Failing Since 2012 – S01E01

Failing. Not failed!

We are failing everyday and that is how a startup is different. It is a daily struggle to not be part of the ‘90% who failed’.

I started in 2012 and it has been quite a journey till Roo Kids Chat App. Always a right time to look back and revisit the lessons learnt. For the journey is not over yet.

Get Set, Go – The First Few Months in 2012

Gungroo was build with the vision of a safe & secure messaging for kids. That is how we started and that is what we are today. But somewhere along the way …

Private Family Network

The product started as a private network for families where an admin could allow kids logins to be created (without an email) and family members joining using their email address.

Instead of 1, Gungroo needed 2 passwords for a user to login. This was a crazy idea (http://hackerstreet.in/item?id=16459). The reason was simple: people like to pick bad passwords. They always do. Just by making it 2 passwords, we were increasing safety by order. ‘hello123’ and ‘password123’ are bad passwords. But ‘hello123password123’ is a whole different level.

But, no parent came. Not even the parents who had liked the idea and wanted to jump on such a product. Was it the very plain looking UI, the 2 passwords thing (it did confuse people & our UX guy disapproved of it) or what? But from the number of times I heard, ‘yes, I will create an account and set up soon’ it was obvious: our product needed a lot of setup time.

We did notice that friends whose work places had banned Facebook were using Gungroo a lot. No one in IT knew about Gungroo and they used it for all intra-office gossip.

Moderated Client for GMail

We moved on to add the next planned feature: a moderated client for GMail. The way it worked was that a parent creates a GMail account for the kid using parent’s real info. They never share the password with kid. Then they setup GMail on Gungroo. When an email arrived in GMail’s inbox, Gungroo imported it using IMAP, sent to parent, parent inspected it, approved it and then the kid gets it in her inbox on Gungroo. And vice versa for sending. Cool!?

And, no parent came. Not even the parents who had like the idea and wanted to jump on such a product. Was it the very plain looking UI, need to approve each and every message, email not being as hot vs social media or what? But from the number of times I heard, ‘yes, I will create an account and set up soon’ it was obvious: now our product needed even more setup time.

Moderated Client for Facebook

We moved on to add the next planned feature: a moderated client for Facebook. The way it worked was that a parent allows Gungroo’s Facebook app to read and write on the wall. When kids used Gungroo’s interface to post on Facebook, it was sent to the parent for approval and on approval it was posted to the parent’s wall via Gungroo’s Facebook App. All likes and comments on that post were imported to Gungroo and shown to the kid. Thus Gungroo acted as a safe & moderated client to Facebook. Cool!?

Guess what, no parent came. Not even the parents who had like the idea and wanted to jump on such a product. Was it the very plain looking UI, need to approve each and every message, right audience not knowing about the product or what? But from the number of times I heard, ‘yes, that is a great idea’ it was obvious: our product and we were targeting wrong set of people.

Users v/s Customers

This is when I realised why kid’s products are so tough. The users are the kids and have their own thing going. The customers who will pay for it are parents and they have their own preferences. There was no way we could balance the two and both happy. We had bet on the parents. Parents are busy and have a whole world of worries to keep them busy. Setting up Gungroo was something that had to be done as soon as …

We decided to bet on kids instead. If kids like something enough, they will find a way for their parents to pay for it. This was not a space where a parent could influence the kid much anyway. The only space where parents can strongly influence their kids is in education. No wonder edutech does so better.

(cont..)

Originally posted on LinkedIn (E01, E02, E03, E04, E05, Startup Lessons) and Roo Kids App blog as a single post here