Guest Post by Eliza Wright
Lucid Software is a tech startup that specializes in online diagramming. We’re one of the fastest growing companies in the space, with buzzworthy investors like 500 Startups, K9 Ventures, and Google Ventures backing us.
Since our flagship product, Lucidchart, is one of the newer diagramming apps on the market, we’ve had to hustle to outsell the competition. Our mantra? Don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good. Let me explain what that strategy looks like, day to day, at Lucidchart.
1. Get to market
If you have a great idea, it’s important to get it out there. That sounds simple, but many innovators get hung up on problems that are unavoidable in a new product. Our CTO and co-founder worked nights to fix the major glitches in Lucidchart, then released. Sure, the product still had problems, but the key is to build something that people will pay for and tackle issues as they come up. First to market comes with many benefits, including more time to get feedback and iterate on a feature before your competitors get theirs out. You can only guess at all the details. It’s better to get it out there and let your customers tell you what they want.
For example, we were the first diagramming program based on open web standards and the first to support the formats of major competitors. We continue to lead in these areas because innovation remains a major priority.
2. Iterate towards market demands; in other words, follow the money!
Listen to what your customers tell you. Ours clamored for integrations with popular programs like Google Apps, Google Drive, Box, Confluence, Jive, and others, so we built it into the program. You build customer loyalty when you listen to customers and deliver meaningful upgrades that they ask for. Now we have been getting a lot of requests for additional shape libraries and more advanced collaboration features so guess what we just released?
3. What you aren’t is as important as what you are
Lucidchart isn’t a freehand drawing tool, a spreadsheet creator, or a full-featured image editor. It’s a visualization tool that will help you make diagrams like flow charts, process flows, ER diagrams, and a whole lot more. It’s important to scope out relevant features and apply a laser focus to implementation of those features. While it would be nice to expand to new markets, improvements in the usability of your current product are more important, especially to your loyal power users.
4. Release early and often
You can’t be all things to all people, but a step in the right direction counts for something. When you release often, you’re demonstrating accountability and competence to your users and key stakeholders. Don’t get emotionally attached to an idea or feature. Prioritize features based on how much business it will generate, not how cool it would be to build. If the prospect of an idea doesn’t really improve with time, don’t be afraid to let it collect dust.
5. Place customers on a pedestal
Even when our company consisted of only 5 people, 2 employees were dedicated to solving every customer support inquiry. We now have a full-time support staff and have found that customers are pleasantly surprised at our timely, personalized responses. In the software industry, customer support tends to be poor, and we want to capitalize on this stereotype to delight our customers. We provide extensive training for our reps and give them a clear career path with bonuses and growing responsibilities, so they never feel stuck in a dead-end job.
We hope these tips will help your startup become strong and lean. That crucial mix of flexibility and temerity is something we’re still working on, but if you have the right people, it’s entirely achievable. Good luck!
Eliza Wright is a marketing manager for Lucidchart, a web-based diagramming tool that makes charting fast and easy. Lucidchart lets teams work together to create diagrams in real time, with changes synced instantaneously. The company just announced support for floor plans, P&IDs, and several other shape libraries.