Wilco enables software engineers of all experience levels to upskill by acquiring and honing hands-on skills in an immersive experience. The platform, built to emulate the conditions at a tech startup, sends users on “quests” that cover everyday engineering tasks — from deploying an app to finding the root cause of a production issue — utilizing real-life tech stacks. Wilco’s business offering enables companies to create custom quests that facilitate faster and more efficient onboarding, on-call certification, or pre-project training. It was founded in 2021 by On Freund (CEO), Shem Magnezi (CTO), and Alon Carmel (CPO).
Wilco has an ever-expanding catalog of “quests” that help developers and engineers move beyond the typical process of watching mundane tutorials to gain and practice the skills they need. This means users actively deploy apps, find bugs, and implement new features, in a way that simulates real-world scenarios.
The hands-on nature of Wilco, with its multi-step challenges and ample opportunities for user engagement, means that Wilco needs to quickly and accurately understand how users are interacting with their platform. These insights serve to improve quests, debug issues, and more.
Before turning to a dedicated product analytics solution, the Wilco team was spending significant engineering time building out their own dashboards from raw interaction data. The effort required to map and analyze the data meant, in practice, reduced data visibility and lower ability to quickly respond to changes in user behavior across the platform.
Wilco switched product analytics tools and selected Mixpanel. Once in place, the team was able to identify issues quickly and validate data from the platform, giving them the confidence they needed to make rapid changes and improvements to the product. This has been a key driver behind their product-led growth strategy (PLG), and a huge shift across the organization with diving into dashboards, problem-solving and debugging data, and generally being in tune with how the product is resonating with users.
Another benefit of switching to Mixpanel was the increased visibility of product data to non-technical teams. Team members who didn’t have experience with analytics platforms could easily begin analyzing user flows and discovering actionable insights related to their tasks.
Mixpanel has become the destination for us to look at everything to do with the product itself. It has become the driver of our entire PLG strategy. Everyone across the company always has a Mixpanel tab open; it’s a strategic part of our business day.Alon CarmelCPO
- 2x increase in activation rates
- Reduced user onboarding completion time from 1+ days to 9 minutes
- Increased number of quests from 1 per user to 2+ per user
- Reduced time to build a board from 3-4 days per board to seconds
- Removed the need for an external consultant, saving costs to the business
Tell us about your challenges prior to using Mixpanel.
We recognized that we needed a dedicated product analytics solution, but getting the right tool was important. The team firstly trialed a number of different options, including Amplitude, but felt we were still facing issues with the tool being too complicated to use. In addition, we were spending a lot of time on data validation, and people just didn’t enjoy using it.
Why did you choose Mixpanel?
We chose Mixpanel because it is easy to use. We used to invest a huge amount of time in building dashboards with different tools, which stopped many people from across the business from understanding and using the data we had available to us. We had an ongoing relationship with the Mixpanel team, and coupled with their strong industry reputation, it was a quick decision to implement the tool once the initial conversations took place.
So who exactly uses Mixpanel at Wilco?
Because it’s powerful and simple to use, it’s also used by basically everyone across the business, from product to engineers to marketing, and even our leadership team. At Wilco, there is now a clear process: you start off with Mixpanel if you have a hunch that there is a problem. Then you identify and validate that you have an issue, use internal tools to fix those issues, then go back to Mixpanel to confirm if that issue has been fixed.
Due to its ease of use and speed of insight, it also means our teams can collaborate more closely with different job roles. For example, if different functions disagree on something, we tend to look at the data coming from Mixpanel to help us resolve the discussion or test out a hypothesis.
To give you an idea of how engrained the tool is in our work: we’ve created a purpose-built integration between Mixpanel, Wilco, and Slack. Every day at 10am, the entire company gets a Slack notification informing them of stats like the number of completed quests, user signups, users activated, and active users. This is our daily glimpse into our Company Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Since our teams spend most of their time in Slack channels, it made sense to have a streamlined and direct way to present data and KPIs from Mixpanel. So instead of going directly into Mixpanel, teams always have specific reporting being sent directly into Slack on a daily basis.
Tell us more about how your marketing team has benefited from Mixpanel.
Mixpanel has been an integral part of our marketing campaigns. Here are a few examples:
- Influencer campaigns: We engaged developer influencers on Instagram with the objective to drive users to our platform. These influencers posted content about Wilco and encouraged their audiences to join Wilco. Some influencer activity was paid and some was organic. Mixpanel data led us to answer questions like “are these influencers bringing us users that are valuable and to what extent? Is our content appropriate for the level of audience that we’d like to attract?” Because of Mixpanel data, we learned that our core users were junior developers. We didn’t necessarily expect or aim to have junior developers as our key user base. So this discovery led to us exploring what we could change to attract a more senior level developer. The insights from this influencer campaign have spearheaded our messaging and focus on reaching our target market.
- Audience segmentation: We use Mixpanel to segment our audience to clearly understand who is a user of Wilco– not only profile data like where they’re from but also how long they’re spending in the platform, what skill level they are, how many times they’re requesting a hint when going through a quest, etc. All of this helps us understand who they are and how we can engage with them.
Does this mean you’re becoming more data-driven across the team?
Absolutely. And more so than ever before. With Mixpanel, everyone just wants to dig into the data before making any decisions. If we were to create a graph of people using Mixpanel Boards and data, it would look like a hockey stick graph that is continually going up. It’s made us a more, and a better data-driven company in every sense.
Our user onboarding process now takes just over nine minutes- down from over a day- and our activation rates have doubled. That was from simply looking at the data in Mixpanel over time, which translated into interactive product changes, and now users are getting hooked on the platform more easily.Alon CarmelCPO
What else has Mixpanel helped you with?
We are building our company through a PLG strategy. Achieving this means we have to keep a really close eye on metrics like activation rate, which is one of the most important KPIs in building a PLG product. We are constantly finding different conclusions about this specific metric and then iterating the product to help improve that KPI. But it’s a constantly changing figure that we wouldn’t be able to keep on top of without a quick and easy tool like Mixpanel.
A practical example of what this looks like is when we had to make changes to the setup flow in our platform. When you first get started with us, we used to have a quest that asks you the skills that you want to learn, an online tutorial and a few other steps. It was a really long process and took users over a day to complete it. Using Mixpanel and looking at the data, we are able to measure this user journey and time to value, which made us realize that a lot of users were dropping off because of this elongated process. Now, this same onboarding process takes just over nine minutes and our activation rates have doubled – that was from simply looking at the data in Mixpanel over time, which translated into interactive product changes, and now users are getting hooked on the platform more easily.
What other impact has Mixpanel had on your KPIs?
Since being able to analyze our data using Mixpanel, we were able to optimize our number of quests per user. We’ve seen an increase in one quest per user to two or more quests per user, just by looking at flows, data, and drops in funnels, and solving related issues.
Have you used Mixpanel to influence your product roadmap?
Almost everything in our roadmap is based on data. We’re not going to build a certain feature just because we feel like it – we always try to think about things like: “Who will use it? How will it affect retention rates? What negative effects could this have on user activation?” And it’s only through having a tool like Mixpanel that we can be confident in making those decisions. That drives what our product roadmap looks like and what changes get implemented.
One example where Mixpanel helped support a rollout of a new feature is during the launch of Wilco Challenges. Similar to most gamification challenges out there today, you choose a challenge in the Wilco platform, such as completing a certain number of quests within the first week. However, we weren’t sure how it was going to be received. By using Mixpanel, we were able to understand very quickly the number of quests users were doing, how quickly retention rates were growing, and how we needed to adapt the product to react to these trends. If we were still relying on building our own dashboards or less intuitive product analytics tools, this just wouldn’t have been possible.
Based on the success you have seen to date, what wouldn’t you have been able to achieve without Mixpanel?
Accessing reliable data quickly. We used to spend a huge amount of engineering time building out our own dashboards: three to four days per board using an external consultant which was an additional cost to the business. With Mixpanel, now we can just run a query in seconds, which is really easy for any of the team to digest and respond to. This has ultimately transformed the user experience and the ways in which we can understand how our users want to learn and improve their skills.
What’s next for Wilco, and how do you plan to use Mixpanel?
We’re really excited about the future. In fact, together with the Mixpanel team, we built a quest for users to learn how to use Mixpanel itself. We think it’s such a vital learning tool for everyone who’s involved in product and user experience, which is now most people across a company. We’re looking forward to the continued insights we’ll derive from Mixpanel and the ability to keep improving our product for our users.
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