How Mixpanel got its startup groove back by focusing on its core product

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startup myth It goes something like this: You launch a startup in your dorm room, get into Y Combinator, get a product-market fit, experience hockey-stick development, raise some funding, and expand the platform. We do. Somehow your revenue moves towards $100 million and the company’s valuation becomes $1 billion. All is well with the world.

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In reality, though, it’s never that easy. While some startups can achieve those milestones, there are usually bumps and a whole lot of challenges along the way. Mistakes will be made, some quite harmful, and how you react can determine the success or failure of your business.

A company that has experienced all that and more mixpanel, an analytics startup that emerged in 2009 to help product teams understand how customers were using their products. While founder Suhail Doshi was interning at a now defunct Max Levchin startup called Slide, he saw the need for product teams to measure how successful their digital tools were.

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Doshi created Mixpanel, and between 2009 and 2017 he built a company that eventually reached revenue of close to $100 million and a valuation of nearly unicorn stature, but it was facing problems at the time. It lacked focus, it was losing customers, and many of its customers weren’t very happy with it.

The board made the move to bring in an outside CEO, and Doshi moved into the board’s role as chairman. The new CEO began the process of evaluation and eventually charted a course correction that would take it back to its original product.

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We spoke to current CEO Amir Mowafghi, Amy Huan, VP of People and Strategy, and Neil Rahili, VP of Product and Design, to find out how Mixpanel evolved, what led to it, and why it believes it did the ship right. and the company is back in a stable position. (We also asked founder Doshi for comment to get his perspective, but the company did not respond to that request in a timely manner.) None of it was easy, and it certainly didn’t follow that seamless mythical startup journey. .

opening day

Like any good startup story, it began in 2009 on a college campus at the University of Arizona, where 20-year-old Doshi was a college student. Interning at Slide, he saw a problem around collecting and analyzing product data, one large companies had the resources to solve but were out of reach for startups like Slide. It’s always a sweet spot for software services startups.

Up until that point, if a company was using an analytics product, it probably would have been something like Google Analytics or Omniture, designed to understand how people arrived at your website and what they did once they got there. did. However, the people in charge of digital products had different needs. They wanted to see what features people were using, their route through the product, where they got stuck and when it wasn’t working as designed. While both approaches may have a usability component, the web analytics tool had a specific purpose that was not really suitable for product teams.

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