Steppen
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Steppen

Building in Public 10: Running a Beta Program

The first week of May marked the start of our 8 week beta program for our creator app. We had set out to build a version of Steppen just for our content creators. In the creator app, creators can build workouts, see who is in their community and monetise their content. But before we got too into the build we wanted to make sure we

  • knew who we were building for

So we decided to run a beta program. The program ran as follows

  • Went for 8 weeks with about 30 content creators

This post will run through

  • How we organised and the logistics around running a beta program

Setting Up A Beta Program

When we went through the mammoth task of separating out the member and creator experience we realised we had A LOT of unknowns on both sides. To de-risk the creator app we opted to run a beta program.

I was in charge with running this project. I naturally (like most things I am tasked with doing, welcome to start up life) had absolutely no idea how to run a beta program So my first step was to figure that out… After a bunch of googling I figured out the general jist of a beta program and what we needed to do to get set up. Namely:

  • Determine our clear goals of the program

Our Goals

These were our goals — they are pretty high level but clear enough to influence how we should set the program up

Our goals for the beta program

Goals → Beta Program Structure

Based on our goals I realised we would want our beta testing to ensure

  • We saw how the creators used the app

We were lucky to have an awesome partner in Clean Health who provided 20 beta testers as part of the program. This is a summary of how we ran the program

Summary of beta program

The most annoying part of the beta program was getting everyone set up… adding everyone to test flight and google play beta 😠 We eventually managed. I decided to give us a 1 week buffer between the program starting and us actually testing the app (it was needed), week 1 served as an introductory week. The full weekly breakdown can be seen here 👇

Weekly questions and structure

How a Typical Week Ran

Prepare

  • On the Wednesday the next week’s questions would be due , the person responsible for that week would write them up and then share them with the team.
FB post to creators about upcoming week’s testing
  • We’d set up a key findings board which had 4 columns
  1. Themes

Testing

  • We’d go through the testing sessions

Summarise learnings

  • At end of the week the product team would go through key points together, add to backlog and adjust our priorities as required
Left: slide template used to summarise learnings to team, right: FB post outlining key lessons to beta testers

What We Learnt

A lot….

Fitness creators care a lot about workout programs

  • This is how most creators are looking to monetise → but we did not have that in our short term roadmap

The exact personas we are building for and clarity on the problem we are solving 😃

  • This meant we could prioritise and better filter through the HUGE amount of information we were getting

Product marketing super important!

  • Comms with creators highlighting new features and how to use them needs to be part of the product process
FB post outlining our decision to add the ability to create and sell workout programs to our July 1 launch

The People In Our Beta Program

Here is a little taste of some of amazing people who were in our beta program

  • Lewis Arnold → UK based PT is using over 8 different SAS tools to run his business. He is spending over 1000 pounds a month on subscriptions… 👀
Zoom selfie with some of our beta testers, (left to right), Ava, Tamieka & Aleesha

Quotes I Loved ❤️

Here are some of my fave quotes from the beta program which nicely summarises the good vibes of the program.

  • Beta tester (in final session) “thank you so much for having me- been so awesome” Me: we are the ones who should be thanking u….!!

How We Will Continue To Embed Beta Testing In Our Culture

Our final beta testing call wrapped up last week — we used this call to get feedback about how the program ran and how we could improve it. I was surprised by how much the creator’s loved the process and felt they had learnt from it. Every single creator I asked if they would like to continue to be involved in product discussions and directions gave an enthusiastic yes!!

We will continue to keep creators in the loop as follows

  • This sending product questions and designs for feedback text bi-weekly, this will be embedded into the analysis part of our new release rollout

Why I’d HIGHLY Recommend Running a Beta Program

We ended up with 43 creators in the beta program (then because of drop out and realising some creators were not the right fit landed closer to 30 creators by the program’s conclusion). I personally sat in on 20 creator calls a week (and at the peak 30 lol- that was a crazy week).

The amount of information we collected each week was incredible. It meant we were able to make product decisions with WAY more information then ever before. Resultantly we were making better, more informed and higher certainty decisions. Which ultimately should be leading to stronger product and business outcomes.

Personally I am really proud of how the beta program ran. Since starting Steppen I think this is my best and most impactful work. I loved getting on call with our creators and developing personal relationships with them. I loved hearing the same problem and workshopping with creators live how we can solve it.

I cannot recommend more for founders and team members to run programs like this. The muscle and practice of talking to users is essential part of building something people want. I can now say we were not doing a good enough job of this until our beta program. With the program concluding we need to take beta testing spirit into all product decisions.

Until next time!

Cara 💙

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Cara

Co Founder @Steppen. Working to democratise workouts. Lover of avo and halloumi.