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Lessons Learned Going from Zero to $30k/Month in a Year (groovehq.com)
458 points by joshdance on Oct 17, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 57 comments

You know, I skimmed the article and liked it, and thought "hey, I'll check out GrooveHQ.com, see what their deal is" since I haven't heard of them before.

And I get to a page where the only way to learn more is to watch a video. Instant turnoff. I'm in a quiet place, I don't want to make noise or plug my headphones in just to have any idea what it is you actually do. Please consider that people might want to read something about you on your signup page.

Agree 1000%. Aside from the extra time playing a video takes (far slower than reading), I wouldn't be suprised if more than half of web users, at any time, are unable to listen to audio.

At work, or on cell phone, it's not like a majority of people have headphones plugged in.

Do the numbers show that videos are so much more effective for engagement and conversion, that it trumps all the people who are unable to watch them?

I didnt get that far. I was just starting to read the home page when I got the horrible modal asking if I want to learn how to make $30k in a month and cancel link "No I dont want to grow my business". This page is somewhere between tasteless and sleazy.

Agreed. I abhor popups of any kind as it is, but to present the false choice that a user either [will subscribe to what you're offering] or [doesn't care about improving] makes me put on my "really?" face.

edit: Same with the free trial offer. The no option says "No, I like to pay for trials". I'm not choosing whether to pay for a free trial or not, I'm choosing whether to participate in a free trial or not. Ugh.

Exactly. I closed the page when that thing popped up.

Besides, it didn't have an option on it saying, "I don't HAVE a business, you insensitive clod!"

I've said this before, but they wouldn't do it if it didn't work. Just google "video engagement vs. text engagement". It really does increase conversions and alleviates a lot of confusion. It doesn't excuse the need for descriptive text, but rather complements any online offering. Seeing is believing.

I agree with this sentiment, I too avoid video, but it is a very easily digestible format for a lot of people. Think about Leap Motion, would it have nearly been as interesting without the impressive video showing you why it's interesting?

Always important to remember that different people are affected by different modes of communication.

I am impatient and I want to consume info quickly, so I don't like videos. Give me the facts.

Many people find reading and parsing factual statements to be a chore. They want to play the video and sit back and eat a sandwich. They want that horrible hipster acoustic guitar intro with the gratuitous close up of the tattoos. Factual statements are like homework. They want emotional response. I am suspicious of same.

Also I work with Israelis and they consume spoken English much easier that written. Reading is cognitive load for many folks.

That's their choice, obviously. I hate being forced to watch a video, and when I land on a page that only has video content I leave.

I used to do that too. Now I squash my overwhelming desire to leave and I give it a shot. Almost everytime, I leave with a much better understanding of the product.

But are you better for it, or have you just spent more time of your life watching what are, essentially, ads?

I honestly think I am getting a quicker understanding than skimming a bunch of text and letting my brain fill in the rest. So sure, I'm better for having taken the time.

I used to work at a company where the IT department would clip the speaker wires on all new systems. It always pays to have good copywriting on your website and text bubbles in the videos, in case potential customers work in a cube farm.

I was also turned off by the lack of content, meaningful product information such as screenshots etc.

Sounds like you guys were sent to a rather drastic test we're running right now. I prefer more content too, but the video is currently in the lead.

Fair enough - I'm not saying no video, but maybe have a "Read more" link underneath the "Learn More" or something? Just a thought for the next A/B test.

Agree completely. Now that we've tested the simplest page we could come up with, it's time to start adding other paths to the funnel.

another data point for disliked the video. In my mind, if the sales page is that unfriendly, how unusable is their software going to be?

The extra content doesn't even have to be on that page. I was very disappointed that clicking the items in the menu just took me down to the small blurbs of content I had already read instead of pages devoted to those topics.

I was in the same situation but the video had enough screenshots and text to understand what the product is all about. I know what you mean though, I prefer not having a video too

I'm in the market for this type of product but I'm not going to sit through the video. I need something I can read and look at in detail at my own pace and without the sound right now. The chances of me remembering groove exists the next time I do have time to sit through a video are pretty slim.

edit: Sat through the video and it's just walking through forwarding an email from gmail for the setup. Not even what I was looking for from a video. The "what you get" tab has more info but still not enough for me to waste time on a free trial. There is also an overlay on the video that show steps and prevent you from using the video controls which was super annoying.

Same here. If you're really sure people want a noisy, slow to parse medium, at least provide a link to the text equivalent.

Did you see this ? It shows screenshots with explanations.


EDIT: Apparently, this link takes you to "how it works" tab and you still have to click on the "What You get" tab manually.

That link just takes you to the how it works tab. The first time I loaded the page the "what you get" link didn't do anything. I opened it back up in safari and now can see the interactive feature list. Still not much information there.

I get redirected to http://www.groovehq.com/start and get a login screen.


I'm sure it does, but does it negate the need for an extra (possibly tiny!) link nearby to a text alternative?

It's like the return of the flash intro page from the 1990s. But even worse.

I've found that watching a video with audio off is good enough, and even first watching it muted in order to better grasp its message.

Great post, really made me take a deeper look into the product.

I wasn't disturbed by the short video which explains most / all the features, but I can see the need of also having them as separate web pages (also useful for SEO).

My main concern is that there is no free version at all, even for smaller teams / startups (1-2 members) and I don't know if it's possible to import data from other customer support SAAS.

Glad you enjoyed the post! re: free version-We have a 14 day free trial and are always willing to work with other startups on price. Ping me at alex@groovehq.com and we chat more...

I've had a quick read, and I think this is a pretty comprehensive post and I suspect it'll be useful in the future. Especially inclusion of "a bunch of other posts to read on various blogs in a spreadsheet" - that's awesome.

Another thing that's awesome: "There's no magic bullet".

Thanks for a good read.

Glad you liked it! That spreadsheet was my favorite easter egg :)

I especially liked the way you frankly talked about the fears that we all have, and then gave concrete resources, more than most might easily find. Thank you!

There’s no way to make smart decisions with that sort of self-doubt.

Fortunately, it can be overcome. There are so many entrepreneurs who are smarter, more experienced and more successful than I am. Much of their wisdom is available for free on the internet.'

This is exactly why now startups straight out out college are getting successful. Students, who are mature enough have an ocean of knowledge and experience on their click. I can understand that experience can only be gained, but a wise is one who learn from others mistakes. You can not commit all the mistakes in your single life.

Earlier people used to avoid funding to fresh entrepreneurs, but today "unexperienced" ones can easily "evolve" and become immune to some common traps startups experience. That is why it is said that if you really want to change the world, read and read a lot.


FYI: in the sentence "Simplifying our onboarding quadrupaled our completion rate" (one of the images), "quadrupled" is misspelled.

good call, definitely gotta fix that one. Thanks for the heads up :)

Funny, we're already recycling tech company names. Any one remember the cool group collaboration tool (until MSFT bought them) called Groove[1]?

I think the former Groove inspired a lot of what became Web 2.0 productivity tools. It was definitely at the forefront of such.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groove_Networks

Edit: I should add, good article

I went to the main blog page, but completely missed the link to this article. Instead I was looking at the iconic images as the table of contents, looking for the latest article. The "intro" of this article didnt look like a link to a longer article, and there was no underlined link to click, so I didn't try to click it. May be a use ability issue?

Thank you for sharing. This has given me good ideas to follow through as I try to build up my product. How much resources (capital wise + hours) did you expend? You say in earlier post, 250K bootstrap fund. What percentage on this particular effort?

Interesting you're spending at least 10% of monthly revenue on BounceExchange. Does it provide ROI? The product looks great but the pricing is another matter!

was there initial funding or everything bootstrapped?

Self-funded with 250k.

Thanks for sharing. I believe the experiences you have learnt can help me along my way building my own startup.

No Doctype on this page: http://www.groovehq.com/users/sign_in

If this is rails, just add the doctype to the layout you are using for devise sessions. Easy to overlook. Not smart to be missing in production.

Shouldn't be an issue, a doctype declaration is optional in html5. Are you aware of anything not working correctly without it?

Thank you for sharing!

Glad you liked it!

Fantastic series of articles. I like that you included strategies you've used and actually uploaded documents for the public to see. Keeping it real is the only way to go.

I'm tired of articles written by someone hard working, trying to abstract all their efforts into a certain few points relevant to really their own situation only. The most you get out of these is an ooh or ahh. These types of articles are unintentionally predatory to wannabe entrepreneurs, which in reality, only serve to boost your revenue and traffic.

I want to hear specific conversations you've had, email exchanges, social strategies you've used, things you've read that have literally changed your life and perspective. Give us a peek into your mind and how it works. Not one off points you thought of on an evening and decided to make a blog post. Spend a month, two months, three months, a half year gathering data, and make a post full of integrity with defined goals in mind. Outline a path you took, tell us where you went wrong and why.

Looking forward to more in this series.

OP what do you recommend as reading material? Any books/authors that helped you?

Too often on HN, a "How My Company Did X" post doesn't include how Company actually performed X. They're typically generalized stories about platitudes. Kudos to Groove for following through with a concrete series of steps they performed that helped them accomplish their goal.

Thanks! We promised to bare it all :)

How many extra customers would being number 1 on HN bring? Would love to hear if you ve got such a number.

It really depends on the product and the article content. When Lollipuff (women's fashion) was at the top of HN for "Our YC Application", we had very few real signups -- but lots of pageviews and time on site.

Having read the Groove blog post... I still have no clue what it is they do. Just putting a simple one-liner in the blog post may have improved conversions significantly.

EDIT: If the author of the article is listening... What Groove does is at least as important as your bio at the end of the article. Put something in the post. Or in the sidebar. Or somewhere!

Love this feedback :) Thanks so much for sharing. We try hard not to promote the product on our blog, having said that I think a simple 1 liner in the bio about the app would do well.

Thanks again, Alex

For me, and I've seen this feedback here in HN as well, it's annoying when I click on your logo and it takes me to the blog home rather than the product home - even when I'm already on the blog home.

That said - this blog entry is amazing! I'll check out the others in this series as well. THANK YOU for sharing all this!

Post coming up very soon about that affect :)

Looking forward to it.

There are a lot of well-intentioned opinions here but it'll be interesting to see if there's any correlation with your real-world data and conversions.

I -for one- am really interested in following your growth but I'm not in the market for a support service (yet). I'm not your customer, why would you care what I think about your UX and whether or not you should have a video lander?

Congrats! Glad to hear a fellow surfer making it :)

My business, LiberWriter.com was at the top of HN at one point in time. New signups? 0. Our target market is completely different from the HN crowd, almost all of whom can do what we do for themselves.

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