First off, can you tell us about your background and your product?
I studied in a unique program called Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University, which exposed me to the fundamentals of building and designing digital products. I also went through the Next Canada program, which is an entrepreneurship boot camp that connected me with my co-founders.
Since then, my co-founders and I have worked together to build a variety of different products. Currently, we’re working on Lumen5, a video automation platform that empowers brands and businesses to produce video content at scale using artificial intelligence and machine learning. More than 700,000 videos have been created on the Lumen5 platform by over 140,000 users including Forbes, The Economist, Greenpeace, Red Cross, Eventbrite, Expedia, Oracle, Intuit, and many more.
How long did it take to build your initial prototype and how did you validate it?
It took us over six months to build our initial prototype. Once our minimum viable product was available, we emailed everyone we knew to try it out and began gathering feedback. We had major performance issues in the beginning, and given the complexity of building a video creator, it was actually our preference to keep the user base as small as possible.
We tried to be physically present whenever possible to watch how people interacted with our prototype. For remote testing, we used screen-sharing to observe their workflow. We asked users to “think loud” in order to get a better sense of what people were thinking and feeling as they navigated through our user experience.
Last but not least, we often asked for how our prototype compared to other tools that they use or have come across. Our early signs of validation were when some of our users mentioned that they have never come across a product like ours! Also that our prototype offered a better way of creating videos than any of the existing tools.
How did you get your first paying customer and how long did it take?
We developed our prototype for six months and tested our beta version for another eight months before opening up the platform for paying customers. From conceptualization to commercialization, it took over a year before we got our first paying customer.
Acquiring our first paying customer was exciting but also stressful. When people are using a free product as a beta tester, you can get away with bugs and performance issues. Once people start paying, we as product developers have a responsibility to deliver and uphold a professional product experience.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to onboard their first users?
Founders to handle customer support in the early days. Being on the front lines and listening to all the feedback is the best way to gather the insights that you need to take your product in the right direction.
Every cancellation and request for a refund can be turned into a learning opportunity. Understanding the motivation behind users who are choosing to abandon your product will equip you with the knowledge you need to steer your product forward. We all love to hear from happy customers, but often, it’s the angry customers that can offer the most valuable insights.
How can people reach you and find out more?
You can learn more about our team and product at https://lumen5.com and you can also reach us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also expanding our team! Check out all our career opportunities at https://angel.co/lumen5/jobs