I was born in Edinburgh to Scottish parents and spent my formative years in the far flung reaches of the Scottish Highlands. I haven’t lived in Scotland since 2006, but my heritage is about as Scottish as tartan-coloured, haggis-flavoured, deep-fried shortbread. So as Yarnee’s resident Scot, it is my sworn national duty to weigh in on how the Scottish independence referendum on the 18th might affect the tech and startup world.
Surveys are a crucial startup weapon for learning what customers really think about your product. At Yarnee, we’ve found ourselves discovering incredibly useful things about our customers from our analytics package – things like where people dropped out, or which features they used – but that doesn’t tell us why things happen the way they do.
Why questions require human answers. Surveys can help you find those answers but their flexibility makes them a complicated, potentially misleading, instrument of measurement. Here are our top six tips for survey supremacy.
iOS 8 is on the brow of that there hill, which means that developers everywhere can discover it’s nearly autumn without having to endure the pain of going ‘outside’. The big marquee feature this year is Extensibility and it’s been getting the Yarnee team jittery with anticipation. But why?
Kanban boards might sound like some sort of crazy voodoo paraphernalia used by witch doctors, but really they are one of the most effective agile product management tools going. Different operators have different preferences when it comes to Kanban boards, so we’ve put together a list of our best practices for keeping on top of keeping on top of everything.
If you are a startup parent, you are probably reading this on the toilet so I’ll try to keep it to a suitable length. Nearly two years ago, I became a dad. Five weeks ago, my second child was born. In the interim I have worked for two different startups, the second of which (Yarnee) I’m still happily working for, hence these here witterings.
This is not a rule set, or one of those insultingly reductive lists about how to get the formula for parenting during a busy career just right — think of it more as a very rough guide arbitrarily constructed on the basis of an impossibly meagre amount of relevant data.
If you are building a new company in 2014, it is almost a certainty that you will consider a distributed team. Some superstars of the startup world, such as Buffer (who we mention a lot on here as we are massive fans), have made their entire team fully distributed and they are not alone. It’s a very modern way of building a company and it comes with its own rulebook, which is very much in the process of being written – here’s our submission for a chapter.
The best piece of advice I was ever given prior to the birth of my daughter was, ‘learn to manage your own expectations’. At the time I thought that was about how I would approach parenting but I’ve realised since that it’s much more about how I manage my time. The thing about workouts is that they require time – a fair amount of it if you are serious about getting in and then staying in shape. But how can you find enough of it?
The design of Yarnee on iOS started a few months after iOS 7 dropped. We decided early on to make the app as native to Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) as possible. It became obvious that it was important for everyone on our little team to be able to describe how things should look and behave, in terms that required as little translation as possible for the actual developers manning the Xcode Projects.
Over the ensuing months, our iOS UIKit vocabulary broadened and now, almost everyone on the team knows their action sheets from their activity sheets and their nav bars from their tab bars. Here’s a breakdown of what the most important UIKit elements are and what they look like in action.
If you are in the business of pushing your first app, it’s likely that you have App Store Optimisation (ASO) somewhere on your to do list. As a means of increasing discovery, it’s not as sexy as being featured on the front page of your favorite tech blog, but it’s likely that it is more effective. So few people take the time to tackle ASO, that doing so can really give your app a competitive edge.
There has never been a better time to build a company or more tools to help you do it. Over the last 12 months, the Yarnee Team has built up a seriously sharp and pointy armoury of startup weapons that help us hack and slash our way through sprints, redesigns, betas and launches with gusto. Here’s the full breakdown of our most important tools and why we love them.
Within hours of Brazil’s heart-wrenching 7-1 defeat during the World Cup, our CEO Dan Kelly posted a Yarn about it. It was the most shared piece of content on any of our social channels for that week. We’ve had similar results since with the other pieces of real time marketing. Planning and executing real-time content marketing is an emerging, somewhat dark, art. This is our hit list for leveraging those social spikes to deliver marketing hits that your audience will devour and re-share.
The trouble with the entrepreneurial personality is it has a sort of ideas Tourettes. You might be in the middle of a delicate conversation about the passing of a beloved family pet, when the entrepreneur in the room uncontrollably bellows “THE UBER FOR DOG COFFINS!”. The hallowed focus everyone obsesses over finding and sticking to puts the average entrepreneur at war with themselves. So it’s unsurprising that many of the world’s leading product minds talk themselves into working on side-projects from time to time.
The trouble is, not everyone is Elon Musk and in the perilously fragile realm of startup economics where every penny you spend potentially puts you closer to redrafting your CV, side projects are as risky as they are tempting. But it needn’t be the case that side projects always jeopardise your main mission – there are many ways in which side projects, if handled the right way, can do your company lots of good.
Here’s a breakdown of how we try to keep things in check at Yarnee when a side-project comes along that we just can’t resist spending time on.
Does an entrepreneur need to be a core user for the product they are building? Is it possible to build apps for the mass market when you yourself are clearly not a member of your core target demographic? Does Pedigree Chum really taste like braised steak and gravy?
Two of those questions are worth answering. Using your product, or ‘eating your own dog food’, sounds like obvious advice. It’s easy however, to get too caught up in the process of building and learning from others and end up becoming a stranger within your own database.
We’re very lucky at Yarnee. Our founder, Dan Kelly, is a keen user of Twitter and Facebook and so understands the importance of fostering social DNA within a startup. It’s an attitude that has benefitted Yarnee as a company in many ways, both small and profound.
But we’re not special (well, we are kind of special, but not in the ways I’m about to explain), a social media mindset should exist from the top down within any company. Here are five reasons why:
Recently at the Yarnee office, while reviewing a few candidates for a new hire, it became clear they had very different kinds of value. Pitting their disparate qualities against each other was proving unwieldy.
Some scored high for skills and experience, while their willingness to learn, work with others and generally muck in for the benefit of the project was in doubt. Others didn’t have as much experience or knowledge, but nailed it on enthusiasm and attitude.
That’s when Dan (Yarnee Founder/CEO) drew up a more basic version of the table I have embellished at the top of this post to help us assess who we were dealing with. It confirmed something I have often felt – hire smart, not specified.
A highly skilled person doesn’t contribute squat if they have low willingness – a low willingness to work with others; to learn something new, to be proven wrong, to do things not explicitly mandated by their role.
Someone smart who has a good attitude (high willingness) will endeavour to make themselves valuable, even if that means having to learn something intimidatingly complex or take on a dizzyingly large task. In the top trumps game of startup hires, willingness beats skill every time.
When The Lean Startup by Eric Reis was published in 2011 it was like a neutron bomb had been dropped on the startup landscape. It’s hard to imagine anything in the startup world that has had such a sudden and drastic effect on how people think about innovation. It’s hard to imagine anything in the startup world that people agree on so unanimously. So we’re probably crazy for flagrantly ignoring one of its core tenets – right?
The story of Yarnee is a long one, so I’ll begin, as is traditional, somewhere just after the beginning…
Some time ago, Dan Kelly, (Silicon Valley entrepreneur and former CEO of Bleacher Report) burst giddily into our new office in Heidelberg Germany where I, Fraser MacInnes, (games industry stalwart, occasional blogger and ambitious braggart) was already sat. He proceeded to show me something he’d created with his kids the night before. It was one of those things that results in an unexpected and irresistible change in direction that hits with faint inducing g-force.