bear Market
It was an honor to represent our company’s progress and vision to almost 2,000 investors – I'd been looking forward to this since the beginning of the program.
However, a big reality check was the increased standards for start-ups to raise a round of funding. The expectations of traction, product proof and more were much higher than expected, and it was a great lesson to know how much stronger we have to build our company. This was a great motivator and benchmark to know when we should raise our Seed round.
Additionally, Mandarin is my second language; naturally it was challenging to use a language I’m not fluent in to converse and share about our product – especially the technical details. But weeks of practice paid off on the final day!
To close off, some company and product updates:
1. Product Recommendations dashboard is now live!
Following up from our previous update, our Product Recommendations dashboard is now live on the CL1CK web app – sign in now to check it out! Just to refresh your memory: our Product Recommendations tool identifies the most optimal products to recommend through extensive A/B testing. To walk you through the more technical details, you can book a demo call with me here!
2. Working on email and SMS A/B testing tool with beta users
We've been conducting robust internal tests for our A/B testing tool for email and SMS marketing! We have generated positive initial results, which encourages us to ramp up our testing efforts. I hope to share more about this in our next update!
3. Discontinuing Key Insights feature
As you may remember, we shared about the Key Insights feature in our last update. However, after several internal discussions and testing, we have made the decision to discontinue this feature. This will enable us to adopt a more focused approach towards A/B testing for e-commerce marketing – which is our expertise and niche.
That's all for today’s blog – reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any enquiries about our product, company, or funding round.