Startup Tips from Twitter Boston’s Wayne Chang at XSITE 6/19

6/10/13Follow @gthuang

The mysterious Wayne Chang won’t tell me much these days, but he’s got a message for Boston-area startups: Talk about distribution.

If you’re a software startup, he says, your product is obviously important. But equally important is figuring out how to get people to use your product—and spread the gospel to others.

That’s one of the issues Chang is going to talk about when he shares the stage with Miguel de Icaza and Izhar Armony at Xconomy’s flagship innovation conference, XSITE, on Wednesday of next week (6/19) at Babson College (a few student and startup tickets are still available).

Chang spoke on the phone from San Francisco, where Apple’s developer conference is going on and the Crashlytics kickoff party is happening tonight. He’s the co-founder of Crashlytics, the mobile crash-reporting startup in Cambridge, MA, that was bought by Twitter for $100M+ in cash and stock in February.

As Chang sees it, distribution is a startup’s biggest problem. So at Crashlytics, his team spent more time cultivating its network of developer customers than its product. “Most startups that fail, they only focus on the product. We nailed the core of the product, but then spent most of the time figuring out how to get it everywhere,” he says.

For Crashlytics, he says, that boiled down to three things:

— “We don’t engineer solutions, we engineer emotions.” Chang, who would be a psychologist in another life (and maybe this one), says he thinks deeply about what motivates developers, and that “emotions drive conversations.”

— “Deliver a ‘wow’ experience.” One part of that is making it super easy to start using the product. “There’s an icon that jiggles, you click it and drag it into your app, and it’s that simple,” he says.

— “Virality begins with one.” Word of mouth spreads when customers are passionate about what you’re selling. But instead of thinking about how to reach the masses, Chang says, think about how to reach one person (or type of person)—and make it so there’s a “greater than 50 percent chance” that he or she will tell someone else about your product.

Twitter has 20 offices around the world, and the Boston-area outpost will be the biggest outside of San Francisco headquarters, Chang says. Its focus will be the future of mobile and the future of TV; Twitter acquired Bluefin Labs along with Crashlytics this year. “We will be aggressively hiring,” says Chang.

You can hear much more from Chang and Miguel de Icaza (of Mono and Xamarin fame) about their considerable efforts with mobile developers—and the trials and tribulations of building companies in the post-PC era—on June 19 at XSITE. Hope to see you there.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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