CONTXTO - July 15 - Weeks ago, César Hoshi and his partner and CEO Pedro Neira decided to close down Mi Media Manzana (MMM). At one time, it was the largest online dating Android app made in Latin America. He is now sharing some of his personal lessons....
- If you're going to pivot, pivot your product and features, not your purpose.
We built MMM as a serious dating site. Since we lacked results, we made many decisions for changing the product. Without even noticing it, our new versions didn't respond anymore to the purpose. We weren't focusing on long-term relationships anymore. I'm not saying you should not change your purpose, but if you firmly believe in it (which we did), your product should always be consistent with it (which we didn't).
- In moments of crisis, don't forget the right questions
Moments of crisis are the best moments to ask the right questions (how to add value to your users). Conversely, they are some the worst moments to ask the wrong questions (only focus on the shareholders pressure and cold metrics).
- In a marketplace, you should worry about liquidity and density, not overall growth
We spent $25K on the online marketing budget for user acquisition per country, which were four in total. By the time we noticed, we had already spent $100K, and not a single country was self-sustainable. Our approach was totally wrong. We were focusing on "countries" when we should have been focusing on "cities." In the online dating industry, this is crucial since people want to go out with someone close by.
- Apply known frameworks but don't try to do it alone.
"Hooked - How To Build Habit-Forming Products" is one of my favorite product books out there. I read in 2016 and was amazed by the powerful insights regarding the "Trigger, Action, Variable Reward, Investment" framework. Inspired, I tried to include some of it to our development process, but not hard enough.
- Discover early on what are the inputs for your "one metric that matters"
User retention was our most important metric. We obsessed over retention but it took way too long to realize that we couldn't control that metric. Due to the nature of our dating app business, retention was an output rather than an input that we could control. The mistake with that single focus, though, is that you try to control things you can't.
- Have uncomfortable discussions early on, especially when defining the problem you are trying to solve
Nothing is more certain to cause a project to fail than a misunderstanding of the problem you are solving. You should never start building something unless all of your key players have the same understanding of the problem.