Best Practices

What tech leaders can learn from a $500k bug

When I started the social media app Skout in 2007, I was blown away by our traction. We had over 50 million installations globally, had raised over $22 million from Andreessen Horowitz, and there were hundreds of incredibly talented employees making it all happen. 

Despite our success, and unbeknownst to us, there were many 1-star reviews on the Google Play app store in the Polish language, dinging our Android app in a language we didn’t understand. This small piece of the overall Skout community was frustrated and was telling us exactly what we needed to know, that the app was unusable in Poland, but we weren’t listening. 

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Best Practices

Breaking the Vicious Cycle of Poor Product Quality

Software, by its nature, has bugs. That’s not really a problem, since they’re expected; the problem is how your team tackles those bugs. The first step in stomping out bugs is identifying the issues before they become too big of a problem.

unitQ Monitor acts as an early warning system, helping you identify bugs before they become large problems for your company. unitQ Monitor monitors all your customer feedback, identifying new issues and alerting your team when it detects a sudden spike in reports from customers.

So what happens when you are flying blind without this warning system? You could enter a vicious cycle, where bugs go undetected and linger for far too long, causing customer dissatisfaction, leading to churn and the abandonment of your product for a competitor’s. Lingering quality issues can cascade throughout your organization, with more support tickets being submitted, more 1-star reviews being written, higher user churn, and lower engagement.

An Example of the Vicious Cycle: Lost in Translation

To help illustrate this vicious cycle, let’s walk through the business impact of one bug from the company I started before unitQ, Skout. When new users signed up for Skout in Spanish, the localization string for “male and female” literally got lost in translation — the genders were reversed in the signup flow. This bug went undetected for 4 months. Never mind that Skout had 35 people working in our Chile subsidiary. You know what they do? They speak Spanish all day long. Despite that we couldn’t connect the dots until we saw the user reviews come in, combined with second day return rates showing an anomaly for all Spanish users. Their second day return rate was half that of users in other languages.

As a result of this bug persisting:

  • Support volume increased, since users reported the same bug over and over again. 
  • Our app ratings decreased. We found that the average rating for a review containing a bug report is 1.5 stars. 
  • Conversion dropped, not only because of the low rating, but because the bug acted as a filter mechanism masking important product flows. 

This led to the worst case scenario: we entered into the vicious cycle of product quality. Our bucket started leaking with bigger holes, and eventually our loyal users began jumping ship.

We frequently found ourselves saying, “If only we found this bug 6 months ago, the business would have been 3-5% bigger today.” It became an obsession of ours: To hunt, quantify, prioritize and fix bugs. And nothing was more satisfying than launching fixes and seeing a big boost in engagement and retention metrics. Just like when we fixed the Spanish bug.

To learn how unitQ is helping category-leading companies like Chime and Strava break out of the vicious cycle, request a demo today.


Announcing Our $30M Series B Led by Accel to Power the First Product Quality Platform

“Is our product working as it’s supposed to?” It’s a dead simple yet fundamentally important question most technology companies consider daily, but staying on top of product quality has historically been an inexact science. App Store or Google Play reviews are far from comprehensive and represent sentiment over time, rather than a current snapshot. While Net Promoter Scores (NPS) have become a ubiquitous tool for product teams, they rely on surveys proactively sent out by businesses – meaning they’re more likely to capture positive sentiments and represent a tiny fraction of users. As a result, companies rely on manual processes and anecdotal data to make decisions on what should be fixed next, and the product suffers as a result.

unitQ empowers companies to take a data-driven approach to product quality so they can fix the right quality issues faster. unitQ Monitor, our AI-enabled product quality platform, determines what specifically is impacting quality at any given time, so that teams like engineering, support, product ops, and product management can identify, prioritize, and fix quality issues that matter most. Customers have seen significant improvement in growth, user retention, and engagement by leveraging our product, which then impacts bottom-line results.

In fact, on average customers are able to increase their product quality by 20% in 30 days, which correlates to a 20% improvement in their unitQ Score. We help them improve their product quality by identifying actionable insights in their user feedback from public sources like app reviews and social media, private sources like support tickets, support chats, and surveys, as well as the unitQ API, which connects to other external data sources. With these data points, unitQ automatically tags and analyzes quality issues and delivers the most comprehensive and accurate view of product quality yet.

Some of the most well-known consumer technology companies in the world rely on unitQ, including Chime, Pandora, Strava, The RealReal, and AppLovin.

Since we announced our Series A in March of 2020, we’ve more than tripled our revenue. Today, we’re excited to announce that we’ve raised $30M in funding from Accel, with support from Creandum and Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund. This brings our total amount raised to $41M since launching in 2018. This Series B will allow us to expand hiring across engineering and go-to-market so that we can expand our reach and serve more businesses.

“One of the best ways consumer technologies can differentiate is by building a product that is reliable and consistently works as intended for its users, and yet up to this point this has been largely an inexact and manual undertaking,” said Andrew Braccia, Partner, Accel. “We invested in unitQ because it has the potential to transform how businesses think about product quality and its impact on usage, retention, and bottom-line results. At Accel, I’ve invested in dozens of consumer tech companies spanning industries – from Hotel Tonight to Etsy to MyFitnessPal – and know that a product like unitQ would be a game-changer for almost all of them.”

The Journey Ahead at unitQ

My co-founder, Niklas Lindstrom, and I started unitQ because we have firsthand experience with the challenges involved in measuring product quality. Before unitQ we founded Skout, a social app that had over 50 million app installations before being acquired by The Meet Group in 2016. During the decade we worked on Skout, we never lost sight of the user experience and our top priority was ensuring people were happy with our product. We would have loved to have access to a product like unitQ, which is why we decided to undergo the ambitious task of building a solution for ourselves.

This is just the beginning for us as the first company to take a data-driven approach to product quality. We aim to not only be a tool that every consumer business relies on for maintaining world-class products that people love to use, but also to be a resource for consumers that want trusted, reliable information on the products available to them so that they can make better decisions. We couldn’t have done it without the support of our amazing customers, employees, partners, investors, and advisors that have helped us get to this point.

We’re just at the beginning of this exciting journey. If you’re interested in seeing how unitQ can work for your organization, sign up for a demo today. If you’re interested in joining us, be sure to check out our open roles and get in touch.


Take Your Product’s Quality to the Moon

You may have heard that we reference “Product Quality” quite a bit here at unitQ. We believe quality is more than just product experience, it’s the entire surface area of a company. It’s also a characteristic that will become more instrumental for business success in the coming years. As its prominence is rising across different industries, let’s talk about how teams can take their product’s quality to the moon. 

Meet Product Expectations

The key is making sure the product works as expected. When someone is using a product, they have an expectation that things should work in a certain way. If there’s a disconnect with what’s expected with any product, it will cause dissatisfaction and ultimately churn. To prevent this from happening, the best place for businesses to start is leveraging user feedback data. The user base has almost complete test coverage as they interact with the product and its features everyday. If businesses can capture the data, extract actionable insights, and ensure the right information reaches the right person at the right time — they’ll empower their teams to take a data-driven approach to product quality and stay ahead of the competition.

Stay Laser Focused on Mission-Critical Insights

Many teams struggle with the manual and resource-intensive process of gathering and analyzing user feedback. There’s daily feedback to continuously comb through across multiple sources and across many different languages. In addition, users have various ways of articulating their experiences. The best way to overcome this challenge is finding an interface that can decipher the key insights and remove the noise. Once teams have that component established, they can begin to understand what needs to be fixed and build to drive superior product quality and experience.

Differentiate with Product Quality 

Companies can buy traffic, create feature differentiators, launch new things, but all these efforts are in vain if they’re not providing the best experience for their users. For example, if they’re spending money on advertising to drive traffic and users are met with a subpar product experience, users will turn away and the spend would be inefficient. If companies focus more efforts on holding themselves accountable to provide the best user experience, they’ll spend budget more efficiently, see really impactful results, and avoid churn.

Retain Users with Quality

Retention is growth. If you build a product that can retain users with high engagement and high conversion, then growth will come. Getting users to show up is the easy part, the hard part is keeping them around, and product quality has a huge impact on how long they’ll stay. Staying on top of product quality will allow you to squeeze more juice out of the lemon and make every marketing dollar you spend count.

What Doesn’t Get Measured Doesn’t Improve

Leadership needs to be able to measure things in a clear and measurable way in order to set goals and drive better outcomes for their users and, in turn, their company. When I talk with senior leadership teams and board members, I often ask: “How do you measure product quality?” The consensus was they didn’t have a metric. Now they do with the unitQ Score — the first product quality metric that helps businesses find and fix the right issues fast, deliver superior product quality and experience, and drive retention and growth.


unitQ: Our Vision of Product Quality Nirvana

When my co-founder, Nik Lindstrom, and I sparked the initial conversations that eventually became unitQ, I was ready for a challenge. Nik and I had previously founded a company called Skout. It was a mobile-only social network that we eventually sold in 2016. That acquisition capped an amazing nine year journey with a fantastic team, a great community, and groundbreaking product. I was, and remain, incredibly proud of what we built with Skout, and selling the company gave me a chance to reset and recharge.

Spending time with my family and friends (and surfing!) took up most of my time in those days. I was lucky enough to eliminate meetings, product reviews, marketing pow-wows, 1:1s with co-workers, and other work activities from my life. Going from full-speed to full-stop was a binary change that I found both relieving and a bit stressful. So after a year-and-a-half, I reconnected with my former colleagues.

As we reflected on some of the challenges we faced at Skout, one of the biggest was staying on top of product quality in real-time while growing at an explosive rate. With a product spread across so many platforms, languages, versions, and third-party integrations, something, somewhere, was always broken. 

In one incident, there was a small bug affecting our Polish language Android app, causing it to keep crashing on launch. Since Polish language users were only a small portion of our overall audience, we didn’t flag or prioritize the bug as a high-impact issue. But, after receiving a large volume of negative Play Store reviews from our Polish users, we eventually pushed out a fix. What we later discovered was that delaying the fix cost us $360,000 in revenue and 6 months of frustrated users. That’s real money and customer goodwill that we squandered because we didn’t recognize the true impact of that seemingly minor quality issue.

Product quality can make or break a company

I won’t name names, but you’re probably already thinking of a recent annoying app experience. Whether it’s a clumsy UI, lack of responsiveness, errors, crashes, or a failed integration, even minor quality issues can push your users to competing apps. But, looking at it with a different perspective, your users are the ultimate quality team. They’re constantly testing every possible configuration of device, language, network, product version, OS and OS version, connection, and more. 

Looking back on the ad hoc, manual product quality process we used at Skout, it was frustrating to realize how we struggled so long on a problem that every product company experiences. So why hadn’t anyone built a platform to capture user signals in an actionable, real-time manner?

And so, unitQ was born

We set out to capture the massive amounts of priceless product quality data users are creating, and do so in a systematic and timely manner. We assembled an incredible team of amazing people, including some old faces from Skout. In the beginning, we were lucky enough to have both large and small companies take a chance on an entirely new product that was defining a new category, but also solving a universal product quality challenge. 

Today, almost three years later, unitQ Monitor is used by support, product ops, engineering, and leadership teams at category leading companies like SiriusXM, Pandora, Quizlet, StyleSeat, and many others. I am—all of us are—extremely proud of the platform we’ve created. It is something truly magical and I’m delighted to hear our customers continuously rave about the platform, the data it captures, and the insights it surfaces. They’re excited because the benefits are real, quantifiable, and substantial. In fact, unitQ customers have realized:

  • 20% average improvement in product quality in just 30 days.
  • Up to 40% reduction in support ticket volumes.
  • Up to 35% increase in app store star-ratings.

New metric to provide holistic insights into quality

We know that product quality is critical to company growth. New users are quick to drop bad products, and existing users will eventually churn to a competitor if product quality issues aren’t quickly addressed. But, just as we experienced at Skout, the gaps between users, customer support, quality assurance, product development, and engineering combine to create friction for any product quality improvements.

What unitQ brings to all of these teams is a new metric for product quality, which we call the unitQ Score. It provides an up-to-the-moment, data-driven approach for measuring quality, tracking progress, and comparing product quality directly with that of competitors and other leading organizations. 

The unitQ platform then connects product and quality teams to the granular issue data contained within user feedback to quickly identify and address issues. This helps companies boost engagement and retention because they’re getting product quality insights they can instantly use to polish the diamond they’ve already built. It’s all possible because our platform captures existing user feedback data from the App Store, social media, and other channels. That data is then integrated with the internal tools they’re already using, like Zendesk, PagerDuty, Slack, and more. And, across their company, teams use those insights to make quantitative, data-driven decisions about product quality and direction, engineering prioritizations, support allocations, and more, and then quickly get to work improving and enhancing their products. 

You can have it, too. Just request a demo and we’ll show you how it works.