Micro-wins-as-a-Service & North Star Metrics (Onaroll.co)

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I am a big fan of celebrating your wins. I often highlight “micro wins” with executive coaching clients as moments worth celebrating. I also love figuring out where a founder is going and what their north star metric could be, both now and in the future.

In the fast paced world of startups, leveling the emotional roller coaster is key and celebrating things that are going well is hard. This post is a combination of these two thoughts wrapped up in a recent discussion with a startup founder that I have been thinking about for the past week. Productizing micro wins as a service is an interesting way of describing the business that Pete Ginberg has done with Onaroll for hourly shift workers.

Pete has an interesting background at the cross roads of startups and technology coupled with understanding scaling brick and mortar businesses (Starbucks). His unique insight into shift workers is that if you can align the incentive structures, minimize turnover, and help with hiring – you are vastly more interesting to merchants than any tool or service out there. Onaroll celebrates micro-wins through a SMS based service today directly with the people managing customers. Whether a retail worker, factory worker, call center, etc… they are able to understand what the manager may be focused on that day or week and have a reward system tied to those goals.

“Show me the incentive and ill show you the outcome.”
-Charlie Munger

I spent too many sleepless nights at Foursquare thinking about game mechanics and incentive structures that would make merchants care about our services. Perhaps the scar tissue has healed, or maybe the future just caught up with some of our thinking but seeing the solution here its painfully obvious that its working. If you can align a SaaS business to solve the pain points of managers and owners (franchise or otherwise) can you create a successful platform.

Today Onaroll lets workers sign up and engage via text. Providing the lowest common denominator technology platform, they allow anyone to truly participate. No apps (yet), or walled garden problems – just pure incentive driven alignment. For management its a way to track actions to the Point-of-Sale. For workers in a way to understand what is going on and provide a feedback loop. Connecting a POS system to a workers phone – by way of a action or behavior you want (such as “sell more guacamole”) is a way to create, measure, and celebrate micro-wins.

I was recently catching up with Pete about his metrics of success, and how to own them. We also started talking about the “north star” metrics of a business. The new A16Z Future blog has a great article about North Star Metrics about these and more guest posted from Lenny Rachitsky.

The article above is great but the purpose of having a clear north star set of metrics is a few fold in my mind. The first is that it provides an alignment on a number (preferably one going up and to the right) that everyone can look at and see move on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. The second is that it provides a set of principles in the room that govern decisions without having to disagree or have politics enter a decision. You can lean on the north star metrics to decide on whether or not to move forward with something. A few questions that are helpful and scenario to help.

North star metric: ARPU – average revenue per user

Product idea/tangent/focus area

  1. Launch a marketing campaign that costs X and partners with Y
  2. Do a BD deal with Z
  3. Hire a design firm for A
  4. Work on a feature requested by our largest customer
  5. Take a small team to work on something fun vs. our core initiative
  6. Test out a fun idea that the product team has

Questions to ask with the north star as a guiding principle:

  • Does this provide a clear increase in ARPU?
  • If we spend X on Y vs X on Z, what would the difference be?
  • How could this negatively affect [north star metric]?
  • What does this come at the expense of?
  • What would this do to drive ARPU up?

Hopefully this illustrates some of my thinking and why a north star metric can be helpful and how they can avoid the loudest voices in the room winning the day.

Both of these ideas are about focus and tightening the feedback loops for teams. I think about both often and evolving my thinking here. Excited to see where Pete takes his co, what metrics he wants to focus on, and how he rolls out micro-wins-as-a-service in the near future to more merchants around the US and the world.

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