There are some days in a startup you will never forget, the startup roller coaster has been widely publicised.
Sunday September 9th 2012 won’t be forgotten by us @tray. One of our super early users (we love you @Joelambert) had kindly replied to a smashing magazine tweet letting them know Tray was the new email tool in town.
An innocuous looking mention appeared in our task bar, which after investigation showed they had tweeted about us. Almost immediately lights started blinking as our site was also submitted to Hacker news (whoever you are we love you too).
We shot up the front page and hit the #1 spot, where we remained for the whole day (we hear Sunday is especially great for HN love).
With an average of 3 signups every minute for the next 24 hours we saw the biggest explosion in our beta waiting list to date, all off the back of the simple vision we set out on our landing page. It’s certainly one way of getting you out of bed on a lazy Sunday.
As twitter went crazy for Tray, we were presented with a fantastic pre launch opportunity to engage with a massive audience about their inbox skills, frustrations and all the magic they’d love to see Tray performing. This data is continually referred to, and helps shape the decisions we make today.
The key takeaway for us was never to underestimate the power of that single person - They might just be golden. We can attribute some of the biggest intros, best feedback and general evangelism to some of the most unexpected of people. Most of whom we have never met!
Never let your respect for these people slip, even if you are a little weary eyed. We made sure to engage with everyone and target the first few minutes after being contacted as the sweet spot to build conversations.
It’s the relationships you build with your early followers that will see your product reaping the rewards down the track. We are focused on responding personally to every single email we recieve, something which we’ve carried on as we invite more and more people to try Tray.
This has allowed us to work closely with our users on an on-going basis to the point where we are now able to bounce new ideas and plans off our select group of whizz kids.
Tip of the hat to you all, we love you dearly.
We were always getting pretty annoyed watching our inboxes fill up with endless back and forth emails from friends and colleagues trying to decide when and where to meet up for that after-work beer, especially as it was highly likely that we’d be rocking around the code tree that evening anyway.
So years after the idea had been first mooted, we decided to do something about it, and build a group decision app. After nipping an email off to Rudolph in the Nauru islands we named it Plan.nr . We wanted to cut the clutter out of your email (see how we were already thinking Tray???) It let you poll your friends, pick venues, you could basically plan anything and everything neatly within an app. If you’re super keen check out our demo video:
We’ll definitely be posting a lot more about Plan.nr, because we learnt lots from it. Over 8 months we bootstrapped to the max, got 15,000 users and built a really cool beta. So why did our metrics tail off so beautifully? From speaking to our users (too late) we realised its because people didn’t want to move outside of their existing workflow (damn you!!). Whilst we might not like to hear it, email is entrenched in our lives so deeply that our love hate relationship works. Email just needs to start hitting the gym a little…
We’re all really glad we did Plannr because without it we would of missed out on tons of really important lessons.
Take a bow Plan.nr
We know we’ve been pretty undercover as we rush around getting Tray ready to dive into private beta. So to finally put some names to faces, here’s a little intro to who we are and where we come from.
There are 3 of us, one coder, one product guy and one social and enterprise guy… can you guess?
Ali (centre) communicates via binary - he flew through University with a masters in computer science and stayed to work with Tim Berners Lee on the Web Science initiative. He’s published research papers and spoken at conferences worldwide, he’s even made the odd special appearance at MIT. Before entering the world of startup he was developing Vibrant Media’s contextual advertising platform that has over 250 million users and analyses over 4 billion keywords each month. You can follow him on twitter @alirussell
Rich (left) is our product guy - he bagged himself a business IT degree. Whilst studying, Rich and Ali released one of the early apps onto the app store with their themed alarm clock app (Rich also claims to have invented in app purchasing…). Soon after University, Rich joined a start-up as employee #2! After helping them drive revenues and grow the team, Rich and Dom teamed up to launch a publication that went to over 60k homes backed up by an online deals and booking engine. You can follow his daily chatter @richwaldron
Then there’s Dom (right), he was studying politics and economics at University and running his daily deals website whatshotwhere. He left and set up a digital media agency, experiencing all the joy that comes with running a small service business (very amusing what not to do posts are coming). Whilst working on a number of exciting projects with international brands, the team there grew to 6 within 18 months. You can follow his ramblings @domwlewis
Tray is going to be super handy for anyone who uses email…and that’s nearly 3 billion of us. To bring about real change we need input, partnerships and super frank feedback from you guys.
Your role is simple - keep us on track.
And so the story begins…..