Heyzap is Y Combinator funded (like my previous start-up Clickpass).
Since Clickpass has been in acquisition discussions for some time I have been unable to talk about most of what was going on in my life publicly. I left Clickpass in September and setup Heyzap with Jude , and its been crazy with exciting developments and learning experiences.
For me personally the team is far more important than the idea and I have known Jude for 10+ years. His skills fit great with mine, he has a brilliant product+design sense and works like a machine. We brain-stormed quite a few ideas and quickly decided that we both really wanted to work in gaming. After a few iterations and lots of thinking, the idea behind Heyzap was born.
Since the conceptualization of Heyzap, about three months ago, we have been working non-stop. After launching the work has increased by several orders of magnitude, and the hours I work have become insane. Before a product is launched there is always a little hesitation and concern, regardless of how bullet proof all your assumptions are.
The response has been amazing. We were covered by Techcrunch, Mashable, Venturebeat, TinyComb, Geek, as well as many of other websites in various languages (heyzap.com/docs/press).
It has now been two weeks since we launched but the excitment is still pumping in our veins.
From my experience at Revmap and Clickpass and most stories I have heard from entrepreneurs, I was expecting a big fall in traffic post launch and that we would have to fight our way to growth. But for Heyzap it has been completely different. The longer tail Blog pick-up (google Heyzap) and the hundreds of Heyzap installs has seen us sustain the game play tempo.
As of last week we were almost catching with our launch traffic which is impressive enough. Since last week however we have seen some astronomical rise in growth and are now doing approximately 10 million minutes of game play per month! Yes I know that is a crazy big number. Heyzap has not only seen a lot more uniques than I expected but we have seen great engagement per user.
(I would be more specific but that is probably going to be on our Heyzap blog when we are ready to release figures.).
Here are some places you can see us in action
- My blog side bar :)
- Cooliris - Great integration with their addon. Looks amazing
- Weebly - Drag and drop module on their site.
- Wireclub (requires signup), http://gattune.blog.br/jogos, http://www.6-eren.dk/spil, Dhingana
- and many many other sites and blogs.
So here are some lessons learnt about things that we probably did right.
When to launch
Don’t launch in December. We were probably ready to launch from the 17th of December, but decided against it. That was a good decision.
Launch Early! I know everyone says this and I am contradicting my first point :). But we could have build a few more features and waited for some partnerships that were in the pipelines. The launch has brought us a lot of opportunity, traction and coverage. It has also directed the company to work in the right direction (that last point is probably the most important)
Get as much press as possible. Talk to as many blogs and media as you can (obviously don’t spam). The emphasis varies from start-up to start-up.
Distribution and marketing is a major part of start-up success. Press can definitely play a part in that, and in this phase of Heyzap it has worked really well for us. Partly because our Heyzap’s publishers are tech blog readers.
Mashable was very good for creating a lot of follow-on non-US blog posts. This press part could have a whole blog post about how we contacted press and what we prepared, I will leave that to Jude to write about.
Another thing about getting multiple press articles is that they talk about you in different ways and help you understand better how to market your product.
Other things we did right.
- We kept to minimum feature spec. I think that is always very important. It is hard to determine what to do until you launch.
- This is the first time I have worked on a big project with Jude. Definitely happy with the co-foundership.
- As usual we learnt a lot and adapted.
Things we can learn from
- Keep admin work to a minimum. We did a lot of stuff at the start that wasn’t strictly product. Focusing fully on product would have been a better strategy because once its out it develops itself and admin can always be slotted into smaller time spaces.
- Don't spend too long on technology that you aren't making progress with. Stick to what you know and keep executing fast.
I want to thank everyone for their support and feedback. I encourage you to go and waste at least 30 minutes on Heyzap right now :P