Blab 2.0

FaceTime on Your Own Time (now on Android)

[new thing launches]..........(radio silence)...... [thing gets sold for silly $$$] This thread is a shoutout to the radio silence. Yes, today - we rolled out a big update to iOS and soft-launched on Android. So it's kind of a launch. And yes I'm super proud of what we've built, and think you'll like it if you try it out. BUT as far as Product Hunt goes - I want to use this as a chance to talk about the stuff that doesn't make headlines. The stuff in the middle. The hard stuff. The part where you figure out if your app totally sucks or is the next big thing. Where you experiment, iterate, and constantly fight to stand out in a crowded space. For those who want to know more about what went on behind the scenes with Blab in the first 3 months - go ahead - AMA!
@ShaanVP Really like the new update. It feels like it "grew up" a bit with the redesign, although the characters were fun too. As a growth guy, I think the fact that another user doesn't need to have the app for me to be able to send them a Blab is genius. I'm surprised it didn't result in at least a slightly better viral coefficient. Have you noticed the use of that feature change as people used the product more?
@lylemckeany It works well - but 60% of people who received a Blab were on android (with no download link). So that kills the viral loop. Hence - happiness for launching on android today :)
@ShaanVP Wow, that's crazy high! Good luck with the Android release today.
@ShaanVP did you guys have any radical pivots? How different is the final product from the original MVP?
@acondurache In many ways - the biggest pivot was not pivoting at all. (^ that is an all-time douchey lean startup sentence). Here's a play-by-play of the first month post launch: 1. We launched!! 2. OMG people are using it. 3. Why are so many French people using it?? 4. Who cares - they are using it!! 5. Hmm...People are comparing us to Snapchat alot. 6. But we're so different than Snapchat!! 7. Wait - we never tell new users what those differences are... 8. Ouch. Our retention numbers suck. 9. Pivot? The first cohort of user data wasn't spectacular. Viral coefficient hovering around 0.2, and didn't catch a whiff of social media chatter that you notice with trendy social apps. (YO). Immediately we started thinking of radical ideas. PIVOT! Blab Roulette and you instantly got paired with a random person to video chat with?! PIVOT! make it more of a broadcast network, letting you video blog your day?? etc... Then we noticed something interesting. After the initial wave of people "checking it out" churned away - There were two cohorts of users who kept using the app, and really loved it. 1/ People who used it because it's more convenient than typing (just push to talk). Just like commuters are often heavy podcast listeners. These people happened to spend a lot of time on the go (walking, driving, etc...) and liked talking over typing. 2/ People who used it as a replacement for Skype/Facetime to stay connected with the handful of people they really care about (esp. long distance relationships and family living in different cities) So instead of pivoting, we doubled down on the features and issues that mattered to users who had those problems. We realized that the product we thought would be "super fun" actually turned out to be "super useful" instead, and had to adjust accordingly. Magically, the numbers started to go up. ---> This update doubles down on the features that people care about (eg. Being able to flip the camera back & forth while recording) and does a much better job framing & explaining the app as a replacement to Skype/Facetime. ---> We also launched on Android, which is important because you basically can't have a communication tool on one platform. For us - 60% of blabs were sent from iPhone to Android users, but we didn't have an app for them to download (hence, unviral).
@ShaanVP this is awesome insight - how do you diagnose these usage patterns?
@jasonzopf this was actually a little hard. First we went straight to the people we knew (friends, friends-of-friends) who the data showed were using it regularly and asked. Then we created a Facebook group of a few thousand beta users and held "facebook focus groups". We would create group chats of 6-8 of them and talk through their usage, before we found the real root of usage (and a bunch of other pain points we had no idea about).
But what happened to all the cute monsters in the initial version, @ShaanVP!?
@rrhoover The monsters & imperfect circle icons were the main reason people felt the app was "young" & snapchat esque, so we had to polish up the colors & icons (although the app store icon hasn't changed yet for some reason. It will change with the next update) PS. Pro-tip, don't get t-shirts printed for your startup the week before you do a major re-design! If anyone wants a shirt with a giant monster face on the front, you know who to call :)
@ShaanVP DIBS! And while I enjoyed the playfulness of the monsters, I see your point. The new version feels more "accessible" to an older audience.
@rrhoover Yeah - instead of monsters - it starts with icons of your friend's initials, but as soon as they send you a blab - it changes to a thumbnail from their latest message. (no profile pics)
@ShaanVP OMG I want one of these shirts. My GF is recruiting her entire family onto Blab, so am I. Absolutely love it - it's the perfect parental unit communicator app.
@ShaanVP This reminds me of an idea I had for a site that auctions off only old startup t-shirts.
hey @ShaanVP! love the transparency into the first few months after launch. we experienced a similar user feedback loop with Hollerback. What're your thoughts on iOS8's integration of video messaging in iMessage?
@willydennis Hey will - My thoughts on iOS8 quick video messaging... I doubt it will become widely used. It's not just enough to make it easy to send a video (lots of apps let you do that). The key is creating a cultural norm where video is how you communicate. It's an unspoken agreement that "yes, this is kind of weird, but we both opt in to video communication". That's why it feels normal to message someone you don't know on Twitter or a dating site, but is seen as 'creepy' or 'awkward' if you do the same thing on Facebook. However - I think it hurts us. Even though I don't think a ton of people will use the quick video message feature in the new iMessage, people will think twice before downloading Blab because they'll say to themselves "can't I do this in iMessage already? I don't even use it much there, why would I need a separate app for it?"
@ShaanVP gotcha - once again, thanks for the thoughtful response. always great to hear how others think about the (quickly!) changing landscape. wish you the best!
Just wanted to say thanks @ShaanVP for this thread. More like this please :)