Why Sometimes You Have to Say “Maybe” to Customer Feedback

This post is a response to a recent App Sumo review for Markup Hero.

Some Context

Most founders will tell you that the most important thing about building a startup is listening to customers. I agree, but it’s nuanced. 100% if you build something that nobody wants or that doesn’t meet the needs of users, it will fail; every time. But unilaterally listening to your users can be a little dangerous too. It’s a balance. The hard part is knowing when to say yes, when to say no, and when to say maybe later.

My Response

Thanks for the feedback Sumo-ling. I have to admin, I have been sitting on this review for a few days because it frustrates me. As a founder we never want to hear bad news, and this is the first and only 3-taco review we’ve gotten. That said, I’m smart enough, and I’ve done this enough times, to listen to negative feedback.

You’ve pointed out a few things, but really only the first one is worth digging into. We’re a very early stage startup. This is why we’re on Marketplace and not App Sumo select. Our Chrome app was just released less than a month ago, it’s barely out of beta. So we expect users to find things missing. And you mention MANY bugs, I feel like that might be an exaggeration. The one you specifically mention is not a bug, it’s just an oversight which we will fix.

And there is an equally fast workaround for it:

Copy the image and paste it into the 2nd page

The more interesting thing from that comment is that you actually used the “multi-page” feature, which is something that simply does not exist on the “free” or “paid” competitors. So that’s a good sign for us. Now we just need to make it better.

But as I said, the big piece of feedback is on the WEB vs. DESKTOP annotations. I get it. Very much I get it. I’ve been using screenshot and annotation tools for 15 years, it’s core to my daily process. Frankly that’s why we are even trying to build something in this heavily commoditized and crowded category.

One of the issues with a mature category like this is that people are already “used” to something. So when we go and change the paradigm on them (i.e. Web vs. Desktop annotating), they generally freak out. I sure did at first.

When we initially scoped our product we had a lot of dialog about whether we would make this paradigm shift or just do what everyone else did and what people are used to. We obviously settled on Web, which I’ve come to personally love. It is slower, a bit. And there are some downsides.

But a few things we know:

  1. If this were a new concept, people probably wouldn’t care, or care a lot less
  2. We can always make it faster
  3. We can always build the desktop editor if we need to
  4. Desktop editing isn’t our vision as a company

Our vision as a company is NOT to just build another screenshot and annotation tool. Screen-shotting and annotating has categorically been a “siloed” activity. Meaning you generally do it on your own, on one device, in one place. Maybe you share the link, but that’s kinda it. We want to break that paradigm.

We think that file annotation can and should be done “where you already work”. It’s not something that has to happen elsewhere then get brought in. People work in other tools. They work in Asana. They work in Notion. They work in Intercom. They work in Trello. And thousands of other tools. Annotated files goes hand-in-hand with all of these tools. And if we want to empower people to annotate files (literally any file) inside of other SaaS tools (which are almost 100% web based) then we need a web-based solution.

Markup Hero Steps to Annotate Inside Another SaaS App

Imagine working in Notion. You paste an image in a document. Then you want to annotate it. You click on a button. The image opens in a modal. You add your annotations and they are instantly reflected in the note. Then later you want to go back and edit them. Just click and change and it’s done.

The old paradigm would require a lot more than three extra seconds to do all that, which you really can’t because the annotated images in most tools get flattened anyway so no editing.

Markup Hero as a Modal from within Other SaaS Tools

The point is, we’re not yet convinced we need to build desktop annotation. And if we did, it wouldn’t be to further our vision for the product, it would be to deliver on perceived needs of users. Now, the truth is we could be very wrong. Both in that we think people can get comfortable with web based annotation. And that we can make it very close to what they’re used to. And we could be wrong that people want to annotate more than just screenshots and in more places than on one single Mac or Windows computer. And if we are wrong, then ok, we’ll build it.

But as I said at the top of this article, it’s the job of a startup founder to know when to hold-em and no when to fold-em. Sometimes it’s worth holding them for a little bit to see if your hypothesis turns out to be right.

So we’ll see. I hope you do stick around and see where things go. And if you are feeling it, maybe bump us up a few taco’s 🌮🌮🌮🌮🌮 at some point.

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Jeff Solomon

Jeff Solomon

Entrepreneur & 6x founder @velocify @amplifyla @markuphero @audiojoyapps @geekingapp | Teacher. Advisor. Content Creator. Product. Marketing. Startups. Dad.