The benefits of building a startup in public

“Product development isn’t easy. In fact, most product development efforts fail, and the most common reason for failure is building the wrong product.” – Henrik Kniberg, Spotify

When we first set out to build Addapp, we had a vision. Our vision is to give context to the ever-growing digital health and wearables industry.

And like all product-makers and startups, we want to build a product that people love.

So, how have we approached this challenge?

Rewinding the clock

In 2013, we launched our prototype for Addapp. Simply put, it was ‘one single platform to integrate and analyze your fitness data’. And it went some way to solving the issue of issue of context in the wearbles/fitness industry, but was far from a finished product.

Addapp Prototype

After launching this prototype we spoke to a number of early-adopters and it was clear that what we’d built was great for a niche audience, but, if we ever wanted to reach mass market, we needed to make changes.

Early feedback also made it clear that:

  • This version of Addapp required too much work from the customers – they had to manually set up some experiments to delve into their data
  • Graphs were hard to interpret – textual insights would be far easier to customers to understand

This helped us to define what Addapp would become going forwards and also helped us to identify that we wanted to take a transparent approach to building our product.

Building Addapp in public

We took the decision to build Addapp 2.0 in public, giving early-adopters the chance to help shape the product and provide us with feedback along the way. We decided to take this approach for a number of reasons:

  • Early feedback: Building Addapp in public has allowed us to gain feedback and improve every step of the way
  • Buy-in: As a startup, buy-in from customers at the earliest stage possible is essential. We wanted to make customers feel a part of Addapp from the beginning
  • Resource: Building a successful product can take a lot of time and resource, by building Addapp in public we’re able to quickly identify which areas of our product need addressing and assign our resources accordingly
  • It’s personal: We’ve been able to build personal relationships with potential Addapp customers which has been a very rewarding experience

 Our approach and learnings

In order to gain feedback we created a Facebook group. Within this group people could access early designs, beta test invites and also had the chance to network with other like-minded individuals.

Would you like to help shape the future of Addapp? Request to join on private Facebook group here.

From posting initial designs, we found out what people thought; how they interpreted Addapp and what they were looking for at each stage of using our app:
Article 1

We found out what they liked:
Article 2

What confused them:
Article 3

And through building a community around our product we also received some great insights into our target market:
Article 4

This open forum and transparency makes it easier for testers to share their thoughts with us. And upon opening up our private beta test to a number of users we found that the goal setting process – one of the key aspects of Addapp – was far too confusing.

With this in mind our product team set upon designing a far simpler experience, which we have now rolled out. Without building in public this issue could have become a much bigger problem.

Continuous Improvement

Building Addapp in public has allowed us to start creating a culture of continuous improvement within our team.

Our beta test has not only been an opportunity for a number of people to test Addapp, but it’s also given us the opportunity to refine our working processes as a team.

Open Beta

We’re currently in the final phase of our private beta and will be opening up to everyone in the coming weeks. If you’d like to be notified when we go live, please sign up here.

Community Manager at Addapp. I love sports, fitness and tracking. Outside of the office can often be found on a basketball court or football pitch.

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