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July 5, 2023
Sam van Houten
Product management
Data science
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In early 2021, Daan and I started a company called KeyWI. We had previously worked as a data science consultancy firm for over a year. Initially, KeyWI was designed as a software service to help SEO experts understand what people are looking for on search engines when they search for various things like topics, products or websites. These experts used our software's machine learning to figure out how to structure a website, what content to include, what keywords to use, and what people intend to find when they search.

Data science

We built the KeyWI software entirely from scratch, starting with a basic version that revolved around data science. The software would take a list of keywords and group them in certain ways, outputting the results as a .csv file. Then we began enhancing the software and designing a user-friendly interface. In the early fase I worked on data science in Python to ensure a first MVP version of our product was quickly built. We iterated fast and worked closely together with 3 potential clients with quick feedback loops. While growing the team, my responsibilities shifted from the data science to product management and business operations.

Product Management & Design

At its largest, our team included nine people, three of whom were interns. Most of the team were engineers working on the product. I was responsible for various aspects of the business, including operations, finances, hiring, legal matters, product management, testing, marketing, and sales.

We often changed our business strategy based on feedback from users and leads. We shifted from a specialized analysis tool to a content marketing assistant for small and medium-sized businesses. The software would suggest what content a business should create based on their website, competitors, and trends, and it would even compose 80% of the content. It would also provide insights into a website's organic traffic performance.

As the Product Manager, I interacted with many customers, leads, and stakeholders to understand their needs and the product's long-term goals. Their input was transformed into user stories, features, and designs that the development team could work on. We used Figma to create designs and wireframes.

A screenshot of KeyWI's Figma wireframes

Besides developing the long- and short term roadmap and creating the UX/UI designs for the products next features, we were highly focussed on improving the teamwork in the development team. Daan and I organized the development process to be efficient and flexible, so we worked in two-week increments with planning and daily check-ins. We learned from other companies what we should and should not do by talking to many other software teams.

Marketing & Sales

When it comes to marketing and sales I have been responsible for the complete cycle from start to finish. At some point we had a commercial lead on board with who I worked closely. However, for the largest part I was solely responsible. The aim has been to setup a product led marketing strategy and use organic content creation, social media and ads to lead traffic to the KeyWI website. From there, we focussed on providing an easy to understand onboarding with a demo video to reduce live touch points. The main reason for this was that we want to scale the sales without growing the team and the initial team was also small.

An overview of the social media for KeyWI

Business operations

In terms of operations, I was responsible for tasks like fundraising, sales, marketing, finance and hiring, often working closely together with Daan. Over the past three and a half years, we've had several successes. We managed to secure funds, hired three team members, and increased our website's monthly visitor count to 3000, all with limited resources. More than 2000 people have tried our tool, which has analyzed around 2 million keywords. We've also had the privilege of partnering with several companies, including big names like Media.Monks, Happy Horizon, LeasePlan, Samsung, and SpringBok, among others.

Unfortunately, as the market became less favourable, we were unable to secure the necessary follow up investment to continue developing the product and establish a sales team to boost growth.

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