A Startup Feeds Off Feedback

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Tell us about Bump's software.
BumpTop is a new way of thinking about computer desktops. We apply gaming, 3-D graphics, and physics to the desktop to organize files and look at photos and browse more richly and intuitively and more like a real desk. The idea began as part of my University of Toronto master’s thesis. I created a video online and it blew up. It’s had 3 million views on YouTube—it’s one of the most popular software videos. We’ve gotten a lot of opportunities and our phones have been ringing off the hook with a lot of cool companies talking about how we can work together. The BumpTop product is now in private Beta with about a thousand installations.

What led you to select a solution such as CrowdSound?
Being in Beta production means our product doesn’t have much of a presence, so we look to users to guide us to what they want us to build and what is compelling and meaningful for them. We were looking for a way to tap the feedback of our users. We had done traditional things before—typical email lists and Web forums, which we were quite happy with, but people weren’t giving us enough feedback. You might not post on a forum if you are shy.

In early summer, we signed up for CrowdSound. One thing we found very awesome is that they really take a personal touch to things. We weren’t going to use them originally—we were looking at a competing solution. CrowdSound—although we liked the clean and simple look and feel—didn’t have a feature we needed: We wanted the ability to manually increase the number of votes on the widget if we hear about them through another mechanism—via the Web forum or email, for instance. I sent an email to CrowdSound and got a reply saying, “Yeah, great idea. We will put that into our next update which is only two weeks away.”
And it works exactly how we wanted it to. Shockingly, we weren’t even a customer at that point. Another thing we liked was the super low commitment of the suggestion box, which encourages way more feedback. All visitors really have to do is when they see the suggestions listing on the site, click thumbs up or thumbs down. That’s it. If you want, you can create an account. If you do create an account, great: We can follow up with them. Surprisingly, a high number of those visiting do create an account.

What do you do with the feedback once it’s gathered? 
Feedback is critically important to us. Our whole product is based on the idea of an improved user experience. Until users try it, and give us feedback, we aren’t sure how effective it is. We try to push the envelope as much as possible with nonstandard stuff—like how you flip through photos without slapping on an unnecessary scroll bar. By the nature of our out-there, pushing-the-envelope approach, people want to brainstorm and give us wacky ideas. Usually we’re getting snowed in by email and stuff. So it’s great to have tools like CrowdSound to coil that in and give it structure. Contributors feel good about the product so they made suggestions; then they feel better that others like the idea as well. Users, in turn, feel great about sharing similar interests.


How old is the implementation?
We started it up in April.
Who was involved in the decision process?
The Bump, Inc., team.
What’s been the best CRM idea?
Everybody in the company spends a day a week answering the email we receive. This gives everybody [working on] BumpTop an immediate “in” to the voice of our users and really connects us with the people we’re trying to serve. We borrowed this idea from another company who has an inspiring CRM, Wufoo.com.
Biggest surprise?
Not to sound cliché, but, at a startup, every day is full of surprises. One of the coolest, though, was getting invited to speak at [annual thought-leader confab] TED. This was massive. I was in disbelief when I got the email—it’s opened so many doors for the company.
Biggest mistake?
Taking so long to implement electronic CRM measures! The feedback we’ve been getting from all our tools is amazing—CrowdSound, GetSatisfaction, a Flickr forum, Twitter, etc. I just wish we’d started much earlier and gotten a jump start on the community it’s helped foster.

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