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Wow. What A Year! Reflecting On The First Year Of Hoop

Reflecting on a year of learning, building, and growing at our startup.

🎄From everyone here at Hoop, we wish you a very happy holiday season! We so much appreciate your support during our startup journey this first full year of Hoop. It’s that time when we reflect on what’s happened and look forward to what’s to come. Sitting down to write this post, I honestly can’t believe everything that's happened this year:

Winter 2023

Our biggest goal in the new year was to convince three world class software engineers to join our mission of advancing the future of work. In early January, Travis Fischer, an amazing engineer and equally wonderful human who we’d worked with previously gave us the exciting news that he was joining our fledgling team. It was exhilarating and magical to get Travis’s acceptance, alongside a photo of his wife Melissa toasting the startup journey.

While hiring was going on, we were also onboarding new users into our an early version of our product every week. The goal of this product was to help with structured decision making using the consent based model of decision making. We were manually onboarding users every week, and learning a ton.

Going into February, we had an offsite in Miami on the books with Travis, and were continuing to interview and source engineers.  We were also getting tons of feedback on product direction. It was clear we needed to make the product more flexible. While our messaging of helping teams with better decisions was resonating, users were finding it difficult to pinpoint the moment when a decision was happening. They were also asking for a Slack integration since so much conversation was already happening in Slack. We got to work!

Team Hoop circa Feb 2023 at the Wynwood Walls in Miami.

Spring 2023

During this season, we spent much of our time sourcing and interviewing engineers. We launched our Slack integration and surveyed users to discover how we might make our product more useful to specific pain points related to decision making.

On March 9th we started hearing rumors about our banking partner, SVB. And well, you know what happened there. For a few days, our future was in limbo as we learned more about the banking and FDIC system than we ever thought we'd need to know. It was a trying time, and one that showed the strength of a founding team partnership. Luckily, things worked out for the best and aside from some grey hairs and a couple of new bank accounts (thanks Mercury!) we were all systems go.

Brad Condo joined the team in March, and Josh Dague joined the team in April. Both Brad and Josh brought extreme technical expertise to the team, along with passion for the problem and a desire to help teams work better asynchronously.

Phew! Hundreds of interviews, hours of outreach, and many interviews later…we had our founding team and things started accelerating. 

On the product side, our Slack integration didn’t make an impact on users’ willingness to use Hoop to help with decision making. We knew we had to make a bigger change.

  • Highlights: Brad and Josh joining the team. 
  • Lessons learned: Users actively requested a Slack integration, but didn’t actually use it when it was live. This was a good example of understanding the “why,” behind a feature request. Ultimately, even an integration couldn’t get users out of Slack. Also, banks can fail.

Summer 2023

We met up in Minneapolis because robots told us it was the best spot for an offsite based on our criteria.

This was an important strategic meeting where we would take hours of prework, research and insights from the first six months of building product, and figure out next steps. 

Product strategy session in Minneapolis

Many sticky notes later, we had an articulated product direction. While so many people are stuck in responsive, synchronous tools that prevent them from getting into deep work, we imagined a world where people could have long form, written discussions. They would be bound by deadlines and clear on who should be involved. For our mostly asynchronous team, this tool would be a gamechanger.

We went home and got back to work. The next version of the product was built in about four weeks for internal use, and we onboarded our first design partner a couple weeks later. In this iteration, we imagined a design partner program where we’d work closely with a small number of teams over time rather than onboarding net new users every week.

  • Highlights: The whole team meeting together, live, in person for the first time! Onboarding our initial set of design partners.
  • Lessons learned: We were able to slice and dice user feedback by running several stack ranking surveys using OpinionX. This was helpful in getting a much deeper understanding of users’ problems.

Fall 2023

The team takes an ice cream break at Jenni’s in Chicago during our summer offsite

After onboarding our initial set of design partners, we continued to iterate on our product quickly. Pretty soon, we found Hoop to be indispensable in the way we ran our team. Everyone on the team felt they were able to work much better asynchronously because anything important was kept in Hoop, where due dates, and contributions were very clear.

We began to integrate AI features in the product and were excited about the possibilities. 

After a few weeks, our design partners shared that they struggled to get others on their team to use the product. There was tool fatigue in onboarding into “yet another tool,” and while people hated having to be so chained to Slack, behavior change is hard. It’s even harder when everyone on your team has to use the tool to realize its benefits.

We went back to the drawing board and realized that to move forward on our mission of helping teams work better asynchronously, we needed to deliver value to users more quickly. Starting with collaboration meant delaying the time to value to users and became difficult to overcome.

At our last offsite of the year, we made a new plan which is our most ambitious yet. It takes into account everything we’ve learned in the last year from user feedback, AI experimentation, and strategy.

It’s going to make you way more productive, feel on top of everything you have to do, and if I do say so myself, it’s pretty darn magical.

Want to be to the first to try it out? Join the waitlist here.

But for now, it’s time to reflect, build, and take a moment to appreciate everything we have. The startup journey is hard, but it’s always worth it with the right people beside you, helping you realize your vision of a better world. Thank you again for all of your time, support, and feedback this year.

Next year’s going to be a banger. We can’t wait to show you what we’ve got cooking!

Dinner in Scottsdale at our last offsite of the year

Let's fix the way we work.

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