I consider David Skok's article on SaaS metrics to be the best articulated and actionable source on this topic. It contains definitions of metrics, why they're important and even an Excel template that I've adapted to run my own SaaS business on. His article on the impact of churn on SaaS businesses is also a must read even if you think you have a handle on it.
Another great source is Christoph Janz's blog, in particular his KPI dashboard for early-stage SaaS startups.
To be absolutely clear dashboards are not on Google unless customers decide to put the URL in a blog post or somewhere else on the public internet, this is a non-story.
I.e. no dashboards have been exposed or otherwise leaked by Geckoboard. In order for these dashboards to appear in Google:
1. Customer switches on sharing for a given dashboard in Geckoboard
2. Then publishes the sharing URL on the publicly accessible web
3. Google then indexes that link
In addition to locking down dashboards behind a user/pass or restricting access to only certain IP address customers can, at any time, generate a new sharing URL which denies access to the previous URL.
In a related development we've been advised that this story is being touted around by a PR agency - we're still trying to trace who has employed them but we have a reasonable idea.
>To be absolutely clear dashboards are not on Google unless customers decide to put the URL in a blog post or somewhere else on the public internet, this is a non-story.
No. Jut because Google doesn't index a URL doesn't make it private in any way. Public URLs are public. Relying on obscurity is a bad idea. People are continually amazed at how Google is able to find URLs they thought they had not linked publicly anywhere. Send the link to a gmail user? Google knows it now.
I wouldn't worry too much though; any company prepared to trust vital business data to a SaaS web startup obviously doesn't care about data security very much. People put off by this were never going to use your product anyway.
Hi Paul, I'm a big fan of Geckoboard - in some circles, your name is almost analogous for a dashboard :)
Getting to over 2500 signups in four months is definitely a great achievement, but I think it would be more interesting to hear about getting to 100 daily active users for example. After all, signups are not worth much if the users don't keep using the service (I'm sure this was not a problem in your case though).
I know there are a lot of generic blog posts and SaaS services for maximizing customer engagement, but reading real stories from founders is always uniquely inspiring.
Totally agree, beta signups is almost the definition of a vanity metric. That said, at this particular (very early) stage of product development I wanted to solicit as much feedback as possible much of which was gathered from usage data - particularly first time users usage patterns. Having a reserve of signups that I could drip into the app as we released new features was useful in itself.
Will have have a think about whether I can add any value above the noise of the generic blog posts that you mention, thanks for your interest.
Feel free to drop me a line for a private discussion. I'm seriously impressed what you're doing with BitDeli!
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