CI | Sat 09 October 2010 Alexis Tabary

ShiningPanda is working on a great product: hosted continuous integration for Python! Of course it's the best product ever, and every single Python developer out there will absolutely positively need it... or won't they?

Truth is, like all startups, we need reality checks. Lots of them. It's still a bit early for us to show a beta version, but we can at least try to measure the interest in our product. Let me rephrase: we need to get out there and figure out what product people really want.

Hacker News

Along the way we stopped by Hacker News, to ask a good old Rate my startup: hosted continuous integration for Python. Feedback we wanted, and feedback we got!

This post is to thank Hacker News members for their numerous and quality replies, providing us with invaluable feedback on our business. As a small thank you gift, we decided to contribute back a couple of metrics, that some may find useful.

But first let's explain a bit the setup: we built a website exposing what we are working on, ShiningPanda CI, with a field to register to our mailing list, and a survey for those willing to give us more information about what they want. Most questions are open ended, allowing people to detail whatever they find relevant.

Traffic

The HN post was not a link to ShiningPanda CI, but a text inviting people to visit ShiningPanda and give us feedback. So in order to access ShiningPanda, you actually had to copy-paste the url. This probably filtered out quite a lot of people not really interested by the topic.

Still, we got 984 unique visitors over the two days following the post, while reaching spot #3 on the first page. I've read people getting a 10k+ audience through HN, I guess they had direct links to their webpage. Anyway, it doesn't matter to us, since what we really want is to bring people interested by continuous integration in Python to our website.

Unsurprisingly HN audience is mostly from English speaking places, with the United States dwarfing all other countries.

Conversion Rate and Survey

We got close to 130 registrations on our mailing list: that's an unexpected 13% "conversion" rate, in my experience is a very high figure. I guess it's the copy-paste effect: people who landed on ShiningPanda where genuinely curious.

Once registered on the mailing list, people are invited to answer a small survey. We did hesitate to put up this survey in the first place: we thought nobody would bother answering it. We were very very wrong...

Over 70 people answered, roughly 7% of the people who came to ShiningPanda in the first place. Not bad, and more importantly: the answers to this survey have proven very useful.

The feedback we got definitely impacted our vision of the market. I'm sorry not to be able to be more specific at this point, but to sum it up: people told us their needs, and well... some of these needs were not exactly what we were expecting.

Today we are north of 100 answers, and the process is ongoing. Of course, surveys like this one don't replace actual customer development, but being able to collect lots of data points also carries lots of value.

Thank you HN ! Alexis


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