The “Aha moment” – Abdelrahman Wahba [Rebroadcast] "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs September 09 2021 False Customer Acquisition, User Experience, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 7527 The Aha Moment - Abdelrahman Wahba [Rebroadcast] Product Management 30.108

The “Aha moment” – Abdelrahman Wahba [Rebroadcast]

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The Aha Moment - Abdelrahman Wahba [Rebroadcast]

Egyptian-born Abdelrahman (Abdo) Wahba co-founded popular Arabic audiobook site Iqraaly—but it wouldn’t have seen its current success unless Abdo had taken the time to analyse deeply what made customers stay loyal. To do that, he had to get to his “Aha moment”. Now based in Berlin as the Chief Product Officer for the Offerista Group, he ran through his process with us.

Featured Links: Follow Abdul on LinkedIn, Twitter and keep up with his writing on Medium|Abdo’s article on Aha Moment Analysis, and the short version – 9 “quick” steps to discover your product’s Aha moment without prior knowledge of data science|Dave McClure on Pirate Metrics

Discover more: Visit The Product Experience homepage for more episodes.

Episode transcript

Randy Silver:
Lily, your mission should you choose to accept it is to introduce this week’s very special encore presentation.

Lily Smith:
Okay. One day, a long time ago, I stumbled across a great article about The Aha Moment and how we identify that moment, the users just get our product. And that article was written by Abdelrahman, aka Abdo Wahba, now CPO at Offerista Group. Do I self-destruct now, Randy?

Randy Silver:
I hope not, we need to do this again next week, but if you are captured or killed the stakeholder will disavow all knowledge of you and your… I think I need to stop doing that voice. Let’s just get back to our great chat with that Abdo.

Lily Smith:
The product experience is brought to you by Mind the Product.

Randy Silver:
Every week, we talk to the best product people from around the globe about how we can improve our practise and build products that people love.

Lily Smith:
Visit mindtheproduct.com to catch up on past episodes and to discover an extensive library of great content and videos.

Randy Silver:
Browse for free, or become a Mind the Product member to unlock premium articles, unseen videos, AMS, round tables, discount store conferences around the world, training opportunities and more.

Lily Smith:
Mind the Product also offers free ProductTank meetups in more than 200 cities. And there’s probably one near you.

Randy Silver:
Hello and welcome to the Product Experience podcast, Aha.

Lily Smith:
Aha what Randy?

Randy Silver:
I figured it out Lily.

Lily Smith:
Figured what out?

Randy Silver:
The moment at which everyone realises our podcast is amazing.

Lily Smith:
Okay. When is it then?

Randy Silver:
It’s exactly when we start talking to our guests.

Lily Smith:
Okay. Well, let’s get started asap then. And this week, funnily enough, the topic is Aha Moments.

Randy Silver:
We caught up with Abdo Wahba, co-founder of Iqraaly and now head of product at Offerista about his journey to identify The Aha Moments in his products.

Lily Smith:
Abdo has written a great article on how to quantify The Aha Moment. And we’ve put the link in the show notes if you’d like to check out the step by step guide.

Randy Silver:
And so without further ado, let’s chat to Abdo.

Lily Smith:
Abdo it’s so nice having you on the podcast. Thank you so much for joining us.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Absolutely. The pleasure is mine.

Lily Smith:
It’d be really great to tell a bit about your own product journey and how you got into product management. Do you want to tell us a bit about your background in product?

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Yes. I’m a computer engineer by education. However, just close to graduating I realised that sitting in front of a computer and writing code all day, isn’t necessarily my thing. And by sheer luck, or coincidence, or fate, whichever way you want to name it, I happened to land a job in product management when it was a really hard job back then, it wasn’t even, I mean, at least in Egypt, it wasn’t really that known and there weren’t that many options then.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
And, I cut my teeth, working in the software industry for the aerospace and automotive industry building softwares for them. And I was responsible for one of the softwares or the tools in a product suite that served the purpose of the wiring harnesses industry. So, basically it was a suite of software that helped engineers design and manufacture wiring harnesses for cars and aeroplanes .

Abdelrahman Wahba:
And I learned a lot there and I learned one of the very interesting experiences there was actually observing the company move from waterfall to agile and living through it. Just one agile was becoming quite popular. Like in the ramp up of the popularity of agile in general. And for a while I did that, then at some point in my career, I wanted to start a company, and I learned that I need to develop my sales and business development skills in order to do that.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
So I switched industries, and switched a bit, a step more into the customer direction where I started working in business development for tech products and also for engineering and sophisticated stuff, doing a dynamic process relation in the oil and gas industry. I did that for a while then I decided, “Okay. I think it’s time, and I think I have the idea to start a company that can have some traction in the Middle East and North African region, or in the Arabic speaking region,” which was an app for Arabic audiobooks.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
It started out of a personal need and a personal passion, where I really started consuming audiobooks a lot. And just to give you a little bit of context, living in Egypt, you live through a different magnitude of insane road traffic, basically, I mean, driving around for a few hours every day just to get to work is quite normal. It’s quite average. And it’s not the distance that is the problem, it’s being stuck. And when you basically drive, you cannot do anything, but listen to something or talk to someone who’s with you. But at least back then, I don’t know what the case is now, there’s no service where you can pay someone to just sit beside you in the car and keep you company.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
So, basically for me, it was I had to listen to something. And because the media is highly regulated in Egypt, the radio’s super regulated, the content is basically one and the same. And it’s also, in my opinion, quite low grade content. So, the only way was to do something on your own. And I had to download audiobooks in English and maybe in German, sometimes and listen to them.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
And I realised that, “Okay. I’m going through the reading list, my English reading list, but my Arabic reading list is not moving. Because I used to read on the road before I started driving in my car for that long. And suddenly, I mean, after working for a while, it dawned on me that this could be something interesting. The big difference is that there was no book on tape and book on CD industry in Egypt and in the Arab speaking world. Maybe in the US and in Europe. Mobile apps for audiobooks, it was basically a shifted medium. It’s just a new medium.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Okay. The industry is there, we moved the content across mediums. But in the Arabic speaking world, the content wasn’t even there. And the habit wasn’t even there. Like listening to a book, needed a stretch of the imagination of it to sell the case. So, I started with my co-founding team, we started to conceptualise the idea and we decided, “Okay. Selling to the audience to listen to a book is going to be a bit challenging in the beginning. In addition to going through all the digital rights management and all the copyrights and those issues, it’s going to make it quite tricky. So we have to come up with a formula that eliminates the entry barrier.”

Abdelrahman Wahba:
So we basically thought, “Okay. We’re going to build an MVP, and we’re going to start recording narrated articles.” Because an article is roughly five minutes long and you can say, “Hey, why don’t you just try it out?” “well, I don’t want to listen to a whole book. It’s hour long. is it…?” “Yeah. It’s a few hours, but you have to, you can… No ifs and buts it’s five minutes. Try it. If you like it continue, if you don’t like it forget we ever talked.” And that’s when Iqraaly was born.

Lily Smith:
And then, fast forwarding into the future. It became a massive platform.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Yes. I mean, it is the number one Arabic audiobook app in the Arabic speaking region, were the first mover for so long. I mean, there are now competitors in the space. It’s quite interesting. But I mean, we are the first mover by a bunch of years. Actually it may be five or six years. We stayed doing that. Nobody even dare to enter. And in Iqraaly, we had a bunch of challenges which gave birth to basically, working on The Aha Moment analysis.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
I am not operationally part of it anymore, and I’ve gone forward to do other stuff, which brought me to where I am right now. Heading product teams and creating products, growing them, I also changed industries quite a lot. I worked for one of the companies that worked in the telecoms sphere and my responsibility was, basically to build products to help this company to move from the worldview of fully depending on the mobile operator and owning their own products and running them, step-by-step independent from the mobile operator.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Obviously it wasn’t the mobile operator, and launched there a bunch of products. Some of them were very complex, some of them quite simple, some of them were closely tied to the mobile operators, some of them were not. Then I moved to Berlin to work in the tech industry there. Where I worked in the SAS industry with a focus on the hotel tech space for a while. Then I made a recent move into the retail tech industry. And I have not been long there, yet.

Randy Silver:
Before we go into the stuff about The Aha Moments, just tell us a little bit about the difference in working in Egypt, and now in Germany. What brought you there? And what’s the difference in how people approach product management?

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Oh, wow. Well, I mean, the difference between working in Egypt and working in Germany goes beyond product. I mean, for now product management as a job is starting to become of interest and of importance in Egypt, because of the delay in development, or the delay, or the time phase, or the time shift, between the state of the tech industry in Germany and the state of the tech industry in Egypt.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
The biggest difference, is basically the focus. When you work in Egypt, generally a big chunk of your work is about firefighting, whether you want it or not, whether you like it or not, whether you plan yourself well and create a lot of contingency plans and stuff or not. Egypt is a very, very surprising and chaotic place where Murphy’s law is the rule of the land.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Basically, I mean, it’s very challenging in Egypt to do things that in Germany are quite simple. I’m not saying that as a good or a bad thing, it helps you surviving there. While surviving there, you learn a lot of things. You have a lot of survivor skills, you just gained them because you’re constantly fending off weird challenges and weird explosions, and you also learn to improvise. Which is a skill that’s quite important, and quite interesting when you’re managing products anywhere in the world.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Also because there aren’t many structures and systems that you follow, or, I mean, in Egypt, chaos is king, more or less. And also in a good and in bad sense, it’s quite fluid what you do every day and what’s quite fluid how you survive your day. So. by improvising, you also learn to make do with what you have. You make do with all the resources that you have and try to make the best out of it and perhaps build something that works. There’s an Egyptian saying it’s called. “Spinning yarn with a leg of a donkey.”

Abdelrahman Wahba:
It’s one interesting thing about the culture we have very obscene and obscure and weird things.

Lily Smith:
What does it mean?

Abdelrahman Wahba:
It means that you’re being productive with the most unsuitable tools, but those are the ones that you have basically. Spinning yarn with the leg of the donkey. I mean, you’re producing yarn. You’re producing something at the end, spinning some yarn, but you don’t have anything to do it with you found, I don’t know how you found the leg of a donkey, but apparently the dude who came up with the same found it, and then he or she actually decided to do it.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
And it’s actually, I mean, when you say it in Arabic and Egyptian dialect, you’re saying that she is spinning yarn with the leg of the donkey.

Lily Smith:
Okay.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
So, anyway, it’s quite real.

Lily Smith:
So, just segwaying carefully from donkey legs and into Aha Moment. You once announced call on Aha Moments analysis, which I found really interesting. So, I’ve worked with a number of startups and quite often we’ve put some thought into trying to identify that Aha Moment where we have won over the customer and got them on board onto the product. But I really liked your article because it goes into so much into how you did this analysis.

Lily Smith:
So, how did you come about deciding that you needed to identify your Aha Moment and really going into so much depth and working out?

Abdelrahman Wahba:
The short answer is necessity. Basically, we had some user retention numbers that we didn’t like, and those retention numbers were also very crucial to us as a company in raising further funds and scaling up our user base. And we tried the spray and pray approach a lot, and it just didn’t work. We tried shifting the content strategy here and there, just blindly, we tried engaging user a bit more blindly, it had some effect, but it didn’t really have the effect that we wanted.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
So we felt, okay. I mean, started researching, how can we do this? Then we decided, “Okay. It seems that we need to figure out what makes the user just stick to the product and keep using it.” And in some way, perhaps also fall in love with it and bring it into their daily routine.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
And this is basically, what started the journey for us. When we started researching, because I generally hate to reinvent the wheel and I generally love to copy what other people are doing if it works, we started researching and all the material we found was basically saying, “Yeah. There is something called The Aha Moment, which is great. Yeah. This is actually what we’re looking for. Awesome.” But there was no material out there describing how you actually find it.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Everybody at the time knew that Facebook’s Aha Moments was having 10 friends in seven days, or seven friends in 10 days. Everyone knew that if a user signs up on Twitter and follows 50 people, chances are, they will keep using Twitter forever, and so on. But how did Facebook and Twitter actually get to this very simple, Aha Moment definition, was never mentioned. So, that was basically why we decided, “Okay. We need to figure it out and then perhaps write the article.”

Lily Smith:
And how do you define The Aha Moment? I mean, what’s your definition, if you were describing it to someone else?

Abdelrahman Wahba:
My definition of The Aha Moment is quite simple, is a series of events, or a specific experience that the user has with the product, or the customer has with the product that flips a switch with them. And instead of just trying out the app or trying out the product just casually exploratoringly, or exploring, and, “Okay. I think it’s nice. Maybe it’s cool.” And then maybe forgetting it the next day or the day after or whatever, it flips a switch and they just have to use the app, or it becomes a daily routine for them or a weekly or whatever frequency you want to define.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
So, it’s basically a series of events, or a specific experience that converts the user from a casual user to a long-term loyal user.

Randy Silver:
Okay. So just making it a habit for them. Is that generally a single Aha Moment for the product? Or is it specific to different personas or customer segments?

Abdelrahman Wahba:
From my experience, it has been more or less a union of experiences with the product. Because with Iqraaly, it was basically the use case was more or less similar across personas. The value people get the content that they listen and then they fill in their time, they enjoy it, there’s some educational fact of it, or there’s some educational aspect of it, but there’s also an entertainment aspect of it.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
And at the end of the day, when you observe the habit from a step back of listening to the content, is not super relevant, which persona it is. Now, this is not a generalisation per se. In other products where I embarked on similar projects or journeys, there was slight differences. For example, when I did the similar analysis for a B2B product that I worked on in the hotel industry, there was one big chunk of users, stayed loyal after integrating the product with their property management system, for example. And if you do the integration, it works and they stayed. They just continue using it because they get the value.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Another big chunk was more related to, how many people they would invite for review as a monthly rate? Or as weekly rate? Sometimes it’s how many compared to the number of rooms, because it’s, do they invite everyone? Do they don’t invite everyone? It was more of a union of both at the end of the day. When you step back and you say, “Okay. This specific integration, what does it actually do? It raises the number of invitations sent out by the system.” So, it’s a union of the experience with the product that gets people into the habit of using it, or at least reduces the turn massively.

Lily Smith:
So the answer, Randy, is it depends. We always [crosstalk 00:20:32]

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Definitely. Definitely.

Randy Silver:
I thought that was a great answer. I really liked it. It explains a lot. It does depend, but you give a clear understanding of why it depends.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Yeah. I mean, I like to answer questions with, it depends, without saying it depends.

Lily Smith:
[inaudible 00:20:53]

Randy Silver:
It’s a true products skill.

Lily Smith:
So, you’ve been through this process a couple of times then, is there like a certain amount of data that you need in order to identify this Aha Moment? Is there a time when you haven’t done it? Because you’ve just thought, “I just don’t have enough data yet to know when it’s going to work,” if you’ll be able to identify it.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Absolutely. I mean, the rule of thumb that I would say is, you have to have enough data to define your forever user, which is, I mean, how me and [Muhamud 00:21:28], my colleague and a good friend decided to name the people who are converted into loyal users. You just call them the forever user. They’re here forever, although they’re not here forever. So, if you define your long-term loyal users, as people who stay for six months or more, or people who stay for a few years, you have to have data enough to see that you have users who stayed for six months or maybe 12 months, and compare them to users who turned after six months.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
And I would recommend if you’re doing a B2C app, if you’re working on a B2C product, you need at least six to nine months of data. If you’re working on a B2B SAS product, it’s different because it depends on how you find your turn, it depends on how you invoice or bill your customers. If it’s a monthly thing, if you have people pay monthly, and this is your bread and butter, the monthly payment, then you can also go for a six to 10 months worth of data. If people pay annually, you have to figure it out herself.

Lily Smith:
So, you mentioned it took 10 weeks to identify The Aha Moment at Iqraaly. Was that 10 weeks of full-time focus? Or was that dipping in and out of this exercise?

Abdelrahman Wahba:
I mean, measured on a time basis, it was not a full-time focus, but measured on a worry basis. It was more than a full-time focus. If the question was, “Did it keep you up at night for 10 weeks continuous?” “Yes. 100%.” I mean, the time spent was less than 10 weeks full-time equivalent, but it was work that I did together with Mahamud, the technical manager of Iqraaly back then. And at some points we had to do some runs on the server to crunch the numbers and it would take maybe a day or two to run and you do something in parallel, but it had our top priority at that point.

Lily Smith:
So, just walk us through the process, just like really super high level. Because obviously we can’t cover it in as much detail as your article, which I would highly recommend everyone go and read, by the way. But just give a high level perspective. What were the activities that you went through?

Abdelrahman Wahba:
I mean, before I started, there’s actually a short version of the article that I also wrote and it’s called, Nine Steps to Aha, and, I mean, I’m going to even try to shorten that a bit. Basically, you have to figure, I mean, you have to make sure that you have the capability to do cohort analysis. If you don’t have this capability, don’t even bother. Don’t start.

Randy Silver:
For people who might not be familiar with it can you just give a quick overview of what that means?

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Yeah. Sure. I mean, cohort analysis is basically analysing user behaviour based on a specific cohort, or a specific grouping that is very irrelevant to your product. In most cases, cohorts are defined according to the month or week of starting to use your app. Like people who started to use the app in January, January might have a very different experience than those who started to use the app in February and March and so on.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
And even you can go even more granular and you say, “Okay. I’m going to do weekly cohorts,” so people who started to use the app in the first week of Jan might have a different experience than those who started using it in the second week of Jan, and so on. And this grouping based on the date of starting, or the date of existence in your view of operating the app, is basically the cohort. So. you lump them together, and with the underlying assumption that those who have started to use the app in a similar cohort, they would have a similar experience throughout their lifetime on your product.

Randy Silver:
Absolutely. And the point to that is, if you’re shipping constantly, then the app or the experience it is changing, but there’s also external factors. It can be different competitor landscape, it can be different pricing, it could be different holidays and things like that. So, you’re just grouping people together that you expect to have a similar behavioural experience, or a similar experience of using the product.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Exactly. I couldn’t have said it better myself. In fact, I have-

Randy Silver:
I think [inaudible 00:26:05] that’s okay.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
So basically, if you need to make sure that you’re able to do that with the data that you have about your users. And when you start doing that, you need to figure out, “Okay. Who is my forever user? Am I a seasonal app? Am I more a product? Am I something that people use for a while and then quit anyway, because it becomes irrelevant? Or am I building something that I want them to accompany that I want users to use for a longer period of time? And if so, what is this longer period of time?”

Abdelrahman Wahba:
And then you define, “Okay. A forever user is someone who used my app for more than one year. For more than eight months. For whatever.” You have to define it, because this is the basis of everything else.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
And as soon as you start doing that, you need to try to figure out basically, what would be the next step? How do you analyse them? Throughout your analysis, you need to separate between the forever user and the non-forever user. And the user who turned or disappeared or whatever.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
And you start doing the cohort analysis. You plot the data, you plot the user behaviour based on cohorts, and separate every cohort, or separate most of your cohort that you’re interested in into forever users and non-forever users. And then, you start observing and analysing the data to see if there is a specific pattern, or specific patterns, plural, that are pervasive and persistent with the forever users and they’re not there with the non-forever users or the turned users.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
And based on those patterns, you start building a hypothesis. “Okay. I think users who do activity X, Y, and Z, users who have the experience, ABC are more likely to be forever users.” And based on this hypothesis, you start operating. Start testing it. And testing it can be a bit more than a few AB tests. It could be a change in your business strategy as well. And then, based on your market feedback, you decide whether this was The Aha Moment or not, and Bob’s your uncle.

Lily Smith:
And if you’re a startup and you already have a few forever users, you’re still trying to improve the activation of your users, and your customer base, do you think it’s possible to just have… I can understand if you have a cohort. So, you have more people coming on board regularly that will give your cohort analysis. But if you only have a very few people becoming your forever users, do you think that’s still worthwhile doing that analysis? Or do you think you need to do some other activities which improves that forever user number?

Abdelrahman Wahba:
I don’t see it as an either/or to be honest. I see it as two independent activities. You definitely always need to be doing activities that increase your forever users. If you only have a few, you need to work on your conversion funnels. Your conversion funnel. What does it look like? Why is it just reaching this view? Where do I have breakups in the conversion funnel? But if you have a bunch of them and you’re not satisfied with this amount and you think it’s leaking somewhere, chances are, it would be interesting to look into The Aha Moment of those users.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
On the other hand, if you have very, very few users, this can also be an advantage, because you can perhaps contact them directly and talk to them. And not just try to hypothesise based on aggregated user behaviour, because you have thousands of users, or hundreds of users, or I don’t know, or tens of thousands of forever users, if you have maybe 50 or 20, I would suggest you contact them. I mean, why not?

Abdelrahman Wahba:
We actually did that. We didn’t do it in the context of The Aha Moment analysis, it was one of the earlier activities where we were trying to figure out our way. We did a lot of user interviews and we tried to figure out, what they like? What they don’t like? Why are they using the app? Building personas and stuff. And the findings that we came across in those activities, they indirectly fed into our Aha Moment analysis project.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
I would say it was more of an indirect learning that, “Okay. We think…” I mean, it helped us narrow down the areas that we analysed a bit, but I can only say that in retrospect. I don’t think we were super aware of those studies, or those early activities helping us in The Aha Moment, more or less.

Randy Silver:
Lily, I think Abdo just got you with an, it depends answer.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Yes. More or less. Yeah. The gist would be basically, if you have a little amount of users, sure. I mean, if you have a significant amount of data, for a little amount of users, that’s not a bad thing. It’s just would shape The Aha Moment analysis more towards actually going after users, looking to their data and also contacting them. But if you have a lot of forever users, you would have to sample this contact if you need it. And maybe it’s easier to look into the data and hypothesise and test it.

Randy Silver:
So, Abdo, is this something that you do only once. You’ve identified your Aha Moment and you’re good forever? Or do you have to re-examine this as an assumption? Sometimes it doesn’t ever change over time.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
It is definitely not something you do once, but it is something you have to decide whether you want to do or not. I know products, for example, that don’t have a retention issue. It just works. Maybe by coincidence, maybe they did everything right, or maybe, I mean, they were just the right product in the right point of time. So, they just don’t have a dire need of prioritising this project above other things they have to do.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
But if you did it once, chances are it would be very reasonable for you to do it again, maybe every year-ish, or a few times a year to at least validate the hypothesis that came out of The Aha Moment. If the hypothesis gets invalidated, then it’s worth re-examining the data and taking a step back and coming up with new hypothesis.

Lily Smith:
So, you mentioned earlier that you’ve done this a couple of times now, was it faster going through the process the next time that you did it?

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Oh, yeah. Much faster. The 10 weeks were mostly spent figuring out the way. And a big chunk of the time spent was, basically, us banging our heads against the wall. Because, I mean, looking back, it’s quite easy to figure out, “Yeah. It makes sense to have done that. It makes sense to look into this things,” but when we were doing them, we didn’t really know that this is the right step, or this is the right next step. And we had to literally at times, bang our heads against the wall to just try to figure out what the next step would be.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
At some points, we took multiple steps that didn’t work out until we figured out that, “Okay. This seems to be the right thing to do.” And obviously if I had included that in the article, this would have prolonged it by five or 10 more times, and it would have made it super boring to be honest, and maybe could have been converted into a Greek tragedy and the plate in Broadway or something.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
But, I thought it’s not really worth it. I mean, ironically enough, when I wrote the article and sent it out to friends to look into this, they said, “Yeah. We were very confused in the beginning, but it got clear step-by-step.” I told them, “Yeah.” I tried to make it as clear as possible, but it seems that the experience of finding The Aha Moment without knowing how to do it, it hit us deep in our core, me and Mahamud, to the extent that I couldn’t really shake off the confusion feeling every time I went through the experience in my head.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
And this manifested itself in the article that I had to write a disclaimer, saying, “By the way, guys, if you feel confused, just don’t worry. It’s going to be clear at the end. This is exactly how I felt.”

Lily Smith:
And, how does this set with parameter? Parameter being the acquisition, activation, retention, revenue referral, The Aha Moment for you, is that the activation moment?

Abdelrahman Wahba:
I think it’s an intersection between activation and retention.

Lily Smith:
Right.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
You can activate the user where they say, “Yeah. I’m using it. I use it for a few times, but I still go away.” It’s more into activating them enough to be a retained user to come back again on their own devices, or at least upon very minor on costly impulses from your side as a product operator, or a product owner, or product manager.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
So, I think it’s just somewhere between activation and retention. And this was actually our case. We had people who listened for a lot of content, but then they just disappeared. And some of them, when we contact them, they said, “Yeah. I don’t know. I just didn’t get into the habits. I mean, I don’t know, I just forgot the app.” Even though we send them notifications that everything. We did everything we could do, but it seems that it’s not just a matter of activation, it’s not just a matter of overcoming, downloading and onboarding the user and having them do a few activities with the app. It goes a bit more into the direction of retention.

Randy Silver:
So, you’re talking a lot about habit forming here. How important is it to really understand what the customer is after? What is the problem that you’re solving? And really define that value proposition in the first place. Is this something that helps you understand if you’ve got the right value perhaps?

Abdelrahman Wahba:
It is very important to do that. In fact, I would even take it a step further, it’s also very important to focus your value proposition per persona, to make it a single value proposition per product persona, at least, if not overall. And in our case, when we did this analysis, I mean, an audiobook app is an audiobook app. At the end of the day, we had multiple personas, we had multiple use cases for the app, but the value of people got of it, was more or less in union.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
It’s basically time that couldn’t have… I mean, you’re doing something that’s not involving your mind quite well, or/and is not entertaining. Two very, very different use cases that we came across, but that have an underlying ground in common between them was driving, and also doing stuff in the kitchen.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
One of our very active and heavy users was a lady who spent a lot of time in the kitchen. And she just turned on the app and listened to audiobooks there. And she wasn’t alone. This was a vivid persona that we had in our minds all the time. And when we started positioning our marketing material, and marketing campaigns towards this persona, in addition to the driving use case, we started getting more traction in this area. And also, we positioned some content this area, and it was quite engaging to the people.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
But when you think about it, although the two use cases are very, very different, the underlying need that we’re addressing, is more in harmony between those two use cases than one would think. It’s basically, the need to overcome time where you’re doing some manual work or something that is not as engaging as you would like, and you’d like to be engaged and entertained, and perhaps also informed.

Lily Smith:
And you identified your North Star metric, of daily less than minutes using the Aha analysis. How did that North Star metric, then change the way that you worked within the business? Because we talk about analytics and the importance of being data-driven, but depending on different products, depends on whether you can actually identify this North Star metrics. I’m curious to know, once you had that, how did it change the way that you operated in your business?

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Well, I mean, when we defined our Aha moment at the end of the day to be listening to roughly one book in one month, or one whole book in one month, which was like 600-ish minutes, we shifted our entire content strategy to push the users to listen to a whole book in a month, we shifted our entire marketing strategy to push for that. And we shifted a lot of our product backlog around to deliver features and user stories that basically pushed for The Aha Moment.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
And the North Star metric, which was the lesson minutes, it was, I think that we talked about everyday. I would have the marketing team and the product team always report on this metric every day, and I had my own dashboard that I looked in every day and I shared it with the whole team every day. “Today we did this, today we did that, today the number went up, today the number went down.”

Abdelrahman Wahba:
It became the compass of the whole company, to basically operate and move forward. And it also became the main decision, “Okay. We want to do more this content of this type. Will it increase the listen minutes or will it not increase the listen minutes? Will it increase the listen minutes in a specific persona? Will it affect the listen minutes of the heavy users? Or is it just inviting and bringing people into the pool that will go away after a while, because they’re not the persona we’re after.”

Abdelrahman Wahba:
So, it became quite central in the discussion and in the communication within the team. And actually the operation that we built was quite interesting, because it was mainly remote. We had a small office in Cairo where the tech team and the marketing team would meet and work, but most, not most, all of our content people worked from home.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
The whole audio production was done remotely, and from home, back then, it was, I mean, we had to make shifts with a lot of interesting tools and curtains and pillows and weird stuff, but yeah, it comes with the package of being Egyptian, but I mean, we had to make the communication very, very strong around this point. Around the North Star, which is listening minutes.

Lily Smith:
And did you ever move away from the focus on that? Or did that remain with the business until you left?

Abdelrahman Wahba:
It remained with the business until I left. And it was the basis of the company strategy, and the business strategy of the company, four years after. Also, I mean, when this didn’t become a thing anymore, like when, “Okay. We know now that if people listen for roughly a book, or a bit more per month, then chances are they’re going to stay and with time and when the space got more interesting and when the antivirus to listening to books became a bit lower just based on us existing in this sphere for a while, and others starting to enter, and the traffic problem even magnifying itself a bit more, it became easier. It became easier to get into the use case to get into the habit.”

Abdelrahman Wahba:
And the focus of the business strategy shifted a little bit in content sourcing and copyright acquisition, and so on.

Randy Silver:
So have you seen any of the people that you worked with take up this habit and follow up on mapping out Aha Moments? Or have they moved on?

Abdelrahman Wahba:
I have seen people that I worked with that have it and mind, but not necessarily, do an extensive study again, to be really fair.

Randy Silver:
Why do you think that is?

Abdelrahman Wahba:
It’s hard to say, but I think it goes back to the origin of why we did it. It was a necessity for us, it was a big pain for us to move and do it. And when the pain is gone, you don’t really need to do it. It’s not also very easy to do it. I mean, talking about how to do it is quite easy and simple, but if you sit down and try to figure out what the pattern is and start hypothesising, your hypothesis can be all over the place.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
And this is where your industry understanding, and user understanding and experience come into place, where you start saying, “Okay. I’m going to prioritise those hypothesis because I think this would bring more value compared to that,” because at the end of the day, they’re all hypothesis and they’re all mostly shots in the dark, to some extent, at least.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
And it’s not an easy exercise to do, and if there’s no necessity to do it, you don’t have to do it. And I think that was probably the reason.

Randy Silver:
Abdo, thank you very much. It’s a topic that I really love. I think, in general, we’re really good at refining a hypothesis and product management. We’re not always so good at making sure we have the right hypothesis in the first place, and this is a really valuable way of working towards that. So, thank you very much. We really appreciate your time today.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Absolutely. It’s my pleasure. And I really like your podcast and I listened to it from time to time. Not because of you, it’s because of me. I mean, but this is basically because of me, it’s because I tend to like to listen to comedy podcasts more than the informative stuff, because I’m just really.

Randy Silver:
Saying we’re not funny, Lily.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Essentially, yes.

Lily Smith:
[inaudible 00:45:22] Abdo, it’s been such a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us.

Abdelrahman Wahba:
Absolutely. The pleasure’s all mine. Thank you for having me.

Lily Smith:
Some great tips there on trying to find that magic moment. I’ll definitely be using his guide.

Randy Silver:
And it was great to learn that The Aha Moment has nothing to do with Alan Partridge. I think I might be dating and locating myself with that reference.

Lily Smith:
Ha. Yeah. Absolutely.

Randy Silver:
That’s all from us this week. Thank you so much for joining, like and subscribe in all that fun stuff, and we’ll see you next week.

Lily Smith:
Bye. We’d love to know what you think. Please tweet us @MTPpod.

Randy Silver:
The product experience is part of the Mind, the Product network, check out your local ProductTank today. Find it at mindtheproduct.com/producttank.

Lily Smith:
And his global ProductTank manager, Marc Abraham, to tell us more about what ProductTank is.

Marc Abraham:
ProductTank is a global community of meetups in over 155 cities across the world, driven by/and for product managers. Whether you have a group discussion, or you’re listening to speakers, the whole idea is to create a safe environment for product people to come together and to share that learnings and tips.

Randy Silver:
Have you seen a great talk? Nominate a future guest on the podcast channel on the Monday product slack, you can find that at mindtheproduct.slack.com.

Lily Smith:
If you want to learn more about product management, take a look at minetheproduct.com/training to see what courses are on near you.

Randy Silver:
Emily Tate is our executive producer, our theme music comes from the German band P.A.L, featuring Arne Kittler of ProductTank Humberg.

Lily Smith:
And that’s goodbye from Randy and Lily, see you next time.

The Aha Moment - Abdelrahman Wahba [Rebroadcast] [buzzsprout episode='8658617' player='true'] Egyptian-born Abdelrahman (Abdo) Wahba co-founded popular Arabic audiobook site Iqraaly—but it wouldn't have seen its current success unless Abdo had taken the time to analyse deeply what made customers stay loyal. To do that, he had to get to his "Aha moment". Now based in Berlin as the Chief Product Officer for the Offerista Group, he ran through his process with us. Featured Links: Follow Abdul on LinkedIn, Twitter and keep up with his writing on Medium|Abdo's article on Aha Moment Analysis, and the short version - 9 "quick" steps to discover your product's Aha moment without prior knowledge of data science|Dave McClure on Pirate Metrics Discover more: Visit The Product Experience homepage for more episodes.

Episode transcript

Randy Silver: Lily, your mission should you choose to accept it is to introduce this week's very special encore presentation. Lily Smith: Okay. One day, a long time ago, I stumbled across a great article about The Aha Moment and how we identify that moment, the users just get our product. And that article was written by Abdelrahman, aka Abdo Wahba, now CPO at Offerista Group. Do I self-destruct now, Randy? Randy Silver: I hope not, we need to do this again next week, but if you are captured or killed the stakeholder will disavow all knowledge of you and your... I think I need to stop doing that voice. Let's just get back to our great chat with that Abdo. Lily Smith: The product experience is brought to you by Mind the Product. Randy Silver: Every week, we talk to the best product people from around the globe about how we can improve our practise and build products that people love. Lily Smith: Visit mindtheproduct.com to catch up on past episodes and to discover an extensive library of great content and videos. Randy Silver: Browse for free, or become a Mind the Product member to unlock premium articles, unseen videos, AMS, round tables, discount store conferences around the world, training opportunities and more. Lily Smith: Mind the Product also offers free ProductTank meetups in more than 200 cities. And there's probably one near you. Randy Silver: Hello and welcome to the Product Experience podcast, Aha. Lily Smith: Aha what Randy? Randy Silver: I figured it out Lily. Lily Smith: Figured what out? Randy Silver: The moment at which everyone realises our podcast is amazing. Lily Smith: Okay. When is it then? Randy Silver: It's exactly when we start talking to our guests. Lily Smith: Okay. Well, let's get started asap then. And this week, funnily enough, the topic is Aha Moments. Randy Silver: We caught up with Abdo Wahba, co-founder of Iqraaly and now head of product at Offerista about his journey to identify The Aha Moments in his products. Lily Smith: Abdo has written a great article on how to quantify The Aha Moment. And we've put the link in the show notes if you'd like to check out the step by step guide. Randy Silver: And so without further ado, let's chat to Abdo. Lily Smith: Abdo it's so nice having you on the podcast. Thank you so much for joining us. Abdelrahman Wahba: Absolutely. The pleasure is mine. Lily Smith: It'd be really great to tell a bit about your own product journey and how you got into product management. Do you want to tell us a bit about your background in product? Abdelrahman Wahba: Yes. I'm a computer engineer by education. However, just close to graduating I realised that sitting in front of a computer and writing code all day, isn't necessarily my thing. And by sheer luck, or coincidence, or fate, whichever way you want to name it, I happened to land a job in product management when it was a really hard job back then, it wasn't even, I mean, at least in Egypt, it wasn't really that known and there weren't that many options then. Abdelrahman Wahba: And, I cut my teeth, working in the software industry for the aerospace and automotive industry building softwares for them. And I was responsible for one of the softwares or the tools in a product suite that served the purpose of the wiring harnesses industry. So, basically it was a suite of software that helped engineers design and manufacture wiring harnesses for cars and aeroplanes . Abdelrahman Wahba: And I learned a lot there and I learned one of the very interesting experiences there was actually observing the company move from waterfall to agile and living through it. Just one agile was becoming quite popular. Like in the ramp up of the popularity of agile in general. And for a while I did that, then at some point in my career, I wanted to start a company, and I learned that I need to develop my sales and business development skills in order to do that. Abdelrahman Wahba: So I switched industries, and switched a bit, a step more into the customer direction where I started working in business development for tech products and also for engineering and sophisticated stuff, doing a dynamic process relation in the oil and gas industry. I did that for a while then I decided, "Okay. I think it's time, and I think I have the idea to start a company that can have some traction in the Middle East and North African region, or in the Arabic speaking region," which was an app for Arabic audiobooks. Abdelrahman Wahba: It started out of a personal need and a personal passion, where I really started consuming audiobooks a lot. And just to give you a little bit of context, living in Egypt, you live through a different magnitude of insane road traffic, basically, I mean, driving around for a few hours every day just to get to work is quite normal. It's quite average. And it's not the distance that is the problem, it's being stuck. And when you basically drive, you cannot do anything, but listen to something or talk to someone who's with you. But at least back then, I don't know what the case is now, there's no service where you can pay someone to just sit beside you in the car and keep you company. Abdelrahman Wahba: So, basically for me, it was I had to listen to something. And because the media is highly regulated in Egypt, the radio's super regulated, the content is basically one and the same. And it's also, in my opinion, quite low grade content. So, the only way was to do something on your own. And I had to download audiobooks in English and maybe in German, sometimes and listen to them. Abdelrahman Wahba: And I realised that, "Okay. I'm going through the reading list, my English reading list, but my Arabic reading list is not moving. Because I used to read on the road before I started driving in my car for that long. And suddenly, I mean, after working for a while, it dawned on me that this could be something interesting. The big difference is that there was no book on tape and book on CD industry in Egypt and in the Arab speaking world. Maybe in the US and in Europe. Mobile apps for audiobooks, it was basically a shifted medium. It's just a new medium. Abdelrahman Wahba: Okay. The industry is there, we moved the content across mediums. But in the Arabic speaking world, the content wasn't even there. And the habit wasn't even there. Like listening to a book, needed a stretch of the imagination of it to sell the case. So, I started with my co-founding team, we started to conceptualise the idea and we decided, "Okay. Selling to the audience to listen to a book is going to be a bit challenging in the beginning. In addition to going through all the digital rights management and all the copyrights and those issues, it's going to make it quite tricky. So we have to come up with a formula that eliminates the entry barrier." Abdelrahman Wahba: So we basically thought, "Okay. We're going to build an MVP, and we're going to start recording narrated articles." Because an article is roughly five minutes long and you can say, "Hey, why don't you just try it out?" "well, I don't want to listen to a whole book. It's hour long. is it...?" "Yeah. It's a few hours, but you have to, you can... No ifs and buts it's five minutes. Try it. If you like it continue, if you don't like it forget we ever talked." And that's when Iqraaly was born. Lily Smith: And then, fast forwarding into the future. It became a massive platform. Abdelrahman Wahba: Yes. I mean, it is the number one Arabic audiobook app in the Arabic speaking region, were the first mover for so long. I mean, there are now competitors in the space. It's quite interesting. But I mean, we are the first mover by a bunch of years. Actually it may be five or six years. We stayed doing that. Nobody even dare to enter. And in Iqraaly, we had a bunch of challenges which gave birth to basically, working on The Aha Moment analysis. Abdelrahman Wahba: I am not operationally part of it anymore, and I've gone forward to do other stuff, which brought me to where I am right now. Heading product teams and creating products, growing them, I also changed industries quite a lot. I worked for one of the companies that worked in the telecoms sphere and my responsibility was, basically to build products to help this company to move from the worldview of fully depending on the mobile operator and owning their own products and running them, step-by-step independent from the mobile operator. Abdelrahman Wahba: Obviously it wasn't the mobile operator, and launched there a bunch of products. Some of them were very complex, some of them quite simple, some of them were closely tied to the mobile operators, some of them were not. Then I moved to Berlin to work in the tech industry there. Where I worked in the SAS industry with a focus on the hotel tech space for a while. Then I made a recent move into the retail tech industry. And I have not been long there, yet. Randy Silver: Before we go into the stuff about The Aha Moments, just tell us a little bit about the difference in working in Egypt, and now in Germany. What brought you there? And what's the difference in how people approach product management? Abdelrahman Wahba: Oh, wow. Well, I mean, the difference between working in Egypt and working in Germany goes beyond product. I mean, for now product management as a job is starting to become of interest and of importance in Egypt, because of the delay in development, or the delay, or the time phase, or the time shift, between the state of the tech industry in Germany and the state of the tech industry in Egypt. Abdelrahman Wahba: The biggest difference, is basically the focus. When you work in Egypt, generally a big chunk of your work is about firefighting, whether you want it or not, whether you like it or not, whether you plan yourself well and create a lot of contingency plans and stuff or not. Egypt is a very, very surprising and chaotic place where Murphy's law is the rule of the land. Abdelrahman Wahba: Basically, I mean, it's very challenging in Egypt to do things that in Germany are quite simple. I'm not saying that as a good or a bad thing, it helps you surviving there. While surviving there, you learn a lot of things. You have a lot of survivor skills, you just gained them because you're constantly fending off weird challenges and weird explosions, and you also learn to improvise. Which is a skill that's quite important, and quite interesting when you're managing products anywhere in the world. Abdelrahman Wahba: Also because there aren't many structures and systems that you follow, or, I mean, in Egypt, chaos is king, more or less. And also in a good and in bad sense, it's quite fluid what you do every day and what's quite fluid how you survive your day. So. by improvising, you also learn to make do with what you have. You make do with all the resources that you have and try to make the best out of it and perhaps build something that works. There's an Egyptian saying it's called. "Spinning yarn with a leg of a donkey." Abdelrahman Wahba: It's one interesting thing about the culture we have very obscene and obscure and weird things. Lily Smith: What does it mean? Abdelrahman Wahba: It means that you're being productive with the most unsuitable tools, but those are the ones that you have basically. Spinning yarn with the leg of the donkey. I mean, you're producing yarn. You're producing something at the end, spinning some yarn, but you don't have anything to do it with you found, I don't know how you found the leg of a donkey, but apparently the dude who came up with the same found it, and then he or she actually decided to do it. Abdelrahman Wahba: And it's actually, I mean, when you say it in Arabic and Egyptian dialect, you're saying that she is spinning yarn with the leg of the donkey. Lily Smith: Okay. Abdelrahman Wahba: So, anyway, it's quite real. Lily Smith: So, just segwaying carefully from donkey legs and into Aha Moment. You once announced call on Aha Moments analysis, which I found really interesting. So, I've worked with a number of startups and quite often we've put some thought into trying to identify that Aha Moment where we have won over the customer and got them on board onto the product. But I really liked your article because it goes into so much into how you did this analysis. Lily Smith: So, how did you come about deciding that you needed to identify your Aha Moment and really going into so much depth and working out? Abdelrahman Wahba: The short answer is necessity. Basically, we had some user retention numbers that we didn't like, and those retention numbers were also very crucial to us as a company in raising further funds and scaling up our user base. And we tried the spray and pray approach a lot, and it just didn't work. We tried shifting the content strategy here and there, just blindly, we tried engaging user a bit more blindly, it had some effect, but it didn't really have the effect that we wanted. Abdelrahman Wahba: So we felt, okay. I mean, started researching, how can we do this? Then we decided, "Okay. It seems that we need to figure out what makes the user just stick to the product and keep using it." And in some way, perhaps also fall in love with it and bring it into their daily routine. Abdelrahman Wahba: And this is basically, what started the journey for us. When we started researching, because I generally hate to reinvent the wheel and I generally love to copy what other people are doing if it works, we started researching and all the material we found was basically saying, "Yeah. There is something called The Aha Moment, which is great. Yeah. This is actually what we're looking for. Awesome." But there was no material out there describing how you actually find it. Abdelrahman Wahba: Everybody at the time knew that Facebook's Aha Moments was having 10 friends in seven days, or seven friends in 10 days. Everyone knew that if a user signs up on Twitter and follows 50 people, chances are, they will keep using Twitter forever, and so on. But how did Facebook and Twitter actually get to this very simple, Aha Moment definition, was never mentioned. So, that was basically why we decided, "Okay. We need to figure it out and then perhaps write the article." Lily Smith: And how do you define The Aha Moment? I mean, what's your definition, if you were describing it to someone else? Abdelrahman Wahba: My definition of The Aha Moment is quite simple, is a series of events, or a specific experience that the user has with the product, or the customer has with the product that flips a switch with them. And instead of just trying out the app or trying out the product just casually exploratoringly, or exploring, and, "Okay. I think it's nice. Maybe it's cool." And then maybe forgetting it the next day or the day after or whatever, it flips a switch and they just have to use the app, or it becomes a daily routine for them or a weekly or whatever frequency you want to define. Abdelrahman Wahba: So, it's basically a series of events, or a specific experience that converts the user from a casual user to a long-term loyal user. Randy Silver: Okay. So just making it a habit for them. Is that generally a single Aha Moment for the product? Or is it specific to different personas or customer segments? Abdelrahman Wahba: From my experience, it has been more or less a union of experiences with the product. Because with Iqraaly, it was basically the use case was more or less similar across personas. The value people get the content that they listen and then they fill in their time, they enjoy it, there's some educational fact of it, or there's some educational aspect of it, but there's also an entertainment aspect of it. Abdelrahman Wahba: And at the end of the day, when you observe the habit from a step back of listening to the content, is not super relevant, which persona it is. Now, this is not a generalisation per se. In other products where I embarked on similar projects or journeys, there was slight differences. For example, when I did the similar analysis for a B2B product that I worked on in the hotel industry, there was one big chunk of users, stayed loyal after integrating the product with their property management system, for example. And if you do the integration, it works and they stayed. They just continue using it because they get the value. Abdelrahman Wahba: Another big chunk was more related to, how many people they would invite for review as a monthly rate? Or as weekly rate? Sometimes it's how many compared to the number of rooms, because it's, do they invite everyone? Do they don't invite everyone? It was more of a union of both at the end of the day. When you step back and you say, "Okay. This specific integration, what does it actually do? It raises the number of invitations sent out by the system." So, it's a union of the experience with the product that gets people into the habit of using it, or at least reduces the turn massively. Lily Smith: So the answer, Randy, is it depends. We always [crosstalk 00:20:32] Abdelrahman Wahba: Definitely. Definitely. Randy Silver: I thought that was a great answer. I really liked it. It explains a lot. It does depend, but you give a clear understanding of why it depends. Abdelrahman Wahba: Yeah. I mean, I like to answer questions with, it depends, without saying it depends. Lily Smith: [inaudible 00:20:53] Randy Silver: It's a true products skill. Lily Smith: So, you've been through this process a couple of times then, is there like a certain amount of data that you need in order to identify this Aha Moment? Is there a time when you haven't done it? Because you've just thought, "I just don't have enough data yet to know when it's going to work," if you'll be able to identify it. Abdelrahman Wahba: Absolutely. I mean, the rule of thumb that I would say is, you have to have enough data to define your forever user, which is, I mean, how me and [Muhamud 00:21:28], my colleague and a good friend decided to name the people who are converted into loyal users. You just call them the forever user. They're here forever, although they're not here forever. So, if you define your long-term loyal users, as people who stay for six months or more, or people who stay for a few years, you have to have data enough to see that you have users who stayed for six months or maybe 12 months, and compare them to users who turned after six months. Abdelrahman Wahba: And I would recommend if you're doing a B2C app, if you're working on a B2C product, you need at least six to nine months of data. If you're working on a B2B SAS product, it's different because it depends on how you find your turn, it depends on how you invoice or bill your customers. If it's a monthly thing, if you have people pay monthly, and this is your bread and butter, the monthly payment, then you can also go for a six to 10 months worth of data. If people pay annually, you have to figure it out herself. Lily Smith: So, you mentioned it took 10 weeks to identify The Aha Moment at Iqraaly. Was that 10 weeks of full-time focus? Or was that dipping in and out of this exercise? Abdelrahman Wahba: I mean, measured on a time basis, it was not a full-time focus, but measured on a worry basis. It was more than a full-time focus. If the question was, "Did it keep you up at night for 10 weeks continuous?" "Yes. 100%." I mean, the time spent was less than 10 weeks full-time equivalent, but it was work that I did together with Mahamud, the technical manager of Iqraaly back then. And at some points we had to do some runs on the server to crunch the numbers and it would take maybe a day or two to run and you do something in parallel, but it had our top priority at that point. Lily Smith: So, just walk us through the process, just like really super high level. Because obviously we can't cover it in as much detail as your article, which I would highly recommend everyone go and read, by the way. But just give a high level perspective. What were the activities that you went through? Abdelrahman Wahba: I mean, before I started, there's actually a short version of the article that I also wrote and it's called, Nine Steps to Aha, and, I mean, I'm going to even try to shorten that a bit. Basically, you have to figure, I mean, you have to make sure that you have the capability to do cohort analysis. If you don't have this capability, don't even bother. Don't start. Randy Silver: For people who might not be familiar with it can you just give a quick overview of what that means? Abdelrahman Wahba: Yeah. Sure. I mean, cohort analysis is basically analysing user behaviour based on a specific cohort, or a specific grouping that is very irrelevant to your product. In most cases, cohorts are defined according to the month or week of starting to use your app. Like people who started to use the app in January, January might have a very different experience than those who started to use the app in February and March and so on. Abdelrahman Wahba: And even you can go even more granular and you say, "Okay. I'm going to do weekly cohorts," so people who started to use the app in the first week of Jan might have a different experience than those who started using it in the second week of Jan, and so on. And this grouping based on the date of starting, or the date of existence in your view of operating the app, is basically the cohort. So. you lump them together, and with the underlying assumption that those who have started to use the app in a similar cohort, they would have a similar experience throughout their lifetime on your product. Randy Silver: Absolutely. And the point to that is, if you're shipping constantly, then the app or the experience it is changing, but there's also external factors. It can be different competitor landscape, it can be different pricing, it could be different holidays and things like that. So, you're just grouping people together that you expect to have a similar behavioural experience, or a similar experience of using the product. Abdelrahman Wahba: Exactly. I couldn't have said it better myself. In fact, I have- Randy Silver: I think [inaudible 00:26:05] that's okay. Abdelrahman Wahba: So basically, if you need to make sure that you're able to do that with the data that you have about your users. And when you start doing that, you need to figure out, "Okay. Who is my forever user? Am I a seasonal app? Am I more a product? Am I something that people use for a while and then quit anyway, because it becomes irrelevant? Or am I building something that I want them to accompany that I want users to use for a longer period of time? And if so, what is this longer period of time?" Abdelrahman Wahba: And then you define, "Okay. A forever user is someone who used my app for more than one year. For more than eight months. For whatever." You have to define it, because this is the basis of everything else. Abdelrahman Wahba: And as soon as you start doing that, you need to try to figure out basically, what would be the next step? How do you analyse them? Throughout your analysis, you need to separate between the forever user and the non-forever user. And the user who turned or disappeared or whatever. Abdelrahman Wahba: And you start doing the cohort analysis. You plot the data, you plot the user behaviour based on cohorts, and separate every cohort, or separate most of your cohort that you're interested in into forever users and non-forever users. And then, you start observing and analysing the data to see if there is a specific pattern, or specific patterns, plural, that are pervasive and persistent with the forever users and they're not there with the non-forever users or the turned users. Abdelrahman Wahba: And based on those patterns, you start building a hypothesis. "Okay. I think users who do activity X, Y, and Z, users who have the experience, ABC are more likely to be forever users." And based on this hypothesis, you start operating. Start testing it. And testing it can be a bit more than a few AB tests. It could be a change in your business strategy as well. And then, based on your market feedback, you decide whether this was The Aha Moment or not, and Bob's your uncle. Lily Smith: And if you're a startup and you already have a few forever users, you're still trying to improve the activation of your users, and your customer base, do you think it's possible to just have... I can understand if you have a cohort. So, you have more people coming on board regularly that will give your cohort analysis. But if you only have a very few people becoming your forever users, do you think that's still worthwhile doing that analysis? Or do you think you need to do some other activities which improves that forever user number? Abdelrahman Wahba: I don't see it as an either/or to be honest. I see it as two independent activities. You definitely always need to be doing activities that increase your forever users. If you only have a few, you need to work on your conversion funnels. Your conversion funnel. What does it look like? Why is it just reaching this view? Where do I have breakups in the conversion funnel? But if you have a bunch of them and you're not satisfied with this amount and you think it's leaking somewhere, chances are, it would be interesting to look into The Aha Moment of those users. Abdelrahman Wahba: On the other hand, if you have very, very few users, this can also be an advantage, because you can perhaps contact them directly and talk to them. And not just try to hypothesise based on aggregated user behaviour, because you have thousands of users, or hundreds of users, or I don't know, or tens of thousands of forever users, if you have maybe 50 or 20, I would suggest you contact them. I mean, why not? Abdelrahman Wahba: We actually did that. We didn't do it in the context of The Aha Moment analysis, it was one of the earlier activities where we were trying to figure out our way. We did a lot of user interviews and we tried to figure out, what they like? What they don't like? Why are they using the app? Building personas and stuff. And the findings that we came across in those activities, they indirectly fed into our Aha Moment analysis project. Abdelrahman Wahba: I would say it was more of an indirect learning that, "Okay. We think..." I mean, it helped us narrow down the areas that we analysed a bit, but I can only say that in retrospect. I don't think we were super aware of those studies, or those early activities helping us in The Aha Moment, more or less. Randy Silver: Lily, I think Abdo just got you with an, it depends answer. Abdelrahman Wahba: Yes. More or less. Yeah. The gist would be basically, if you have a little amount of users, sure. I mean, if you have a significant amount of data, for a little amount of users, that's not a bad thing. It's just would shape The Aha Moment analysis more towards actually going after users, looking to their data and also contacting them. But if you have a lot of forever users, you would have to sample this contact if you need it. And maybe it's easier to look into the data and hypothesise and test it. Randy Silver: So, Abdo, is this something that you do only once. You've identified your Aha Moment and you're good forever? Or do you have to re-examine this as an assumption? Sometimes it doesn't ever change over time. Abdelrahman Wahba: It is definitely not something you do once, but it is something you have to decide whether you want to do or not. I know products, for example, that don't have a retention issue. It just works. Maybe by coincidence, maybe they did everything right, or maybe, I mean, they were just the right product in the right point of time. So, they just don't have a dire need of prioritising this project above other things they have to do. Abdelrahman Wahba: But if you did it once, chances are it would be very reasonable for you to do it again, maybe every year-ish, or a few times a year to at least validate the hypothesis that came out of The Aha Moment. If the hypothesis gets invalidated, then it's worth re-examining the data and taking a step back and coming up with new hypothesis. Lily Smith: So, you mentioned earlier that you've done this a couple of times now, was it faster going through the process the next time that you did it? Abdelrahman Wahba: Oh, yeah. Much faster. The 10 weeks were mostly spent figuring out the way. And a big chunk of the time spent was, basically, us banging our heads against the wall. Because, I mean, looking back, it's quite easy to figure out, "Yeah. It makes sense to have done that. It makes sense to look into this things," but when we were doing them, we didn't really know that this is the right step, or this is the right next step. And we had to literally at times, bang our heads against the wall to just try to figure out what the next step would be. Abdelrahman Wahba: At some points, we took multiple steps that didn't work out until we figured out that, "Okay. This seems to be the right thing to do." And obviously if I had included that in the article, this would have prolonged it by five or 10 more times, and it would have made it super boring to be honest, and maybe could have been converted into a Greek tragedy and the plate in Broadway or something. Abdelrahman Wahba: But, I thought it's not really worth it. I mean, ironically enough, when I wrote the article and sent it out to friends to look into this, they said, "Yeah. We were very confused in the beginning, but it got clear step-by-step." I told them, "Yeah." I tried to make it as clear as possible, but it seems that the experience of finding The Aha Moment without knowing how to do it, it hit us deep in our core, me and Mahamud, to the extent that I couldn't really shake off the confusion feeling every time I went through the experience in my head. Abdelrahman Wahba: And this manifested itself in the article that I had to write a disclaimer, saying, "By the way, guys, if you feel confused, just don't worry. It's going to be clear at the end. This is exactly how I felt." Lily Smith: And, how does this set with parameter? Parameter being the acquisition, activation, retention, revenue referral, The Aha Moment for you, is that the activation moment? Abdelrahman Wahba: I think it's an intersection between activation and retention. Lily Smith: Right. Abdelrahman Wahba: You can activate the user where they say, "Yeah. I'm using it. I use it for a few times, but I still go away." It's more into activating them enough to be a retained user to come back again on their own devices, or at least upon very minor on costly impulses from your side as a product operator, or a product owner, or product manager. Abdelrahman Wahba: So, I think it's just somewhere between activation and retention. And this was actually our case. We had people who listened for a lot of content, but then they just disappeared. And some of them, when we contact them, they said, "Yeah. I don't know. I just didn't get into the habits. I mean, I don't know, I just forgot the app." Even though we send them notifications that everything. We did everything we could do, but it seems that it's not just a matter of activation, it's not just a matter of overcoming, downloading and onboarding the user and having them do a few activities with the app. It goes a bit more into the direction of retention. Randy Silver: So, you're talking a lot about habit forming here. How important is it to really understand what the customer is after? What is the problem that you're solving? And really define that value proposition in the first place. Is this something that helps you understand if you've got the right value perhaps? Abdelrahman Wahba: It is very important to do that. In fact, I would even take it a step further, it's also very important to focus your value proposition per persona, to make it a single value proposition per product persona, at least, if not overall. And in our case, when we did this analysis, I mean, an audiobook app is an audiobook app. At the end of the day, we had multiple personas, we had multiple use cases for the app, but the value of people got of it, was more or less in union. Abdelrahman Wahba: It's basically time that couldn't have... I mean, you're doing something that's not involving your mind quite well, or/and is not entertaining. Two very, very different use cases that we came across, but that have an underlying ground in common between them was driving, and also doing stuff in the kitchen. Abdelrahman Wahba: One of our very active and heavy users was a lady who spent a lot of time in the kitchen. And she just turned on the app and listened to audiobooks there. And she wasn't alone. This was a vivid persona that we had in our minds all the time. And when we started positioning our marketing material, and marketing campaigns towards this persona, in addition to the driving use case, we started getting more traction in this area. And also, we positioned some content this area, and it was quite engaging to the people. Abdelrahman Wahba: But when you think about it, although the two use cases are very, very different, the underlying need that we're addressing, is more in harmony between those two use cases than one would think. It's basically, the need to overcome time where you're doing some manual work or something that is not as engaging as you would like, and you'd like to be engaged and entertained, and perhaps also informed. Lily Smith: And you identified your North Star metric, of daily less than minutes using the Aha analysis. How did that North Star metric, then change the way that you worked within the business? Because we talk about analytics and the importance of being data-driven, but depending on different products, depends on whether you can actually identify this North Star metrics. I'm curious to know, once you had that, how did it change the way that you operated in your business? Abdelrahman Wahba: Well, I mean, when we defined our Aha moment at the end of the day to be listening to roughly one book in one month, or one whole book in one month, which was like 600-ish minutes, we shifted our entire content strategy to push the users to listen to a whole book in a month, we shifted our entire marketing strategy to push for that. And we shifted a lot of our product backlog around to deliver features and user stories that basically pushed for The Aha Moment. Abdelrahman Wahba: And the North Star metric, which was the lesson minutes, it was, I think that we talked about everyday. I would have the marketing team and the product team always report on this metric every day, and I had my own dashboard that I looked in every day and I shared it with the whole team every day. "Today we did this, today we did that, today the number went up, today the number went down." Abdelrahman Wahba: It became the compass of the whole company, to basically operate and move forward. And it also became the main decision, "Okay. We want to do more this content of this type. Will it increase the listen minutes or will it not increase the listen minutes? Will it increase the listen minutes in a specific persona? Will it affect the listen minutes of the heavy users? Or is it just inviting and bringing people into the pool that will go away after a while, because they're not the persona we're after." Abdelrahman Wahba: So, it became quite central in the discussion and in the communication within the team. And actually the operation that we built was quite interesting, because it was mainly remote. We had a small office in Cairo where the tech team and the marketing team would meet and work, but most, not most, all of our content people worked from home. Abdelrahman Wahba: The whole audio production was done remotely, and from home, back then, it was, I mean, we had to make shifts with a lot of interesting tools and curtains and pillows and weird stuff, but yeah, it comes with the package of being Egyptian, but I mean, we had to make the communication very, very strong around this point. Around the North Star, which is listening minutes. Lily Smith: And did you ever move away from the focus on that? Or did that remain with the business until you left? Abdelrahman Wahba: It remained with the business until I left. And it was the basis of the company strategy, and the business strategy of the company, four years after. Also, I mean, when this didn't become a thing anymore, like when, "Okay. We know now that if people listen for roughly a book, or a bit more per month, then chances are they're going to stay and with time and when the space got more interesting and when the antivirus to listening to books became a bit lower just based on us existing in this sphere for a while, and others starting to enter, and the traffic problem even magnifying itself a bit more, it became easier. It became easier to get into the use case to get into the habit." Abdelrahman Wahba: And the focus of the business strategy shifted a little bit in content sourcing and copyright acquisition, and so on. Randy Silver: So have you seen any of the people that you worked with take up this habit and follow up on mapping out Aha Moments? Or have they moved on? Abdelrahman Wahba: I have seen people that I worked with that have it and mind, but not necessarily, do an extensive study again, to be really fair. Randy Silver: Why do you think that is? Abdelrahman Wahba: It's hard to say, but I think it goes back to the origin of why we did it. It was a necessity for us, it was a big pain for us to move and do it. And when the pain is gone, you don't really need to do it. It's not also very easy to do it. I mean, talking about how to do it is quite easy and simple, but if you sit down and try to figure out what the pattern is and start hypothesising, your hypothesis can be all over the place. Abdelrahman Wahba: And this is where your industry understanding, and user understanding and experience come into place, where you start saying, "Okay. I'm going to prioritise those hypothesis because I think this would bring more value compared to that," because at the end of the day, they're all hypothesis and they're all mostly shots in the dark, to some extent, at least. Abdelrahman Wahba: And it's not an easy exercise to do, and if there's no necessity to do it, you don't have to do it. And I think that was probably the reason. Randy Silver: Abdo, thank you very much. It's a topic that I really love. I think, in general, we're really good at refining a hypothesis and product management. We're not always so good at making sure we have the right hypothesis in the first place, and this is a really valuable way of working towards that. So, thank you very much. We really appreciate your time today. Abdelrahman Wahba: Absolutely. It's my pleasure. And I really like your podcast and I listened to it from time to time. Not because of you, it's because of me. I mean, but this is basically because of me, it's because I tend to like to listen to comedy podcasts more than the informative stuff, because I'm just really. Randy Silver: Saying we're not funny, Lily. Abdelrahman Wahba: Essentially, yes. Lily Smith: [inaudible 00:45:22] Abdo, it's been such a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us. Abdelrahman Wahba: Absolutely. The pleasure's all mine. Thank you for having me. Lily Smith: Some great tips there on trying to find that magic moment. I'll definitely be using his guide. Randy Silver: And it was great to learn that The Aha Moment has nothing to do with Alan Partridge. I think I might be dating and locating myself with that reference. Lily Smith: Ha. Yeah. Absolutely. Randy Silver: That's all from us this week. Thank you so much for joining, like and subscribe in all that fun stuff, and we'll see you next week. Lily Smith: Bye. We'd love to know what you think. Please tweet us @MTPpod. Randy Silver: The product experience is part of the Mind, the Product network, check out your local ProductTank today. Find it at mindtheproduct.com/producttank. Lily Smith: And his global ProductTank manager, Marc Abraham, to tell us more about what ProductTank is. Marc Abraham: ProductTank is a global community of meetups in over 155 cities across the world, driven by/and for product managers. Whether you have a group discussion, or you're listening to speakers, the whole idea is to create a safe environment for product people to come together and to share that learnings and tips. Randy Silver: Have you seen a great talk? Nominate a future guest on the podcast channel on the Monday product slack, you can find that at mindtheproduct.slack.com. Lily Smith: If you want to learn more about product management, take a look at minetheproduct.com/training to see what courses are on near you. Randy Silver: Emily Tate is our executive producer, our theme music comes from the German band P.A.L, featuring Arne Kittler of ProductTank Humberg. Lily Smith: And that's goodbye from Randy and Lily, see you next time.