Archive for Development Schedule

Back from an extended blogging break…

As someone who has been a little slack at adding to his blog, let me briefly explain. In the last two months, the following has happened:

  • Launched beta 1.0 of Trickytix to two major clients (Mothers Day Classic and RSPCA)
  • Helped each client make more money for themselves than previous years
  • Engaged a consulting firm to assist us in our funding requirements
  • Pitched at two different investor breakfasts (Sydney and Melbourne)
  • Networked existing contacts, peers, friends, family and fellow entrepreneurs for investor contacts
  • Fielded business queries from a range of large and small companies, with two more live customers added to beta 1.0, and five waiting to be slotted into closed testing of Trickytix beta 1.1 (June).
  • Developed a marketing and positioning strategy which sees us aimed squarely at a large, under serviced market
  • Continued development of Trickytix
  • And oh yeah. My first child was born at the Mercy Hospital on Wednesday the 21st of May 2008. Welcome to the world Otis John Handsaker.

You know when Otis is old enough to ego surf, that entry should appear somewhere in the SERP as the first instance of the little fella on the web.

While right now I am on paternity leave, the second half of 2008 is shaping up to be a defining time in the life of Trickytix. I will be back and blogging again, and look forward to sharing my experiences in looking for private equity capital in Australia.

Until then, I have nappies to change. I can smell them from here.

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A blogging break

I am on leave from today, back in the new year to continue the Trickytix build.  Hope you all have a great holiday season, and your business soars in 2008.

When next I blog in January, I hope to be able to share with you the news of two important milestones:

  1. The first customer
  2. The first full time hire of a developer for Trickytix

Both are close, but I wouldn’t want to sound off until contracts are signed!

Later,
Scott.

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If you are heading down the wrong path, stop and turn around.

This week marked three important milestones in the evolution of Trickytix.

  1. We started to receive emails from prospective customers asking about using the product. No prompting from us, no cold calling. Just unsolicited emails.
  2. We developed our first piece of marketing material (a brochure), and sent that to a prospect.
  3. We all got together and discussed the current state of our solution, and unanimously agreed it was crap. More on that below.

Unsolicited emails

The only marketing we have done so far is attach a logo to our email signatures, and this blog. Somehow, the word is trickling out there, as three separate prospects from around the country emailed us this week asking for more details. It’s a good sign that we are building something that solves a tangible business problem.

Marketing Material

Due to the fact that we have started to receive enquiries before we have a complete product to show, we quickly whipped up a brochure that can be easily emailed out. The best thing about putting the brochure together was that it forced us to put down on paper our pricing model (something we had been avoiding making a decision on).

It also helped us to define exactly what it is we are doing. In fact, page 1 of the brochure goes something like this:

Trickytix is an online event management solution that anyone can use. Whether you’re planning for 2 people or 20,000, Trickytix can handle the online registrations for your event.

In less than 5 minutes you can:

  • Create an account
  • Set up your event
  • Accept online registrations for free

Trickytix is free to use for free events. If you want to accept payments for your event, Trickytix provides a low cost solution for processing online transactions. Accept real-time credit card payments straight into your own account, or use the Trickytix account if you don’t have your own facility.

Yes – the more savvy amongst you will have noticed that we write our own copy. Web consultants we may be, copywriters we are not. Having said that, we will continue to bang out “acceptable” marketing copy while our budget remains tight.

Download a copy of the Trickytix brochure yourself. I would love to know what you think, so feel free to leave a comment below.

Crap User Interface

The meeting this afternoon was called to discuss the prototype of Trickytix, and get a feel for what the four of us thought of it.  The consensus was that it was not quite ready to release to the market.  I think someone even used the word crap.

This is a good thing though.  In fact, it’s fantastic.

A moment such as this is exactly why we built the software in this way in the first place (no wireframes, no use cases, just straight into coding).  Wireframes don’t tell you how easy your screens will be to use, and the only way you are going to find out is if you build it and start using it.  We built it, we used it, we hated it.

Now we change.  Now we spend the next 2 weeks improving and tweaking the interface so that it becomes a great user experience.  We embrace the fact that we are small (4 employees) and simply change direction.

It was one of those moments where we realised we were heading down a path we didn’t want to be on.  Being small allows us to simply stop, turn around and go back to the last fork in the proverbial development path.  Launch gets pushed back again, but the product improves significantly.

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So close I can smell it

I haven’t blogged for a while, as I was waiting for the newly minted Australian Anthill website to go live. Now it is here, I hope to be able to share our ups and downs as we attempt to grow a brand new business.So where is the prototype I hear you ask?

It is close. Real close. If it was a freshly baked loaf of bread, you would be able to smell it rising in the oven right about now.

While our regular consulting work has taken priority many times over the development of Trickytix, if we are honest with ourselves we have also neglected to properly embrace the notion of constraints.

he team at 37Signals put it best in their e-book Getting Real:

There’s never enough to go around. Not enough time. Not enough money. Not enough people.

That’s a good thing.

Instead of freaking out about these constraints, embrace them. Let them guide you. Constraints drive innovation and force focus. Instead of trying to remove them, use them to your advantage.

Constraints are limitations that actually improve the likelihood of a successful outcome. While we have embraced a number of important ones (restricted budget, small development team, tight deadlines, no wireframes just jump straight into the User Interface), we may have built “too much” software for the first prototype.

That is not to stay that the first cut will be a perfect, bug free solution (far from it!). But it may do some kind of cool things that it didn’t really need to do for the first launch. Your customers won’t thank you for spending 4 hours to make the background of an element light up when it is dragged and dropped on the screen, if by doing so you miss your ship date.

But enough of that, and back to what I promised the Anthill guys I would blog about. Everyone wants to know what things cost, especially if they are considering making the leap into self-employment themselves.

With that in mind I will get my next post out by the end of this week, with details of what it costs to build a prototype web application in Australia. Development costs, hardware and software, legal fees, accounting fees, trust companies, food, beer and everything in between.

eep in mind we are boot strapping the initial build from our own cash reserves (no VC funding at this stage), but we are an established company and so have tried to do things properly.

Therefore:

  1. If you are a freelancer in your bedroom thinking of building your own app, yes you can do it cheaper than what we have (divide our cost by at least a factor of 5).
  2. If you are a business unit within a large ASX listed company, hire 30 more people, multiply our cost by a factor of 25 and spend the next 18 months building your product. You too will miss ship date.

See you next post.

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An update on the development schedule

I read back over my first post and wonder where the time went. To quote myself from May:

Good enough is good enough, and we will launch something within 8 weeks no matter what

Welllll… good enough is good enough, but you still need to have a functioning product to launch something. This coming Friday the 6th of July was our original launch date, and we acknowledge we are going to miss that.

Setting the deadline in the first place was still a great idea, and it has worked well for us. We have made a lot of progress on the prototype, while still churning out a hell of a lot of client work. But the 6th of July will come and go without a launch.

Reasons for missing the launch?

  1. This is our first web app, and to be honest the 8 week timeline for development was a bit of a guess
  2. Developing an app while completing client work in parallel means resources are pulled out of development at inopportune times. The extra time will allow us to get the business better prepared for the first customer, including sorting out the pricing model (a subject of a future post).

A new launch date has been set internally for the 27th of July 2007, and we are now re-focused on getting a prototype out the door on that date. This first cut is likely to be a closed door beta (invite only), so sign up at TrickyTix if you want to help test.

Visit the Anthill forum

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