PickFu and Mixergy: Get audience feedback first

PickFu’s co-founder John Li sat down with Andrew Warner, host of the Mixergy podcast “Startup Stories,” to discuss his entrepreneurial journey, how PickFu started, and what’s behind its growth. Read on for a recap of their conversation, or listen to the interview below.

Interview highlights

2:38 John introduced the concept of PickFu, a DIY consumer research platform, and discussed the results of a PickFu poll asking panelists to vote on actual Mixergy podcast cover art designs.

6:54 John and PickFu’s co-founder, Justin Chen, met as classmates at UC Berkeley. They shared a “general irreverence and lack of caring about school,” joked John.

10:31 John talked about Menuism, the crowdsourced restaurant menu listing website he and Justin started that led to PickFu.  

14:32 As coders, not designers, the two struggled with and often disagreed on design elements of the Menuism site. They asked friends and family for input, but what they really needed was qualitative, unbiased feedback. So, they built a quick prototype of PickFu.

22:55 Early on, John and Justin treated PickFu as an internal tool for Menuism. They shared the PickFu prototype on Hacker News. As people discovered it — DuckDuckGo CEO and founder Gabriel Weinberg was an early adopter — word began to spread.

25:45 PickFu gained traction in the self-publishing industry for authors to test book covers and titles.

27:23 John and Justin adjusted PickFu based on user feedback. They added audience targeting and features such as polling more than two things at once.

32:27 PickFu expanded beyond the self-publishing and mobile app markets into the e-commerce and Amazon seller space by working with influencers and affiliates.

43:45 Determining PickFu’s pricing model has been a challenge. John said the company’s focus is on educating customers in various verticals on the value PickFu can bring to their businesses.

50:44 People have used PickFu to choose everything from photos for their online dating profiles to baby names. Popular business uses for PickFu include testing logos, domain names, landing page copy, and email templates. 

56:52 John on PickFu’s organic growth: “It’s a lot more meaningful when your customer is already coming to you and then you turn around and try to understand why they’re coming to us, and what pain points our general purpose tool is actually solving for you.”

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