Well, we did it, we finally let everyone in and began spreading the word about CircuitBee. Its been a very busy week, but things have finally died down now so its time for some reflection on how the release went, what we did well and what went wrong.
We had a very quiet initial release, we had originally planned to open with a post on Make Magazine but for one reason or another this was delayed. We were impatient, so we asked the kind folks over at Dangerous Prototypes to put us up on their blog. They kindly did so and proceeded to drive over 3,000 visitors our way in one day.
Our impatience actually paid off in this case, the initial feedback we got from the visitors that day enabled us to make some quick changes to the site. We realised we hadn’t added a clear link to our Twitter account, or our blog on the front page of the site! There were also a couple of small issues that needed fixing immediately so after the traffic died down a little we pushed another build.
The power of Make
On Monday the 25th, Make Magazine posted an article from us on their blog. This went down spectacularly well, driving over 15,000 visitors into the site on the first day alone. We could really see the viral effect happening here too, as the article spread to the other major tech sites eventually covering the full gamut of Make, AdaFruit, Slashdot, Engadget and Reddit. All this great publicity meant we achieved a total of over 55,000 hits in our first week of being public.
All these new visitors to the site meant we were receiving a lot of feedback via Twitter, our UserVoice forum, or via email. This kept me tremendously busy for a few days running 18hr workdays trying to stay on top of it and keep in touch with all the people interested in the project. This was exhausting, but so much fun at the same time!
Here’s a quick screenshot of this weeks Google Analytics graph:
Thankfully we hosted all the files for the embedded schematics people uploaded on our Amazon S3 account, this takes a huge load off our webserver, which meant that we didn’t have one minute of downtime through all this!
What a great bunch of people
We have been simply amazed at the quality and quantity of the feedback we’ve received thus far. It appears the vast majority of people that read the blog post, or tried out the site are as excited about the project as we are. We’ve had dozens of ideas posted to our feedback forum, and lots of words of encouragement both on twitter and elsewhere.
We just want to say thank-you to everyone that has cheered us on, and given us feedback on the site.
Money Money Money
We’ve been particularly surprised at the number of you that have encouraged us to monetize the site in some way. We had hoped this might be the case, as in our experience a startup that is making money will be around a lot longer than one that isn’t. But it has been particularly encouraging to see that users also recognise the need for the site to have an income to be sustainable.
We’ve had some good suggestions about how we could achieve this, these include adding affiliate links for purchasing the parts used in circuits, providing a ‘pro’ account with more advanced features, asking companies to pay to run electronic design competitions through the site and getting sponsorship deals with the major parts distributors and schematic design tool developers.
Currently we’re still self funded, and we don’t want to abandon our aim of making this site a great place for hobbyists to upload their work and share their knowledge. We believe that most users will still want a free account to be able to share circuits.
So in the coming months we’ll be looking to create some real value-adds that people might be willing to pay for above the free account. That way we can keep on track with our mission of improving electronics design education and communication for everyone, but won’t have to sacrifice our savings to do it. We’ll also be looking at any other opportunities that might come our way, but rest assured we won’t be pulling your schematics out from under you.
Let us know what features you think are important at the UserVoice forum.
Where to from here?
Next week we’re aiming to clean up a few rough edges here and there, and add some of the quick wins people have requested, such as net highlighting and component search within schematics. Hopefully these won’t be too hard to add, so we’ll have them up soon.
In the larger plan, we’re still putting together a full roadmap which will be the subject of another post. But as you might have gleaned from our postings around the web, we will be aiming to bring Annotations to our schematics in the near future.
We hope you stay with us in the coming months, its going to be an exciting time, and once again thank-you to everyone who made our public release such a success!