Why marketing tools?
I’m making UserPath because I want to bring more harmony to interdepartmental teams. Marketing and growth teams do not need to be hoping and praying to the development team or their product manager get a feature or integration into the current iteration. They should not have to put an e-mail list sign up into a development backlog that won’t be reviewed for weeks or months. Development should absolutely not have to code up a solution to a problem that has been solved dozens of times. Users and customers shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to interact with a company. It’s that simple. I want to make all of those parties just a little bit happier every day and UserPath is how I plan to provide that daily bit of joy.
If I had to point to a specific origin point, I’d say June 20, 2011 – when I submitted mppr.me to Hacker News. Mppr.Me was a free way for businesses to put a map on their site that their users could have texted to their phone. It eliminated the annoying task of having to re-google a business or open their maps app and retype an address into an app in order to get directions on their phone. I ended up getting about 400+ businesses over 4 months signed on to mppr.me before I shut it down.
Fast forward to 2014. After working for a big company and seeing their mentality of “buy vs build” day in and day out – mostly out of necessity – I finally became convinced that turn key solutions that free up developer time are a good thing. But only if they give developers the flexibility to integrate in as many ways as possible in a quick and simple manner. I let the idea settle in my mind and came to the conclusion that I’d like to build an app that allows people to text themselves a download link. After seeing first-hand how long that takes and understanding the flawed user experience of downloading an app on your computer and waiting for an OTA update to get the app on your phone (which might not happen for weeks) or having to unlock your phone, it seemed like a good idea. I ran the idea by my good friend and roommate, Igor. He told me how he wanted to create a humorous social share like Eat24Hours has once you finish your order. I immediately saw an opportunity to create a platform where all of these sorts of features could be available like an app store of features for your website.
People want this?
I let that marinate in my mind while I went on to enjoy my newly found freedom, because I had just resigned from a two year long tenure as a CTO. Finally, in mid January I started working on the idea and had a rough prototype built out. I was going to Waffle Wednesdays and showed my friend Will what I had been working on – he told me he’d love to be able to use one of those widgets in something he’d been working on and asked how quickly I could get it done. I resolved to get it done by the end of February and dove head first into product development mode. I got that widget ready for him in time and have been working on it ever since.
For this month, I have a small, humble goal: get 5 pilot customers on the platform. My long term goals are much more ambitious; to be on at least 4000 websites and have at least 1000 paying customers by January 1st, 2016. Watch this space for updates.