Product Manager Q&A: Initial Learnings From Integrating Kin Into Kik

It’s been almost a month since our ecosystem partner Kik rolled out its first Kin-powered experience, chat themes. As the first live consumer use-case of Kin, both product teams faced challenges as they introduced another layer of the Kin/Kik partnership to Kik users.

We sat down with Laura Newton, product manager at Kik, and Noa Kessler, Product Manager at Kin, to discuss the integration process, building a consumer-facing crypto offering, and key learnings that will be applied as future partners integrate Kin.

Finding the Right Product Opportunity for Kin in Kik

Incorporating Kin into Kik was a two-fold effort that needed a new, meaningful feature for users, but also required educating these users on how cryptocurrency would supercharge this and other new experiences.

Noa Kessler (NK): What do users want? How can Kin benefit users? How can Kin open up new experiences? Our approach is to not force Kin into existing features — this applies to all partners — but to build new features with Kin. How can we really reward users with something new and enjoyable to them?

Laura Newton (LN): Within that, how do we communicate what Kin is to users, especially as the first partner to integrate it? Do we explain it as a cryptocurrency, a digital coin? In all of our user testing, participants most easily understood Kin with chat themes, so that’s one of the main reasons we chose this feature for the integration.


Adding the Kin Ecosystem SDK Into Kik

The Kin Ecosystem Software Development Kit (SDK) is the backbone for all experiences built with Kin. While the SDK simplifies the process of creating new features, or building on top of those that already exist, it hadn’t been done before.

NK: It was a challenge for both sides. We created something that Kik, with millions of users, took and implemented, and had to trust a piece of code that they’ve never worked with that hadn’t been released publicly. It’s the first time that users use blockchain in this manner, so I think there’s a big challenge from both product and technological sides.


Joint Efforts: Learnings from Kin and Kik’s Work Together

LN: It’s definitely difficult to work with a team in a different time zone. Thursday at noon in Canada is already the weekend in Tel Aviv, so it requires a lot of proper planning and coordination. Aside from that, I think their teams have a really nice and interesting dynamic. They have smaller teams, similar to how we used to work at Kik. It was interesting seeing it like this again.

NK: For me, personally, it was my first time working with Kik — I’m new at Kin. It wasn’t a brand new partnership, but it was for me. I came in late to the party, but I caught on quickly. It was an amazing learning opportunity for everyone on our team in terms of how to work with partners. What questions do they have, and at what times? Can we answer them? And if we can’t, let’s fix this. I wouldn’t call it easy sailing but any challenge we had with Kik would’ve been more difficult with another partner. We were very lucky to work with a team that’s on it, has the right questions, and can give us the feedback.


How Kik has Helped Kin Prep for Future Partners

NK: We stopped doing on-going retro-meetings where we reflected on what happened the day or week before with Kik, but we realized the benefit, and it’s something we plan to keep up with other partners. For example, Kik noticed that the marketplace didn’t close in certain user experiences and requested that we correct the API so it did. It got us thinking that if this partner wants it, others will, too. It was basic but very important feedback to the code that came from these meetings. It’s really helped us plan how to communicate with external partners.

LN: When I was in Tel Aviv, we were able to give feedback on what the external partner on-boarding might look like when we saw the draft of on-boarding and value prop decks. Working through how to get people, developers, on board is one of the hardest parts, and these sessions will definitely help.


Kik’s Product Strategy After Kin

LN: It’s interesting because it’s the first time Kik has really focused on monetization as a core part of our strategy. Of course we’ve had different monetization attempts over the years, but a lot of it was a part of getting VC funding. Now it’s definitely a challenge for our product teams to not only think about the user experiences we want to provide, but also how we monetize this company. So Kin plays hugely there, of course.

We can’t follow suit with what other companies are doing with crypto to help us plan how to monetize with Kin — it hasn’t been done before. So we’re spending a lot of time thinking of the best ways to monetize using Kin and the specifics of how it can work in Kik. Crypto facilitates a lot of things that traditional monetization methods don’t, but there are a lot more constraints. There’s a lot more to navigate.


User Response to the Tech and Vice-Versa

LN: We see that our conversion rates are what we expected, and a lot of people are spending on themes. We were worried that because we launched with only one spend opportunity, users might earn their Kin and hold onto it, but a lot of them are spending it on the first feature we rolled out.

NK: Yes, the numbers are what we expected. We’re continually working to understand the numbers and learn from user behavior so that we can provide the most engaging user experience.

We’re seeing user drop-off in specific areas so we’re going to redevelop and redesign certain screens and do user testing to try to decrease this drop-off.

LN: It’s also been great to see that the blockchain has been able to handle it, so has the SDK, and we’ve had really low crash and failure rates. Very exciting since we ramped up so quickly.


Scaling the Integration

NK: Data, I love data. This is first to market so we couldn’t do as much research as we would have liked. We are always working to validate our assumptions and make changes where needed. I’m looking forward to getting more data, seeing what users like, making it better, testing it, making it better, and testing that. We’re getting into that lifecycle mode of quick iterations and getting users to enjoy it and to use it. It all depends on the experiences we create, and how quickly the ecosystem is going to grow. The basis for everything, though, is data.

LN: I’m also excited about data, specifically qualitative. Understanding users’ perceptions of this, if it’s like something they’ve seen before? Do they understand what a cryptocurrency is? Do we want to teach them what a cryptocurrency is? It will help us understanding where we need to draw that line. I think it’ll be really enlightening for us in how we position this for our users.

Have more questions about the Kik integration? Leave them in the comments section, and we’ll do our best to get you an answer.