Mat Clayton, Mixcloud: “Data will only become more important as the skills to interpret and understand it become better understood”

A music service created and grown by hackers, not the showbiz and entertainment industry? That sounds as cool as it can be and makes us wonder how they run their business differently and more user centric.

Mixcloud, one of the fastest growing European startups, has also become increasingly popular for hosting long-form audio like radio shows, DJ mixes / mixtapes and podcasts.

We spoke with Mat Clayton, the CTO and co-founder or Mixcloud who’s lessons about product development are more than worth to be considered. He had a talk at this year’s How to Web Conference’s Product track.

Mat is extremely good at building web apps, and even better, likes to build things quickly. He’s got lots of experience with social media apps and knows Django inside out.

How to Web: What are the essential elements that a first-time founder should set up with respect to this, so he can get relevant information from user input?

Mat Clayton: A first-time founder should figure out a quick and easy way to get feedback outside of his normal social circle, as friends and family tend to lie and not want to give you negative feedback.

To what extent should collected user data influence the decisions related to the product’s evolution?

It depends on the growth stage of the product, until you have 100k+ users I wouldn’t bother using data, and would entirely focus on user feedback.

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What are the key sets of data that you closely analyze?

Daily/Monthly Listener Minutes, Daily/Monthly Active Users

What are some of the most important outcomes in Mixcloud’s evolution as a product that have stemmed from user input?

The heavy focus on licensing and the long form audio content format of the site.

How do you involve the users in the product’s development cycle?

I tend to email 50-100 users prior, during and after any key product releases, to see what the vibe is and how they are reacting to the update. We also have fairly extensive beta testing groups on iOS / Android and Web which have my direct email and will regularly send in opinions.

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How do you address privacy concerns over using user data from your platform?

As we don’t require any personal information beyond email for registration, this tends not to be a major concern.

Was the subscription accounts feature on Mixcloud a consequence of a data-driven decision? Please provide more details on the subject.

Lots of users were asking for more advanced stats, and said they’d be willing to pay for it. Therefore at about the 800th request we decided it was time to build it (smiles).

What role do you envision that user data will play in the coming years when it comes to building and scaling tech products?

Data will only become more important as the skills to interpret and understand it become better understood by developers. There is a still a minimum number of users required to make correct decisions using data, so I think it will have an ever more increasing role in companies that have already proven initial traction and established a user base.

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