Our YC Startup School Gameplan

Astra was accepted to the Advisor Track for Y Combinator’s Startup School!

Yes, as was pretty widely discussed on Hacker News and Social, we also felt the emotional roller coaster of being first rejected for the program. Y Combinator’s solution was pretty graceful and it means we get to connect with and learn from 1,000s more founders – bonus! Plus, we get to say that we are a part of the program despite being rejected EVERY TIME we applied (3x for YC, and 2x for Startup School). Chuckles aside, given that we had launched our new iOS app the day the applications were due, we thought we were in a great place to take advantage of the product development and growth framework it has to offer.

Y Combinator Startup School

Y Combinator Startup School

Last year we audited this program and enjoyed watching the weekly lectures. If you are a startup founder and haven’t given them a watch, I recommend doing so. The content includes direct knowledge sharing you can use to help you in your startup journey as well as tactical advice you can put to use immediately. This time around, with inspiration from our fellow Product Hunt Makers and Startup School Founders, we’ve decided to share our experience and our growth numbers week by week. The program kicks off next week so here is our journal entry for Week 00.


Program:

Startup School (SUS hereafter) officially starts on Tuesday, August 28th and the SUS portal and forum aren’t live yet. But content from last year, including key recommended blog posts, is now organized in the SUS Library. This week we’ve focused on getting organized and prepared for the program:

  • Created email labels to tag everything from @startupschool.org.
  • Created calendar events for the weekly lectures.
    • I’m in Menlo Park so the option to attend in person was particularly of interest.
  • Reviewed videos and our notes from last year’s course.
  • Connected with other SUS founders via Twitter and Hacker News:

Product:

The Astra app for iOS has only been in the wild for 10 days. Since launch, we have been squarely focused on helping our early users get onto our platform and following up with everyone that helped our launch (thank you!) That’s meant lots of time in Intercom and Superhuman (for email). For SUS, we need to log our weekly progress and we’ve decided to make a big push during the program to iterate as quickly as we can (despite the challenge of doing so with a product that manages your money). That translated to:

  • Prepared for and conducted user interviews, including building our document with questions and getting a few done at the jump.
  • Implemented universal links and buttons in all of our automated emails to users.
    • Tip: If you are using Sendgrid or similar, be sure to disable click tracking which will wrap your link and not take you to the app on mobile.
    • Tip: Make a specific 404 page on your website for universal links in case someone clicks from a desktop.
  • Held planning sessions with our development to map out our target feature groups and which release they should land in.
    • NB: A big discussion we had was when to make the push into Android – we started with a focus on iOS because that’s where our early user were, but the most recurring request post-launch was for an Android version. Spoiler – it’s coming!

Growth:

At Astra, we have a data-driven mindset for our decision making, but we also wanted to get our app into users’ hands as soon as we could. After all:

If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.

But we did have a general sense of metrics that we thought would be important. For instance, for full functionality in our app, a user has to become “verified” so we added some values like this to our Intercom integration API calls before launch.

Tip: If your app’s functionality relies on knowing some state of the user or property of their behavior, you might as well track it. The Intercom API offers a low-budget way to add basic info to your registered users.

Aside from adding this minimal color to our user profiles, we used out of the box analytics from the App Store, Google Analytics, and Intercom:

  • Started gathering basics like how many users installed the app and what our users were doing.
  • Identified what data might be missing and if these out of the box tools can be extended.

This week’s user stats (with some manual counting):

  • 128 Total Users
  • 48 Signed Up Users
  • 21 Onboarded Users
  • 12 Verified Users

Onward to Startup School! 🚀

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We will be writing an article weekly and adding them to the below index. Jump ahead to a specific week:

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