Lessons Learned: Google and iCloud Calendars favorites for tracking business trips

24 Apr

It’s been an intense six months for our team. MileLogr is tied to the U.S. tax season (the three months ending in April 15) when 140 million taxpayers settle accounts with the tax man. This was our first season in the market after a three-month Beta period. If you’re not familiar with our product you might be asking what do mileage logs have to do with calendaring? Rather than fiddling around with odometer readings or GPS we offer users a novel, much easier approach to building a mileage log.

If you use a digital calendar to record business meetings and errands (even occasionally) MileLogr will read your calendar for the entire past year and reconstruct a daily route of where you traveled. Of course there are lots of route variations and we have options to account for that. The best thing is that you don’t have to remember to turn on a GPS or record the fact that we just took a trip in a log or on your smartphone(most people simply forget or find the overhead overwhelming). The route is there for you to review without having done anything explicit to make that happen.

A consequence of our approach is that we have a unique perspective into what calendaring apps our customers use in aggregate. Our product now supports all major online/server-based calendars: Google Calendar, Microsoft Exchange, Hotmail, Outlook.com, Yahoo! Calendar, iCloud Calendar, or any other CalDAV service. To survive up to the point where we could build all these integrations over the last 18 months we were forced to do some heavy prioritization and since we are a Lean Startup, we started with several hypotheses. It wasn’t just about which calendar providers we should support but also how deep should we integrate with each feature set (recurring appointments? multiple calendars per account? appointments categories?).

Our MVP was the first stake in the ground. The hypothesis was that Outlook/Exchange was used by Gen X folks who mean “business” and Gmail was popular with Gen Y. So we released the MVP, just in time for 2012 tax season, with basic support for calendars on Microsoft Exchange (self-hosted and Office 365) and Google Calendar, in this order. Boy, were we wrong! Here’s what our stats show, a year later, during the 2013 tax season quarter:

mileage-log-calendar-stats

Exchange slice includes self-hosted and Office 365. Live slice represents Outlook.com and Hotmail. Even when you combine the two categories, Google Calendar usage surpasses calendar usage based on Microsoft products 3:1.

Fun fact: the little sliver of iCloud users are actually our best paying customers! Percentage-wise, the highest percentage of users who buy the buy the product after trying it out are iCloud Calendar users followed by Google Calendar users. I speculate that users of iCloud are folks who are fully bought into the Apple mobile ecosystem and the products integrate so well that the resulting data that’s generated is more suitable to the scenario we’re optimized to solve.

The things that you learn as you get older… 😉

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