Neil Gupta

Your Startup Is Spam

353 words • 2 minutes to read

If you’ve ever built something yourself or worked on a startup, you know that your product is like your baby. You are acutely aware of each flaw, but if somebody else insults it, it’s personal.

Last night, I met a student, and I told him he should use Tabule for his classes. Not knowing that I was the founder of Tabule, his immediate reaction was, “Oh, Tabule. That’s just spam.” First I was surprised to learn that he had even heard of it, let alone have such a visceral reaction, since we just launched about a month ago. He complained that his RA uses Tabule to post announcements and events for the floor, and he resented getting spammed by Tabule.

The problem was that it’s the RA’s job to constantly email their residents with announcements and information about upcoming campus events. Usually, people associate these emails with the RA and deal with them accordingly. But because Tabule was being used as an intermediary and all of the notification emails came from Tabule, he shifted the association to Tabule and blamed us for the spam.

I woke up this morning to an email from Google+ asking me if I am going to some public event in another state. My first thought was “Stop spamming me Google!” But then I realized one of my contacts had invited me to the event and I was incorrectly blaming Google+ for notifying me.

We have now changed all notification emails for Tabule to be from the person who triggered the notification, instead of everything coming from Tabule. Now when you see an email in your inbox, you think of the person who sent it, not Tabule. This actually helps us more seamlessly integrate Tabule into your existing workflow, since you are now more likely to just respond to the notification email as if it were a direct email and post back to Tabule.

Listen to every bit of feedback, even if it’s something extremely negative like “your app is spam.” You never know what will lead you to learn some new insight about your app and users.

Written on October 14, 2012 in Chicago.