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Ask HN: Review my startup: Hackerfly.com
43 points by p1niu on Aug 20, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 26 comments
Hi fellow Hackers,

Can I ask for feedback on a new product that I am working on: http://www.hackerfly.com

Hackerfly is a SaaS tool providing analysis and insights into the software programming industry.

The intention is to give marketers, analysts, developer evangelists, managers and decision makers a simple tool with statistics and quantitative information enabling them to understand software developers better and make more informed decisions regarding software and programming.

Currently, we're focusing on StackOveflow as a data source, but in the future we want to add many other relevant (developer-focused) data sources like GitHub, Twitter, etc.

- What do you think about the idea and the product?

- Is value proposition / offering clear?

- What do you think about the pricing model? Would you be willing to pay for this kind of service?

- Do you know of any startups doing the same or something similar?

- Do you like/dislike the look&feel of the marketing site?

Thanks in advance for all your help.

ps. You can already sign up and you will receive a personal invitation as soon as we launch private beta tests.

The marketing site looks great and I like the sound of the idea, however I was surprised to see this as a paid-for service.

This is not because it is data not worth paying for but rather because I usually start thinking about new tech at the start of a new project, and I only start a new project once every year or two. An ongoing fee for this type of aggregator seems hard to justify.

A possible alternative would be to open up the data for free and supply affiliate links to related books, tools etc.

Maybe it's just not aimed at a user like me.

All the best :)

Hi. Thanks for the feedback.

Opening up the tool for free is actually one of the options that I consider. Of course, only if there's a good reason to believe that this is the right way to go.

I know of some free alternatives, like http://www.ohloh.net/ but on the other hand there are also pricey reports on technology trends, such as: http://w3techs.com/ This shows that there are companies willing to pay a lot of money for technology insights.

BTW, is there any specific kind of data/insights you would be particularly interested in?

One idea might be to charge per usage rather than on a monthly basis. So let's say I'm starting a project I pay a one-time fee to use the application for a certain amount of queries, days or weeks. Like skyhook_mockups said it's not something I'd use everyday but rather a couple of times a year when I start a new project or pivot.

I'd have to agree here. It's a cool concept, but I just couldn't justify paying for it. It's possible that if there was a free limited version that I could play with, I'd get hooked and then be willing to pay the monthly rate. But then, I am a Senior Developer... maybe this is meant more for Project Managers. The project managers that I work with though, wouldn't be nearly technical enough to understand most of what comes through on Stack Overflow: "MVC what?" :)

Hi, the tool is aimed primarily at:

- developer-focused marketers (What are developers interested in, so we can build better products for them?)

- developer evangelists/advocates (Are developers adapting the tools we're evangelising about?)

- IT industry analysts (What are the industry trends? What will be popular next year?)

And from the discussions with those groups, I know they would be willing to pay for this kind of tool. Obviously, my goal is to build a critical mass of users and customers. And the dilemma is whether leave it a SaaS tool and earn from subscription or open it up for everyone and make profit in some other way...

Thanks yataa

A couple of remarks:

- As mentionned by others, I wouldn't pay for this data. It's not that it's not worth it, it's because I would only need it at the beginning of a project, which is rare enough to justify the monthly fee. That said, if I were a manager responsible for 10 ongoing projects at any time, I'd be very interested.

- About the pricing, the one thing that bothers me is that I have no idea what a "technology category" is, and how much do I actually need. I have no idea if 5 is enough or not. Maybe you explained this and I missed it. Maybe a demo would help picture what it is. It's up to you to figure it out, but as far as I'm concerned, I spent over 3 mins on the (otherwise very appealing) website and did not find the info.

That said, I think it's a good idea, and while I have no clue whether it's a profitable one (or how you should proceed to make it so), I think it's a really cool project capable of providing real value. Congrats and good luck for the launch.

Thanks. This is a lot of valuable feedback!

By "technology category" I mean: Programming languages, Version control systems, PaaS providers, NoSQL databases, Relational databases, IDEs, etc. - basically different categories of tools/technologies that software developers use to get their job done. I agree this should be explained more somewhere on the website.

First of all congrats on launching.

I'll deliver some quick tips in term of UI/UX - hope they can help.

1. I'm not a huge fan of slides because you either have to get the user to click on the next to find out about the other slides or move them automatically after a certain interval which is what you're doing in your case. However it can be frustrating to move to the next slide while I'm reading (happened to me just now). My solution would be to either get rid of the slides and just concentrate your message in one slide or have a high interval between slides and have a bigger call to action to navigate to the next slide (you might even entice the user to click by giving him a short headline of what's next).

2. If you're doing slides - make sure to have your main CTA (call to action) button in all slides - if you convince me in slide #3 - you want me to click on a button and fill our my information - any hesitation on my end will result in a drop of conversion.

3. The message is not clear - I have no idea what you are doing (perhaps because I am not the target audience) but at least explain in simple word the different use cases. I am sure it would possibly help people quickly decide if this is something that could be useful to them.

4. The pricing - there are some elements which I really like - the fact that you can switch from a monthly to a yearly pricing plans is clever however If I would be you I'd show the old and new price in the yearly price (with the old price crossed - that way you re-enforce the savings indication).

Good luck!

Adambenayoun, thanks for your UX/UI remarks. I agree with most of them.

Regarding the message and use cases - I'm trying to explain this in a section below the slides. "Technology research tool", "IT buzzword monitor", "Analysis and reports", etc. Isn't this visible/clear enough? What would you suggest to make it more eye-catching? Thanks again for all your feedback :)

Congrats on launching - always difficult to finally get it out the door, so good job.

As adambenayoun said, using slides to present information can make it harder to get your message across (either people will miss some of the slides, or the slides will move halfway through being read - which is pretty frustrating).

I'm most likely not your target audience, but my advice would be to refine the messaging on the homepage. I couldn't figure out what it is your app actually does (could just be me skim-reading it, but keep in mind that's how a lot of people will approach your site). It talks about how important data is - but I can't tell what data I'd get back. It says "delivering quantitative information on developer trends and demographics" - what kind of information? What should I do with that?

I think one of the biggest things you need to answer on your homepage is "what problem does the app solve"? The main headline is "Stay on top of the latest programming trends" - but it doesn't tell me why I should. Think about who the app is designed for, and what they'd use it for - and that can probably help you adapt and refine your message in a way that's simpler and more targeted. Good luck!

Good day!

I'm going to list off a few things that I notice while browsing around your site.

- First off, your website looks really good. Congratulations!

- I don't think I understand what your product offers. From reading your website, I imagine something similar to Wikipedia (only about software development). Am I close? If so, I think you need to do a better job of communicating your value statement. If not, I think you need to work a little on explaining what you do and how you're different.

- My biggest criticism about your site is related to your slider. You have a lot of text on the first slide, but I think it changes to the next slide too fast. If I were you, I'd increase the delay.

- Personally, I always feel a little uneasy about including somewhat related quotes from famous people (unless of course, they're talking about your product). While social proof is undeniably important, I worry that somewhat related quotes devalue brands. If I were you, I'd test this (and blog about your results!)

- You should run a test on your pricing page. I suspect that the FAQs you have on the bottom will reduce your conversions, but that also would be an interesting test. If I were you, I'd remove all the FAQs (but add 'no contracts to sign' into your list of features).

- I'm concerned about word of mouth, (specifically conversations like this) --> "My pointy haired boss told us to write the app in Rails. He read about Rails on Hackerfly." Snark like this can be very expensive to extinguish. This concern could also be an amazing opportunity to build a community where engineers and managers can get together and have frank conversations about technology and working together.

Good luck with your product and sorry this isn't more detailed!


Terrific website design, congratulations on the launch! I'm really just going to repeat and perhaps clarify sentiments of two other commenters below:

First, what you are offering as a product is simply too abstract for somebody to click "Purchase" without seeing an example/demo of some kind. I suggest releasing slightly out of data reports (maybe from three months ago, followed up with a quick note on how accurate it turned out to be) as free, one click PDF downloads from the home page.

Second, even with a demo I suspect you will see little traction. I think your only real hope of revenue is to continue to release data for free, get a lot of attention/users and then introduce a pricing tier. Keep it relatively modest and communicate early on that if traction picks up you will need to charge sooner or later and you should be fine.

Good luck!

Hi there,

Overall site looks professional, I have few questions for you to answer 1. Nowadays platforms are very unrealistic about their offering to developers for example recent twitter announcement? since you took lot of information from stackoverflow how do you cope in future? 2. Do you think really some one buy this? since if its a big corporation they will read all magic quadrant from gartner if its a medium or small size they will try to use the tech stack based on what resources they have and they try to reuse it so often ? 3. Do you think you can sell this to outsourcing shop ? big no ? Please take my question as constructive feedback not other way around.

Hi vkkan Thanks for your constructive criticism & questions. They're always welcome. My answers below:

1. SO data is available under the CC license. I don't expect this to change in the future. Regarding other data sources, I plan to use API or will need special agreements in hand with data providers.

2. You never know this until you try to sell. This is what I'm trying to figure out right now. If there's a good reason to believe that nobody wants to pay for this, I will proceed with plan "B" and will make the tool freely available and will need to find a different business model.

3. I would target the tool primarily at marketers, evangelists, companies building developer-focused products (books, courses, conferences, it vendors). I wasn't thinking about outsourcing shops to be honest.

Nice to hear your answers, but until you find out product/market fit no one can predict which way to go.

+1 agree with most of the above. nice site though!

The design looks great.

I really think the best way to get this service off the ground is to expose a large amount of the data for free in the form of articles or other linkable content. Get lots of backlinks and visitors, then upsell a package with more information. Make it easy for the tech press to use your charts and backlink to your site.

Freemium won't work because that requires a login, and the idea is to generate interest in the product through public and google indexed content.

It's not really clear what your product-market fit is, who are you targeting ?

I'd feel that individual teams wouldn't care about this data (they'll use subjective calls to pick technology about how it fits their business and not popularity).

If you're going for the much higher level (i.e CIO) who are deciding on new tech to adopt then you'll be competing against the like of Gartner's Magic Quadrant and need to tailor your product much more for that market.

Hi ig1, thanks for your remarks!

Yes, I'm rather going for the higher level (like CIO, sales, marketing, etc.). I know Gartner, Forrester, IDC will be a competition. But my idea is to target the tool at companies which don't want to hire rather pricey industry analyst firms but still need to have some insights into what's going on in the industry.

What do you mean specifically by saying: "tailor the product much more for that market"?


Very nice design, a needed niche without a real competitor but... I think paying 16$ for stackoverflow trends is way too much to be realistic, I won't pay for it. I can get this information for free. and even more including HN trends, google trends and indeed job search trends, all this for fee, or with a few minutes googling.

Great idea! Love it!

What is your target market?

I think it might be a good idea to try changing the message a little because I don't think technology savvy people are the one which are willing to pay. I have in mind recruiting, CIOs in big corporations, sales, etc. And in that case you can raise the price :)

Hi tlogan! Thanks for your feedback. Regarding the target market, I've replied in one of the comments earlier: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4407545

And yes, the initial idea was not to sell the tool to tech-savvy people but rather to people who need to understand software developers and need some data and statistics to support their decisions. You can think of it as DYI IT industry analysis and an alternative to industry analyst firms.

The site looks great and I love the idea! One thing that I noticed about the landing page was that as I was trying to read your slides they transitioned to the next one too fast. A longer interval or less text might make it easier to digest.

Good luck!

Thanks for this. Will definitely fix this.

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