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Last week’s thread had a good response, so I’ll continue posting these on Fridays so long as they’re useful to everyone.

Link to last week’s discussion: https://barnacl.es/s/fayz4k/what_did_you_accomplish_this_week

This is a place to share what you accomplished this week for your business. Feel free to brag a little, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice!


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    We launched our marketing page early this week to gauge interest from potential customers. Got about 75 Mailchimp sign-ups with 5 take-my-money / 24 ready-for-private-beta! We also launched the marketing site to understand which templates most resonated with Architects/Firms (tracking via js merge_field to Mailchimp form).

    Now continuing to have email/phone conversations with email list and making sure we’re building the right features.

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      Looks beautiful!

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        Nice!!! What did you use to drive traffic there?

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          Here’s a hint of our distribution spreadsheet: http://i.imgur.com/Hh88HM4.png. Mostly it’s email lists, facebook groups, and linkedin groups that we have been actively participating in for the past few months.

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          How come you get so much from such a niche? What do you mean by “launched”?

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            The team is made up of 3 trained architects with direct relationships across the industry from Boston to San Francisco. I think we’re just beginning to tap the niche.

            “Launch” for us meant we put this out to our networks and asked them to share (email and fb as main channels).

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              Very smart to serve a market you are / used to be part of. Congrats on the launch!

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          Last night I got started on the Stripe integration that I mentioned last time. Using the basic approach I have a working process in place for taking credit card info and submitting charges. But I want to customize things a bit, so I’m going to spend this weekend switching over to stripe.js and tweaking things a bit. I also need to get things setup for subscriptions, not one-off charges. I also need to actually figure out what our pricing is going to look like.

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            You’re talking about fogbeam? I looked at it. It seems very interesting, do you have many customers? I couldn’t understand exactly what the tools did just from the list of features, I would be more comfortable with a screenshot or two (am I lazy?), anyway, this is just free stupid feedback.

            I’m more interested in knowing how to you get customers, because I have some projects that would target some kind of small businesses here (although I’m thinking of smaller business than what you’re targetting), but I don’t have high expectations of getting this people to come accross my solutions, which are maybe exotic.

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              You’re talking about fogbeam?

              Sort of, yes. We’ve done something of a “pivot” of sorts, although nothing close to a wholesale change in direction. It’s more that we spun up a new project - NeuuralObjects1 - with a different focus and are focusing all of our energy on that right now. Everything we were doing before is still there and will still be getting more work (eventually) but this Machine Learning platform is the primary focus right now.

              I looked at it. It seems very interesting, do you have many customers?

              Customers? Heh… we don’t have any yet, sadly. But there are some specific (albeit not necessarily good ) reasons for that, and that is reflected in this change of emphasis. Before, we were focusing on trying to create stuff to sell in a traditional “on premises”, behind-the-firewall model of enterprise software. And while I think there’s still a place for that, it’s slow, time consuming, expensive, bureaucratic, etc. and is hard to do for a small, self-funded team. This new thing, OTOH, is hosted, on-demand, self-service, “plug in a credit card, select some options, and go”. We think this is really going to make it a lot easier to get some initial traction and get things moving forward. Also, machine learning is a big deal right now, and we think we have an angle that will appeal to some people.

              I can tell you what we have planned though, as far as some attempts at customer acquisition. I’m a big believer is highly targeted direct marketing. We have a list of about 100 companies that we would want as customers in an ideal world. The reasons we chose those hundred are varied and specific to our circumstances, so I won’t go into much more detail unless somebody really wants to know more. But what we’ll do once this new product is shipping, is target those guys very specifically… we have a Hoovers subscription so we can get some contact info, plus we’ll also be mining LinkedIn etc. Then we’ll be reaching out with a combination of physical mail, email, and phone calls, to those targets. We’ll probably also do a little bit of really targeted advertising using some combination of Facebook, Reddit, LinkedIn and/or Google Adwords.

              The idea behind this small, targeted campaign is that we can A. do it fairly inexpensively, B. target customers that are “good” for us (see above), C. fly under the radar of potential competitors a bit, and D. iterate on things without a ton of visibility that might hurt our credibility if we were advertising / promoting ourselves to the world aggressively.

              If/when we get some good traction going, then we’ll broaden our focus. The goal is organic growth and to continue self-funding things, as you might expect given that I’m here at barnacl.es. That said, IF things were to break just right, I’m not dead-set against eventually going out and trying to raise outside money, but my preference is to avoid that if possible.

              I would be more comfortable with a screenshot or two (am I lazy?), anyway, this is just free stupid feedback.

              Yeah, adding more screenshots and documentation to the website is on the agenda, as is adding some explainer videos. Somewhere on my hard-drive I actually have a decent first-cut at an explainer video that I recorded that goes through quite a bit of it, but I never put it up on the website because I wasn’t happy with the audio quality. One of our guys who is a bit of an audio wonk (musician, audio/video editor guy, etc.) was going to re-record the audio component and rework it, but that has kinda fallen through the cracks. At this point, I might as well go ahead and put up the video I have, even if the audio is less than ideal.

              (Note: if you click through to the neuralobjects.com site, ignore that youtube video that’s there. It’s just a placeholder to mark out where our explainer video will eventually go in the page layout).

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                We had a couple of buddies from MIT who did half a year of customer development for their new machine learning platform. Beyond the enterprise bureaucracy you mentioned, the biggest objections they ran into were the technology being too generic (not specific enough for customers) and the hard part is actually getting and cleaning the data. They eventually gave up after a year of testing with different markets and moved to LA to DJ lol.

                Edit: Apologies, realize this wasn’t very helpful. I’m happy to give your team an intro to them to get more firsthand feedback on your process and product. They’re a really chill group of guys and could be a good resource for the future.

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                  They eventually gave up after a year of testing with different markets and moved to LA to DJ lol.

                  Ha, that’s quite a swerve!

                  I’m happy to give your team an intro to them to get more firsthand feedback on your process and product. They’re a really chill group of guys and could be a good resource for the future.

                  Hey, that would be awesome. Drop me an email if you’d like, and we can line something up. prhodes@fogbeam.com

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            Fixed some small issues on my website, and changed the domain from thimbleup.com to thimblemac.com so it makes a bit more sense that it’s a mac app (and also hopefully help in seo-land).

            Now working on a better first-run experience so users can figure out the app without my attaching a pdf or video.

            Are there any other indie app developers on here? Would love to hear more about how you’re finding beta users / doing marketing.

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              The how it works animation is amazing. I don’t understand it exactly, but it is beautiful.

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                Thanks! It’s actually entirely a screencapture - I wrote a separate tiny app to show how the trackpad looks.

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              worked on this 3d environment. Quite proud of how it looks now, compared to earlier this week.

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                Almost finished a project I was working on for the last 4 months. I’m using Rails for the first time so I’m learning at the same time.

                I tested my app on Heroku, OpenShift, and on a Droplet. And looks to me it’s better for it to be on a Droplet.

                Looks like the marketing journey will start soon.

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                  Can we get a link to it yet? :)

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                    Not yet, but in like a couple of days :)

                    I will post it here as “show” and PM you to make sure you will take a look at it.

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                  Got lots of programming done for my full-time job. Feeling accomplished in that respect.

                  For side-projects, I ran some numbers on a business I’ve wanted to start for a while and it seems to be bootstrap-able. I’m finally in a position (both financially and logistically) where it makes sense to start something, so I’m excited about that. I’ll have more updates in subsequent weeks.

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                    looking forward to it!

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                    Completed all of the paperwork, etc.. to be able to add another ccTLD to park.io soon, hopefully in the upcoming week.

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                      Love park.io. I’ve never used it, but i’ve browsed it many times.

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                        Thanks! Let me know if you have any questions or need anything

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                      Hi everyone! I’ve been working on an image gallery project for the last 2 months. It started when my daughter was born 2 years ago; I wanted to share pictures with friends and family, but I also wanted to keep them off of facebook. At the time, i put up a quick MVP using backbone.js (React didn’t even exist yet! That’s crazy) and hosted on it s3. It was cheezy and bad, and I haven’t updated it since then.

                      However, I now have a backlog of images, and come August we’re having a second child. I got motivated to do something about it and have been furiously working on creating a kick-ass image gallery. I would like to eventually try and sell it, but i’m having a real hard time trying to position myself in the market.

                      In terms of professional photographers, it doesn’t seem like they complain too much about Smugmug/Zenfolio and wouldn’t be motivated to switch. I’d like sell to parents (lol, how “lean startup” of me), but honestly I don’t think most people care and Facebook is probably acceptable to them. I looked at making a wordpress plugin, but JIG seems to be nailing it, and they’ve got a lot of features. I’m at a loss of where to go from here. Maybe some off-the-wall niche like summer camps or ____?

                      This week I’ve been tweaking my lightbox (AFAIK, i’m the only one doing a lightbox that works with javascript disabled; in fact my galleries are 100% functional with javascript disabled [but i do things like lazyloading if possible]). I briefly experimented with srcset, but abandoned it because it caused a serious performance hit on my nexus6. I also fixed a bug that prevented my direct download links from working properly.

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                        After 6 months of doing almost nothing (well, nothing bringing money home), I took the decision to start my business. Like, serious decision, even more than choosing between the dulce or jalapeños sauce. I’ll first test my skills on growing an audience, so I spent lot of time writing on my ongoing projects.

                        I’m kind of half-happy / half-disappointed with my week: I made good progress, but I’d like to move at 10x that speed.

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                          What will be your business?

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                            Well, I’m still figuring that out. I’m leaving myself a lot of freedom to experiment, so it’s gonna be varied. One of the first thing I’m trying is teaching tech stuff for non-tech people (e.g. I’m starting a screencast series about dokku).

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                              I think that may be a good idea. I never seen anything like it. The problem will be to get the public, but I really believe the public exists (myself, before I became a “tech” person, couldn’t find any resource on anything related, and I would never search for “dokku” without knowing about it).

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                                I’ve already tried this on another topic: teaching Grunt to designers / PMs. It’s hard to target people who are not even aware that you / the tech exists. So I’m targeting people who heard about dokku (or heroku), but never took the time to understand how it works. They’re willing to learn more, but are afraid to lose time searching for a shitty material. Then I’ll hand-hold them through the set up and real use cases (like actually migrating your WP from your current hosting provider to your dokku box).

                                That’s what I’ll try anyway. The hardest part for me is finding that tone, that voice which makes my story stand out from the crowd of gazillions existing tutorials.

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                          Gosh, I did a lot this week. Didn’t realize until thinking about it just now. Mostly getting ready to launch Product Communication Basics on Monday. Finishing up the actual book :0