Silicon Valley is always hungry to jump onto the next big trend. In the recent past, TruckSpotting was 'da thing' in the Bay. Couples would forgo chi-chi dates, and hunt for food trucks instead. How big was that trend? Well, big enough to have its own app. There has even been quite a few documented accounts of Silicon Valley engineers leaving their cush, well-paid programming jobs to start their own food trucks.
And who can forget Checking in, which was practically a religious practice around here, whereby everyone would declare to the world where they were at any given moment - the grocery store, their neighborhood dive bar, even the bathroom!
One trend that is, was, and probably forever will be popular in the Bay is Dogfooding. Eating your own dog food (a.k.a. sipping your own champagne) is the act of startups using their own products, even when in beta form in their day to day business. The premise is simple, if the product is good, then the creator better use it, or else why would anyone buy it? But companies also strive to use their own product so that they have a chance to straighten out all of the kinks in the product before it ships to customers.
Dogfooding is like a badge of honor; the sooner and the more thorough startups use their own products, the bigger the pride. Big companies measure Time To Market (TTM), startups measure Time To Dogfood (TTD - I should really trademark this term!!). Of course not all startups are created equal; a To-Do list startup may have a TTD in weeks, while others may never actually use their own products.
At Bitglass, we can proudly claim our badge of honor. We eat our own dog food; everyone, CEO to sales person!
Like most startups, we use SaaS apps, including for email, productivity, file sharing and CRM. 100% of business transactions in all of these systems are secured by our own product. How has the experience been to dogfood at Bitglass? It has been entirely uneventful! In fact, at one point I honestly forgot that I was behind our security layer at all! And therein lies our strength as a Saas/Mobile security solution: we secure corporate traffic and digital assets, but we don't get in the way of the user.
Before any new feature ships to our customers, it has not only gone through a rigorous quality assurance process, but it has also been used by all of our employees to conduct their day-to-day work for weeks. Why? To ensure that we ship a quality product and so that we can proudly stay on top of the Dogfooding trend.
Would love to hear your own "dogfood" stories. Share your thoughts and comments below!