A little over a year ago, I sat down and wrote this blog post about “the future of BugHerd”. It seemed like a good idea at the time and we had some grand hopes and visions for what we wanted this new direction to be. Unfortunately, a year later, I have to put my hand up and say we got it wrong. The future of our company isn’t in three or more different applications, it’s in one app. That app is called BugHerd (except now with a lower case H).
I won’t go too much into the backstory of how this all came to be, you can check the previous post about that. But I do want to dive into the reasons why we’re refocusing now. We tried to take on more than we could handle. We tackled problems we didn’t understand. We tried to compete in areas we could never hope to compete in (not with our limited resources). Most importantly, we lost focus on what makes us “us”.
The first mistake we made was taking one well known brand (BugHerd) and trying to turn that into 4 brands (Bugherd, Stack, Brief and Macropod). It’s hard enough as a startup to try and launch one successful product, trying to launch 3 was idiocy. The disappointing thing for me is that we had no shortage of people telling us exactly that (esp Paul, Niki, Bardia, Rick, Chris, Alan!) . At Bugherd we’ve historically suffered from building our way out of problems, and this was just another example of that. We failed to resist the temptation to build a new solution to a problem we’d actually already solved. We didn’t need to reinvent ourselves, we just needed to keep doing what we were already doing. Perhaps if we had a team of 100, rather than a team of 10 we could have achieved it. But it was, in hindsight, a fool’s errand to try what we were trying.
The second mistake we made was tackling a problem space we really didn’t understand, or arguably have a passion for. The digital agency space, whilst one of our biggest customer groups, is not a space we understand well enough to launch an entirely new product into. Yet, with Brief, that’s exactly what we tried to do. We confused understanding our value to a market with understanding that market as a whole. We understand contextual feedback, we don’t understand how agencies do “all the things”. The fact that we had to bring in external knowledge in the form of advisors/contractors to help deliver the product should’ve rung alarm bells. In the end, we spent 6 months building a product that, once complete, had very little in common with Bugherd or anything else in our business. Not only did it not capitalise on the technology we’d developed over the years, but it also made zero use of the knowledge we’d accumulated as a team. We failed to make use of our best assets, and instead worked to deliver something we were ultimately ill equipped to deliver.
Thirdly, we tried to compete in markets we simply didn’t have the resources to compete in. As a startup, your one advantage is your ability to target a niche and deliver more value to that niche than a larger, better funded company can. You achieve that by being hyper-focused on a particular problem, without worrying about all the “edge cases”. You solve a problem for 1 person, instead of solving it for everyone. With Bugherd we were solving a very specific problem felt by a very specific set of people. That wasn’t a weakness, that was a strength. Releasing a standalone bug tracker (Stack) was a mistake. By trying to go head to head with Trello or JIRA as a plain old bug tracker, we pitched our very limited resources against giants with an unassailable market lead. David might beat Goliath, but he didn’t do it by going to toe to toe. We may be able to do that one day, but it’s not going to happen today.
Finally, we lost focus on what made us great. When you go back and look at our testimonials, or talk to our customers, you’ll see that they don’t think we have the best bug tracker and they don’t think we help agencies better manage projects. They love Bugherd for getting feedback. Simple as that. The person giving feedback may change (developer, designer, client or user), but the core value is as simple as “hey, can you please make this button blue”. Anything that is not improving that conversation is really just a distraction.
So what can we do better? What can we deliver that is more in line with our core value?
Our customers have already told us. And whilst we got it very wrong with our choice of implementation, we certainly had the right idea.
We need to be able to provide better feedback options to our customers. Instead of just websites, we need to be able to let users give feedback on designs, wireframes and mobile apps. We need to be able to allow more people to give feedback. That means better guest management, better end-user feedback and easier installation options for non technical users. Finally, we need to help resolve those feedback requests faster and more easily. That means, custom columns, due dates, better search and easier task resolution.
All of those things are Bugherd. They’re not Stack or Brief or some other brand name that didn’t yet see the light of day. That’s the Bugherd you know and love… but better.
There’s still a lot more work to be done of course. But I’m extremely optimistic about our future. We have thousands of happy customers that keep us fed and employed. We have an amazing team that is constantly growing. We live in the most livable city in the most amazing country in the world. What we were lacking, we’ve now found, which is focus on what makes Bugherd great. All of our efforts are now focused on improving that and delivering more of what you already love.
Finally, our team loves to hear from our customers. It’s what gets us out of bed every morning. I’d love for you to share with us in the comments what you love about Bugherd. Let’s celebrate the things we’ve done well, and work together to make the next version even better.
Thanks to all of our customers that have loved and supported us so far!
CEO and Co-founder