A Business in a Day: giveusaminute.com

Lately, my business partner and I have wanted to try some shorter ‘build days’. The idea of these are to start with a blank canvas and an idea, then deliver a working product by the end of the day. This is a very different approach to the months of effort that we generally invest to launch something.

Today we undertook our first build day and delivered Give Us A Minute, an iPad-targeted web app for managing wait lists:

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It was a fun experience trying to achieve everything required in one day, but I think we did pretty well. We managed everything from domain name registration to deployment in just under 9 hours. One of the biggest unplanned tasks was actually building the website to advertise the app; we hadn’t even thought of factoring that in when we started the day. The photography also took up a bit of time, but we needed to do it to tell the story properly on the site. Also, it was nice to be required to go and find a beer garden with a tax-deductible beer each so we could get that bottom-left photo.

As part of staying focussed on the idea of a minimum viable product we dropped the idea of accounts very early on. At some point we’ll have to start charging for the text messages, but that then implies logins, registration, forgotten passwords, account balances and a whole host of other infrastructure pieces. In the mean time we’ll just absorb the cost of message delivery. If it starts to become prohibitive, it’ll be a pretty high quality problem to have.

The next step is to get this out on the road and into some businesses. We’ll start by approaching some businesses directly so we can be part of the on-boarding experience. Based on how that goes, we’ll start scaling out our marketing efforts.

We also need to get ourselves listed in the Apple App Store for the sake of discoverability. The ‘app’ is already designed with PhoneGap in mind, but we’re waiting on our Apple Developer enrolment to come through before we can finalise all of this.

10 comments

  1. Hi Tatham,

    I think its a great idea to try get a product out there in the shortest amount of time and fuss – and you seem to have done that exceptionally well with giveusaminute.com.

    What i cannot seem to read in your article is any thoughts on making the business profitable, or even at breaking even – as i read it, apart from time, you clearly also spent money on things such as domain registration, accounts with SMSGlobal, etc.

    Any thoughts on that?

    Ash

    1. Thanks Ash.

      Yesterday the focus was on delivering something that would be valuable to our potential users.

      Now the focus will be on finding those users.

      From there, there’s two possible outcomes:

      1) Nobody uses it. It chugs along quietly not making us any money, but it also doesn’t cost us any ongoing variable costs. We chalk one up for learning and move on with our lives.

      2) It goes ballistic, we’re the rock star guests at the next restaurant and hair dressing convention, and my credit card starts to ache from the cost of sending all the messages. This would be a high quality problem to have. At that time, we’d need to find a way to start charging for the text messages (and introducing a profit margin too). We’d be able to justify doing that work though because we would have already proven the product in the market.

      Conventionally, we would have done some form of market assessment beforehand, then attributed yesterday’s costs to the ‘build’ of the product. The way we’re viewing it though, the work we did yesterday was just the market assessment and we haven’t actually spent any money on the build yet.

      And, at the end of the day, the total costs so far are about $300. That’s a positively infinitesimal outlay for the sake of being able to market test a real, working product. Even if we start sending 1,000 text messages a week, it’s still only costing me $80.

      — Tatham

  2. Hi Tatham,
    Thanks for providing me with a great example of delivering minimal marketable feature set. Very close to the Atlassian fedex days concept, must ship within 24hrs. Hope it finds it’s market. Also reminded of Dan Pink’s autonomy mastery and purpose.

  3. Great concept, I like the idea of timeboxing oneself to quickly test out concepts and validate business/ technical ideas. Sounds almost obvious but very often forgotten…it really forces you to focus on what’s important.

  4. Hi Tathum,
    did you stick with the ‘build days’ approach? We are thinking of trying something similar so would be interested to know how it went.
    cheers,
    Harry

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