Maker Hunt’s AMA with Tim Kearns and Ryan Cunningham from ClipCard

Today we have an AMA with Tim Kearns - President of ClipCard. Tim leads the team at ClipCard, which is doing amazing things to help bridge the gap between people and their cloud content.

Tim has a diverse background and this is his first startup — it’s been a wild ride and he loves it. He’ll also be here with Ryan Cunningham. Ryan has a sharp eye for design and branding and in addition to that leads the product team to build the ClipCard service that is getting embedded in the places that people work.

You two can introduce yourselves now

Hi everyone! I’m Tim, I lead the team at ClipCard. It’s a new service that connects your apps to give you fast access to your stuff in context — which means we’ve spent a lot of time over the last few months wrangling APIs across Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, Trello, etc to bring together content in a useful and normalized way. We arrived at this product after a hard pivot from a much more vertical-focused idea around ocean mapping data. I’m here today with Ryan to share about our journey in the API economy and thoughts on where it all goes. Ask us anything! —Tim

Hey everyone! I’m riding shotgun with Tim here at ClipCard and on this AMA. I focus a lot on product + design, so happy to chime in on API details and design challenges bringing together stuff from diverse places. — Ryan

Q. Who’s your primary customer right now? What’s been the hardest part about reaching them? — Justin Jackson

We’re targeting techs and tech teams who make great products that use cloud apps. Most of us use all kinds of services to do our jobs and we ALL spend time hunting for stuff to find information in context.

So far, the hardest part about reaching them is getting embedded in their communities (ie. GitHub users, Evernote users, etc.) to help them learn about ClipCard.

Timothy

Q. Why did you guys decide to create this product? What’s the problem you’re solving? — Ben Tossell

Good questions! We actually started working on something rather different — helping ocean scientists find, manage, and share complex content in the cloud — but as we showed it to lots of early users, people kept saying, “man, I could really use this for Dropbox and Evernote!”

The problem is that we’re all using a ton of apps and cloud services to run our businesses every day — and we’ve got related content across GitHub, Evernote, Trello, Google Drive, etc, etc, but none of it is really connected or in context

ClipCard connects across those apps to get you what you need, where you need it

Ryan

Q. Can you tell us more about your development stack? What’s your app built with and why did you choose certain technologies/languages over other options? — Jonas Daniels

Indexing all your stuff across big brand-name APIs is no small tech feat… we’ve built a distributed indexing system on the Apache Storm architecture (written in Clojure) that plays nice with a bunch of third-party services at scale. All of that maps to a central API (built on the Django DRF) and cache that powers a range of app clients you can use to get to your stuff from anywhere. Today that includes a web app and a native Mac app, as well as a Slack bot that packs all the same app functionality into a chat interface. The goal is to continue embedding that easy access into all the places you’re working.

At the center of it all is a normalized index we’re building to help summarize a diverse amount of things (GitHub issues, design files, contacts, notes, etc) in a way that’s useful to see and search together.

Ryan

Q. Can you give us an idea of some of the use cases? How are people using ClipCard? And are you building Slack integration into the app? — Eric Willis

We’ve got two main use cases: (1) You’re at work, you need to find out about what’s going on with ______________. You usually would either ask your colleagues, email, talk about it in Slack, or dig around in 5–10 apps. Enter ClipCard — see what’s going on about ______________ in one place, across ALL your apps.

(2) You’ve got a ton of activity going on and you just want to see that activity as it’s happening, but not get “notified” every time somebody makes a change to the code, issue, trello card, evernote note, google doc, etc. In that scenario, people are using ClipCard like a dashboard of activity. This reduces email, notifications and updates to your phone & inbox.

Timothy

Q. Could you tell us about your story up until helping ocean scientists and about the pivot? — Ben Tossell

Lots of people get intrigued when we tell them that we started as an ocean big data company. :simple_smile: It was a great problem in that very narrow vertical, and it still exists today, but what we stumbled upon as we ran that business model into the wall, was that people everywhere spend a lot of time looking for their own content, and their team’s content, in the cloud. We wanted to build a solution that was self-service, low-cost and super easy to access. Designing it as a service allows us to embed ClipCard anywhere people are working and not require them to use yet another app.

The pivot for us was difficult. We had a larger team, the “founders” left and we picked up the pieces with our investors and soldiered on. We had a complete culture turnaround and focused exclusively on building a product in a very short timeline. Starting in July, we released a private beta in October and had general availability in early February.

Timothy

Q. What’s the business model at ClipCard? — Ed Moyse

Business model? You mean we’re supposed to make money!? j/k :simple_smile: Right now ClipCard is free to use and there will always be a version that we won’t charge for. There is a SaaS business here; we’ll roll out a premium $/user/month product later this year that will give you access to some more powerful features and connected sources. There’s also a licensing business in helping other software and device makers embed this kind of easy access across cloud services into their products. We’ve essentially built an API on top of the other APIs, taking out a lot of the idiosyncrasies and complexities of working with them, and other app makers have already told us they see value in that.

Ryan

Q. What’s the usage breakdown… in terms of desktop to mobile usage of ClipCard? And do you have plans to focus more on mobile? — Eric Willis

Let me pull you the latest stats! As of today, about 78% of our traffic is actually from desktops, 63.5% from Mac. Those numbers surprised us a lot after we first launched our web app and were looking for an informed decision about the first native platform to approach. We ended up going with Mac — our app is now in the App store: because of that. On further examination, it makes sense: a lot of us on tech teams are still doing our real work day in and day out on our laptops.

Ryan

As part of the “service” approach that ClipCard is taking to get in the places that people are already working, we built a new kind of Slack integration. Rather than funnel users to a channel where they can see updates about anything and everything that’s going on across their cloud services, we built an interactive bot that will allow users on teams to access their content, or updates on their content on demand. Just last week we announced this as we went into Collision Conference and have been building a list of interested teams who are interested in trying it out.
Meanwhile, we’re working with Slack on a broader deployment model and communication about it to Slack users everywhere. So far, Slack tells us that no one is taking this kind of an approach to integration into Slack.

Timothy

Q. Can you share some data from your product hunt launch? How many new users did you gain, did you get other media mentions because of being on Product Hunt, etc? — Eric Willis

Good question. We didn’t “launch” on Product Hunt per say, but were featured there twice, first for our web app and then later when we released the Mac app. The latter was a total surprise for us. We were a little unprepared for both, and finished in the middle of the pack both times, but still found it totally useful and a big boost to us. The first time grew our user base by 20% in 24 hours. The second time, about a month later, drew about 60% more traffic and user acquisition than the first time. We did see some press/blog pickup, but interestingly in other languages much more than English — we’ve seen traffic-driving posts in Russian, Italian, Spanish, French, Japanese, and Ukranian that we can all tie back to the Product Hunt feature. We have active users from >80 countries just from that.

Ryan

Q. How was the Collision Conference? Was it worth the time? — Eric Willis

Collision Conference was excellent and very well organized. We’ve been to other startup events where companies tend to get lost in the mix. The Collision organizers went out of their way to make startups feel special, tried to get us investor meetings, and had special parties of relatively small groups to increase exposure and networking. I highly recommend it.

Timothy

What are you looking to gain from events like Collision? Just expanding your network..hoping to meet a potential investor for a future round? — Eric Willis

Collision Conference for us was all about fundraising. We’re actively fundraising right now and looking for help to finish our Seed round and carry us into Series A.

Timothy

One more thought re: Collision, our target audience is other startups like us who rely on a ton of apps and cloud services, so it was fantastic to be able to meet, talk to, and get live feedback from 11,000 of our users all in two days. Totally wish we had more time to talk to more people

Ryan

Q. What other things have you done to market the app? — Eric Willis

Regarding marketing….we’ve done very little, actually. We’ve been fortunate to be on Product Hunt twice, been featured in several news articles and blogs internationally (Japan, France, Russia, Germany, LatAm, Ukraine, etc.) and believe that organic growth is the best growth. We’ve used Twitter campaigns a couple of times but our main user spikes have come from PH!! We love it!!

Timothy

Q. Any good books you two would recommend for other makers? What are some of the sites you frequent for consuming great content? — Eric Willis

I tend to read a lot, but less on books (I have young kids) and more on articles. I particularly dig articles by Taylor Davidson and those that appear on Medium and Quibb.

Timothy

Also really like the Message Channel on Medium.

Really great stuff from Anil Dash, Ftrain, and others there

Ryan


Thanks guys!


Next AMA is with:

Shaan Puri CEO of Bebo + @theinferno. Duke. SF. I probably have too many tabs open right now.— 3pm EST 14th May


If you liked this AMA please Recommend ☺. Keep an eye out on our Twitter — @MakerHunt for details/updates.

Special thanks to Tim, Ryan and everyone who participated. If you’re a maker with a product on ProductHunt, be sure to sign up to participate in the AMAs and connect with others.

Already a member? Get your questions ready for the next AMAs! For any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to: Eric, Jonas, Remco, Cat or Ben.

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