Jim Caralis – Cannonball

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Jim Caralis is the Co-founder of Cannonball, which gives your inbox a makeover.


Be genuine. If you think someone is doing a great job, tell them. But don’t praise everything–keep it real. If they are doing a bad job, definitely tell them and work with them to improve. If they don’t work out, just agree it’s not a great fit and move forward. You’re not doing anyone a favor by keeping them in a job they are not good at.


Give your strategy enough time to work. Today there is a lot of talk about failing fast and failing cheap, but often companies don’t give things enough time to work. I’ve found myself not clicking on a button in an app for months, but once I click on it I love the feature. (In the most recent case, it was the discover feature in Spotify.)


Facebook ads for app installs have the best return on advertising investment we have seen. We are also actively looking at creative ways to “growth hack”.


We don’t spend a lot of time developing elaborate project schedules – especially early on in the product development process. The best way to manage a project is to have great communication. This is really only possible with small teams. That’s where we are now, so we’re taking advantage of it. The best “formal” project management system I have used is sticky notes on a wall. It’s simple, flexible and viewable by everyone. Beats a formal project plan every time.


We are still pretty early in the process. We work first on making sure our product fits the market we are chasing, then shortening the viral cycle. We have been cautious not to acquire too many users until we know how to target the best customers and then turn one acquired customer into multiple additional virally-acquired customers. Once you have that nailed, it’s time to work on aggressively bringing on the masses.


Build something you love. There will be highs and lows, but what gets you through it all will be your passion for the product. You know you have truly succeeded at this when you release your product and are happy no matter what happens. You built something you love, and the rest is cake. That doesn’t mean you don’t work your ass off to get in the hands of lots of people–you built something great, so make sure everyone knows about it!


Two of our biggest value adds are that we separate important emails from less important and that we pull the best images from emails to bring them to life. Early on we did these things in a semi-manual way, which was impossible to scale. Once we automated both tasks, we could focus on user experience a lot more. That was a game changer for us.

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