The Gospel according to Moses: 5 Ways to Avoid Failure


Asaf Moses is the founder and CEO of UPcload, a Berlin-based start-up that is making sure that clothes bought online fit offline. Using cutting-edge technology and Asaf’s special knack for all things social, UPcload is revolutionizing online shopping. In his spare time, you can find Asaf eating Shwarma sandwiches at Marosh in Kreuzberg. His bust circumference is 100cm.

I am writing this post from 35,000 feet in the air, on a flight to San Francisco. UPcload is just soft launching in Europe, but we are nonetheless “forced” to work in parallel with the other side of the world since TheNorthFace, our biggest customer, is located there. Right now, my immediate goal is to make UPcload work in the USA. Simple, right?



Well it took us almost a year to get it right in Germany. Longer than expected. But hey, in my user testing, I got to know Berlin in ways I never could have imagined. When’s the last time you got to do UX testing in Marzhan with a family who thinks that rats are pets?

Stealth mode isn’t a choice; it’s a temporary status. At some point normal people will have to use your product (and no, your mom doesn’t count). So how do you harness the power of the people to get your product to win? For what it’s worth, here are my five cents.

1. Do it!

Some of my best friends are smart, or at least think they are. If you ask any of them how they make their products or companies work, they will quote Henry Ford\Steve Jobs\Picasso to convince you it’s all about the vision. Sorry, (but please) don’t be one of them. If you think that Apple didn’t produce the iPhone in 100 different sizes before it decided which was optimal, you’re wrong. It’s all about execution. So, whatever it is you say you do, do it.

2. Ask it like you mean it.

How often have you gone to the restaurant around the corner, full of hope and anticipation, only to be disappointed by the end of it? Now imagine if after every time you ate out, the waiter who served you asked the simple question: “How was your meal?” He might have enough information to run a successful business. Information is key, and your customer is the only one who has the information you need. So ask. Don’t be lazy with “edibility-testing.”

3. Create a real life scenario.

Here is a story about the biggest idiot: the writer of this text. We first started by giving people 10 Euros for testing UPcload at home. Sure it’s not much, but in some areas of the city it will buy you 5 doners. People did OK, but we still couldn’t pass a certain success rate. At a certain point we were stuck and we didn’t see any improvements for months. Then suddenly, in one single day, we got much better. Why?

We did something simple: We offered people a free t-shirt, which was selected according to the size generated by our measurement app. Now people knew they had to perform well because they were doing it for themselves (for their own wardrobe) rather than for UPcload itself. Here’s what you need to do: Think about what motivates your customer and create a real-life scenario that simulates the real transaction.

4. Want to identify a design bug? Go to 45+ age-group

Let me guess, your target group are young urban metropolitans, 19-35, well educated. For most of us, this group tends to be who matters most. But if you want to find design bugs, trust me: Go to the older set. Our generation has seen everything. No matter how bad the site was, we clicked our way around in order to the navigate it. Because of this, successful yuppie-types can be very dangerous, because often those test groups will cover up real UX bugs.

Here’s my advice: If you’re just dealing with computer-savvy users, consider branching out. Get closer to your neighbors, bake them a cake, and show them what you’re working on.

5. Just launch it.

The product will never be ready and only real UX feedback will show you what you should work on.

Start small (try to find UPcload online), fail , improve and grow.

Image credit: flickr user Mike Behnken