Martin Rosinski, below, Founder of WOLF, discusses how he and his colleagues successfully launched an app brand to the Middle Eastern market and amassed over three million users in three years
Success is fundamentally tied to your ‘product-market fit’. Before we considered introducing WOLF to the market we had identified as an opportunity, we undertook extensive market research, analysing our data intelligence and looking at what user experience was sought. What did we learn? To be agile, to understand, to listen and look further afield for the talent.
We launched WOLF at the exact time the global pandemic was declared. The world closed and travel was grounded. Our business is based in the UK, yet we were looking at the Middle East as our primary audience. Getting a new product into an overseas market when we wouldn’t see our regional team for a long time (a year and a half, as it turned out) was daunting. But actually putting an audio socialising platform in front of consumers at a time when everyone was locked down was just what the market needed at that moment.
So, we took the risk and the results far exceeded our expectations. Why? Because we had done our homework and our product-market fit was spot on.
In three years we have seen huge growth, attracting more than three million users in the Middle East, which was beyond our forecast, and it all comes down to our understanding of our market. That’s what makes business simple.
- Embrace agility
Technological advances develop at lighting speed, so tech brands must be able to react quickly and adapt their product or service in line with these changes. Every development we experience in this sector shapes a consumer’s needs and expectations so the demand changes.
I suspect it’s the same for other sectors that are particularly competitive. Financial services for example. As new players enter the market, brands need to be able to react and re-evaluate what their point of difference is to stay being a successful offering.
- Understand the market
Rather than trying to convince your market what they need, ask them what they want. Sounds so simple but you’d be amazed at how many businesses forget that.
Look at how your customers engage with your brand and service and react to what you see. You have an audience there that are already engaged with your brand, so if you can offer them even more, they’ll stay with you and help you grow your revenue. So ask them what it is you need to know about your offering, because they hold the intel.
It’s important to understand that customer feedback will always play a vital role within a start-up business, so never stop asking. It isn’t just for the first year, it’s something that should always be considered. And ask the tough questions too – don’t just ask the things you want to hear.
- Challenges of expansion
Every business is sometimes guilty of focusing on the numbers but much more insight into growth areas can be garnered from feedback from your user base and target market.
Numbers can be great to paint a general story of course, but analytics alone can be misleading and encourage poor decision-making unless you have the qualitative “why”. Ultimately, they lead to an assumption – ‘revenue was high because of that’ – so unless you ask the right questions to the right people, it’s all just speculation.
Be led by your metrics and KPIs, but to truly understand the opportunities and decipher fact from assumption, base growth decisions on the fusion of numbers and real feedback from both existing customers and personas of the people you’d like to bring into your user base.
- Look internationally for talent
One of the biggest challenges that businesses have been experiencing for some time now is recruitment. At WOLF, we experienced those challenges first-hand when we looked to recruit software engineers, where demand in the UK has rocketed and there isn’t always enough talent to fulfil the vacancies. Brexit had already made it difficult for development talents to move across borders into the UK, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to a further loss of resource as Ukrainian developers had to leave the UK for war.
To overcome the challenges we looked beyond the UK. We turned our attention to the Middle East. We already operated as our core consumer market there so it made sense for us to recruit our talent there too. In doing so, we have learned valuable lessons for international recruitment – tax entities, language barriers, training, health and safety, law – there is lots to understand but it has been well worth it. To grow a start-up, sometimes you must think differently in light of challenges.
The learnings and the future of WOLF
We succeed by listening to and collaborating with our users. We invest in understanding what they want. We consistently audit our ‘product-market fit’ and make sure what we as a business are offering meets the needs and wants of our users. It is this approach that informed the launch of WOLF Qanawat (“Channels”), the latest refinement of our offering.
New technologies now enable tens of thousands of users to interact together in real time, while enjoying audio events on WOLF’s unique stages inside its Channels. No other app in the Arab world combines quality audio broadcast, live chat and entertaining content creation communities like WOLF Qanawat.
Not only that, but in the next month we will release WOLF VR – the brand’s Meta Quest virtual reality experience that takes the friendship, entertainment and engagement that users enjoy in the mobile app and makes it far more immersive. Ahead of future potential apps on mixed-reality devices to follow.
It’s an incredibly exciting time for WOLF and the opportunities are only just beginning. Watch this space!