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Richard Burton Archive
One of the most practical talks at FOWA London came from the CEO of Freshbooks, an online invoicing app for individuals and small businesses. Mike McDerment reminded the audience of designers, developers and wannabe web 2.0 rock-stars that the excel number-crunchers of the corporate world can teach us a lot about how to measure business performance. When you’re trying to create the next widgetized social aggregation platform which is powered by supercharged virality it might not seem very sexy to fire up excel and start facing those cold white boxes. However, Mike urged everyone there to cook a monitoring system directly into their web-apps so that they know where their visitors are coming from, how many of them are signing up, and, crucially, how many of them are actually sticking around. Importantly, he urged everyone there not to assume that Google Analytics is the answer to all your measuring needs. Measuring is a business philosophy and Mike practices what he preaches. Freshbooks ads are all over the web and the ones that aren’t delivering ROI quickly are cut with the ruthlessness of a ninja swordsman.
This kind of obsession over the numbers is common among successfully bootstrapped companies. When you don’t have an enormous pile of green bills to cover in petrol and set alight, you don’t – simple as that. After spending the first two years in his parents’ basement, Mike has built Freshbooks into an extremely successful business with dozens of employees, thousands of paying users and, most importantly, extremely happy customers. Viral growth is a rare and elusive feat achieved by very few companies. Predictable growth is driven by regular measurement and informed improvement. In any case, if your app is growing like a weed, wouldn’t be nice to measure that?
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