We built Stride to suit our needs, because there was nothing available that did what we wanted.
With all of us being startup junkies, we not only wanted to build something for our own use, but for everyone to use. Sometimes, the best products are built from needs and passions, not necessarily revenue and customers. But when we came up with the idea, we immediately knew that there were many of you also looking for a product like ours. Built with passion, love, and sweat; this is Stride, in two weekends.
Aside from the obvious of having a capable team with the right knowledge set and goals, we needed a strategy to take Stride from ideation, to creation, to launch.
Concept – A Literal Minimum Feature Set
We asked ourselves, “What are the absolute minimum requirements in a product where people would be willing to pay?”. Let me repeat that, the minimum feature set that people would be willing to pay for. This was our MVP. With Stride, our features revolved around saving time. Our goals were simple: saving contact information, tracking deal status, and an easy access dashboard. And to do this beautifully and simply. This is what we focused on. Anything and everything that didn’t fit into that use case was excluded, which you can tell by our comments on TechCrunch. This is what the product looked like just after launch.
The key was to use as many existing platforms out there to build this. If there was something that would reduce development time, we used it. We used Stripe for our payment system, Uservoice for our helpdesk, and Heroku and Linode for our backend. All of these services were easy to build on and in to Stride.
Proof – Testing the Waters with Simplicity
As soon as we had a finished, minimal product, the next step is to prove whether it was something we could charge for. Again, using Stripe for billing, we created a minimally priced, single plan. We decided to charge $7 in consideration of an early-stage product. We kept it simple. The goal at this point was not to generate revenue, the goal was to see if users would be willing to pay for what we had built, in its simplest form.
Once we saw the conversions rolling in, we pushed forward.
Feedback – Moving Beyond MVP
When you build a product in a space that is relatively occupied, but without a leader, you have to build it for your users. There is an official term for this, “Co-Creation”, they even have a book on it. By having all of our feedback and feature requests on Uservoice, we easily added a support portal, and had our users vote on which key features they would want in future iterations of Stride. This was (and is) our product roadmap. It’s why we quickly rolled out team collaboration, contact association, an iOS app, deeper metrics, etc.
The important piece that most early staged companies miss, is that the evolution of the product came after proving the concept, not before. If we prioritized those features prior, we wouldn’t have been able to take the feedback from our users to drive development, we would’ve been guessing. Not to mention, the product may have never launched.
At the End of the Day
Stride took about 24 hours of time spread across two weekends. Our initial investment was minimal. We launched bootstrapped, and remain so, this allows us to focus on the things that matter. We don’t have the time to let our minds deviate far from the task at hand.
This is how we went from a concept to a profitable product, in a short amount of time. It is the most literal version of KISS – Keep It Simple…(you know the rest).