User Feedback: Get It Early & Often

By Matt Stadler C’18/W’18, Co-founder of Quixaro

Matt Stadler received an award from the M&T Innovation Fund to help found his company, Quixaro. We asked him how he’s using the award to work on his startup this summer.

As all high school students know, doing homework sucks. We founded Quixaro to make homework suck less.

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When I first arrived at Penn in the fall of 2014, my cofounders and I had a realization: doing work in college is way more enjoyable than doing work in high school. Because in college, people live with one another, and, in turn, actually do work together.

Our goal is to make high school studying more like college studying — to make it more collaborative, and, in turn, more efficient and enjoyable. We want to create a place on the web, on your phone, and on your tablet where you can feel like you are in the same room as someone else—so you can teach one another, learn from one another, or just keep one another company.

Founding a start-up comes with myriad challenges, but none are more universal than 1) building the product, and 2) getting users. After forming a team of students from Harvard, Stanford, and Penn, we spent almost a full year building and iterating on the product.

I’ll never forget the moment we finished V1 at around 6 am, after a string of sleepless nights. It’s an amazing feeling to see and touch something that used to be a mere idea. But the product, which can be controlled internally, is just one part of the company. After finishing V1 of our software, we put it in the hands of a select group of users to gather data.

Interacting with users and gathering feedback was especially difficult, because it transcended the comfortable bounds we had established within our team. Perhaps even more difficult has been translating user feedback into actionable innovation.

We could have found success earlier had we had users interact with our product sooner in our engineering process. Initially, we used student testimonials to shape our software, but we didn’t have users interact with the platform until it was in a completed state. And once we received user feedback on this seemingly complete product, it was difficult to tease out where exactly the issues were hiding. Had we given users isolated parts of the product throughout the building process, we could have targeted room for improvement more easily.

With this in mind, we are spending the summer revamping our software for a version 2, and plan to give users smaller parts of the product to play with before releasing a more completed version. This round of testing is set to begin in the fall.


Matt_Stadler_Headshot-150x150Bio:
Matt Stadler is a rising junior from New York studying biology and management in the Vagelos Program in Life Sciences & Management at Penn. He is the founder of Quixaro, an education technology company, and a TA for the Management 100 course.