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Customer driven product development at Twivel

Customer driven product development at Twivel

Neil Cameron,  

Some of our best ideas come from our customers.

An image many people have of software startups is that of an elite team, working in isolation in their ivory tower, creating the perfect product which the market demands. The reality should be the complete opposite: it is critical that the startup lives, eats and breathes the customers’ industry, challenges and opportunities. The biggest risk a new company (or project) faces is building something that nobody wants.

The biggest risk a new company (or project) faces is building something that nobody wants.

Here at Twivel we have a relentless focus on listening to customers and seeking to understand how we can improve our product to continually add value. For me personally, this is one of the really rewarding parts of the work. I love to solve problems and create a solutions that improve on how things were done in the past.

Software as a Service (SaaS) companies have a delicate balance to strike when it comes to adding new features. New features used by only a small number of customers will bloat the code base, risk introducing new bugs and consume valuable development time which could be used on other things.

The “granularity” of the customer base will also affect the approach. A company with 10,000 customers will be less able to listen to individual customers than a company with 100 customers.

At Twivel our core product, a video app management platform, is one which will have a quite a low number of customers so we are able to take the time to really understand our customers needs. Here are a couple of examples of recent, customer inspired features development.

Additional Assets. A customer wanted to use our API to power apps on platforms which we do not currently support. However, they needed to upload some images (e.g. sponsor logos) which were not currently support on our platform. We decided this could be a quite a quick to implement but high value feature. We added a new section to our episode and series forms where an unlimited number of images can be uploaded and given “keys”. These are then outputed in our API as a set of key-value pairs.

Improved naming of content in app. In our apps we have a section below some episodes called “you might also like”. We recommend other episodes which the user might like. Underneath the the thumbnail we showed the episode name, straightforward enough you may think. However a lot of episode names were dependent on the context of the series name e.g. an episode name of “Berlin” only makes sense if you know the series name is “City Guides”. A customer suggested we output both the series name and episode name (e.g. “City Guides: Berlin”), we saw this would be a big UX improvement and made the change within a week of the suggestion.

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