Last week, we hosted our weekly Clubhouse Round-Up with guest Shahed Khan, a co-founder of Loom
, the video messaging tool that’s now raised $73 million.
Loom first launched on Product Hunt as Open test
in 2016. Shahed shared that Loom pivoted as the co-founders worked to build their user base and find product-market fit. Opentest, started out as a recording tool like Loom but was focused on usability testing. The first post to Product Hunt gained the team 3,000 users after launching. Just 100 days and 12,800+ users later, Shahed posted an iteration, Openvid 2.0
, which then became Loom.
The behind-the-scenes of Loom’s growth is enlightening for anyone struggling or strategizing to grow its users. We broke down our learnings.1. Be rigorous about understanding why people are using your product.
Loom’s early iterations had a great response from the Product Hunt community. Shahed told us the uptick lasted for about a week and a half with product evangelists continuing to build momentum for a while after. Then they had to start digging deep into user behavior to move the needle.
He explained how he and his fellow co-founders Joe Thomas and Vinay Hiremath, were rigorous about collecting and reviewing data and feedback. They tracked everything: why people were using Loom, where they dropped off, and why they dropped off. They took turns on Intercom support shifts and drove relationships with their users.
It was one conversation with a remote Hubspot employee named Scott that gave them the revelation that remote work was a perfect use case for Loom. They kept in touch with Scott constantly, even creating a relationship map to track growth within Scott’s team. The team’s consistent surveying and customer feedback ultimately led Loom to pivot from the marketplace to a SaaS play.2. Latch onto ideas.
Latching onto ideas continued to help Loom reiterate and therefore increase usage. For example, when they noticed people weren’t turning their cameras on for their recordings, they discovered that many users were self-conscious seeing themselves on video. They became obsessed with answering the question, “How do we make more people comfortable?”
Knowing Zoom had dealt with a similar issue by adding a “touch up” feature, they had an idea and ran an experiment. At the time, Loom captured recordings as a mirrored image, then flipped the recording around to match the real world once the recording was complete. The team tried changing that — leaving the mirrored state in place in the final recording too. After the switch, they saw a climb in people keeping their video camera on. Watching the data and making adjustments to making sure people feel comfortable while using Loom continues to be deeply important for the product.3. Find your lead indicator.
Some of Loom’s growth was product-led. By nature, Loom videos are created to be shared. That’s the point. However, understanding where the latch point was for people to turn from testers to regular users was key to understanding how to hack growth.
Shahed explained that initially, the team thought that signing up to Loom and recording a video would be the “aha” moment to the product’s value. Data and feedback showed that it wasn’t. In actuality, people’s first videos were just a test to play around with what the product could do. From there, they began measuring adoption metrics starting from a user’s second video. Consequently, they learned that it wasn’t until someone received their first view on their Loom video that users would see the value in their product and continue using it. That learning and experiment help them set the right strategies for adoption going forward.4. Cherry-pick successes to mimic (i.e. you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel).
Shahed told us that Openvid’s Product Hunt launch brought in 3,000 users (Small brag: Product Hunt was a primary driver of those users). “Where was the next breaking point?” we questioned? There had to be more they did to continue to build early adopters.
His answer was fascinating. The founders thought about other company’s growth tactics and took a cue from LinkedIn, specifically the “See who’s viewed your profile” feature. LinkedIn users love seeing who’s lurking on their profile — it’s been a key growth hack for the company and was something the team knew they could mimic. So Loom created anonymized notifications along the vein of “someone has viewed your video.” It’s helped to continue to spur usage of the tool. They leaned into the network effect, too, and built workspaces so an entire design team could work in the same space.
Shahed also pointed out that cherry-picking goes both ways. Study success and failures, and decide what you want to try.5. Be relentless.
One of the last but obvious takeaways from listening to Shahed is hearing just how willing he’s been to put in the work to get Loom off the ground. In the early days, he told us that he was basically just begging people to use the product for free. He spent months hounding people to use it and, importantly, understand why they weren’t using it.
Fundraising went the same way early on. There was a fundraising bubble in early 2016, during the early days of Loom’s growth. Investors were speculating a burst and held on tight to their money. The Loom co-founders borrowed $10K to keep afloat, but Shahed looks at this as a positive time in Loom’s history. Not being able to fundraise allowed them to be scrappy, reiterate constantly, and focus on product-market fit.What’s Next For Loom
While we didn’t have time to cover what the future looks like for Loom, our conversation occasionally gave us some glimpses into features to look forward to.
As part of our discussion about making people feel comfortable on video, Shahed noted that Loom’s experimenting with things like different backgrounds. They also recently released transcriptions, closed captions, and are building a feature that will allow you to automatically remove filler words (like “um” and “buts”) out of your Loom videos.Shahed’s Favourite Product
We like to end our weekly Clubhouse round-ups by asking our guests what new products they’re using. Shahed’s latest favorite? Italic, an eCommerce store that sells unbranded luxury goods straight from the same manufacturers as your favorite brands.