Interview with Benjamin Dell, Founder of Updatey – English startup

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Recently we managed to catch up with Updatey Founder & CEO, Benjamin Dell. During the interview, Ben introduces us to Updatey while sharing advice on gaining early adopters and incite into their learning from building the platform. Updatey goes live today!

What is Updatey

In a nutshell, Updatey is all about visualising & tracking the progress of your project. From the get go, we’ve been focused on creating something that would help make project tracking a breeze. Perhaps most importantly though, we felt that traditional ‘project plans’ were just terrible at easily conveying the status of a project and keeping external stakeholders in the loop.

Updatey logoWe built Updatey to solve these issues, but we also built Updatey to challenge the way that we think about online project tracking, project management and collaboration with external team members. In many ways, we see Updatey as the antidote to the traditional project management tools that currently exist.

How did you come up with the idea?

As well as running Updatey, I am also the founder and CEO at Raw Jam (a web and mobile development agency). I find that through running a service based business (and therefore one that puts me in near constant contact with clients and new technologies) I am naturally increasing the chances that I’ll stumble upon a pain-point that needs remedying.

This is exactly what happened with Updatey. We found that a lot of our time was spent responding to client emails and calls, where the core of their reason for getting in touch with us was to get some sort of an update on the status of their project. It struck us that there had to be a more natural and engaging way to share the status of your project with those that care about its progress. This basic principle has guided us along a fairly rapid path of development iterations and has resulted in the Updatey you see today. It’s still very much about helping project owners share the status of their project, but there are a number of other features (such as weekly highlight reports, and external integrations) that help greatly with the day to day management of the project as well.

You had a pretty impressive beta group of more than 3,500 users. How did you go about gaining early users?

I’d like to say that it has all down to my courageous, creative and genius ability to influence markets and handle PR. But in fact I believe it has been far simpler than that. For some strange reason, we’re finding that Updatey is really capturing peoples imaginations and interest. In one such example, we promoted Updatey at http://betali.st (which, by the way, i couldn’t recommend enough!). We were told to expect probably a maximum of 200 signups as a result of the listing, though many apparently receive far fewer than that. To our surprise we received over 1000 signups in less than 48hrs. This response has also been true whenever we’ve done some light promoting in other areas. We’ve been blown away by the response.

That being said, I do believe there are a couple of key principles you must honour in the early stage of launching a new product. In short, you should do everything in your power to get to know your customer (even if there’s only one at the beginning). Engage with your customers over Twitter, Facebook, Quora and of course via your own blog.

What were some of the challenges that you faced creating Updatey and how did you go about solving them?

Knowing when to scale, when to iterate and (crucially) when to leave the beta phase and introduce pricing has been somewhat challenging. Ultimately, there’s no good time to force change upon your user base but we found that so long as you backup your decisions with data and evidence, you not only minimise risk but probably end up pleasing the majority of your users at the same time. Consequently, we’ve been intently focused on gathering all manner of usage metrics and communicating with our users through our support and feedback forum. Through these channels we’ve been able to make decisions based on a combination of genuine demand and analytical data, such as how retention rates are effected by feature X.

Its been an exciting journey and just fantastic engaging with our users. Updatey takes its ‘beta’ badge off  +today and sees its first official release. I hope to see you there soon.

A massive thank you to Ben for taking the time out of his busy schedule to put down some awesome answers to our questions. We look forward to catching back up with Updatey. You can also follow Updatey on twitter and Facebook!

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