Part of my Founder’s Corner blog series on what, how and why we do things at RunSignup.
This will be a combo blog. I am really into this term “Product Led” (I think the team at RunSignup might be tired of hearing it from me), so I want to talk about that some. And if you have been paying close attention, we have been making a bit of a “Pivot” with the increasing attention to TicketSignup – and that happened because we are “Product Led”. Don’t worry – I still live in South Jersey and have not gone too “Silicon Valley” with these terms….
Product First Personal Background
I’ve always been a “product first” kind of person. This might be influenced by the fact I was an Electrical Engineer and my first job at Leeds and Northrup was building a Local Area Network controller as well as writing the microcode to make it run as shown here (students of microprocessors will recognize the Z80 (Intel 8080 clone) hex code in the second column):
So very early on, I had the concept that a company starts with the product. Of course Marketing, Sales, Support, Manufacturing and Finance all have to be there or else it is kind of like the sound of a tree falling in a forrest when no one is around. While each function in a company is needed, none if it can get started without a product.
Modern Product Led
The rise of the cloud and proliferation of mobile technology have made it so much easier and less expensive to introduce a cloud based application. However, the details on the implementation like security and scaling as well as continual development of new features that meet customer needs is hard. And of course the hardest part is finding that “product – market fit”. So while there may be multiple vendors providing a solution to a particular problem like helping events process money and attract attendees, there is opportunity to simply have a better product.
Consumers of technology have also become more knowledgeable and empowered. They want to have control and no longer want to call someone to do things like update their website (I can’t tell you how many events we talk to that don’t know how to update their website since it was done several years by a consulting company, or they don’t want to pay money for the updates – one of the major motivations behind our free event website technology that gives the power to the customer to control and update easily).
If a company is able to build a better product, then the cost of marketing, selling and supporting it can be lower. The new wave of empowered customers who are evaluating based on features and fit to solve their problems will select the better product and the win rate will be higher. Satisfied customers will be more likely to recommend the product to others.
This produces a virtuous cycle where the company can spend even more on product development and be a sound, profitable company that provides a better product and service to customers.
Endurance Product Led Success
In 2010 when we started RunSignup, the aim was just to build a good product for races to use. Over the years we have grown to help about 40% of endurance events in the US. The reason for our success boils down to having a better product at a better price. Customers like that.
Building a Ticket Solution for Nonprofits
Back in 2019 we began to build a ticket solution on top of our platform. We had a number of nonprofit customers who were asking us for a better way to host their golf fundraiser or gala. They were telling us that Eventbrite did not make it easy to take donations for example.
We could build the Ticket product on top of all the great technology and infrastructure as our Registration system, which made it much easier to build so much functionality so quickly:
So, we began building our Ticket product with it first aimed at providing solutions to nonprofits. Of course the pandemic distracted us (and our nonprofit customers who still do not host many galas). But we built a number of features that were very useful in comparison with Eventbrite for nonprofits.
We introduced the Ticket product under the brand name GiveSignup to indicate it was meant for nonprofits.
We Have a Ticket Product
Last fall we started getting commercial customers – especially in the agritourism space where they had some very specific requirements for multiple time slots and ticket self-management by ticket purchasers.
Initially, we said “Use GiveSignup!” – it is our Ticket product. After several of these conversations we began to realize that we had the wrong name for our product.
In other words, our Product led us to introduce a new name – TicketSignup.
The fact that we built a product, and then came up with a name only reinforces this idea that we are a product led company.
The response has been very good. Our nonprofit customers better understand what we have – technology for selling more tickets and making their lives easier. We had one long time customer for our endurance registration products realize only after we introduced TicketSignup that they could use it for their nonprofit events rather than Eventbrite – he thought GiveSignup for for donations.
It feels a bit like the early days of RunSignup. We get new customers who need new features and help educate us on the needs of their particular market. We build more technology that helps them. They are happy and tell their friends and colleagues. And we keep that cycle going. Two example stories.
First, a prospective customer shared a spreadsheet with us yesterday of items they want to make our ticket product and even better fit for their halloween haunt (30,000 attendees over the month of October). There were 7 items, some easy and some medium hard. But all of them would benefit other multi-day outdoor events. We wind up with great features, a new customer, and a person who will talk about his great experience to other farm owners.
Second, Bryan went to an event that is using our ticket platform two weekends ago. He was talking to one of the people who was using our checkin app at the gate. Turns out she is involved in another event with about 3,000 attendees. She told him earlier today that they are moving forward with us after seeing what we had.
Whatever the name – the key to our company is building a great product by listening to prospects and customers and having a great development team and development process. Product led.