“It’s too broad ;)”
Hey what’s up it’s been awhile… the last we talked Anchor was getting ready to launch its Kickstarter and we were green on how the world would respond to our amazing app. Andrew and I expected viral support and funding out the ying yang. Boy were we wrong. After 3 backers and 30 days, we realized we had missed the mark big time.
Ryan Hoover, founder of Product Hunt, has a quote pinned to the top of his twitter. “When you look back 6 months from today and don’t feel embarrassed by your naïveté, there’s a problem.” — Nathan Bashaw
Well we don’t have to go that far back in time to be humbled by our naïveté. Our awakening started after having a very honest FB messenger convo with a friend of mine. Curtis is uber inspirational. He’s a fellow veteran and the personification of diversification. The guy has a wildly successful Air BnB in Northern Virginia, is a partner for You Tune Earphones, and just opened a Sweet Frog in Alexandria, VA. I’m pretty sure he never sleeps. He also takes time to instill quality business practices in his kids and proudly posted the #faithandhustle of his young daughter’s 50/50 investment for a jacket they got at a thrift store and sold on eBay.
Curtis was one of Anchor’s first beta testers and gave me some honest feedback shortly after we launched our Kickstarter. You Tune had raised >$130K with over two thousand backers. He knows the in’s and out’s of a Kickstarter campaign and took some time to give us his POV.
From my perspective, the main thing your campaign is missing is a target audience and a pledge offering that is worth the pledge. While plenty of people want to use Anchor and see it succeed, do they actually want Anchor swag? No one wants to buy a water bottle for $50.
He was totally right. I had put on my budget hat and calculated the ratio of profit/cost for our rewards, but didn’t consider that people don’t buy $50 water bottles unless it’s made of gold or saves the unicorns in Antarctica or something philanthropic.
That was the part A, part B had us even more worried. Andrew and I sat in our neighborhood Starbucks silent. We had been feeding off each other’s energy not realizing we really had no target market. I’ve read so many times to let users guide use case scenarios and to follow the demand, but maybe we were offering too much open space. We didn’t want to stunt any opportunities a niche would utilize Anchor for or be tagged as a certain app and not a platform. Good intentions, bad execution. The honest train kept coming.
After agreeing we’d let our Kickstarter campaign run out, Andrew and I started brainstorming a “hook” to bring and keep users coming to Anchor. We made some huge changes to the interface and refreshed our social network presence (Dreamland reference for you). We still knew we were missing something.
A few brainstorming seshs later, we picked up an original idea we had on that first road trip to Pennsylvania over a year ago. Andrew started working the logistics for Anchor Chains. The idea behind Anchor Chains was road tripping or traveling around the world. Say Andrew and I road trip from DC to San Francisco. We could create an Anchor Chain so all the anchors we took along the way were tagged to a “Road Trip” chain. That way followers could follow along easily and later on we could watch the entire chain as a memento of our trip. Eventually, users could follow anchor chains and get notifications of when we found a hole in the wall BBQ place in Kansas or I finally got to see USA’s largest ball of yarn. Sidetone: I’ve been knitting since I was 12. #funfact
So we were hustling along and I randomly found myself in a one-on-one Twitter convo with the founding engineering of Mint. I religiously had been watching
Startup TV’s Snapchat account and was inspired by one of their takeovers. Poornima Vijayashanker is the founder of Femgineer and just launched a book to help techies speak publicly. She talked about how she came to Mint and set this vibe of constant learning and an open environment of collaboration even if you were already successfully accomplished. I really took her words to heart and decided to follow her on Twitter. Almost immediately after following her, she DM’d me asking what I was working on. At this point I didn’t realize what a baller Poornima was. I knew she was accomplished, but jeez! This woman has a genuine interest in cultivating an educated tech startup community. She has a ton of great YouTube videos touching on a many different issues founding engineers and businesses face in this world. So here I was in my jim jams chatting it up with this giant success of a woman.
Soon she was walking through her impressions of Anchor on the app store and asking some pretty hard questions that I was embarrassed I didn’t know the answers to. She encouraged us to get reviews (we originally asked friends/family to refrain from giving reviews to prevent looking like we were artificially beefing up our reviews) and she suggested we refresh our copy. We were too feature driven and we didn’t answer the question “why would I use Anchor?” I gave her my spiel on how we didn’t want to constrain usage which was basically a “build it and they will come” mentality. Eventually I realized we were too broad to which Poornima responded “it’s too broad ;)” It was another example of her genuine feedback and although I had an immense pain in my stomach that I failed marketing Anchor and gratefulness that it was really just tweaking and not the app itself that needed reworking.
It’s OK to pick a segment because when you make it for a segment, they become loyal and then other people either want to be like them or realize they already are.
She walked through a narrative with me on who would use Anchor and why. We ended up revealing people who travel with an itinerant lifestyle might be our target market. Unfortunately, people who stay in the same location all the time won’t use Anchor because it just becomes a big blob of their profile picture. The best example is this Starbucks. Andrew and I have unofficially claimed it our weekly #anchorstaffmeeting spot. Not really intriguing to anyone else but us. But when I traveled to Long Beach, Cancun, and the Bahamas earlier this year, that was something worth watching. And my friends that were looking into going to those places knew exactly where I stayed, where I’d found that great snorkel place, and where I had possibly the best fish tacos ever. I also didn’t have to worry about creeps knowing where I lived and worked because I was a nomad passing through. To be honest, I still have no idea how we’re going to market to this lifestyle. I have to do a ton more research and figure out the best way to nestle Anchor into these adventurous millenials home screens. Nevertheless, I am incredibly grateful for Poornima’s time and advice. She didn’t have to do that and I can imagine she is incredibly busy. It spoke volumes to me and encouraged me to take a deep dive into Anchor’s purpose and meaning.
So while I figure that out, Andrew has been working on converting our square video to vertical video. We both had been questioning transitioning and after reading an article about the science of vertical video (had a lot to do with analyzing eye paths of customers), we decided it’d be a good idea. That way nothing is cut and the view is maximized. Andrew also updated Find My Friends on the Explore tab so now you can find all your peeps already on Anchor (which was a great suggestion from a current user). We’re still gaining users each day, but we’re hustling to attract users from our presumed target market. So if you travel and want to keep your memories anchored forever, download Anchor and let us know what you think!
If you have any ideas/insight, we’d love to hear it. We have super thick skin and know in six months, we’ll be looking at this moment and relish in everything we’ve learned :)