I'm a partner at Redpoint. I write daily, data-driven blog posts about key questions facing startups. I co-authored the book, Winning with Data. Join more than 20,000 others receiving these blog posts by email.

The Simplest Brand Health Question For Your Startup

For most startups, a website or mobile app is the primary place to establish and reinforce a brand, a critical part of building a valuable company. But brand health tends to be a hand-wavy, amorphous concept.

A founder and head of marketing at a company I worked with posed this simple but brilliant question to concretely gauge brand health:

If you removed the logo from the website/mobile app, could our customers identify the experience as ours?

Below are three photos. One of a mobile app, one ...

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How APIs Will Evolve

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Over the course of the past few months, I’ve built six projects that use APIs from Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, Mailchimp and others. These APIs enable me to extract data that I use to analyze this blog and build tools to be more effective.

Once I extract the data from their platforms, no API platform understands why or how I use the data. While web companies measure many things on websites and mobile apps, very few apply ...

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Using Twitter Recirculation to Maximize Content Marketing Effectiveness

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On this blog, Twitter is the second largest source of traffic. Twitter yielded 21% of visitors in the last 30 days. Because I suspect that tweets containing my blog’s links don’t reach a very large proportion of my Twitter followers, I’m experimenting with traffic recirculation techniques by retweeting older articles periodically. Of the approximately 150 posts on Svbtle, I have recirculated 30.

Recirculation encompasses the science and tactics of enticing users to read more articles during one session and also increase the ...

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Deserve is a Toxic Word

Deserve is a toxic word. During my junior year in college, I trained like crazy to make the varsity boat on the crew team. Two workouts per day for six days a week during the four week Christmas holiday and on through winter training. That winter, I set a personal record for a 2000m sprint. In April, we left for Georgia and Augusta River for spring training where our coach seat raced the team to decide the varsity lineup. We spent 10 days ...

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Which of the Five Types of Data Science Does Your Startup Need?

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Startups, you are doing data science wrong. That’s the title of a post penned by Ryan Weald in GigaOm this week. Weald echoes DJ Patil’s idea: “product-focused data science is different than the current business intelligence style of data science.”

Weald points to a different model of data scientist, an engineer, not a statistician, who can perform queries and based upon some insights, improve the product with a few code changes and a push to git.

I like Weald’s post but ...

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The 3 Competitive Defenses of Enduring SaaS Companies

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A technology advantage isn’t enough to build an enduring enterprise SaaS company because at the core, all SaaS software share the same architecture. A relational database stores data and a web site presents the data. This is true for CRM (Salesforce), marketing automation (Marketo), email (Exchange), content management systems (Sharepoint) and so on.

Because SaaS apps use standard databases, engineers can easily transfer the data from one database to another. I’m greatly simplifying here because differences in architecture may exist, but in principle it’s simple ...

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The Single Best Content Marketing Channel for Your Startup

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The single best content marketing channel is email subscriptions powered by Twitter/social media distribution.

Thirty days ago, I began an experiment with this blog to determine whether email, Twitter or RSS would be the better content marketing channel. My goals with RSS, Twitter and email are two: first to maintain a relationship with a reader longer than a single website visit by creating a communication channel and second to use that marketing channel to drive re-engagement.

Below, I’ve analyzed the results and come across ...

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What Your Startup’s MRR Figure Is Hiding

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The three words roll off the tongue: monthly recurring revenue (MRR). What’s not to love about subscription models? Negative working capital, predictable revenue growth and an average of 13x market cap to annual revenue in the public markets, with some darlings reaching 50x multiples. The list goes on.

But the words recurring revenue belies one small detail. These recurring customers must renew their subscriptions, at which point another three word phrase is uttered: revenue-at-risk, the amount of MRR that might be lost to customers ...

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The Developer Economy: Power to the Coders

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During the past week, I’ve been tapping out letters on a 1921 Underwood portable typewriter that my wife gave me as a present. Sitting in front of it and watching the letter hammers pound ink onto paper reminded me that computer programming is still a very new field. Not 50 years ago, prehistoric programmers punched FORTRAN code on punch cards in this way.

In the past 10 to 15 years has computer programming entered mainstream culture and the number of developers has soared, popularized ...

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A Five Year Android User Switches To iOS

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On the day of Android’s five year launch anniversary and my fifth consecutive year of using exclusively Android devices, I switched to a yellow iPhone 5c.

Like a well worn pair of jeans, it’s easy to grow accustomed to a mobile phone OS. Changing into a new pair is always a little uncomfortable at first. In that same way, migrating from Android to I iOS, I discovered the quirks and kinks of each OS:

  • The iOS keyboard always shows uppercase letters, no matter if ...

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