Brief Moment of Nirvana Amidst Craziness
We’re currently in that strange period where we have just closed our Series A and released Send Anywhere 3.0 for Android. This is the odd few days (who are we kidding, hours) where we have a few moments to reflect on our thought process (similar to what we did for Send Anywhere 2.0) for the Send Anywhere 3.0 release. In this blog post, I plan to talk about how we came up with the ideas behind the new functions, struggles that we have run into before/during/after the Android release, and how we overcame these to make this release as successful as possible.
Process Behind the New Bells and Whistles
People may think that the way we come up with ideas for new product releases is by locking ourselves in a room one weekend and not leaving until we have a laundry list of features to implement. The process is actually more nuanced than that with these product ideas being a consistent stream of various tributaries pouring into the large river of product development. One source of ideas is our customers who are always looking for new and better uses for the product. Their questions and ideas help drive the future of the product. It gives a fresh perspective on how our application is being applied thereby generating brand new ideas.
The next tributary into the vast body of product development is the team itself. Our office Slack is consistently filled with people thinking of new uses for our product. Our weekly Team Meetings every Friday have a similar effect. The office is just filled with new ideas being shot back and forth between all employees. Last week, I overheard one of our Business Development members discussing an idea for a “Pause/Resume” feature with our Head of Design. This atmosphere that we have constructed, with free flowing ideas, is one of the major benefits of this company and something that I am always blown away by and grateful for. This shows that our employees truly care about this product and want it to succeed. The job is not just something they do during the week to “pass the time” but something they’re truly passionate about.
The last source of inspiration is our potential business partners. In looking at companies that we want to work with, we try and see how they could most effectively use our product. Usually we are able to find a reason or two; however, this also opens the door to see what our product is missing.
Now, with these sources of inspiration discussed, I want to mention the development the three main new features of Send Anywhere 3.0: Auto-Resume, History Room, and Multi-Transfer.
The idea behind this feature was part team, part customer inspired. Our application, requiring a consistent connection to the Internet, was running into trouble when people had a poor connection or the connection crashed for a variety of reasons (e.g. phone died, phone crashed, etc.). This would cause the transfer to stall thereby forcing the end-user to have to restart their transfer from the beginning. If this were merely small files with a quick transfer time, it would still be an inconvenience, but manageable; however, being forced to restart when handling GBs upon TBs makes this restart not only annoying but crippling impossible.
To assuage this major inconvenience and to improve Send Anywhere’s usability, we developed the Auto-Resume feature which resumes every interrupted download from where it was initially stopped. Restart no longer required.
The History Room idea came to us after looking at various messengers and really enjoying their interfaces and wanting to adopt something similar that played well into the usage of our application. We wanted to take this concept of tracking each message you’ve sent but expand it into something more geared towards the file sharing nature of Send Anywhere. It was from this desire that History Room was created. The History Room allows you to track every file that has been sent between two devices in the aforementioned messenger-type format. This type of feature not only has an added aesthetic appeal but also works quite well functionally.
Lastly, we take a look at Multi-Transfer. What Multi-Transfer allows you to do is send multiple transfers to multiple devices, simultaneously. The highly technical members of our team were able to think of and then turn into a reality. This idea came about, once again, by looking at our customers and seeing some of the difficulties they were facing. What was noticed is that if someone wants to transfer a large file that will take 5+ minutes, that is 5+ minutes that they will be unable to continue using our application.
Why should we limit our customers use of our product just based off of the size of file(s) that are being sent?
The answer is, we shouldn’t. Therefore, Multi-Transfer was created.
As with any product development and release, we ran into some rough patches–some planned, some not. For example, in mid-November, we made our milestone move into an office of our own [post]. While the move was relatively painless, it did distract us for a week or two, as is expected when you move into a new place.
Another “known” struggle was the addition of a few team members during the ramp up of the release. We had to welcome them, as well as integrate them, into the team while getting them as quickly up to speed on what we were doing/what was needed. Much like the moving, these impediments were known about but still distracted the company from their goal.
We had one unforeseen struggle that shook the core of our team and took a concerted effort to power through. After releasing Send Anywhere 3.0 for Android, it came to our attention very quickly that there were some bugs within the application that were greatly hindering the usability and core functionality of the application. This discovery came in the form of multiple upset emails, angry tweets, and a thunderstorm of negative review on the Google Play Store (where we proudly hold above a 4.6 rating with 53,000+ reviews). Our initial excitement over these release turned to panic (as tends to happen with startup releases) as we understood that much work needed to be completed in a quick amount of time. As opposed to panic, the team banded together, formed work groups for each problem, and tackled patching the bugs in a piecemeal and calculated manner. Thanks to the team’s excellent work effort and dynamic, we were able to release patch updates within a few days and assuage many angry voices.
While we have run into issues, overall, we are very happy with the product that we’ve created. We set out to tackle a problem and we did just that.
–Suhyuk Kang, CSO and Cofounder, Send Anywhere