The 18 year long search for a VR use case

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I designed my first virtual reality world 18 years ago in 1999, as a part of my education. I was using state of the art Silicon graphics computers for the rendering and deployed it on a server to be experienced through a VR headset. It was so cool, the first time I tried it. So what has happened the last 18 years? Not much.

The tech has improved of course. The real time graphics is much better than before  and we also have the ability to record movie experiences using 360 cameras to be used as a limited but still functional interactive world. However, the reason why VR did not have a major breakthrough 18 years ago was not the poor graphics or lack of video. The real problem were the use cases.

No one could figure out a case where the VR experience would be superior to sitting by a computer. The input devices with hand waving and pointers just wasn’t easier than using a mouse and keyboard, and walking around an object to look at it was not easier than just spinning it around in a computer. The real time offered some freedom but for educational purposes movies and books where you learn in your own pace was superior. The helmet was heavier than today’s Oculus or HTC headsets, but there was seldom a discussion about the weight. Instead the eyes hurt from the constant light.

So is there really not a single use case where VR is superior? When you do a quick google you find tons of reports by VR enthusiasts and the occasional press releases from Oculus and HTC. They talk about the uses cases being topics like education, entertainment and tourism. The things is, these are not use cases. They are just topics. Making a car go faster or reducing risk of heart failure, those are use cases.

I’m still hoping to see a great VR use case, but I don’t think we have seen it yet. VR is perfect for creating higher sensory experiences – meaning that wow feeling that people make when they experience VR for the first time; the vertigo you get from looking over a ledge or the emotionally sensation of being in an African village destroyed by a tropical storm. However, these cases are not enough to build a billion dollar business and there is no habit forming around it.

The VR tech needs to evolve into something closer to what Neo experiences in The Matrix before we can make the leap into true virtual experiences. But before that happens we still need to find the use cases where these experiences make sense and where someone is ready to pay for it.

The foolproof way to prioritise tasks in agile development

Which is the most important task to work on right now? When working in an agile environment, this needs to be crystal clear to everybody involved. Is it a newly discovered priority 1 bug or maybe the most critical feature for this sprint? Who decides? The product manager, the team or the stakeholder that shouts the most? I’ve seen it all in many organisations and then only way to get around it really is to agree on a way to measure what’s critical.

The impact matrix is one of many ways to prioritise among user stories, bugs and minor features and to me it’s close to foolproof. Why? Because any way you use this, it will make a big impact for your product and it’s also really easy to use.

Just ask these two questions for every task: “How many of our users will this affect?” and “How often will the average user benefit from it?” Then use the scales and place your task in one of the squares. Top right tasks are high priority!

You can do this during sprint planning or in the middle of a sprint. It doesn’t matter, because the answer should always be the same.
Here is a Google Doc with the matrix ready for you to use today!

For most tasks it will be easy to use it, and for some cases harder. For example: If you’re looking to build a tracking-feature that will allow marketing to acquire ten times as many users as before, this needs to be measured on that scale. Not that it’s 4 people at marketing using a feature often.

This is not my invention, but unfortunately I have lost the source (a blog post). If you know it’s origin, please notify me and I’ll add it. Also I’d like to test this on non tech work too, as it could be used in any department. Let me know if you’ll try it!

3 key reasons to why User retention is your most important metric


What’s Your most important Key Performance Indicator (KPI)? New users? Sales per day? Website visitors? I would argue that they are all secondary to User Retention, i.e. retaining users and make to come back after one day, one week and one month. Here’s why:

  1. User retention is the most accurate metrics to show that people like your product or service. As Nir Eyal puts it in his great book “Hooked”; You want to help your users develop a habit of using your product.  The higher retention you have in the long run, the happier your users are and the more likely they are to recommend your product to a friend.
  2. Forget about new users for a second. It’s nice to see growth, but it’s worthless without people coming back. If less than 30% of your users are coming back one week after signing up or less than 20% of them are coming back after one month, then stop spending money on marketing and social media posts. Your funnel is leaking and you need to fix it. These numbers are of course different if you are selling cars on a website, then if you are trying to get people on board a new social network, but it’s a good ballpark figure.
  3. Sales and user retention are closely correlated. The more people are getting involved with your brand and your product, the more likely they are to buy something. If you constantly get them to come back to experience something new, reward them for their progress and create a habit, your sales will come.

So how do you do it? Make sure to set up proper cohort analysis of daily new users and track their 2nd day, 2nd week and 2nd month retention. How you define retention is up to you. In it’s basic form it’s just people coming back and opening an app or visiting a webpage. You could also tie it to some key product actions like logins or posting some user generated content.

Google Analytics can’t do cohort analysis (as far as I know), so I recommend you use a service like Mixpanel or Localytics.

Keep a lookout for your negative SEO

I just finished watching an inspiring session about SEO from Christian Rudolf at webbdagarna! I embedded it in this post. He highlights the growing trend of Negative SEO as one of the topics. Negative SEO is a highly painful disease that affects some websites. It usually comes from reckless link building strategies, but any site can really be a target of this problem that can basically kill your business. Listen to Christan talk about Negative SEO and two more topics ”that google don’t want to you know about” (in swedish).

3 SEO trender som Google inte vill att du skall känna till

Also, I’m back behind the keyboard blogging after a long brake. It feels good. :)

The 100 day marketing plan

Want some advice on how to market your startup or product? Well, here are my two cents based on a number good and bad launches. Basically you need a runway of 100 days to do all the preparations and create the buzz in good time. Usually you are on a tight or non existing budget so let me give you a plan where you pay in sweat instead.

100 days before the launch
Create your product pitch. Who is your ideal user of your product and what problem does it solve? How are you different from your competitors and how will you make money? Remember, be “Clear over Creative” when trying to explain what you do. Try it on a friend .

Also, figure out your credibility in the industry. Are you a serial entrepreneur or have other merits from your career? Do you have credible VC funding? Do you have or can piggyback on an important partnership with an organisation or individual?

90 days before the launch
Optimize your website. Make sure the copy and marketing messages are clear and compelling. Talk about the benefits for the user, not the features of your product. Add contact details and background story on why you are the best team to succeed in your area. Do the same for Facebook page, Twitter account etc.

80 days before the launch
Plan which 5 (at least) conferences or meetups you will attend before you launch. If you get to speak at one of them it is really awesom. Spread the word about your startup to fans, VC’s and journalists. Prominent people in your industry talk to each other. The more people that have heard about you by name, the more reason they have to talk about you. Also tech journalists often ask entrepreneurs and VC’s which companies are the hottest startups.

70 days before the launch
Build and launch a waiting list page for your product or startup; “Sign up with your email” Promote it to your network in all social channels. If people sign up it’s good validation that you are doing something good. Also, when people are talking about you they can recommend their friends to sign up for the waiting list.

63 days before the launch
Find 50 journalists or prominent bloggers that have written about your industry, competitors or potential partners. When they write about stuff that is relevant to you, make sure to contact them and thank them for a great article. It’s great way to connect without being intrusive. If you later find related content they would be interested in reading (not your site) attach the link and a few sentences around why this should be interesting. Also follow them on twitter or any other channels you can find.

56 days before the launch
Create send lists with 50-60 journalist emails, all of your friends AND 100 bloggers.

If you find it a drag digging up emails to bloggers and journalists, pay someone on Elance to do it for 50 dollars. It’s about 10-15 hours of work.

49 days before the launch
Learn about “how to spin a blog post

and “how to get a 1000 likes on an infographic”.

42 days before the launch
Host a dinner with some good people to establish yourself in the ecosystem of your industry. It’s good to do as an extension when attending a conference. Book a table for 7-8 people at a good restaurant. Book a few good names prior to the conference. Invite the rest as you meet interesting people at the conference. Hosting a dinner is a great way to build relations that matter and make a name for you and your company. Pick up the bill!

35 days before the launch
Write an email to 20 prominent journalists (that you have been in contact with) that you think might be interested in writing about your launch. Be casual. “Hi we are launching InstaProductify in about a month from now. Would you like to do an interview or be interested in covering the story? We’ve had great response so far and this will be an awesome launch. If not, let’s just keep in touch.” No more than that. Attach a link to your site and/or invite site.

If they want to do interviews, make sure to do them as soon as possible. You will not have the time the final week.

28 days before the launch
Write your launch blog post and/or press release. If you have the time, write two and ask a friend which one they prefer.

Make sure you make it easy for the journalist that will want to write about you. Prepare to attach screenshots, logos, founders photos etc. in the emails you want to send. Don’t force them to visit your site and download a 50 MB presskit with high-res photos. Make it easy to write about you.

21 days before the launch
Write the email that you will send to the people on your invite list. Write the email that you will send to friends and contacts in your network. Be sure to end the email with a call to action like: “the launch blog post will be at this link. Be sure to tweet about it on launch day!”

Write all social media posts that you want to push. Preferably three stages of the launch “Something is coming”, “Tomorrow is the big day” and “Today we launch! Boom!”

14 days before the launch
Guest blog. Find a blog that is a prominent blog in your industry or just has a lot of readers. Share your thoughts and experiences from building a product/startup or reveal some incredible insight that will disrupt your industry. Top 10 lists works amazingly well.

7 days before the launch
Email the journalists that you have been in contact with and give them the full story. Make
it easy for them to write about you as discussed in 28 days before the launch. Make sure to book any remaining interviews if you can. Also make sure you understand the journalists angle. Tech journalists probably asks you different questions compared to a reporter for a paper in your industry.

4 days before the launch
Create any ads that you might have prepared for Facebook of similar channels.

3 days before the launch
Email all the journalists on your list that you haven’t contacted yet, ONE BY ONE. Include their name in the greeting. Announce the launch, the elevator pitch about your product/startup and launch day. Include that the announcement is embargoed until the launch day. If they are serious journalists, they will respect that.

2 days before the launch
Email all the bloggers in bulk, or if you have the time, one by one. Do the same for your contacts/friends list. When you do bulk, remeber to put everybody in the BCC field, not the TO field. Showing your send list in public is unprofessional. I have done this when I was tired once and I got some angry emails back. Very embarrassing.

1 day before the launch
If you have done everything right, I don’t have to tell you what to do on this day. You will have tons of email to answer, launch copy to finalize and champagne to buy. If you can, go for a run or long walk to get the adrenaline out of your body and have a good nights sleep.

Launch day
Toast and smile.

14 days AFTER the launch
Blog and share the story about your launch. It’s a great way to extend the buzz of your launch with one more wave, to catch people who missed your launch or people (VC’s) that want to see you get traction.

God speed!

5 industries that are revolutionary disrupted by 3D printing

Imagine that you could reproduce any physical object. What would you chose? A key? A house? A nostalgic toy that you lost as a kid? This is where we are going folks.


Printing solid objects from plastic is just the beginning. The printing industry is adding color, texture and new materials, that can be combined into any construction. Prices are dropping by the demand and the printers are getting faster and more accurate. Just like the Personal Computers entered our homes 30 years ago, these machines are soon everywhere.

Ok, but is this just printing in one more dimension right? Hell no. This is an internet connected replicator. Any object that you can download in ones and zeros, you can create. Here are five industries that will be turned upside down.

Cars and vehicles

You’ll never need to order another spare part for your car or bike. You or your mechanic can just create one on the fly based on the online 3D-repository of your car manufacturer.

Fashion and jewellry

Anything you can draw on your computer, can be created. Just design a garment on top of a size 5 3d-model. Let the computer calculate measures for the other sizes and you are done. You are ready to sell you collection world wide online and even let customers add custom modifications to details and cuts. Same with jewellery. Endless possibilities and it’s happening already. Artists are already manufacturing printed jewellery and selling in uptown shops in New York City.


This is the core of what 3D-printers do. Sure you can print spare parts, tools and even pipes or custom house interior, but the true revolution will appear when you can 3D print entire buildings. Imagine internet connected spider like robots sweeping back and forth, day and night with atomic precision. It’s all a matter of cost.

Transport and logistics

Scan an object in one location. Ship it digitally. Re-assemble it somewhere else. 200 years of international infrastructure will take a blow from this. It might not be tomorrow, or the year after but in a not too distant future. Commercial goods will not only be sold online, but shipped online.


Ok, I’ll leave this one for your imagination.

The battle cry for your startup

Let me tell you the story of why you are here, why you do what you do and why you will save us all.


Friends and allies, we are on a mission.
The enemy is destroying our land. For too long have we stood by and let our brothers and sisters fall victim for the oppression of the tyrant <insert main competitor>. This beast has put his claws into innocent people all over the world and for too long has he ruled the world. But fear not. This beast is not a god. He can be hurt and even slayed.

The beast rely on his followers. We will free these followers one by one from his iron grip and bring them into the light. It has already begun. The first person to go free is Annie Appleseed. Annie is <insert target customer age> years old, <insert occupation> by trade and has a passion for overcoming <insert customer problem>.

We have given her the tools she needs to shine. Annie long walked in the shadows of doubt, thinking she would never be more than a peasant, never destined for greatness. We reached out to Annie through <insert primary marketing channel> and solved her agony with <insert your USP>. Annie rose and now stand tall. She donates <insert LTV> gold to help our cause as long as we stay true to our word.

Annie is just the first wave. Many more will join in but be careful brothers and sisters. The beast does not like rebellions. He will retaliate with furious anger and great force. Only by sticking true to our main advantage will we succeed: <insert competitive edge>. This is why the people will follow us.

We cannot do this alone. We are seeking allies in every corner of the world that will help us spread the message of salvation. We are forming a companionship with <key growth partner> to help us out. Even though they see the light their help will not come cheap. Fortunately we have received intel on that they need <insert partner benefit>, which we can provide.

Brothers and sisters. It’s time to pick up our weapons of salvation and free this land!
It will be a journey of blood sweat and tears, but in the end we will harvest the riches of our work and bring prosperity to our world.

To arms!

Product managers need the User Pain Story

You are not building a product. No, you are not.
You are not building a service. No, that’s not what you do.

So what do you? You are helping another human being to be really great at something! (I’ve touched on the subject before) I’v been planning to write this post for a while, and now I will dig into practical advice on how to maintain true customer centric product development, and how to explore: “purpose”.

This is no revolutionary new idea, but it is really hard to do. In my experience a company has a Product manager or Creative director that is responsible for knowing what kind of features the software developers should be working on, based on customer needs (hopefully). It’s usually the features that is the main topic of discussion at the company meetings – how they should work and what constraints we need to consider (yeah, we do it at Osom too). Nothing wrong with that, except when the features loose touch of purpose.

So how can we make sure all product development is actually making the user kick ass at something?

The Scrum methodology deals with purpose somewhat by stating a user story with a clear business reason. The user story is usually described like “As a X, I want to accomplish Y, with business reason Z”.
Example: As a customer I want to list all my previous orders so I can print them for my accountant. This story is fine and the featured needed is fairly easy to estimate by a dev. The problem here is that it mostly describes activity and not purpose. We need another layer before this that evaluates that this is actually the best way to solve the customers problem.

Introducing: the User Pain Story

The User Pain Story: My accountant hates me because he has to wait for me every month to get a summary of our expenses and I don’t have the time to give it to him.

Suddenly there are lots of ways we can solve this pain story! We could get the accountant access to the previous orders listing or send him an automated monthly email with all the information he needs.

The pain stories are crucial to being a product manager. You don’t need to discuss pain stories in company wide meetings but you need to reflect on them personally or within a small group of product managers. You should gather information by talking to customers, doing user testing and comparing your product with competitors. With this intel you can formalise the vision of the product and develop KPI’s that makes sense to monitor your progress. The pain stories will help you determine the best cure for a customer problem, from a range of options.

Hidden Pains

Note that pains are rarely expressed explicitly by a user. You need to dig deep to find what is bothering them. A root cause analysis can take you pretty far when you talk to a customer.

Watching a user using your product and listening to them is the best way to collect valuable intel.

  • The first impression lasts. What does your tool do for a first time user. Can they accomplish the most important task within X minutes without training?
  • What’s the users work environment like? Any bosses or clients that depend on the activity performed by the user?
  • What is the most important pain killer to a major customer problem and is it intuitive to see why your tool will be the best cure?
  • Is there a part of a common work process that takes a significant amount of time?
  • Is there a way your product will redefine how users work in their organisation?

The product development process

Most well designed tools come from a developer’s understanding of the user’s pain and she therefore accepts the reason why a feature is proposed by the product manager. By using the Pain story as an example you will get a solid feature foundation and more clear discussions around a feature.

  1. Find your method of collecting user pains
  2. Write them down and discuss in a small group
  3. Come up with 2 or 3 solutions to each pain. Pick one
  4. Use the pains to plan and validate your feature backlog
  5. Go build amazing tools that serves a purpose.

From starting to working at – the story of Osom

osom-wireframeI work at Osom. I used to say “I’m starting a company”, but these days I’m not starting, I’m working. So what’s the difference?

About a year ago, I met with Anton Johansson, at the time CMO at Twingly. We had lunch and talked about how much we loved startups and discussed the exciting companies emerging in Sweden. I had quit my job at Videoplaza just before that and was now looking for a new passion fire up my engine. Then we said goodbye.

A month later two Twingly guys popped up in Stockholm, Anton and Marcus. They wanted to start a company. I had never met Marcus before, but after meeting som 100+ devs in my life, I quickly realized that this guy was the real deal. We had a founding team, but what should we do? I joked about the founding of HP anecdote from Good to Great, where Hewlett and Packard in their original business plan stated who the founders were but had no idea on what the product should be or who the customer was.

We dug deep into what we knew, the trends of e-commerce and social, to find what we should build with our company. Eventually we found a personal need for a smooth, mobile classified ads service with focus on inspirational and social shopping. The idea of Osom spired and our level of excitement rose by the minute! We had fallen in love with the features and social behaviour of Instagram so this came be the foundation of our tool.

We talked about features, started making wireframes, threw away some bad ideas we had the week before and started playing around with a backend model. At the same time we started meeting with great people we know to toss the idea around and get feedback. We got great advice on how customer acquisition from the launch of Avito in Russia, great feedback on product UX from Spotify and great industry insights from leading classified sites executives. The honeymoon was over, and this was the wakeup call. This is much bigger and harder than we realized. I’ve heard this from entrepreneurs all the time and now I said it myself.

Focus. We needed to ship an awesome product and we needed lots of buyers and sellers. There’s a chicken and egg problem with marketplaces, that we needed to solve. We focused on getting sellers onboard. Still, this was a general idea and we needed to pin it down to a niche tribe of customers to start or spend a billion dollars on marketing. That’s not the startup way. To go big, you need to start small. After some analyzing we basically choose fashion and vintage enthusiasts which has a strong social community.

Ok, we had an idea and a founding team. We needed a name. We tried a great variety of names with embarrassing candidates like “Funk dunk”, “Papski” and “Nine Camels”. Yeah. I know… Then “Osom” came along. It grew on us and stuck. Yay! But wait! WTF? There is already an app in the App store with the name Osom. It’s some vague social media reputation thingie. Did we change the name? No. We choose another name in the App store. It’s more important to have a sticky name than a perfect domain name or app name.

So, how did we build the app? No one in our team was fluent in Objective-C at first. If we were to build an iOS app, we needed more people. I got in touch with Markus and Christoffer from a common connection (who I owe a beer). Both working with cutting edge iOS and Web development at Modern Times Group – Viasat. It was a great meeting and somehow I convinced them to meet with Anton and Marcus. The chemistry was there. After a couple of beers we had one of the best startup teams in Sweden and could start building a product for real!

Lot’s of things happend during the fall of 2012. We registered the company Osom AB, The Osom app lauched as a prototype. Anton pitched the idea at Pirate summit in Köln and won a price. We started putting people on the waiting list for the app to be launched at

osom screenshotIn 2013 awesome designer Eric joined the team and put the final spark in our app. We moved into our first office. Anton and I made Osom’s first public conference speak at SSMX in Stockholm.

Osom successfully launched in the app in App Store, April 2013.



And this is where the starting part ends.


Nowadays, I’m working at Osom. I’m doing customer acquisition, partnerships and managing our product development. I’m talking to users on a daily basis, feeling their agony and happiness. We are actually growing faster than I originally anticipated, but we have much more work to too.

It’s going to be a hell of a ride.


Growth Case lessons learned from Billion dollar companies

How do you grow a company really, really big? I read this great article called “The Surest Way To Build A Billion-Dollar Internet Company”, by James Slavet, partner at venture capital firm Greylock. Slavet brings up the few companies (Amazon, Yahoo, Skype, Dropbox and others) that actually crossed the magical line of having a billion dollar valuation in the US and tries to deduct some key components on why these companies succeeded. His conclusion from looking at the companies reads:

the best way to create a consumer Internet company worth north of a billion dollars is to build a digital transaction business – a company that connects buyers and sellers so they can more efficiently transact.

This got me thinking.

The better part of the companies in the article fit under that description in one way or another. But is this what they set out to do in the first place or when did they find their path?

Paypal was originally two companies called Confinity and They were both in the financial space trying to solve email payments and beamed transactions between palm pilots, which were pretty much the iphone of that era. After a successful merger they founded Paypal. Thanks to Ebay, Paypal managed to grow a substantial loyal user base that even put Ebay’s built in payment service (“ebay payments”) out of business. Eventually Ebay acquired Paypal and the rest is history.

So what about Ebay?

In 1995 Programmer Pierre Omidyar built “AuctionWeb” as a part of his personal website. In 1996, they made a licensing deal with Electronic Travel Auction to sell plane tickets. The service grew phenomenally well and ran 2 million auctions in 1997. The company, changed it name to Ebay, raised some money and took the company public in 1998.

Among the more recent examples we find Dropbox and AirBnB, both yCombinator graduates.

Dropbox was founded by MIT student Drew Houston for his personal use. He then went through the yCombinator program with a bit of seed funding and launched at the Techcrunch50 conference. The service grew rapidly due to some clever viral features, like sharing folders with people that are not yet subscribers and getting more space by inviting friends and connecting more devices.

An then there was AirBnB. Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia had a problem. They couldn’t afford expensive hotels when visiting conferences. As a way to make money and help out people visiting San Fransisco for conferences, they rented out air mattresses in their livingroom. As a bonus the founders launched a special brand of breakfast cereal which was a part of the Airbnb experience. The founders joined the yCombinator program and got famous for the concept of “growth hacking”, getting a lot of users from the Craigslist house rental section. The services grew and now, AirBnB has a global presence with a billion dollar valuation.

That’s it. Four companies that tweaked their path to grow where the clients appear.

Further reading:
Thiel in Talks to Invest in Airbnb at $2.5 Billion Valuation
Dropbox Hits 100 Million Users Says Drew Houston