What you can learn from Kickstarter’s analytics saga

Like your startup, Kickstarter started simple. Then the Greenpoint company created its own data analytics system to better understand itself.

Kickstarter cofounders Charles Adler, Perry Chen and Yancey Strickler. (Photo courtesy of Kickstarter)

Earlier this week, Kickstarter’s Fred Benenson and Ben Linsay published a post on the Greenpoint company’s blog about the crowdfunding giant’s history with data.
“If you’ve built a product of any size, chances are you’ve evaluated and deployed at least one analytics service,” the post reads. “We have too, and that is why we wanted to share with you the story of analytics at Kickstarter.”

Benenson, who was one of the earliest employees at Kickstarter, and Linsay write that Kickstarter began, as many upstart companies do, using Google Analytics.

We were small enough that we weren’t going to hit any data caps, it was free, and the limitations of researching user behavior by analyzing page views weren’t yet clear to us.

But as the company grew, the information it collected, including that related to video, became increasingly complex, and Google Analytics increasingly sluggish.
In 2012, the company switched to Mixpanel, a best-in-class data service that served them well for years.

Mixpanel’s event-driven model provided a solution to the problems we were encountering with Google’s page views: we could track video plays, signups, password changes, etc., and those events could be aggregated and split in exactly the same way page views could be.

In 2014 they set out on the trying task of building their own infrastructure, to which they added features of some preexisting services like Amazon’s Redshift and Looker.

Owning your own analytics infrastructure isn’t merely about replicating services you’re already comfortable with. It is about opening up a field of opportunities for new products and insights beyond your team’s current roadmap and imagination.

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Companies: Kickstarter
Series: Brooklyn

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