MicroConf 2011 – Hiten Shah

By Stephen Kellett
19 August, 2011

Hiten Shah is founder of Crazy Egg and founder of KissMetrics. This is the closest I could find to a blog: hitenshah.name

Hiten starts by listing some key ideas he wants to talk about.

  • Make something people want. Create a product people want to buy. Seems obvious, but many people create a product people don’t want to buy.
  • Always test your ideas first. Don’t waste time building the wrong thing.
  • Nurture earlyvangelists. You’re looking for those crazy people that are really into what problem it is you are trying to solve. These people will be willing to try your rough ideas before they are polished products.


Hiten started a consulting company ACS. They re-invested money from this into creating products. The most successful of these was Crazy Egg, a self funded software as a service company. KissMetrics is a venture funded business. As such Hiten has run companies on both sides of the funded/not funded equation.

Hiten had one venture where they wasted $25,000 in two months following a bad idea (a podcasting advertising network). They followed lots of ideas without testing the ideas or the price points. At the end of this their partner said “I was sincerely hoping we’d find some magic combination of events that would jumpstart us”. Wow! Hiten never wanted to be in this situation again.

They also built a social media search engine.


Also built survey.io. The idea is “People want feedback but they don’t know what questions to ask their customers.” They created a template that works for most businesses.

Customer Development

Hiten mentions Steve Blank‘s book Four Steps to the Epiphany and the core concepts behind customer development.

You need to start with a hypothesis you can test. An example could be that “product manager” has the problem “schedule management”.
Things they wanted to learn about their target market:

  • What are they doing now?
  • What other tools are they using?
  • Who else is involved with the company?
  • How frequent and severe is the pain they have with this task?
  • What else are they complaining about?

They did 24 in person interviews, about 15 minutes each asking questions with a paper prototype. They tested calls to action. Turned out to be people intensive. Interviewees often wanted developer feedback. They built lots of user tracking detail into the product to track all sorts of action and gather feedback. All combined with easy to understand reporting.

Crazy Egg

Crazy Egg was created by trying to satisfy the problems designers had with no knowing which parts of the web page people were interested in.

Collected lots of emails prior to launch. Spent $10,000 to do it.

Early Access, not Beta

From A/B testing research they determined the Early Access makes people feel special having access to the software compared to Beta which does not.

Test yourself, don’t rely on other’s results

Hiten gives the example of the 37 Signals Buy Button which 37 Signals tested and published the results for. Hiten thinks that most people use this button without testing it. His recommendation: “Don’t do that, you need to test what works in your situation”. I think he has a point.


  • A/B test each landing page.
  • A/B test video for each product if you have video.
  • You should have between 3 and 7 key metrics that you measure.

Tomorrow I’ll publish the final article on MicroConf 2011.

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