Boulder CTO Lunch with Matt McAdams
Dan usually goes to the Boulder CTO lunches, but he was out of town this month, which meant I had the pleasure of hanging out with some of Boulder’s best and brightest.
This month’s guest was Matt McAdams of TrackVia. TrackVia is an online database that is powerful yet simple enough to be used by people who are used to keeping data in spreadsheets (primarily business people). Matt gave a candid and often hilarious talk that touched on both both technical topics, and, luckily for me, a discussion of pricing and metrics, which are two topics that I’m currently very interested in.
On technology decisions:
Matt wasn’t a database guy originally, but used his practical knowledge he gained working on a previous startup
Went with the simplest design that could work and it’s continued to scale well
Smart technology decisions have allowed TrackVia to compete with a small, lean development team
On product development:
TrackVia started as a contract project for a single customer, but they saw the broader appeal
One of the earliest databases in TrackVia is the bug database (still around). In other words, they’ve been dogfooding since day one.
They don’t worry about the competition. Instead, they focus on building the features that get people to sign up and pay.
You’ve got try stuff and iterate. TrackVia has changed their pricing several times.
Customers on the old pricing models have always been grandfathered in.
Sometimes raising your price can actually gain customers because some people assume that a cheap product or service must be low-quality (even if it’s actually very high quality).
If big customers really want feature X, it’s OK to ask them to pay extra to accelerate the development of that feature (or to customize their experience).
Good metrics allow you to try different strategies and measure their effect.
You must measure, tweak, and iterate.
If you can iterate on a weekly basis and your competition can iterate on a quarterly basis, you’ll win.
Metrics must continually be improved. TrackVia spends a lot of time tracking useful metrics, but even they know they need to add additional metrics in some key areas.
As usual, the CTO lunch was a great place to hear from other Boulder companies and I learned a lot. Thanks for everyone who attended and special thanks to Matt for leading our discussion.