The release of Crowdsurfer Pro 1.0 (or Gandalf as we affectionately refer to it in the office). earlier this week was a great step in the continued development of Crowdsurfer. Whilst I have referred to it as Pro 1.0 above, for those who don’t know it is actually the second iteration of our flagship crowd finance intelligence dashboard
We first launched the world’s data analytics service for crowd finance in open beta back in Feb 2016.
As a team we were, and still are, very proud of our first release. To make it to the open beta stage, we had to overcome many data engineering and technology challenges, and in doing so created an advanced data infrastructure, which continues to be the foundation of the business.
As we opened up our dashboard to the public, we were excited about getting real people using our intelligence platform. This isn't to say, we hadn't been working with 'real people' in the initial development. Whilst in closed beta, we worked with early clients and the online marketplaces themselves to ensure that we were answering questions that those close to the industry had.
The launch, however, marked a step change in the levels and diversity of feedback we could expect, with new users providing us direct insight into what they needed intelligence for and why.
Fast forward to early June this year and hundreds of users have actively used the first version of Crowdsurfer and we have learnt the following:
• People from all sectors are excited about crowd finance in some shape or form: This includes everyone from financial advisors, start-up businesses to investment managers, marketing agencies, corporate innovation teams, academics, banks, regulators, VCs, angels, charities and many more.
• Some of these groups are more actively engaged with the industry than others: Angels, marketing agencies and early-mover financial advisors, seem to be the first taking advantage of the opportunities offered by crowd finance. Banks, regulators, investment managers and corporate innovation teams are slightly earlier in their engagement and are in the process of educating themselves on the industry.
• Purpose of use is easier to group than business type: We first started trying to group our users by their business type, but this very quickly became unmanageable. When looking for the commonalities between the users, we found what they were trying to do was much easier for grouping. We now map users to 3 groups; those looking for intelligence to help RAISE funds, INVEST funds or to TRACK the market’s activity.
• Users need help to discover functionality: It was great to see users being able to find the intelligence they needed, however too many needed hands-on training and demos first, which becomes unsustainable as the user base continues to grow.
• Users want the simplest experience possible: Whilst comprehensive functionality is fantastic, users are busy professionals. They want an intuitive experience which requires minimal effort on their part.
With this feedback we took a step back and focused on what we needed to prioritise from a development perspective, the result of which is what you will see when you next log in to Crowdsurfer Pro. The key developments being:
• A partitioned, module-based system based on what users are trying to do. These modules are creatively called Raise, Invest, and Track. (our product manager, Valeria, talks in more detail about our development decisions here).
• The introduction of wizard functionality which helps you get started with creating your first filters.
• The adoption of Google’s material design framework, which makes the dashboard more intuitive to use (our Head of Data Visualisation, Matt expands on this here).
We hope you enjoy using Crowdsurfer Pro as much as we do. You can register here for a free trial.
We look forward to developing it further with the feedback you provide!