Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Designer Wanted

TweetPivot is looking to hire a designer to reshape and revamp its web presence. The ideal person will have the following qualities:
  1. Practical, hands-on web and print designer
  2. UX guru, ninja, [insert latest trending term here!]
  3. Lives Social Media
  4. Loves Lean Startup
TweetPivot is based in London and Cambridge, UK.

We're an early stage startup that's getting real traction. We can't pay you a salary yet, but you will get equity.

If you're interested, contact us at jobs@tweetpivot.com and show us what you've done.

TweetPivot at Lean Startup Machine

On Friday 16th September 2011 I took TweetPivot along to Lean Startup Machine, London. I knew I had a great product but now wanted to accelerate customer development. I know, I know, this is back-to-front; but I'd started writing the application way before I became aware of the Lean Startup movement.

I pitched the idea and my starting hypothesis and was accepted as one of the ten ideas to form teams around. I was joined by two others, later reduced to one - Prashant Gandhi. Together we started testing our hypothesis and, within about 2 hours, realised we were wrong! The potential customer we thought had a specific problem simply didn't. However, good interview technique lead us to uncover a different potential customer upon whom we could test the same problem. Pivot number one (Customer Segment).

Pivots two and three (both Customer Need) involved keeping the same customer type and altering our 'angle' of the problem. The outcome was hypotheses with positive qualitative feedback. Now we needed a larger sample set to test on.

Overnight we ran 2 concurrent, yet disparate, landing pages on Unbounce. This time window meant we were essentially testing the US market rather than the UK one, but the results were reassuring. Both pages had a conversion rate of around 10%. OK, not statistically significant, but still a good nod that we were on the right track.

What did we learn?

Our MVP prototype is very important in the customer development process. Even though we described our solution correctly and in detail, it wasn't until customers actually touched it that they got their 'eureka moment'. We saw this as a flaw in our technique but were convinced by numerous mentors that it wasn't. We just had to realise that it was important and factor it in to our process.

Customer Development gets easier the more you do it. If you're a technical founder then, chances are, you'll find this daunting. I'm a very sociable guy and will introduce myself to almost anyone. However, it took some considerable effort for me to get past the idea that I was selling something and that I was a terrible individual for invading their personal space to do this. Yes, ultimately, you are selling something; but realise that you're trying to find a mutually beneficial outcome. It's a cooperative effort.

Practice your interviews on other participants. The venue will be filled with people in exactly the same state of worry as you. Take an easy step and ask other teams' members if you can practice on them. Then  reciprocate.

You may think that you're questioned all of your assumptions, but you'll be wrong. As my G.F.D.A. wallpaper says "Question F***ing Everything".


I couldn't write a blog post about LSM without offering thanks to all those involved. I can honestly say that, from an ROI perspective, this is the best money I've spent on TweetPivot. I had contact with almost everybody involved at some point during the weekend. So, to the organisers, the mentors and the other participants "Thank you!".

What's Next?

  • Prashant and I are working out terms in order to work together on TweetPivot.
  • I've engaged an adviser for TweetPivot and hope to officially announce him later this week.
  • We're looking to expand our team - blog post coming soon.
  • Customer Development has continued apace. We've been interviewing almost every day since Lean Startup Machine and the feedback just keeps getting better.
  • We'll be issuing private betas to some customers soon so that we can add to our bucket of validated learning.

If you've never been on a Lean Startup Machine weekend, do it now! Sign up or unlock your city.

Monday, 18 July 2011

TweetPivot goes all Cloudy

Firstly, apologies for the huge gap in writing to this blog. We'll try to step up our efforts of the coming months.

We wanted to announce that we've now moved TweetPivot to be fully hosted on Microsoft's Azure platform. This gives us some great improvements in storage capability (and capacity) over our old dedicated server and allows us to trivially scale out in times of high usage.

We have had to temporarily sacrifice some computing 'oomph' in this new configuration though. What this means is that, even though we can handle move simultaneous requests, we can't process those individual collections as quickly as we previously could. Whilst we figure out some technical issues we've decided to reduce the standard limit on any collection to 250. You can still contact us if you'd like something bigger building.

The great news is that we're already working on version 2 of TweetPivot. This will leverage Silverlight 5 and the amazing new features baked into PivotViewer v2. Unfortunately, we can't release any of this new stuff yet, but we'll soon be publishing a video to show you all what's coming.

Once again, a huge 'thank you' to all our users for sticking with TweetPivot and keeping the ball rolling. We've got some great stuff on its way.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

TweetPivot now includes @Mentions

We're very pleased to announce that we have now added @mentions to our TweetPivot Twitter Client. This was the most requested feature from our users who submitted to our recent survey.

What this means for you, the user, is that you'll now be notified if you're mentioned by another twitter user - whether you follow them or not.

We think that mentions are important and should stand out from the normal 'background noise' of twitter. So we decided to differentiate these tweets by using a new colour scheme. That way they are immediately noticeable; even in a collection of 100s or even 1000s.

We hope you like it.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Survey Results

We've been asking our beta testers if they could spare a few minutes to fill out a short survey for us. We'd hoped it would help us identify the types of users that were interested in signing up for a beta (some might even say alpha!) version of our software. We have to say that the results have been fantastic. Not only do we have a good idea of the types of 'Twittergraphic' our future users might fall into but we've also identified which features you guys feel are, currently, most important to you. Everything you mentioned is on our todo list - but now we can prioritise the ones that will have the biggest benefit.

We are still trying to contact everyone who completed the survey to offer our personal thanks. Some of you even went further than the structure of our survey and suggested new ideas that we hadn't even considered! This gets us excited. Users that suggest new concepts we hadn't thought of are priceless and we'd love to talk with you further.

We'll try to get at least one new version out by the end of this year. As some of you may have read in my latest personal blog post, Time to Move On, we are now going to start pushing development on apace.

So, again, huge thanks to everyone who's helped us get the ball rolling in 2010. In 2011 we're going to repay you all by building something stunning!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Silverlight, PivotViewer and TweetPivot. Where now?

Unless you've been living under a virtual rock for the past few months you couldn't have escaped the gossip surrounding Silverlight's future. At its heart is the suggestion that Microsoft may be ditching it in favour of the new HTML5 standard. At this year's PDC Bob Muglia made a slight gaff during interview that further flamed the dissent on this technology. He has since written a blog post clarifying his position.

So, let me clarify our position at TweetPivot.

Yes, we are a Microsoft-centric company. We are proud members of the BizSpark program and use Microsoft development environments, tools and frameworks to deliver our solutions. And that's the key - they're just tools. The PivotViewer control is a fantastic piece of work originally created by the Live Labs team. It does quite a few things that we don't utilise and it doesn't do a whole host of things we'd like it to; but it's a starting point.

PivotViewer and, indeed, Silverlight have enabled us to get going with our ideas about how people should be interacting with social media. What is core to what we do are our ideas, not the technology we use to implement them.

We have a very strong internal product road-map that will enable us to deliver our ideas to all devices and form-factors. Technologies will come and go, but our ideas are independent of these changes and remain of great value to our users.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

BizSpark Summit 2010

On 23rd September TweetPivot attended the BizSpark Summit at Microsoft's offices in London. We had an exhilarating couple of days meeting the great people that work on this team and other startups that are part of the program. Huge thanks to Bindi Karia, Cliff Reeves and Belinda for all the help and coaching they freely offered.

The highlight, of our day at least, was the opportunity to pitch what we do as part of the Pitch Session. The judges presented a rather daunting facade through which to penetrate:

  • Per Roman, Partner, GP Bullhound
  • Julie Meyer, CEO and Founder, Ariadne Capital
  • Sean Seton-Rogers, General Partner, PROfounders Capital
  • Lars Lindstedt, Software Economist, Microsoft

Although we did not win we were delighted with the response and reactions from everyone there. You can watch our pitch and get a sneak preview of our new twitter client here. In the media player click 'More' and then select the 'BizSpark Summit Pitch Session'. Our pitch starts at 1 hour 3 minutes.