We are all familiar with being lost in a new software program. And it happens despite days of training, watching detailed tutorials, and reading daunting PDF manuals. A theoretical introduction is never the same as hands-on use. The Munich startup Userlane has taken on the challenge: interactive, step-by-step instructions show users how to immediately use software at a high level of proficiency without previous experience, or how to quickly find their way around a homepage.
Whether you believe the startup story or not, the idea for Userlane arose during a trip in the mountains, during which the founders Felix Eichler, Hartmut Hahn and Kai Uhlig got lost. They were saved by a GPS. The question that came up during that little adventure was: why don’t we navigate our way through software programs the same way so we can easily and comfortably reach our goal? Brainstorming sessions on the banks of the Eisbach River followed, and the foundation charter for Userlane at Marienplatz was signed shortly thereafter.
Simplifying software with interactive, step-by-step instructions
A GPS for software programs – how does that work exactly? Step-by-step. Users are taken by the hand in the software itself, which navigates users from one item to the next with help from interactive, step-by-step instructions. The process is more than just theoretical – actual work steps are completed by following the instructions. It offers genuine learning-by-doing —without a user needing any kind of previous experience. According to Userlane, it is exactly this approach that puts them at an advantage when compared to other solutions, as founder Hartmut knows:
“In contrast to other concepts, our guides are genuinely interactive and function in the actual software programs. This gives companies a major advantage. Users not only work through manuals, they also complete tasks directly in the program by using our guides.”
This live demo “How do I create a Wikipedia article” gives you an idea of how it works.
The positive effects for a company are obvious: training and support costs can be reduced. Applying their solution to user onboarding can lead to an increase in the conversion rate and user engagement. It also makes it possible to minimize the churn rate and support requests. A further aspect is intriguing from an employee point of view in particular: knowledge of special software used by a company is no longer a job requirement if it can be learned easily, quickly and independently. Being taught how to use software by other employees then becomes unnecessary, and no knowledge is lost due to staff changes – which is intriguing for employers.
Positively surprised by the favorable market response
It did not take long for Userlane’s potential to be discovered: In addition to the main Commerzbank incubator, High-Tech-Gründerfonds has also gotten on board with the Munich-based technology firm with seed funding. The startup was also able to impress at the breakthrough Award 2017 and at the Founders’ Competition – Digital Innovation by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs. And is business going well? Surprisingly well, Hartmut reported:
“To be honest, we are positively surprised by the favorable market response. Right now, we not only have numerous customers from software & E-commerce, but have also been able to pique the interest of enterprises with pilot projects, which has made us really happy. Our goal for next year is to win over additional customers in the rest of Europe and to step up our current momentum.”
Challenge number 1: finding the right employees
Userlane has also faced some challenges on their path to success. One of them has been recruiting. Although the team has grown from 3 to 20 since September 2016, it was, and still is, not easy to find the right team members. The issue is finding someone who is not only professionally qualified, but who also has a certain drive to make a difference. The team is of particular significance for a startup – something that Userlane co-founder Hartmut also knows:
“As founders, while we are establishing a product, we are primarily establishing a company. That is why it is so important to us to find the right talent and to continue to develop, so that we as a team can also keep up with our commercial growth. So for anyone looking for a challenge – we are always open to getting to know exciting new people, regardless of their area of expertise!”
While they might be on a constant look-out for talent, they have already found the right location. The founders feel they are exactly where they should be in Munich, especially due to the proximity to international technology companies and the high density of B2B startups:
“The location makes it possible to quickly and easily communicate over a post-work beer or at one of many meetups. It might be different for B2C startups, but for B2B companies with a focus on technology, Munich is clearly the number one place for us to be in Germany.”
They also have some mountains right near-by for their next excursion — as long as a GPS is on hand, everything should work out fine!