Back in 2014, Adam Taylor and his co-founders wanted to create a new kind of online dating experience. With services like Tinder, OkCupid, and Bumble, Adam and his colleagues still felt something was missing. “We wanted to create a place for people who lived healthy, conscious, and mindful lifestyles to meet with one another.” They felt this would bring together a community that had already sort of ‘pre-filtered’ for a set of values and interests that would make online dating more enjoyable.
Creating a product for this vision would not only help bring like-minded people together but would also solve some of the problems often associated with the online dating scene. “We wanted to find innovative solutions that would apply to our audience, but could also apply to any dating site.” Adam and team built their first MVP in WordPress and after two more versions would help nearly 1.5 million people find companionship.
But online dating is a competitive and changing field. Where Match and eHarmony once stood tall, Tinder, Bumble, and a slew of other apps and services have hit the scene and taken a lot of market share. The MeetMindful team needed to be sure they were building a product that their customers would love, and that would drive business value for the company. Adam talked with us about how productboard helped them do that.
Reimagining the product to survive
In an earlier version, MeetMindful’s business model was more like Match.com’s model, based on the idea that anything of value should be behind a paywall. But one of the challenges is that recent entrants, such as Tinder, have created products with a lot of free functionality. These changes trained users to expect more for free, which makes it tough to create a new profitable product.
“We needed to catch up to where the market was in, and we could not continue to deliver the old model. It wasn’t going to be sustainable. It already wasn’t sustainable from a satisfaction standpoint.”
Adam had already started using productboard to connect their prioritization and roadmapping to user feedback better. As they began envisioning an updated paid model, they quickly captured feedback regarding users’ frustrations about the lack of free features relative to other sites. In productboard, they were able to quantify users’ strongest desires and their biggest frustrations.
Messaging was a flagship paid feature that was now free in other services. To make messaging free, the team had to develop and test new premium features. Instead of making assumptions about what users would and would not pay for, they could directly highlight what users actually appreciated and valued based on the feedback collected. They were able to easily connect that feedback to their prioritization and roadmap in productboard.
“We were very scared to make some features free, but we were able to test a model that made us confident that we were on the right track.” Within about a quarter, Adam and team used all existing and ongoing feedback to test a new version of the product with a completely reimagined structure of free and paid functionality.
Ultimately, they were able to create a product with a new paid model that not only didn’t lose money but increased conversions and customer satisfaction. “As a startup, this was fundamentally about survival. It’s getting yourself to the next threshold so you can achieve the next layer of your vision, or making a mistake and losing it all.”
Driving a transparent product development process
By quantifying the themes and pain points coming in from the feedback channel and using it as an input into the prioritization process, MeetMindful moved quickly to build the right product. By having direct access to the feedback insights, marketing creatives could use the feedback to inform their messaging, and product managers could more quickly write specifications. No intermediary had to parse this information out.
Early on, Adam delivered a keynote and collaborated with his teams about how to build the best processes for managing product development. The goal was to get everyone bought into a recognized process as opposed to just receiving marching orders from an executive. “This is something productboard seems built for. You take your strategic initiatives, drivers, objectives, feedback channel, and a scoring algorithm as an input into the process, and let it essentially help recommend what to do next.”
This is something productboard seems built for. You take your strategic initiatives, drivers, objectives, feedback channel, and a scoring algorithm as an input into the process, and let it essentially help recommend what to do next.
Importantly, productboard made the reasoning behind prioritization much clearer. It prevents prioritization from being someone’s opinion about what to do next. “What’s really liberating is that it makes product management less of a black box. It makes the process explainable.”
It also makes the process much more inclusive. productboard engages the customer success and support teams because they know the things they’re tagging go into the prioritization process. By having visibility into the prioritization process and the roadmap, they can explain with confidence to frustrated users that developers are actively working on their issues.
Adam says that what productboard fundamentally does is it helps him make the right decisions. And it’s not just to build the right product, but a product that truly matters. In spite of creating a dating site, he wasn’t prepared for the engagement notices and baby pictures that would eventually make it to him from happy MeetMindful couples.
What productboard fundamentally does is it helps him make the right decisions. And it’s not just to build the right product, but a product that truly matters.
But Adam doesn’t only focus on the customers, but his employees too. If he makes the wrong decisions, that not only creates an inferior product, but it puts the company and its employees at risk, meaning jobs and health insurance for families. “As a co-founder, I have to accept that responsibility. So I use productboard to help me make those right decisions. And that’s really, really important.”
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