Product Development March 24, 2020

I did Sales Safari to find usecases, but found competition. Don't see a way to users.

Krister Viirsaar @krister

Don't want to be overly dramatic, but feeling like giving up.

So here were my core assumptions when starting Bashboard, and how Sales Safari turned them around.

Background: Bashboard is a dashboard where you can send data with POST requests from any system anywhere. It's easy (for devs), and no source is out of bounds.

All-in-one dashboards (like Cyfe) never have enough integrations to pull data from services.

True.

  1. This was confirmed when looking at Cyfe reviews, a lot of people complaining and no real workarounds provided. Yay! Core assumption is correct 🎉
  2. All other such services are also integrations based.

Developers who use Cyfe would like a more customizeable dashboard, they're willing to write code even.

Tricky, rather false.

  1. Most Cyfe users seem to be marketers (not devs) who want "allow access and get chart" type of easy integrations.
  2. There are developers on Cyfe also, but I could not find enough datapoints to figure out their needs or know where they hang out (how to reach them).
  3. Developers are willing to code. But automatic integration vs. POST request is not a contest, if you have 30 services.

Possible fix: Have Zapier on the side (You get all of the normal integrations, PLUS a dev can always add extra). But then I'll just be another Dashboard..

Marketers are willing to use a dev beside them to set up a super-flexible dashboard.

False.

  1. Most marketers are in a marketing company with few or no devs.
  2. If devs are involved the tool is probably too complicated for them to even get interested.
  3. I only found one user saying they had a dev help set the thing up, and this was about Google Analytics properly in their software, not connecting things.
  4. If marketers aren't able to customize (this is a major keyword) the dashboard how they see fit - they are not interested.

Developers need a quick and easy place to send data from their own systems.

False.

Developers don't seem to talk a lot about monitoring/dashboards actually. Marketers need funnels. Admins need monitoring of servers. Devs? What they need can be done with some simple Chart.js coding in the same app they're writing. If it doesn't take more than a day, why risk a third party service that may also take a day and can't possibly be any more flexible?

Admins need an easy to build dashboard without limits on sources (because they have many servers).

False.

  1. There are loads of tools that give amazing insight into server/iot/network/containers status, rarely is there something they're missing and it's probably doable with a little work.
  2. "easy" must either mean premade integrations (which competition has) or manual labor (my POST request system). If admins wanted the same insight they get from say NetData, they would have to put in a lot of effort.
  3. Major one: Admins actually don't want to do ETL (or in-between-scripts that take data from point A and sends it to point B).

Ugh.. I was hoping to find a more specific target audience and fix my landing knowing who to target specifically. Before I thought I knew many groups who need me, now I know no groups need me. Not sure where to go from here.

It seems currently I have no direction to pivot to and I don't want to give up just yet. I have no choice, but to target vague, launch on HN/PH and then cry since that is the final confirmation this service is not needed.. 😪

Got ideas?

  1. 3

    Sounds like a big win for silver lining - you did sufficient research to prevent you from going too far down a road that would lead nowhere.

    I work with both marketers and developers who want "dashboards" in my day job. I can confirm, they want very different things. Their attitudes, goals and working styles differ, and they don't naturally collaborate with each other. I agree with most of your conclusions from your Safari work about each population.

    You should pivot. If it takes a few days/weeks for a light bulb moment, that's fine! I know that it can personally feel like a bummer sometimes, but the market wants what it wants. Don't take its feedback personally - it doesn't mean it that way.

    1. 1

      My current main question is actually - where to pivot?

      Thanks for the feedback, it's very cool that you dropped by :)

  2. 2

    Hey Krister,

    So, I'm glad that you took Sales Safari for a spin, though it sounds like you're struggling with the fact that what you learned didn't match your mental model of an audience. That's frustrating, I'm sure, but as @blakerson points out, your research is full of positive news too.

    I see two clear paths forward, and a third that might be even easier:

    1 - you learned that marketers need flexible and configurable DIY dashboards that they can configure without a developer. That seems like a clue that you could to use Safari to get more specific about this insight in different dimensions: e.g. are there specific kinds of marketers (e.g. ecommerce vs saas vs ???) who need specific kinds of dashboards that are hard to create or customize?

    Use Sales Safari to understand that, and then start working on marketing, tools, and services to help them.

    2 - you learned that at least in the watering holes you tried (i'm not sure how many or where you looked), developers aren't talking about dashboards as much OR they want different things. The question I'd be asking is...what specific problems do developers encounter that are expensive in terms of time/money? What kind of developers actually pay for tools like this?

    Use Safari to answer these questions, and then start heading in that direction with your marketing and products.

    In both cases, you're kinda doing Safari sideways (not wrong but also not exactly 100% as intended) because the process is designed to help you figure out what problems people are experiencing and talking about, which is distinctly different from figuring out "are people talking about the problem I hope they're talking about."

    Bottom line here: Sales Safari helps you find facts and insights about an audience. If those don't match your expectations about the audience, that's okay, in fact it's great because now you have a better working understanding of that audience. Use that, instead of fighting it!

    1. 1

      you skipped the third one - starting over? :D

      You are correct though. I'm currently set on finishing this product and if the launch fails (it likely will) I will continue with doing Sales Safari for figuring out what is actually needed with a more open mind.

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