Product Design analysis of Yelp

Octalysis is a Gamification framework. I use it to analyze products or services and to design for human motivation throughout a system (Human-Focused Design). You can learn more about Octalysis here.

In this post, I’ll conduct a Level 1 Analysis of Yelp.

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How I captured 2,778 subscribers in 4 months

In June of 2016, my friend Yu-kai Chou approached me with a challenge he had:

What can I do to exponentially improve my business right now?

“What is your long term vision?” I asked.

“I want to build an educational platform that helps people improve their personal and professional lives through the teachings of Octalysis.” Yu-kai proudly stated. “The business model will be a monthly subscription.”

What follows is a detailed analysis of how I helped Yu-kai build a self-sustaining acquisition and activation engine that will hopefully lead to a very successful educational business.

Results from my work with Yu-kai:

  • Captured 2,778 emails in 4 months
  • 39.5% email open rate
  • 6.9% click rate
  • Grew the Facebook Group from 400 members to 1,544 members in 4 months

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Read this before you buy a home

To buy or rent a house? That is the question…

I recently sent an email to my network letting them know that Kim and I bought a home:

If you’re interested in learning more about the research I did and why I ultimately chose to buy a home (even though there are much better financial investments), reply to this email and I’ll send you my notes.

To my surprise, hundreds of people replied to my email requesting my notes. After all, I claim that there are “much better financial investments”.

Because there was such a high demand for my notes, I took the time to refine my research with my good friend Steven Chen.

I find it surprising that to this day, many educated, savvy millennials are brainwashed to believe that buying a home is a “smart financial investment.” In fact, as you’ll see in our research, buying a home (to live in) is a terrible financial investment when compared to the alternative (rent and invest in the market).

Without further ado, let’s dive into the research.

I could not have published this article without the help of Steven Chen. Thank you my friend.

Also, thank you to my friend Tiffany Chin who worked tirelessly to find us our perfect home. If you’re in the hunt for a home in Southern California, then I highly recommend you give Tiffany a call.

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On setting priorities

“The podcast is key for our success. We absolutely need to differentiate our content so that professionals begin to see us as experts in online marketing.” Grant argued.

“I just don’t see it. Sure, podcasts are an interesting medium, but the vast majority of successful podcasts are created by entertainment and media publications such as NPR.” I retorted. “The podcast won’t be a big customer acquisition channel for us.”

“It can and it will. Trust me.” Grant was persistent.

Priorities. Everyone has them; few people actively and consciously set them.

There are two challenges we face with setting and accomplishing priorities:

  1. Scheduling distraction-free time to complete priorities
  2. Prioritizing priorities (see what I did there)

To settle our debate about creating a podcast in Q2, Grant and I conducted a priority session. In this article, we’ll examine how we set priorities on the Growth Team for Bunny Inc.

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Product design analysis: Dropbox Carousel vs Google Photos

“What should I use to save my photos online?” Kim asked.

“I use Dropbox. They have this nifty camera uploader that automatically uploads all of my photos to the cloud.” I responded. “The thing is, it costs $99/year. It seems like a waste if we’re both paying for it.”

Kim did a quick search on the app store for photo storage. “How about Google Photos? It’s free and it seems easy enough to use.”

The motivation behind using photo cloud storage is very functional: I want to save my photos online so that they are never lost. Through its function-focused design, Dropbox Carousel achieves its simple purpose.

It’s hard to get someone to switch products, even if you offer something slightly better. Amazon Photo came out with a free service, but I didn’t make the switch from Carousel to Amazon. I ignored the free product because the functionality was basically the same and $99 was not a big enough pain for me to make the change.

However, after watching Kim use Google Photos for a week, I immediately jumped ship from Carousel and made the move to Google Photos.

This is the power of human-focused design over function-focused design.

In this post, we will examine why I made the switch from Carousel to Google Photos and how a human-focused design beats a function-focused design every time.

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On selling your product for free

“Guys, we are on fire! I’m selling our product like hot cakes fresh out of the oven.” I exclaimed as I walked into our office/home.

Yu-kai and Stephen turned to me from their laptops with a bright smile. Our company, RewardMe, was off to a terrific start. In only 2 weeks of walking door-to-door, I had signed up 30 restaurants and retailers in Downtown Mountain View.

However, our positive attitudes quickly faded when we realized clients wouldn’t pay for our product. Yup, I was walking door-to-door, selling our product for free. We fell into a startup trap: we thought businesses loved our product, when in reality, businesses love free stuff.

We had to pivot our business model quickly or else we would run out of cash in no time.

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On work and life

Kim loves two things in life: Disneyland and snuggling. So when it came time to have fun at the magical kingdom or spend a weekend afternoon spooning, Kim didn’t understand why I just couldn’t stand it.

“It was as if I was torturing him. All he kept saying was how big a waste of time it was to stand in line at Disneyland and how he could instead be working on his startup right now.” Kim remembers.

At one point I made Kim cry at Disneyland, the happiest place on earth. We haven’t been back since.

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How to get to the top 4 on Product Hunt with a B2B product

What would you do to get on the front page of Product Hunt? What value would it even bring to your company? My team at Bunny Inc. just went through a rigorous 6 months of building and launching our latest product: ArticleBunny. As part of our launch efforts, I decided to make Product Hunt a big initiative. It paid off: in a span of 2 days, we drove over 5,000 highly targeted site visitors and over 100 projects posted. This post is about how we did it.

top 4 on Product Hunt

What you will learn in this post: this post is about ideation to launch. We conceptualized the idea of ArticleBunny in the Winter of 2014 and launched the product in June 2015. You will learn how we chose to build and launch ArticleBunny (out of the many options that we had) and how we hit the top 4 on Product Hunt on Wednesday, June 17th.

Who will benefit from this post: entrepreneurs, product managers and growth hackers.

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