Tags

Archives

Guest Post: Stop Building Features

Gimqz4xldoe_9ow483wsnkzhd9yexbsh6rhi6dere64,ntnvn3sbw09ik8l1gupqtvd7d3jossovxc5b3pzoq8i,jdjoh39doq4mydlgdp5eooqznkdzvnwiwoooesz73q8

[Editor’s Note: This post was written by 2014 graduate Connor Bowlan. Connor and his co-founder, Rhett, originally were accepted to The Brandery with their fashion and beauty advice app, Lookit. Throughout the course of the program, their startup evolved to what is now: Cintric, a joint venture between Connor’s company and another startup in the program. You can read more about their journey through The Brandery in this recent Soapbox article.]

Features are one of the worst things a startup can build into an early-stage product.

Features distract the company. Startups find success in innovative solutions to big problems. These solutions form the core of products, and are where the customer finds value they’re willing to pay for. At an early stage, startups should be focusing all their efforts on finding the best version of their solution by iterating on their core product. Feature development distracts from this task.




In one of the earliest versions of our application “Lookit,” we had a little robot character that guided the user through the signup process. The robot even had animations that would progress with each letter the user typed for their name and password. Was it neat? Definitely. Is animating the registration fields spending time improving the core product? Definitely not.

Features distract the product.

When creating a product that’s new, one of the biggest challenges is crystallizing exactly what it is. This applies in both the minds of the team and the end users. The simpler the product, the easier it is to understand what it’s purpose is and how to best achieve it. Features add complexity, and complexity distracts from the core purpose of a product.




In a later build of “Lookit,” we experimented with gamifying the platform. We built a series of “trinkets” that users could win by contributing to the community and gambling in a slot-machine feature. Session time skyrocketed to an average of 14 minutes, but we weren’t solving the problem we had set out to. It drew users away from the core of the product, and away from where we were able to give the most value.

Features distract the user.

When you’re building something new, the end user will have to learn how to use your product. Adding features means the user has more learning to do before being able to draw value from the product and use it effectively.

In the second build of our application “Quack,” we tried to solve one of our user-experience problems by adding another feature. This feature did away with one of the core rules of our product in order to get around a relatively small issue. In doing so we completely confused the user by introducing a competing ruleset, and made them go through another permissions process, all to implement a feature that ended up not being enjoyable for them to use.

Features are often wasted.

Startups frequently change their core products in significant ways as development progresses. When the product changes, features that have been developed often don’t have a place anymore and must be scrapped.




There is a fully complete card-based version of “Lookit” sitting on a bitbucket server somewhere that will probably never see the light of day. It has voting, a gorgeous UI, face-detection, and quite a few more features. Ultimately though, none of those matter. They’re great bits of design and coding that had to be thrown out because the core product they were built on wasn’t strong enough.

Once a product has matured enough to where it’s solving a user’s problem in the most efficient way possible, then features can be introduced to make that process enjoyable for the user to engage with. This must be done slowly though, so as not to confuse or overwhelm the user.

This is where the CPO role really shines, as their job is not just to guide what the product is, but also to guide what the product isn’t.

Building a product without features can be difficult. In the early phase of a startup, it can be challenging to avoid getting carried away in an environment where the product roadmap is set in something more akin to clay than concrete. This is where the CPO role really shines, as their job is not just to guide what the product is, but also to guide what the product isn’t. A good CPO will aggressively maintain development focus on the core of the product, even when features might be exciting or easy to complete.

-

At Cintric, we help developers build efficient mobile location services into their apps, from early stage startups that want to use location as a basis for their core experience, to large enterprises that wish to add location features to their existing and established apps. Cintric can be used to integrate rich location components that add a tremendous amount of value to the core of a product. Even including customizing experiences via demographic information and precise analytics of where users engage with different parts of the app.

If you’d like to chat about how Cintric can improve your mobile app with efficient and easy to setup location services, or you’d like to simply tell me why I’m wrong about features, contact me at connor@cintric.com.

Resource Roundup: 11 ways to meet like-minded entrepreneurs in Cincinnati

Photo-3

Wherever you are, we think you should surround yourself with people who will inspire you, push you, and advise you on building your business. In Cincinnati, there are so many ways to find people like you in the entrepreneurial scene.

Here are some of our favorite Meetups in the Cincinnati area:

1. Side Project Cincinnati
What: An initiative of Brandery graduate Roadtrippers, Side Project Cincinnati is your way to share your ideas, find collaborators, and fuel your creativity in a safe place. And beer… there is always beer. Read more about the Roadtrippers team’s side projects in Soapbox.
Next Meetup: November 11

2. Girl Develop It
What: It’s no secret tech skews male. GDI is aiming to tip back the scales by teaching women to code. Build sweet websites with awesome people. No questions are off-limits.
Next Meetup: Drinkup on October 1 for anyone interested in learning more, Intro to Web Concepts on October 8

3. User Enjoyment / UX Meetup
What: The User Enjoyment Meetup is for anyone who wants to make their users’ experience better. Our entrepreneurs love it as a place to get feedback on their products, but these UX enthusiasts discuss everything from usability testing to typography to lean development.

4. Startup Grind
What: Yeah, you got us. We’re the organizers of this one. But it’s just because we think it’s such a great initiative. There are over 125 cities in 55 countries with a Startup Grind chapter, and Cincinnati’s is growing each and every month. We bring in a prominent figure in the entrepreneurial ecosystem to talk about their highs and lows and tips for aspiring entrepreneurs as they go through “the grind.”
Next Meetup: The founders of The Launch Werks, Matt Anthony and Noel Gauthier, will talk about their experiences in the wonderful world of physical products on September 30.

5. QC Merge Drinkup
What: Discuss all things web and technology over a couple of drinks. These Meetups are a great place to network, too. We’ve had a couple of our companies find employees— and even co-founders— at these monthly gatherings.
Next Meetup: Drinkup on October 2 at Japp’s

6. Lean Startup Circle
What: This group focuses on the practices of The Lean Startup movement. If you’re an entrepreneur or wantrepreneur exploring new ways to launch, evolve, or grow your business, join the group.
Next Meetup: Traction Book: Skype interview with Justin Mares on October 9

And a few more specific ones, when you’re looking to expand your knowledge and skill set:

7. Smart Home Meetup

8. Search Engine Optimization Meetup

9. Wearable Developers Meetup

10. Node.js Meetup

11. Startup Finance & Accounting

BONUS (thanks, @joshowens!): Meteor Cincinnati Meetup

This post is part of a series in which we’re highlighting local resources for entrepreneurs. If there are any we miss or you wish existed, let us know!

Brand in a Day Recap

Each year, the startups in our accelerator program are paired up with some of the most talented and renowned design firms in Cincinnati for the duration of the program. On Friday, June 28th, our startups were paired up with their agency partners for the first time at the POSSIBLE office for our first-ever Brand in a Day event. The agencies brought between two and five experts in their respective fields, from CMOs and CEOs to User Experience Designers and Copywriters. The teams attempted to revamp whatever it is about the startups’ brand that isn’t clicking, whether that was a logo, company name, brand manifesto, tagline, or mood board. The brands will continue to work with their agencies and evolve up until Demo Day on October 2nd, but Brand in a Day was their accelerator within the accelerator to give them a jumpstart. Here are the startup-agency partnerships (some companies are still operating in “Stealth Mode”):

1. Hyperquake and Stealth #1
2. POSSIBLE and Stealth #2
3. Rockfish and Stealth #3
4. Resource and Stealth #4
5. LPK and Stealth #5
6. Empower MediaMarketing and Dónde
7. Rocket Science + Design and DWLLR
8. GoDutch and Awesomatic
9. We Have Become Vikings and Co-Ed Supply
10. gyro and Accrew

We had a spectacular setting for the entire day at POSSIBLE’S office: sprawling views of the Ohio River and Paul Brown Stadium were framed by a crystal-clear blue sky. And with the conference rooms at POSSIBLE named after inspirations like “Jobs,” “Gandhi,” and “Seinfeld,” Brand in a Day was bound to be a success.

Some of the most astounding visual transformations came in the form of new typefaces, logos, and color schemes, but each team came to a better understanding of their brand identity through the agencies’ expertise and guidance. Some wrote brand manifestos defining who they want to be as a company, some drew hierarchies of need to further define for whom they were building the product, and some talked to create better team dynamics and facilitate agency work in the future. Regardless of the tangible deliverables that the agencies chose to focus on, each team got a solid start on their agency-startup relationship. At noon when they came to present their deliverables, the progress in just four hours was incredible. The collaboration, brainpower, and creativity that our agencies poured into the Brandery companies on Friday were truly remarkable.

After the presentations, the teams’ workspaces were littered with the remnants of their hard work: post-it notes, large and small, whiteboards covered in brainstorming activities, empty coffee cups and soda cans. Feeling exhausted, but accomplished, the teams retreated back to the Brandery to—you guessed it—get back to work.

We're Hiring!

Several of our Brandery graduates have experienced tremendous success and are hoping to expand their teams! See below for a list of available positions:

ROADTRIPPERS

Designer

Roadtrippers is seeking a motivated and creative graphic/interactive design intern with strong skills in layout and typography, and UI.

You will be:
• Producing layout for promotional materials.
• Sharing your eye — and talent for — typography, layout, and color.
• Creating design standards and style guides
• Improving uniformity across our products and the web.

You must have:
• A strong portfolio (if it’s not online or if it’s ‘coming soon’ it doesn’t exist)
• Adobe superpowers
• The ability to work fast (process only matters at school, here it’s about product)
• A laid back vibe, and a sense of humor (but still know what hard work looks like)

Extra points for:
• Front-end dev experience: HTML, CSS, jQuery

Interested? Email Chelsea Koglmeier (chelsea@roadtrippers.com) with your resume and a link to your portfolio.

Software Engineer / Web Developer

Roadtrippers is looking for a talented and passionate Software Engineer to help us build solutions to fragmentation problems in road travel planning. You will be developing key features of our web application.

You must have:
• Software development experience. And be very, very good at it.
• Have experience with Rails, JavaScript, Python, Java, PHP, Node or other scripting languages.
• Versatile in development skills across client, server and database admin
• A good sense of humor
• Not have a ‘stick up your arse’

We use:
Ruby on Rails; Backbone.js; jQuery; CoffeeScript/JavaScript; MongoDB; PostgreSQL; CSS (SASS/SCSS); Google Maps; Cloud Computing (Engine Yard, S3 etc); Mac OS X and Linux; Cucumber, RSpec and Jasmine testing frameworks; Agile, scrum methodology

Bonus points for knowing:
Test driven development, MapReduce and in depth MongoDB/NoSQL, Geo / mapping development and APIs, Ruby on Rails hosting setup and management, iOS / Mobile, Single page web app development, Being a challenging foosball player

Interested? Email Chelsea Koglmeier (chelsea@roadtrippers.com) with your resume and why you’d be a good fit with this position.

REPP

Junior Web Developer

OVERVIEW
REPP (www.myREPP.com) is an online identity verification company located in Cincinnati, Ohio. REPP is a 2012 Brandery graduate and was named one of CNBC’s World’s Most Promising Companies and has been featured in The Huffington Post and Cincinnati Enquirer.

OPPORTUNITY
REPP is looking for a Junior Web Developer to help in the development and testing of our Identity Management and Background Check service platform.

Primary responsibilities would include:
• Troubleshooting bugs
• End user support
• Application testing
HTML & CSS development
• JavaScript development on both the client and server side (Node.js)

Required Skills:
• At least 1-2 years experience using HTML & CSS
• At least 1-2 years experience using JavaScript
• Ability to work on a team
• Excellent interpersonal skills for end user support
• The desire and flexibility needed to work at a small startup
• Dependable, Organized, and Resourceful
• Eager to learn, quick to do, and self-directed

CONTACT info@repp.com for more information!

Company Update: SocialThreader

Check out what SocialThreader has been up to since Demo Day in October 2012:

As much as we enjoy interacting with our companies during the summer sessions, we especially love watching them succeed post-launch. One of our 2012 graduates, SocialThreader, has experienced tremendous success since Demo Day and is this week’s featured company!

The company’s CEO, Vinay Murthy, describes SocialThreader as a tool that “increases the effectiveness of digital marketing by leveraging social media in ads and websites. It allows seamless integration of a brand’s social content from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs and websites as well as consumer and influencer voices from social platforms.”

Quite simply, SocialThreader is a platform that threads all of a brand’s social (earned), web-based (owned) and digital media (paid) together into one seamless experience. It can be embedded on websites and linked to other sites. The tool was initially piloted with Bush Beans and will soon be used by a variety of different brands.

SocialThreader not only threads content, it also allows brands to curate and target specific consumers and measure time on sites, page views and uniques. This enables brands to maximize the acceleration of social engagement for their entire portfolio. The tool is fully customizable and the team continues to add new features.

SocialThreader was recently awarded a “Digital Innovation Project” from Procter & Gamble. Vinay and his team will work with the ethnic marketing group at P&G to roll out social integration of their owned and earned content on their .com site. The company was also selected by Kroger, a major national grocery chain, to promote their organic brand of products and has entered into a partnership with a market leader in commenting platforms for distribution of social content for brands.

We are extremely proud of the company’s success and look forward to its continued growth.

For more information on SocialThreader, please visit their website or email vinay@socialthreader.com!

OFFF Returns to Cincinnati

OFFF Logo

World-famous creative conference, OFFF, will return to Cincinnati on March 6 at the Aronoff Center for the Arts.  The event, first held in Cincinnati in 2011, was founded in Barcelona and is recognized as being an innovative, informative, and inspiring design conference.

OFFF garnered such a positive response from attendees in 2011 that the organizers have, once again, named Cincinnati as the conference’s exclusive U.S. location.  The event will include presentations from James Paterson, Onur Senturk, James Victore, Sara Blake, Jon Burgerman, Brendan Dawes, Ramon Escolá and Multitouch Barcelona.  James Victore is best known for his animation visual effects work on movies, such as Dark Knight Rises and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

OFFF is a mecca for creative professionals, including designers, innovators, creative thinkers, and entrepreneurs.  The conference exposes them, not only to high-quality curated content, but also to a network of peers, mentors, and potential business partners.

OFFF Cincy


The conference was held at the Contemporary Arts Center in 2011, but is being moved to the Aronoff Center to allow for more participants.  This year’s conference will be available to approximately 400 attendees.

Don’t miss out on this awesome opportunity!  Get your tickets now at cincinnatiarts.org!