Product planning: getting it right

Aseem Badshah and Kevin Yu are founders of Uptown Treehouse, a cutting edge agency which uses social media and technology to revolutionize marketing. They know that businesses are failing to develop one-to-one relationships with their customers via social media, thereby missing opportunities to maximize branding efforts. They created  Socedo, a tool to help sales and business development professionals leverage social media for leads discovery and relationship building.

Since Socedo is based on the Microsoft Azure platform, they applied for the Microsoft Azure Accelerator program. Last autumn they were selected as one of ten teams to participate, out of more than 600 applicants! Between October 2012 and January 2013 the Socedo team received funding, workspace, and important mentoring by experts in the industry.

In-depth planning shifts product design

The Accelerator process stresses product planning. Assuming the tool would be used by people who are already doing social media marketing and brand management, the team spent the first month talking to nearly 30 people doing this work, to find out if their value proposition would fill a need. The answer was “not really”; that this cohort is interested in the one-to-many marketing model, not one-to-one relationship building. 

Who then is responsible for one-to-one relationship management? Time and again they were pointed to companies’ sales staffs. Another round of meetings took place with salespeople, and the team found their real customer base.

“I am convinced of the importance of in-depth product planning, and face to face meetings with potential customers. We got valuable non-verbal clues during these interviews. I was able to pick up subtleties of body language and see pupils dilate when true opportunities and pain points were discovered.” – Aseem Badshah

The Socedo team shifted their product design to build the tool for salespeople. They easily found dozens of sales professionals in 40 large and small companies to test their product, confirming that they are now building the right tool for the right customers.

On  January 17th Badshah and Yu will pitch Socedo to angel investors, venture capitalists and Microsoft executives. We’re pulling for them!