Tatsuki Tomita and Jon Tetzchner left Internet browser giant Opera to start Vivaldi, a new browser focused on features that Opera removed.
With this new venture, they needed to ship their competitive web browser quickly with far fewer resources and a very nimble team.
Their cumulative experience rewarded them with over 700,000 downloads in their first two weeks, but with success came the new challenge of the right customer feedback for the right product feature builds.
Less Resources = Be More Resourceful
Both were accustomed to working at a large corporation with vast resources, and they now needed to bootstrap a fast iteration process for a very demanding audience. Their web browser, although built for a variety of audiences, had a core group of programmer users due to their keyboard and mouse shortcuts that allows for much faster browsing. This core group of users meant that the Vivaldi team needed to come up with a really efficient process to perfect their product.
"It's important we have a responsive and quick iteration process, it allows us to get ahead quickly as a startup with limited resources," explains COO Tatsuki. They needed very specific feedback to create a flexible product roadmap with the right features that kept their audience satisfied and engaged, especially in the competitive landscape of web browsers.
They decided to run a one-week iteration process, shipping an update once a week on Mondays -- and sometimes twice a week -- to ensure their users have the best and newest features possible so what their users are saying is vitally important to the Vivaldi team.
The lesson here is that lean operations actually force those within an organization to be creative with what little they have in terms of resources. The do more with less mantra used over the last few years really does hold true. In a situation like that faced by the Vivaldi founders, the key was to consider the strategy of getting the most for the resources available by looking for innovative solutions, such as selecting talent willing to work within a restricted budget to be part of a future opportunity and mining numerous free apps to remove time intensiveness from various processes.
Creating A Feedback Loop
In order to learn the most they could that would help get their solution to resonate with the largest audience without using considerable resources to make it happen, the Vivaldi team used three sources to create their feedback loop. Their first was mission critical. They called it their Soprano Group, which is 50 core users they release the beta to, and who provide very honest feedback about which features are important and useful, where the bugs are, and what is just not working.
This feedback helped shape the product roadmap. Using a core group of testers who are also users and really listening to their suggestions should be important to almost all companies.
The second sources utilized their blog and created a community around that blog that urges and rewards feedback. Vivaldi is so dedicated to feedback from their users and community that they have a feedback tab very prominently advertised on their website, inviting suggestions on their forum. Given their audience, they know forums are a popular way to unite their community to talk about possible new features, give recommendations, and criticize what is not working.
The third was social media, every company's newest form of customer feedback and criticisms. They have been able to take direct comments from their user community who used their old product and are longing for some of the features lost. Social media is a great way to not only collect customer feedback, but it can also be used to determine which features are being talked so those can be made into priorities.
It also offers other benefits that could be used to a company's advantage. For example, small businesses can also use social media to recruit for their focus groups, conduct surveys and research for new product builds, and develop personas from people actually using the product to create a better roadmap.
Related Article: 6 Customer Feedback Channels You Should Be Using
Go Lean, But Be Smart
While it might seem impossible for new entrepreneurs to go from working within a big organization where they had champagne resources at their disposal to launching a new company on a beer budget, they proved that it can be done in lean way by being smart about the tools, process, and strategies used.
In the case of Vivaldi, the team understood that new platforms like social media can be used in multiple ways to collect information and market in a targeted fashion. Gathering feedback in advance was an intelligent way to design the most desired product for their market, so they could conserve resources by not having to make continual changes to the product, marketing campaign, or brand they were creating.
Image via Wikimedia Commons