Emails & Group Chats aren’t great for communication.

As soon as #HOTTAB (my previous startup) started having more than 20-15 team members, group chats had too many messages to keep up with. We relied more on face to face communication which wasn’t the efficient use of our time. It required us to be present either in person or on the phone blocking us from doing anything else. There’s never a five minute one to one, never. And when you need to involve the team, it’s never less than 20-30 minutes.

Instant communication with reaction

Transparency is absolutely crucial for communication.

Transparency in communication amongst your team members and departments are absolutely important. The sales department needs to know what’s happening with the product development. The product team needs to know the customer support issues.

You can’t just rely on weekly meetings. Many challenges / issues are better when they are handled immediately. At least it allows the team members be ready to tackle the issues in time.

And for a startup team to effectively deliver, the project goals need to be understood by all the team members. The tasks to reach those goals need to be defined and challenges transparently communicated.

Thus, communication, moreover the lack of; creates a lot of problem in a team. The rather traditional forms of communication like emails are too slow and one cannot gauze the emotional aspect as such. People can’t react to email without needing to write a formal reply which mars the crucial initial reactions or emotions.

Group Chats are time consuming and emails are slow.

Group Chats, the other popular form of communication channel, allows for immediate reaction but are too time consuming. They are tiring also, as you have to read every line written in 10’s of those group chats you are member of.

So the email and group chats don’t allow the leaders and managers of the team to engage properly with the rest of team risking understanding of vision and goals.

A team without proper vision and focused goal might as well just try to pull the cart in six different directions.

WePost has a solution.

That’s why at WePost we believe challenges of communication is a problem worth solving.

Do you agree with these problems?

Next we shall discuss how WePost creates an unique communication solution for your team members in this social media age.

Why doesn’t TikTok seem to have Facebook & Twitter’s content moderation problem?

The short answer is : You observe what the user likes and propose them the content vs limiting them to follow the content their “social contacts” generate.

The longer answer is related to the recommendation algorithm argument I made yesterday. Eugene is very good at analysing social networks and does justice to the topic in this article here.

Interests matter, contacts don’t.

In real life if you actually observe, we do have friends, but we don’t do all the activities with all of our friends. We group our friends in different categories. Movie friends, poker friends, beer friends and so on.

What facebook did in the beginning was create a social network around the interest of college kids which was to see/date each other. But as it grew it got labelled as mom and pops’ social network (Kids had snapchat, then.)

Snapchat allowed people to discover stuffs based on interest and so does TikTok. When you let that happen; by default, users follow their interests and friends don’t become relevant anymore.

Why aren’t #hashtags cutting it ?

You could argue, Twitter and instagram do have hastags to follow interests. Well who is going to go search, enter the hashtag and browse and keep doing that repeatedly. Why can’t there be just a feed dedicated to that? And what about why should i even bother with hashtags.

Remember, with each advancements, we are getting lazier, our standards are getting higher.

That way the app actually would learn about my interests even without asking me. This validates another theory on a completely different level : don’t ask, observe. The behavioral design is better than useless surveys anyways.

So this makes me believe that serving content to the users based on their behaviour via an algorithm in the background allows users to automatically ignore contents they won’t be interested in.

Facebook and twitter are already far behind in “Social” game and they are far off from being able to bring democracy in “social networks”.

Looks like the East has this under their control. What do you think?

What users like vs what they might like : The recommendation algorithm dilemma.

We all kind of agree that Henry Ford did say, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” ( I still haven’t found a legitimate source to verify the veracity of this quote. Let me know if you do.)

Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to the our customers. (Consumers not merchants. SAAS models for B2B applications are out of the scope of this discussion.) We can understand that there’s a need for faster mode of transportation. Now, a faster horse could either be horses on steroids or an engine, that’s up to the guy who implements the solution. In this case Henry Ford was smart. We, obviously; don’t have doubt about that.

From this argument if I deduce that user does have general understanding of what they might want but not entirely sure about the final form of the solution, the app / platform should present different solutions to the users. It just might be your lucky day and they might like what they see; at which point, you should definitely have a feature to capture their satisfaction.

It doesn’t have to be an isolated (and usually boring) thumbs up button, which I find so lame and waste of time; but it could be a multifunctional “like” button which works both as a personal consent and a social validation.

So allowing users to explore through what they might like by broadening the algorithm to consider their “like profile” and suggesting what similar users might have liked 1000s of KMs away would allow the users to come across content they might have never thought of watching and actually enjoy it.

And probably this is one of major differences behind TikTok, PinDuoDuo’s social success vs a monotonous You Tube’s lonely feed. And as I always say the biggest part of the problem is also tied to the purpose : is your algorithm satisfying the users or making them click more on the ads.

If you take the purpose seriously, I think you already have the answer to the question . Remember, our duty as product managers, solutions architects, engineers and developers is to provide solutions.

I would love to hear the kind of solutions you have implemented lately.

Time to make your app more social

More than ever people have a need to be more social now, especially during these periods of COVID lockdowns. If people can’t be social physically, they would look for more ways to be social virtually.

No, not another “social network” like facebook or instagram but more subtle, more nuanced and more tribal.

The need for validation, confirmation, demonstration hasn’t gone down. People are just locked in. Their phone screens still are connected. And people are desperate to get out.

Perhaps, this is an opportunity to go build a network that validates your user’s time on your app and help them build that social tribe for them to “socialize.”

Platform Vs Services / Products

Before I move into explaining the various processes behind user acquisition strategy on a platform, I figured we need to first understand what is a platform.

Seeding users on a platform is probably the most critical step, so it becomes really important to understand the fundamental of platforms. Of course, there are variety of platforms.

Your phone is a type of platform and so is the operating system you are using. But the type of platform we are discussing is the like of Facebook, Amazon, Google : a software platform that allows the user the freedom to use how they want it and obviously help them make more money than the platform itself. Note, I didn’t mention Apple here because Apple mostly sells products and services.

My definition of a platform: A network that allows target users to build upon and allows the user to benefit economically more than the network itself per user, within the network.

By this definition anyone else with an app or website that provides a definite service or product are just services or products and not a platform. For example : Apple; as apple sells a definite product. You don’t necessarily make any money out of it, though one could argue I-phones can take videos and people make money off it, it’s not within the ecosystem or network.

Once you take this approach to understand the platform, it might be easier to tackle the classic “chicken and egg problem” with the various services and products you are trying to sell. You need merchants for the consumers to adopt and you need consumers for the merchants to adopt.

Some of you might think, I will just offer a cheaper service. Making your service cheaper doesn’t do you any good in longterm. On the contrary, ends up hurting the entire industry as some of the cash loaded startups have been using promotions to attract users. Merchants will be more likely pissed than anyone else.

As your services and products end up hurting more merchants, has any one scaled a river rowing against the flow. Doesn’t make sense right? But many startups are right now are burning investors money trying to row their boat opposite.

To get out of this mess : you need a platform strategy. A well thought out user seeding strategy for a platform which not only saves you wasting energy trying to row your boat against the flow but speed you up since you will be flowing with the flow.

Stay tuned for the next post for more on user acquisition strategies.

A desperate need for a new approach to F&B tech platforms.

Restaurants; to be honest, do not make enough for the amount of hard work they put in. Tech companies; so far, only seem to be interested in building their bottomline at the expense of the businesses.

At up to 25% commissions for online ordering services, the restaurants end up making close to 0% in profits which mostly discourage the business owners but still need those services to stay relevant.

At #HOTTAB we initially thought of solving this problem by introducing a platform to allow merchants receive orders for free and they could pay for the advanced features.

This approach allowed us to build a platform (at https://sopa.asia); in its true sense, that supports the merchants by not charging them the commissions on orders and merchants support the platform by purchasing add on features.

Win win for the merchants and platform builders and consumers benefit with more economic choices.

Now, how would the platform gather the consumer mass is topic for next post. 😉

Decisions; too, can be changed.

“Everytime, I come to you to confirm the old requirements; you give me new changes”, my project manager protests.

Changes are inevitable.

The order screen on the consumer app was too congested especially with the addition of the calendar to allow users to select their preferred days for pre-orders. There were few unnecessary elements on the UI and the formatting needed some improvements as well.

Changes might delay the delivery of the product, but changes are inevitable. It’s the law of the nature as the water heats up to change into steam to form clouds and forming solid ice in the cold atmosphere and eventually falling down as liquid. Similarly, what you thought could work might look clunky once UI is designed.

So if changes are inevitable, how do we manage to ship in time and still accommodate the necessary changes?

The key to this lies in decision making. We cannot possibly get everything right the first time. We cannot possibly come up with perfect solution. Perfection doesn’t exist.

So, make a decision knowing it could be a wrong decision and move on. If it was a wrong decision you will know when you experience the outcome. At that time, you can make another decision and correct your previous one.

Don’t wait for complete information to make the decision. Decisions can also be changed. 😉

Seek questions not answers.

Lots of people seek answers but not many seek questions. The level of questions do determine the level of your success, not necessarily only monetary but a spiritual or personal success.

However, we all know the only stupid question is the question you don’t ask. If you learn to ask insightful questions you would definitely get better perspectives.

Here are some questions to live by:

Who would be able to help me today if I had asked?

You won’t get it if you don’t ask for it; as simple as that.

How can I deliver more value to the people / customers / society?

Innovation is the key to the success of your product. In order to constantly provide more value to your customers, you would keep improving yourself / your product.

How would I react to it if it had happened to me in the future?

Imagine, a wiser yourself, an experienced yourself, yourself from the future. Would you react to it, the way you are reacting now? Would you be worried about it then as you are worried about it now? Or would you rather be using your wisdom and experience to tackle it in a smoother way.

Ask questions to others and to yourself, all the time. You are not asking enough unless your teachers are annoyed the hell out of you.

You will see points you would have otherwise missed and helps you make better decisions.

You don’t succeed because of your excuses

Rubiks Cube

“It’s Sunday,  I can’t go for customer support.”

“I don’t think we are ready to ship our product.”

“Oh the client device doesn’t have enough CPU power.”

“Oh the internet is slow.”

“My startup can’t grow big because we don’t have investment.”

“We can’t recruit great team members because we are just a small startup.”

How many times have we heard of these?

Excuses are great when you don’t want to do anything. Excuses are awesome when you don’t want to achieve something.

Infact, when you think you are not ready, that’s the moment you need to get out there. That’s when you need to ship or grow or recruit or bake those cookies. Get out of your comfort zone. 

Instead of not delivering thinking you are not ready, how about delivering and even failing? Failures provide you with a great opportunity.

You don’t win because you did a good job, you win because you so dramatically exceeded expectations, you made an awesome comeback from your failure.

Everyone can do a good job, try doing an excellent one.

That’s when people notice you. That’s when you shine. That’s when you become a hero.