Why FOAM team is only focused on technology development and not on product/market fit and growth?


#1

Constructive honest feedback in essence has to be hard to hear especially for the team. The results and metrics of FOAM so far shows that mistakes have been made and that there are big challenges to overcome to build a community, reach product/market fit, and grow with solid foundation. It’s not all about the technology as FOAM team seems to think from the beginning.

There are countless references which deeply explain the importance of working on the go to market strategy as much as the development aspect, this means 50/50. One of the best reference worldwide is the famous book traction from Gabriel Weinberg CEO & Founder of DuckDuckGo

We have been waiting with a lot of early FOAM enthusiasts since the token sale one year ago to see any relevant and consistent effort put in pursuing traction. Having witnessed many of them leave because the team focused mainly on technology development has been disheartening and a big opportunity cost for FOAM project. I do hope the team realizes that this big opportunity cost is a huge loss.

There is no online platform in this world that has grown without focusing on growth hacking to reach product/market fit and produce network effects. Thinking that they have grown from nowhere is an illusion and a dangerous one. FOAM needs to be flexible and learn from its mistakes and stop its “build it and they will come” approach. There is enough evidence in the world and more specifically for FOAM project since a year that this doesn’t work. At the end of the day, any technology has to be used to make it to the masses. It is all about usage and users. Users, product/market fit, network effects never happen by accident or simply because breakthrough technology is created.

FOAM needs to set community building and product/market fit as a priority along with the development of the dynamic POL to reach its potential. Almost a year has been lost to build enthusiasm around the project and find traction channels to bring targeted users to the map, this is a serious flaw of the project so far. Waiting to have the “perfect product/solution” before focusing on growth and product/market fit is a big mistake that has already cost a lot to FOAM project and will cost increasingly more and be fatal if nothing is done.


FOAM Improvement Proposals
How many of the +10000 POIs were added as proof of use requirements?
#2

What do you have in mind?


#3

Could not disagree more. There’s plenty of work being done making sure the community has a solid foundation. I for one cannot wait to get my hands on working hardware prototypes for zone anchors, as well as DPoL. Cause then it’s all over baby :wink:


#4

What specific work are you referring to that has been done to build a community and reach product/market fit ? As mentioned in the post I refer to working on a go to market strategy and product development 50/50, this means a clear focus with results on community engagement. It’s not something that I’m making up with my mind here, it’s something that has been done over and over and over again by the best entrepreneurs and companies in this world.

Are there more and more people engaged with FOAM on a weekly/monthly basis ? More users on a weekly/monthly basis ? Why are the local communities channels empty on discourse ? How many POIs have you added and when was the last time you added one ? Would you refer FOAM to people ? If you answer yes, where are your referrals ? Show them.

I also can’t wait for dynamic proof of location but this has nothing to do with this thread. This thread is about the need for FOAM to focus in parallel on traction. Then it’s all over baby ? Really ? So I guess people will come out from nowhere all over the world and rush to get hardwares and build ecosystems and economies on top of FOAM just because FOAM technology is amazing ? While you made me smile, it sounds very naive. Growth never happens by accident. Sorry guys.


#5

I for one cannot wait to get my hands on working hardware prototypes for zone anchors, as well as DPoL. Cause then it’s all over baby :wink:

cartocrypto is right. Even when DPoL is ready users are not going to appear out of nowhere to start mining a token that has minimal value. There has to be a plan to engage with potential customers, applications, and the community.


#6

I’m not gonna walk you through every blog post and dev update, buddy.

I just started and added two last week. Planning on reaching more folks in LA.

Definitely will, and just like I mentioned, at this level hardware is key. If coinmine can ship plug-and-play devices, so could FOAM. This will provide community engagement not spinning wheels in social media.

I heard the team announced grants program, and that’s called quality engagement. This is the type of growth hacking that’s appropriate at this stage imho.

I’m glad I made you smile, and it’s a pleasure to share my ideas here. People will not “come out of nowhere”, so when I’m able to build my own network I will most certainly promote my own business and that of FOAM.


#7

I decided to repost this here because it is more related on growth and there are actionable suggestions made in it to grow FOAM and help the team understand that there must be a process in place to grow.

First of all I would like to thank you a lot for engaging in this thread. I do really appreciate it. It used to be great when @Ryan_foam was more involved with the community to engage in discussion.

foam_cs:

The purpose of the first chart (cumulative points over time) is to show motivation of cartographers.

I will insist by saying that by essence this chart is biased and misleading. It actually doesn’t show motivation of cartographers. I insist because it is fundamentally biased and I don’t ask you to believe me. You can ask any sound entrepreneur, VC, or growth hacker they will tell you. What is “dangerous” with data is that they can easily be wrongly analyzed and in particular in a way that shows you what you want to see.

To show motivation of cartographers cohorts of users have to be used to analyse retention and number of POIs added by cartographer on a weekly/monthly basis. I will use again my previous example, if less and less POIs are added on a weekly/monthly basis this lack of motivation will not show in your graph. Even worse, if no user comes back to the map because there is no retention (the bucket is leaky) but you have a good traction channel to acquire users then you can have a ton of new users each week/month and more POIs but they never come back because they lack motivation/incentive. This will not show on your graph in fact it will go nicely to the top right corner.

foam_cs:

We are adding a statistics section to foam.tools, so you can look forward to that and hopefully offer more feedback about what data is included

wow, that’s good news ! you are doing an amazing job. I can’t wait to get a better understanding of FOAM usage and bottlenecks with your tools by analysing data that really matter. :slight_smile:

foam_cs:

The map has a severe new user onboarding challenge. New users have to own Ethereum, install Metamask and acquire FOAM – all before interacting with the map. The new Uniswap widget is big step in the right direction, along with the extensive new user guides that @Katya_Zavyalovarecently posted.

This comment has drawn my attention very much and raised a lot of questions for me. How do you know the map has a sever new user onboarding challenge ? Is it something you and the team assume or is it a conclusion that comes from analysing data ? I agree with you there are friction and a few steps to make before adding a POI but one cannot assume this is the reason why almost no new users outside the token sale participants add POI. Fist of all how do you make the distinction between a curious visitor who visits the map and has no intent to add POI and someone who has the intent to add a POI but failed to do so because of the friction ? A user coming with the intent of adding a POI but not doing so because of the friction or anything that can happen in his mind would be the equivalent of a user going to an online business putting something in his cart and leave the site without paying (this can be analysed with data) or it could be someone registering to a social platform and then not making the first tweet or message. In these cases the user has been acquired but not activated (see AARRR framework). If I say that it is because I have the feeling with your comment that FOAM team assumes that friction is a big problem to onboard new users whereas I do think most users coming to the map have no intent to add POI and that they are not well targeted users. Friction can user behavior can only be analysed with a big enough sample of users. If a significant number of new users came to the map with the intent of adding a new POI and starting doing it but not finishing it then conclusions/decisions can be made on friction.

It all comes back to WHY new users come to the map ? There are different reasons, not all users are equal.
WHY would they add a POI ? the FOAM team has studied theoretically incentives but they have to understand that theory and actual usage are two different worlds. So it’s important to always ask this question WHY would someone add a POI ? If the reason to add a POI is important enough for a user then friction will not be a big deal for him because the efforts will be worth it. Of course it’s important to work on friction I’m just trying to put things in perspective here. Think 80/20 and chronology, have the image of a funnel in mind for the user’s journey.

foam_cs:

I think the reason ICO participants are making up so much activity is that the sale and map captured the overlap between mapping enthusiasts and cryptocurrency enthusiasts.

I strongly disagree Caleb regarding the high activity of token sale participants (agree with you for the overlap of mapping/crypto) and it’s important to see things as they are. Again, if most activity one the map is made by token sale participants, which happened one year ago, one year is a lot, it’s only because growth and product/market fit has not been a priority and probably not taken seriously enough by the team. For example did the team made qualitative interview to the most enthusiastic cartographers to engage with them and understand their motivation ? Do they know why @AAbranches add so many points and his thoughts on FOAM strenghts/weaknesses/challenges ? Do they know why @Elvo put so much efforts in curating the map ? Do they know why @cryptozenadded so many points to the map in a short amount of time and then didn’t come back to add POIs and what was his motivation and what he deeply thinks of his experience as cartographer ? This is invaluable insights that can only be gathered with interviews and has to be done by the founding team, they can’t just assume they love the map and all is good. Another thing is I’ve never seen a questionnaire sent to all token sale participants with questions regarding their experience with adding POIs and what they think of the map : UX, engagement, strength, weakeness, challenge, motivation, incentive … This is one of the many reasons I say the team is not focused on growth and that’s a big and dangerous mistake. Invaluable insights and data are not gathered and leveraged in order to grow FOAM. In other words, there has not been any feedback loop in place for FOAM growth.

I will go further by saying that the team has to do things that don’t scale in reference to this essay of YC founder Paul Graham : do things that don’t scale

14

Startups take off because founders make them take off
A good metaphor would be the cranks that car engines had before they got electric starters. Once the engine was going, it would keep going, but there was a separate and laborious process to get it going.

The growth of the FOAM map will start when the team starts doing things that don’t scale which means in this case by manually recruiting users.

foam_cs:

The growth challenge will be to figure out how to engage enthusiasts outside of that overlap.

This can only be done by carrying out a ton of growth experiments on a weekly basis to see what traction channels work the best. It cannot be guessed. People have no idea how many experiments AirBnB founders made during 18 months before product/market fit. They made thousands and thousands relentlessly in both a scientific and a creative approach but most important with a growth mindset. Not everyone has a growth mindset yet everyone in a startup has to be focused on growth. Everyone. That’s the paradox.

foam_cs:

I’m hopeful that you will help by posting some growth ideas.

I could and might do it when I see that growth becomes the focus. It would be very time consuming for me and I’ve already spent much of my attention in the past 18 months on FOAM only to see less and less people involved and no new users. I’m personally losing momentum in my involvement to be honest. That being said getting growth ideas is not a big deal, what’s important is to have a process in place to carry out growth experiment at all time to see what works or not.

I will give you some general ideas. For a marketplace the supply side is very often manually forced (think Uber) this would mean in the case of FOAM to manually force the addition of POIs so that there are enough in a concentrated area to create demand for them and start producing network effects and an ecosystem with supply and demand. Another famous growth hack for marketplace is to grow on the back of a leading platform (think AirBnB with Craiglist or paypal with ebay) this would mean for FOAM to find a growth hack to attract users from leading open source maps and drive them to FOAM.


#8

Good question. In fact, I myself had a lot of frictional problem initially. When I purchased FOAM, it was with a Ledger wallet address. Imagine my surprise when I found out the map only interacts with Metamask, but I could not transfer my tokens to a Metamask address cause POU was not fulfilled! Had to jump through hoops, with the help of @Daryl_Foam, to overcome that.

I believe my experience illustrated two things: 1) FOAM is not very marketing oriented; 2) Might be presumptuous on my part, but those who seriously want to participate, will participate.


#9

Did you do that through telegram ? There is no way for a new user to interact directly with someone from the team to get support if he really wants to add a POI but experience friction to do it. Assist new users when they are hot, this is the best time to activate them, when they are on the map. If they add a POI find out WHY. If they don’t add one find out WHY. Again it is beyond my understanding that FOAM team didn’t conduct qualitative interviews with most dedicated cartographers and send out a questionnaire to all token sale participants that added POIs. Growth is serious and has not been taken seriously by FOAM team. They can’t appoint just anyone as head of growth, it doesn’t work like that and is another sign that growth is not taken seriously.

Deleting the telegram channel is probably the single worst decision FOAM team has made to build a community. They killed it in the egg to avoid moon talks and exchange talks but in the meantime they neglected a lot of early enthusiasts and send the signal we don’t care about you. They also didn’t realise there were much more pros to having a telegram channel at that time than cons. They lost a lot of valuable feedback and data and engagement just because of that single decision. Not saying having a telegram channel is mandatory for community building, I’m saying at that time it was a main channel for FOAM and deleting it is something that should have never happened if FOAM was focused on growth and community engagement. I mean how would a user do today if he’s on the map and experiencing any issue ? Even for the discourse channel it takes time to get validated before engaging in discussion. This is useless friction let people interact directly. If they post BS they will be banned later but don’t prevent a new enthusiastic user to interact immediately because you don’t want an idiot or a troll to post on discourse. Again FOAM team my message is focus on WHAT MATTERS.

Even worse they are neither user centric nor growth oriented.

Exactly. In the funnel of the user’s journey friction does not come first and friction is not the same for every user. For a very well targeted user new to the map and who really wants to participate they will find a way. The thing is FOAM either didn’t define what is it’s targeted user, or they don’t know where they are, or don’t know how to attract them. And they have to attract them manually in the beginning by doing things that don’t scale as I said earlier.

What prevents someone to add a POI is much more in the mind than is the UX, psychology is much more important. WHY would someone add a POI ? This question can’t be overlooked and must be asked again and again. What are his motivations to do it or not ? THIS IS THE REAL FRICTION.


#10

Initial contact through Telegram. Then it was e-mail.


#11

I was kinda annoyed cause it wasn’t made clear that the map interacts only with Metamask during the token sales. Would have saved me a lot of time and hassle if I had used Metamask for the purchase. But then again, didn’t seem like anyone else had that problem.


#12

Thanks for taking the time to share your insight and feedback. For an additional perspective, FOAM protocol is a part of an emerging open source and web3 blockchain ecosystem that differ from conventional software products in some key ways.

These kinds of early protocols require mechanisms to be tested as well as technical improvements to be made and are at their core technical endeavors. You are free to disagree with the reality of the stage blockchain technology is in, but there is a reason why the mantra of the Ethereum community has become #buidl with a focusing on building out the technology. The location data generated by this protocol can be utilized by smart contract based applications and products. There have been early examples of this and such applications can additionally drive the creation of points. More work is needed on applications that hook into the FOAM protocol. A benefit of the protocol being open source is that anyone can build such an application as well as be interoperable with the emerging ecosystem, for example 3Box and Uniswap. There is also the FOAM Developer Grant program to support such application development, the first round of applications are being finalized and will be announced in the next weeks. Unlike software products in the past, an open protocol allows token holders to be participants as users but also contributors. For improvements to the mechanisms of the core protocol the FIP process has been proposed for specifying such improvements.

That said, you raise relevant points and we will certainly keep them in mind going forward.


#13

Thanks for your answer Ryan.

Unfortunately, I haven’t learnt anything from it because you’ve said that multiple times before. Product/market fit is product/market fit no matter the product and the market, either there is one or not, this applies to open source platform or conventional softwares. Same goes for growth. This distinction is not relevant in terms of usage and adoption that’s why your answer is mainly technology based which is not surprising at this point.

You are basically confirming that you indeed focus on technology with a “build it and they will come approach”. In other words, you consider that FOAM is open source therefore it’s up to people to use FOAM or not, and that it’s stakeholders job to make it grow. This is sad and alarming.