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Lessons of Y Combinator: Things I’d do differently after 2 startups (gigaom.com)
61 points by babul on July 15, 2008 | hide | past | web | favorite | 27 comments

I hate to be a downer, but sometimes these things don't sit right with me. "After successfully launching their consumer offering (7% week-over-week growth!)"

Why are the traffic charts essentially flat for the last 6 months, or worse on quantcast.

I think "3. We didn’t spend enough time on marketing" is probably the most important, but then I'm not convinced the idea is "sticky" enough in the first place.

Still an interesting read though :)

I use their product and haven't visited the site in months. I just look at the weekly summaries to get a decent picture of how productive my week was (hours in work opposed to waste of time).

Traffic to their site is not nearly as useful as their signups growth is for statistics.

Fair point. Might be worth having the application show something from the website, so that website stats are more representative, or at least look more impressive :)

You are starting to sound like a lot of the big web portals out there.

'Let's break an article into 10 pages so we get 10 times the hits!'

'Let's turn that AJAX gallery that loads really quick into separate pages so we get way better traffic scores!'

In jest to you - but they really have those types of meetings.

Again, fair point :) As long as the subscriber numbers are good, that's cool. I'm used to looking at websites rather than desktop software so it's a whole different game.

Also depends on their strategy. I'd expect the summary to display some recommendations from a website, maybe some recommended software (adverts), etc Maybe some social networking - "Here's some people who have similar usage patterns to you. Go chat."

QuantCast is horribly unreliable, far worse than even their competitors who are themselves terribly unreliable.

Unless you're quantified of course. I have to say I find Alexa to be pretty accurate these days though. It's got lag, but it seems to get sites in the right sort of ballpark.

do you seriously think any of the public stats sites are able to understand traffic of small sites like ours? Not so much, as it happens. And this fact is pretty well documented (seomoz has some good posts documenting how comscore, alexa, and quantcast don't do so well with smaller sites/services). I'm in NYC on an iPhone- I'll find the posts next time I'm in front of a real screen.

The 7 percent number (we were up to 9 for a while) is user growth-- not traffic. Both are still growing nicely.

This is a great post with a lot of good data that oughta be very interesting to people here. Possibly the best kind of post we could have. I'd like to see a lot more of these. Thanks, Tony!

Tony writes plenty of good stuff on his blog over here: http://www.tonywright.com/

In terms of amount-of-insight/word his blog is perhaps the most informative I follow.

Not sure I would ever pay for software to tell me where I am spending my time.

While I'm sure a lot of people would be willing to (depending on the price, I may be one of them -- I'm a big fan of RescueTime), my understanding is that they are targeting businesses with their paid version.

No, but your boss would.

Not exactly making the world a better place, is it.

RescueTime is probably the most useful yCombinator app out there. I would certainly consider paying for it.

"Not sure I would ever pay for software to tell me where I am spending my time." --- Maybe not you, but your boss may. Rescuetime needs a function, where it can work in the background, so bosses will see what their employees are doing online.

I worked on a big financial company, and they monitor a lot of stuff. I wouldn't be suprised that they will find something like this useful.

they already have complete access to your system using VNC, and they already have complete stats of all your browsing

VNC gives them a very fine-grained view. At any moment I can watch what any individual employee is doing.

That information, in and of itself, isn't very actionable. I'd prefer knowing that, on the whole, 10% of my company's man-hours are spent on digg, for example.

That depends on the price. If it saves me one hour per year, it's technically worth $50 or $60 per year, or more.

Of course, I'd have to think about that, whereas I'd pay $14.99 without a second thought. ;)

I loved the landing page design. Great layout, big red call to action buttons, multi-column displays... That alone got me to sign up.

Their web designers went to the "let's see how close we can get to a 37signals design" school apparently.

I've seen it 100 times and it's always boring.

I wouldn't blame the designers directly. In my experience designers tend to be pressured into trendy styles. The 37signals look just happens to be what's in right now.

That's odd you should say that. OtherWeather looks rather 37 Signals. Are you planning on changing the design?

I think the group version could be cool, and might be worth paying for... Think as a project manager you can see how exactly everyone is doing - I.E. the designer spending 30% of each day researching design, and 20% in photoshop... just sounds neat, Im trying the personal version for sure!

It does, however, have the potential for being an employee's worst nightmare in the hands of a micromanaging boss. That's my concern with it being used in a corporate environment.

"Why did you spend 31 minutes 40 seconds reading 'Hacker News' today?!?" "Gee, boss, because sometimes I need a break..."

However, that's not Rescue Time's fault.

I'm reluctant to have my data stored on their server. If it's software that I run on my PC, why does it need to save its data on their system?

Things we did right: "didn't focus on internet marketing" - Things we did wrong: "didn't do enough marketing"


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