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Monday, July 23, 2012

Sequence - Start acting on user insights

This weekend was in50hrs Chennai edition, and Kausik and I decided to make a small app for SaaS developers called Sequence [until we come up with a better name]. For those unaware, in50hrs is an idea-to-prototype event where you have to code a product from scratch over a weekend. (Somewhat like Startup Weekend)

Sequence allows you to create rules that match against user activity in your app and take appropriate action.

  1. If a user signed in, and was then inactive for 2 days, send a notification to the sales guy to call the user and follow up [Simple follow up action]
  2. If a user has not used the product for 30 days, send them an email with a discount code [Simple re-engagement]
  3. If a user has signed up from facebook referrer, then show them facebook integration features. If they signed up from a twitter link, show them twitter integration features. [Simple segmentation]
  4. If a user is highly engaged, send an email explaining the benefits of upgrading [A mistake the many web apps do is to send this message based on time. For instance, a week before the trial expires. That is the wrong time, you want to send it when the user is at the peak of usage. If they are highly engaged on day 7 of the trial, then send this email on day 7]
  5. If a user has started using the app a little, and has not yet liked the facebook page, send them an email asking them to like the facebook page to get 100 free credits [Timing the message when they are starting to get engaged and are most likely to perform this action to get free credits.]
  6. After the user has done the basic activities, send them an email highlighting an advanced feature [Holding off emailing about the advanced feature until they are somewhat comfortable with the basic feature]. Bonus: Integrate with Tour My App to show a tour of this advanced feature.
It's pretty straightforward really

So, how does Sequence work?

1. Integrate with Analytics

Most apps already have user activity data with one of the popular analytics tool - Mixpanel, KissMetrics, Totango etc. Sequence integrates with their export API to pull in daily (could be hourly too) raw data, process it and store it. We simply reuse the data you have for analytics instead of building a clickstream data repository ourselves. The advantage of this is that your don't have to do any integration on your page - no Javascript, no backend calls etc. Just hook Sequence up with your analytics account.

For in50Hrs we integrated with Mixpanel, since that is what we use in our other products.

2. Create rules

Once you have your data processed and stored in Sequence, it will match it against a series of rules that you can create, like in the picture above. Variables start with $ and special functions start with #. Variables are application specific and can be custom defined as per your application needs.

3. Link rules to actions

Once you have the rules in place, you can link them to actions. Actions can be anything - displaying them on a dashboard, sending a particular email to the user, sending a notification to the sales team etc. For the minimum viable product that we demoed at in50hrs, we displayed them on a dashboard.

That is it

That is all there is to Sequence. Link your analytics, create rules, automatically let the system take appropriate action whenever a user's activity matches the rules.


If you would like to become an early customer of Sequence, then fill up the form below. Note that this product is exactly 6 hours old, so its raw. Be prepared to rough it out.

Fill out my online form.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Why did VCs/angels miss investing into Interview Street at an early stage?

Recently Y Combinator selected TapToLearn and Plivio into their program. This is after they selected Interview Street in an earlier batch.

I don't know TopToLearn and Plivio personally, but Vivek from Interview Street was pretty active in the Chennai startup scene for a long time before moving to Bangalore and finally into YC.

He bootstrapped for many years while pivoting on several themes. Apart from Morpheus, who bought into his idea, why didn't any other Indian investor buy into it?

I'm sure a lot of VCs and angel networks would be kicking themselves now. They had a chance to invest early into a global startup that is now going places, and they missed the chance. Instead they will invest millions into the next shaky e-commerce, travel or deal site.

It's embarrassing when they have these companies growing right under their noses, and it takes YC to recognise them.