Testing your product or service prior to launching is key, and failure to properly do so can be detrimental to your business. Two of Dashfire’s portfolio companies, LoClean and TableSAVVY, are currently in this test phase known as beta. Interning at Dashfire has given me the opportunity to work closely with LoClean and TableSAVVY teams during this crucial pre-launch period.
Before I jump into what I’ve learned about beta, here’s why you’ll love these startups:
You live in Chicago. You have a job, go to school, are busy with the kids, whatever. Cleaning is the last thing you want to do when you get home, but living in filth is out of the question. You either have the clean yourself or hire a housekeeper. Problem is, you hate cleaning and finding a reliable housekeeper when you need it is nearly impossible.
Solution: LoClean. It's an online booking service that provides on-demand, reliable, background-checked housekeepers at an unbeatable price. What more could you ask for?
You’re spontaneous. You don’t really plan ahead when it comes to where you’ll be dining, but love Chicago’s restaurant scene and are always down to try new spots. Problem is, the best spots require reservations in advance so you tend to settle for decent bar food when you get the urge to go out for dinner.
Solution: TableSAVVY. It's an online booking service partnered with Chicago magazine that allows you to book last-minute reservations to your favorite and soon-to-be favorite spots. When a restaurant sees they’ve got a few open tables, they’ll post them on TableSAVVY and for $5 you can book a reservation online. Easy! And if that wasn’t reason enough to use the service, you’ll get 30% off your meal at the restaurant.
Basically, life is going to be really great in a month or so when LoClean and TS plan to go live. You'll be able to book a LoClean, and while your house is being cleaned you'll be eating deliciousness for 30% off compliments of TableSAVVY.
The beta phase is a very exciting time because it means you're ALMOST ready to launch. That being said, you can't rush it! Be patient and make the most out of this stage so when you launch you'll be ready.
Here are some helpful tips for startups wanting to get better with beta:
- Simplicity rules. Don’t throw out too many features or make it extremely complicated for the user. You’re trying to work out the basics, so keep it basic. Once you’ve nailed the first phase you’ll be able to make changes. TableSAVVY, for example, started their beta phase by opening up a couple tables at Sunda, and Rockit Bar in River North and Wrigley. By keeping it basic, the team is able to stay organized and make real improvements to the service.
- Reach out to a variety of users. The Dashfire team is extremely helpful to startups in beta because we each utilize our diverse networks. The people I reach out to (mainly college students) will provide different feedback than, for example, Rick’s network of entrepreneurs and professionals. LoClean is currently testing out their service by acquiring users through social media. In order to be able to make helpful improvements, LoClean needs to inviting a wide variety of testers rather than strictly college students or strictly professionals. In addition, Dashfire benefits startups like LoClean because we’re able to reach people outside of the Co-Founder’s direct contacts to get real, unbiased feedback.
- Provide as much info about the product as possible. Even if you’re allowing people to test the product for free (which is a great way to get acquire beta testers) make sure to include the pricing that will come in to play later to avoid confusion. You’ve got to get beta users acquainted with what will soon be their new favorite startup.
I may be biased, but LoClean and TableSAVVY are two of my favorite Chicago startups. I love when I find a new startup that makes me think “How did I ever live without this?!” These are prime examples. They genuinely make daily life better, no bullshit, which is why I’m 100% certain they’ll kill it when they go live.
Get as excited as I am by staying up to date with LoClean and TableSAVVY! Links to social provided below.