Want to Grow Your Startup? Listen to Your Customers

June 4, 2012

5:00 pm

One thing startup founders learn very quickly during beta is to listen to customer feedback.  You may think you know exactly what your customers want and need, but give them the chance to confirm your hunches if you want to deliberately grow your your startup into a successful one.

This is the route PowerInbox has taken, and it’s worked really well for them.  Since we first covered the Boston-based startup last summer, they have continually added featured that would enhance the interactivity of emails – much of it based on customer feedback.  These include creating the first third-party Google+ API and an API that could be integrated with pretty much any email service.

Matt Thahzmon, founder and CEO, walked me through the 4 new features, all of which are super useful, and all of which were requested by customers.

Their #1 most requested app makes LinkedIn so much easier to interact with.  The LinkedIn PowerEmail app lets you see information about the person’s profile right inside the email – and accept the invite right inside the email.   You can also see shared connections between you and the person who requested the invite, see other people you may know and send them LinkedIn invites all right inside the email, and follow companies you are interested in

“By now, we are all familiar with the concept of ‘web embeds,’” explained Thahzmon.  “You go to YouTube, and you can grab an embed code for a video and add it to your site so people can watch the video on your site. But unfortunately ‘web embeds’ did not work in email … until we created PowerEmbeds.”

This features lets you make easy-to-generate html that you can add to your email templates at MailChimp, ConstanctContact or any other ESP.   They are available for YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook Comments, and Thahzmon said they will be releasing more based on user feedback. “We are also working on an API to let developers add their own PowerEmbeds to the gallery.”

One interesting side effect of creating PowerEmbeds is that we can now enable consumers to also send videos and other interactive content right inside their existing emails system,” said Thahzmon. “Enter Compose PowerApps, which let users email interactive content right from inside their emails.

Finally, the team came up with a Sidebar app for email, so you can see feeds from Unifyo, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Followup right alongside your email.

In a smart move, PowerInbox deliberately put the horse before the cart so they could get the platform exactly where they wanted it – and then they could focus on customer acquisition.  “We hadn’t focused on growth yet, because we really wanted to focus on  the platform first,” said Thahzmon.  “This is the first time we’re going after new customers – now that we have the platform where we want it, we’re ready to aggressively grow.”

Never one to rest on his laurels, Thahzmon said the team is eager to learn what people want next. Email your ideas to [email protected].

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Monika Jansen is a writer and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, newsletters, website content, and other materials. Follow her at: @monikacjansen

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