Vamos 1 year Anniversary, 3 Painful Startup Lessons Learned

    Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Luis-Daniel Alegria of Vamos.

    It’s 1 year since Vamos first released and raised €100.000. The price of being a first time entrepreneur in an early stage tech startup got the team into a canyon of problems. Today they are sharing some of their biggest learnings with you from the inside.

    1. Killing Android
    Everyone knows Samsung’s smartphone share has grown 7-fold since 2 years back making Android the largest OS by far the largest, even surpassing iOS worldwide. However moving forward with Android required their dedicated team to spend more time finding and killing bugs than innovating the event discovery space. They simply couldn’t afford to spend any more time and money to develop natively for another platform than iOS. To the anguish of the Android community they painfully took themselves down from Google Play after just being live 3 months, to go full throttle solely on iOS.

    Lesson learned: Focus and go fast on one platform until you’ve proved your business case. If you are building native it only makes sense to launch on other platforms once your app is bringing in the profit to justify the maintenance and development costs.

    2. The Art of Surviving When Money and Hype Is Gone
    In the beginning Vamos was featured in well over 400 press mentions worldwide. But when the initial hype is over there is a grand canyon of pain ahead of every tech-startup. In fact it is said that 75% of all startups close down within 3 years of their launch.

    The team has come a long way with their product, surviving on salary levels of around €400 / month – well under bare minimum and now when the money is gone, they are gunning ahead without any salary at all. The team spirit at Vamos is powered by the thought that thousands of people – enough to fill a football stadium – are using the app to find live experiences every week, simply because Vamos makes their cities more exciting.

    Lesson learned: The art of surviving is to find an intrinsic motivation larger than money and hype. You need a lot of passion for what you’re doing because when things get rough, any rational person would give up.

    3. Don’t Add Barriers of Entry
    In the very first version of Vamos there was a button on the event views to see photos from the location via Instagram. The team monitored conversions and saw that only a few people found this feature, but when they actually did, they engaged with a lot of photos! In the next release they embedded the photos right under the event descriptions and saw a big overall increase in engagement.

    In another example, In a recent US study only 38% said they felt their personal information was protected by Facebook. This might also be one of the reasons why Vamos was losing ~35% of their users already at the sign-in. This was implemented based on an early assumption by the team that the user experience would be limited and more users would drop off if people didn’t see where their friends were going. In the latest release people can have a go without Facebook and then upgrade and bring in their friend’s activities if they like. It’s still early days, but data suggests drop off rates going from 30% to 15%.

    Lesson learned: Lead people right to the content you want to present and don’t put doors in front of them. Embed content on the vertical, rather than use buttons since people are used to scrolling on their phones. In short don’t make it hard for super users, potential investors and journalists to use your service.

    Entering Year 2, Switching Gears
    The latest release was so good it received the 1 year gift every developer could wish for – a feature in the App Store in several big markets. If even Apple vouches for the app, it’s a major confirmation that the product is on the right path. This is their fastest version yet, loading in events with friends goes really fast and it comes with a very polished look and feel. The new release also features the ability to jump search cities in the map view, the option to skip Facebook login, as well as to buy tickets from Eventbrite and Ticketmaster.

    As they’ve made it through their first challenging year, they are looking into the future. With Apple backing them up and a stronger user base than ever before, they’re ready to enter the next round and monetize their users with ticket sales and featured event promotions.