He knew what he wanted, and he wanted to build it quickly so he could start testing his assumptions about what the market needed.
Existing products in the space were clunky, heavy on features, and light on ease of use. Alex recognized that a huge mistake too many startups fall victim to isn’t a race to do more, but less, and to do it better and faster than the competition. To stand a chance against the well-funded incumbents, Groove needed to have an absolutely unmatched user experience.
We assigned a small team of engineers and a designer to get the project rolling. We worked with Alex to outline our strategy, and then got to work. Our goal was to launch an MVP within three months with a focus on clean and simple UX.
When deciding on the best system architecture for multiple points of entry (web, desktop, native mobile) we were faced with the choice to go Native or Web. For Groove, we decided on a hybrid approach; repurposing front-end code and HTML5 from the web application to build a desktop application and building out an API for a native iOS app. The API then had the added benefit of powering third party integrations—a critical component for the success of SaaS companies.
We built a full-featured support platform that has everything small businesses need to offer awesome customer support — and nothing that they don’t. In fact, the MVP had 10% of the features Alex’s competitors were offering. We disregarded any feature that felt bloated, caused confusion, or lacked a purpose for everyday use.
We used Ruby on Rails to build the server-side ticketing functionality, Node.js for real-time chat, threw in an iOS app, and pulled it all together with a beautiful and elegant interface.
When the day came to release the private beta app, we waited eagerly for users to validate or disprove our feature assumptions. Onboarding initial users can be an excruciatingly slow process — but our app caught the attention of the press and the floodgates opened.
“A freshly conceived customer support solution and a beautiful, full-feature iOS application.”
The attention from TNW, combined with Groove’s marketing efforts, generated more than 1,000 beta signups in the first week. Rapid growth like this can cripple a poorly-engineered product, causing it to collapse under the demand, but our scalable software architecture and rigorous code quality ensured that we were able build off the momentum, rather than chase it.
We built lean and we built quickly, but we never for a second considered compromising on quality for this very reason.
Overnight, Groove had prospective customers and media validation, and Alex found himself fielding calls from potential investors.
Armed with new data we went back to the drawing board, testing and iterating on features that would add value to our product—but we faced a dilemma. Our initial goal was to build a simple ticketing and knowledge-based software that was rid of extraneous features. We needed to find a solution that enhanced our core product but didn’t compromise what people loved about it in the first place.
Together, the team decided to keep our core product as is and move our ancillary features into the App Store. With Groove’s Web, iOS, and Desktop apps, customer service agents can offer fast support through any channel, including email, real-time chat, and social media.
Over the next year we continued perfecting every aspect of the product development, ensuring Groove was set up for imminent success. We simplified the onboarding process, quadrupling the sign-up completion rate. When the time was right, we worked closely with Alex to vet potential engineering candidates, helped him hire and worked alongside his development team to secure a smooth handoff.
Groove’s subsequent successful public launch was covered widely by the tech press, and the startup continues to grow. Groove now processes over $100,000 per month in recurring revenue.
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