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I want to become the "data guy" in my company - How can I do that?

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Software Engineer at Seed Stage Startup2 years ago

The business side of my company is constantly asking for data queries. I want to take this on and become the "data guy" for the company, seriously helping everyone with analytics and user understanding.

We're using Firebase, but the company wants to move off of it. I'm considering building a custom solution using something like D3.js, but I feel like that would take too long to learn.

How can I best navigate forward achieving this result?



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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 years ago

    With startups in particular, you need to observe the 80/20 rule: How can I achieve 80% of the impact with just 20% of the effort? Startups need to move fast or die, and seed stage is very early.

    Here's my advice to follow that 80/20 rule:

    • Try to find an out-of-the-box solution - Your instinct around D3.js is probably correct - It's almost certainly not worth learning that to build a custom solution. Upfront cost is expensive, and then you have to maintain it. Firebase has a lot of jank (I know this first-hand as Taro is built on top of it), but you do get a lot of stuff for free. I recommend looking into custom logs, and if Firebase isn't enough, look for other out-of-the-box solutions like Mixpanel and Amplitude.
    • Apply the 80/20 rule to the queries - Make a list of everything that's ever been requested and ask the business folks to stack rank them. From there, prioritize the top 10-20% of queries. You can make this process smoother by proposing a stack ranking yourself using your own product intuition to give folks something to anchor against. Feel free to leverage the Taro Premium community (including Rahul and I) on what metrics are important.
    • Figure out KPIs - KPI = key performance indicator. It's important as a company to figure out the core metrics for your business, so everyone can align around them. This can be a very valuable byproduct of this initiative, and it can be captured by this dashboard you'll build. Some generic important metrics:
      • Daily, weekly, and monthly active users
      • Retention after 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month
      • User sign-ups and where they're coming from
    • Clarify the rationale behind queries - During my time at Meta in particular, I saw PMs/execs requesting random queries all the time, and a lot of them were frankly just interesting data that would be nice to have and not have a concrete impact on product direction. For every query you aren't sure of, ask the requester and the team these 2 questions:
      • If this query turns up the negative extreme, how would this affect our product roadmap?
      • If this query turns up the positive extreme, how would this affect our product roadmap?

    Data is extremely important, even for early-stage startups, so I'm glad you all are pursuing this. Best of luck!

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