Surfing the User Experience Optimization Tsunami

Alejandro Rivas-Micoud Userlytics

Alejandro Rivas-Micoud, CEO of Userlytics, tells us about it state-of-the-art usability testing platform.

Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Userlytics.

Alejandro Rivas-Micoud: I have had a varied entrepreneurial career, founding companies in Spain, Japan, and the US, some of which had very successful exits and some of which were “learning experiences.”

I built my startup at the age of 14 in Spain. It was a grocery delivery business. The lesson I learned, in hindsight, is that a good idea can be too early if the ecosystem and required supporting technologies are not ready for it (see Apple´s Newton vs. Apple´s iPad…).

Another lesson I learned much later was that success breeds hubris, which typically leads to failure, whereas failure makes us more humble, laying the groundwork for success.

After selling two Spanish telecom operators in 2006 and taking a bit of time off, I launched Userlytics in San Francisco in 2009, which is now one of the leading user experience optimization services in the world, with a state of the art UX & usability testing platform and a proprietary panel of over 1,4 million respondents. We currently help enterprise customers in over 51 countries.

Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?

Alejandro Rivas-Micoud: I am a voracious reader – of news, fiction, and all types of written material, on all kinds of subjects (science, technology, history, philosophy, politics…). I think having a wide-ranging set of interests helps me connect the dots in serendipitous ways. 

I think it also allows me to connect empathetically with people, which helps lay the basis for a strong corporate culture; I strongly agree with Peter Drucker that “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast.”

How does Userlytics market its product/services online? 

Alejandro Rivas-Micoud: Word of mouth and referrals, SEO, SEM (AdWords, LinkedIn, and referral platforms), industry events/conferences, and content marketing initiatives.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?

Alejandro Rivas-Micoud: Userlytics uses various online tools and employs specialists in several fields to effectively manage our online marketing efforts. We employ a content writer, social media specialist, marketing manager, strategic partnerships manager, and several UX researchers to ensure we create compelling content for our clients and users so that each area of our efforts is overseen and managed correctly. Some tools we use for our marketing efforts are ads across Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms, Google Adwords, Google Analytics, MailChimp, and Hootsuite.

What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?

Alejandro Rivas-Micoud: As the CEO, I like to interview every single employee or intern we hire, so I am much more involved in the hiring process of entry-level employees than what I believe is typical for senior management. I believe that hiring the right people that are a good fit for our culture, and helping maintain and improve that culture, is the single most important investment of time I can make.

We are very fortunate to have minimum employee churn so far. I am very proud of the fact that our employees really enjoy working at Userlytics – the atmosphere, the energy, the professionalism, and room to be proactive, make impactful decisions, and contribute within a polite and respectful ambiance.

I am also very proud of the fact that employees from previous firms I had the honor to lead say of their time in those companies that it was the best time of their professional careers and the fact that many of them went on to launch successful entrepreneurial ventures of their own.

How are you funding your growth?

Alejandro Rivas-Micoud: We are very fortunate that we have not had to make use of institutional capital, so our company has been financed and “bootstrapped” through my own investments. This affords us a high and unusual degree of freedom for a fast-growing high technology firm.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Alejandro Rivas-Micoud: We have two peers with a similar breadth of capabilities, and There are a number of more focused smaller competitors also.

The combination of a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform with a proprietary panel of respondents (ours is the second largest in the industry) affords a highly defensible positioning; that said, this is a fast-moving industry, and we need to keep on our toes to maintain our current very competitive offering.

We also are the leader in our industry in terms of international footprint, panel size, and degree of language localization and capabilities.

Tell us a customer success story of yours.

Alejandro Rivas-Micoud: One client we have seen great success with is a leader in the B2B software space. The client started off requesting help with one project, but due to the positive impact Userlytics had on their UX and overall brand success, they eventually requested that we work with them consistently, conducting several different projects a month. We’ve done multiple rounds of user testing with them, and the results indicate that the insights gathered from the previous studies and our recommendations to address those issues resulted in highly impactful improvements in their internal metrics and KPIs.

Toward the beginning of us working with this client, one of their researchers left their team, and they asked for temporary help to get through their very busy schedule of projects – we immediately filled in. We stepped up when they needed us, and this assistance then became a permanent relationship. Their participant recruitment criteria is oftentimes difficult, especially because their product is aimed towards a specific role in b2b companies. Fortunately, our operations team has been doing an excellent job of ensuring they have the right number of participants that fit the ideal customer or user profile they need for each and every study.

Your final thoughts?

Alejandro Rivas-Micoud: 2022 seems like the 3rd (and hopefully final) release of a three-year dramatic trilogy, and the world has been massively disrupted. Many of the events of these last 3 years have been very negative and sad, including the impact of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

However, as someone who likes to think positively, I would hope that we can all, as a global community, try to learn from our mistakes prior to and during these past three years, as well as take advantage of the changes to bring about an improvement in the human condition so that some years down the road we will see this period as a wrenching and painful experience that nevertheless helped us launch more rapidly into a better future for all.

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