Quin Hoxie is the Co-Founder of Swiftype, a modern search service.
Showing people the value of the product as quickly as possible is key. A couple of things we started doing early on that have helped significantly are:
1) Showing the pages we are finding as we find them.
2) Letting people see a live preview of the search installed on their site.
By doing this our customers understand exactly what we have to offer in the first minute or so of trying the product.
At Swiftype we use Github extensively. Every major change is broken out into a branch and setup as a work in progress Pull Request. The whole team monitors all of these and there are almost daily discussions around the specifics of the code. This keeps our codebase in optimal condition and everyone is engaged with the projects, even if they are not working on them specifically.
When our customers launch a new Swiftype integration. I’ll often monitor public forums like Facebook and Twitter to listen for user feedback on their new search. In some cases, where there is an issue with the implementation reported, I’ll work with the site owner to get it fixed. This is obviously important to us from a customer service standpoint, but our customers also serve as a face for what Swiftype can do, so we strive to see every customer have the best implementation possible.
Never give a pitch or an explanation that you don’t actually believe. There are always going to be things you know and things you don’t know about your business, product, market, etc. It is important to stick to what you know and be candid. You’ll always sound better — it is easier to be confident when you’re right.
Direct meetings or calls, person to person, were key for us early on. Trust can be an issue when you’re small, especially for a Saas company. It was always important for us to be personally accountable to our early customers – they should know they can call you, the founder, even if they never do. Many of these people we reached out to early were influencers in various verticals, and we leveraged our relationships with them to capture larger pieces of their respective markets.
Matt and I quit great jobs at Scribd when we applied to Y Combinator. We hadn’t ...