I’ve been somewhat quiet about my latest project: Referral Rock, but now I am ready to add the additional public pressure of letting it be known to all of the Internets!
Here’s the gist:
Just about everyone is familiar with customer referral programs. You know the ones where you refer a friend and you and the friend may get a benefit like 20% off, a $10 gift card, or entry into a drawing for free iPad…
You often see these programs with larger businesses where running customer referral program online has been proven to increase the number of new customers for businesses. Not only do they acquire more business but they can track exactly where it came from.
Here’s how I came up with it:
So as I was sitting in a car dealership waiting for service, I watched a new customer come in and mention they were referred by a previous customer. The dealer looked confused and not able to place the name of the previous customer. That’s when I realized small businesses lacked the tools to make a customer referral program work. I have taken the best practices of customer referral systems for big businesses and built one specifically for small businesses.
What it does:
1. Create your own program (hosted on it’s own website)
2. Run your program through a system who’s sole goal is to get you more referrals
3. Track and monitor the results
What I need:
I’m looking for small businesses who want to try out the system for free and give me feedback. Please use the invite code: ANNOUNCED and sign up here: http://referralrock.com/signup.html
I’ve probably been burned by this at least 1/2 a dozen times. There are friends of mine who I know have/are doing the exact same thing (you know who you are). Here are the steps of a start-up in the mind of a technical entrepreneur:
- Come up with a fantastic start-up idea
- Look for a domain name (maybe buy it?)
- Tell a couple of trusted friends about it and why it’s going to rock
- Start building
There are many other steps past #4 but so many of my start-up ideas die within these steps. (sidenote: The ones that die after #2 are entertaining because I have the domains to prove the existed and took up brain cycles at extended period of time. )
#4 is where it goes wrong. It’s so tempting to just start coding. Even if it is just a demo, proof of concept, just to tinker with an API or something. Just stop. Just stop wasting your time.
Sure I’ve read about customer development and lean start-ups but my idea is different, right? Or I can do that after the demo is done, the customers can look at that…. then you just keep making updates and tweeks and before you know it… you’ve wasted way too much time on it.
My new belief is to not “build/code” anything until I have a pilot customer. I can do mock-ups, I can do wire frames, I can do workflows, but I should not code anything. Say it with me now “I shall not code anything until I have a pilot customer”. Without a customer you have no guidance of where this thing is really going. You are just wasting your time on assumptions. Time is a commodity, if I’m going to be serious at getting a hit one of these start-up ideas. I have to fail fast. I can fail a lot faster if I don’t start building until I really need to.
This may seem obvious to other entrepreneurs but having the chops to build things, is also a sickness of temptation to just build things.
Sunset For The Consumer Web?
I hate the consumer web from a founder start-up standpoint. It pains me to want to develop anything for a mass consumer audience.
This thought has been in my head for awhile, but it took my friend Jay’s rant to get all the thoughts on paper (so to speak)
Yea, I love consuming from my iPad but it’s messy. I read in GReader and star stuff to read. Then I read stared stuff in Flipboard, but if I want to bookmark it in Delicious I have to “Open in Safari” and use the bookmarklet. Or I can “Read Later” to add it to iOS’ reading list, if it’s a link on the page I’m reading. But if it’s something from the page you’re reading (and you’re viewing it in Flipboard but not in the Flipboard web browser) then you can hit “Save for Reading” and it saves to Pocket, where I can tag directly to Delicious (but not modify tags for existing links).
Messy messy messy..
My current process: I use GReader (where I star things) and Flipboard on my Galaxy II… Sometimes tweet directly from them too but I lack a consistent “Read Later” aside from the star… And don’t bookmark enough but would like to. It’s a mess.
I would like one fluid app for it all. Initial Browse, Read Now, Read Later, Share, Read again / Find again /Search… On any/multiple devices. I’d pay for a service that does all this.
1. Multidevice (Normal Browser, Android, iPad, iPhone)
2. Easy of Subscribing of GReader
3. Flipping and easy reading type of Flipboard
4. Never have to go directly to a site… (more has to do with the content providers that sometimes provide snipits on their feeds)
5. Add to a read later queue (w/ Same readability)
6. Easy to Share (various social networks)
7. Add to a Saved list.. That contains all the content and tags/categories with in them.. and be full text searchable. Delicious like…
8. Also could integrate into browser bookmarks. (chrome and other bookmark syncs)
Someone make it and take my money!
Does anyone want to add anything to the list?
I’m always looking for business ideas and I come up with quite a few on a regular basis. I’m going to start posting some that I have little or no intention of pursuing.
The first one is “Smart Todo List”.
Basic User Need – I want the app to answer the question.
What is the most important task I should be doing right now?
Key Features and Concepts
- Ease of Accessibility: Mobile and Web
- Minimum friction and slowly gathering necessary information
- Allow users to easily add items with (Voice to text feature?) Initially only asks for task description.
- Slowly categorizes and gets meta information to help prioritization.
- App uses meta information to reshuffle and re-prioritize list.
Main Work Flow
- User asks app “What is the most important task I should be doing right now?”
- App suggests one task (based on meta data algorithm)
- User agrees and does that task. Then can go back to 1. later. OR
- User says no. App asks user “why not?”, by picking one of many ways to get more meta information. (i.e. User can snooze for 1 hour, 1 day, 3 days, 1 Week, 1 Month. User says it will take too much time when app simply asks, how long it will take…)
- App then goes back to 2. and suggests a new task.
- Utilize time of day – Could a category be associated with a certain time of day? Work vs. Personal items
- Utilize GPS or IP Address Location – Knows you are at work, at a store, at home…
- User could be initially prompted with how much time they have so the app can immediately filter tasks based on that
- User could be initially prompted with the category of task they want to work on
- Possible Task Meta Data: Description, Category, Time to Complete, Priority Scale/Order in Category, Hard Deadline Date
Why I don’t want to do it
- After building UberNote, I do not want to build another consumer productivity app. I’m a bit burnt out on that market.
- Everyone’s first apps are todo lists, project managment apps, note apps… I really don’t want to do another.
- This may exist, but I haven’t found it.
Why I might do it
- I would like to see this app and use it
- I’d like to test the idea/theory of slowly getting more information
- The algorithm could be fun to work on and get right
- I could capitalize on the large existing UberNote user base, since they are very close to the target market.
Does this exist already? One friend told me it does, but could not tell me what it was. Anyone have any thoughts or ideas to add to it?
My friend Jay and I had a brief twitter conversation about being guilty https://twitter.com/wjhuie/status/283748389278056448 of wasting time on little things.
I read this article awhile back (How should a startup founder value her time? | A Smart Bear) and have been meaning to come up with some sort of relevant equation that can apply to everyone. Not just for “business/work” time, but also “free time”?
Prime example: Most recently I found myself researching a SOHO NAS and becoming a victim of wasting too much time. I was debating the small differences of model numbers, brands, processors, in the effort to find the best fit. Of course as I read more… it just delayed my decision making by adding in more factors. I wavered back and for starting at a price point of $300 and all the way up to $1000 trying to justify the features in my mind. I won’t admit how much time I wasted just to end up where I started, but I’ll it was WAY TOO MUCH.
In the end, I would like to find a way to have a quick check to realize I’m wasting my time. Here are some of the questions I would like to easily answer:
- When should I hire someone to do this instead? (Maid, contractor, consultant, personal assistant?)
- At what point, any time spent on this will have diminishing returns?
An easy way is trying to calculate “what is my time worth in $$?” It’s easily quantifiable and easy to compare to the task at hand but I don’t feel like it’s always THAT easy. Here are some other factors:
- What is the total time loss/gained doing this activity? – Often there is more time vs. the activity itself.
- What is the opportunity cost of this activity? – What am I missing out by doing this?
- Are their longer term benefits that are worth more than the $$ amount or direct time spent today – Is this some sort of investment where it will take less time in the future? Do you gain a skill or a networking contact?
- There is only so much space in your RAM / context to be concerned about is it worth that? – It’s not all about how much time things take, I’ve found it all takes space in your head… and you can only worry about so much at a given time.
- Can your time to $$ calculation work past a certain $$ or hour count? – At some point the “$$/hour” ratio of your time breaks down where you can work more hours to make up the $$.
What does everyone else to do to make these decisions quickly? What factors have I not considered? Does what I want exist, or is it all just part of refining the decision making process?
Fine-Tune Your Outbound Sales Formula To Help Save Your Startup | TechCrunch.
Sales is an area I need to improve on. This article feels like a good starting point for me.