The Opposite

Confession – This isn’t the first time I started to work on a side project. Like most of you, I have moments — sometimes daily — where I think of a great new idea and imagine it taking off.

Tell me if you’ve ever gone down this path:

  1. Have an idea.
  2. Get super excited.
  3. Lock yourself in a room and start coding. Implement all the awesome features that you’re sure everyone is going to need and love.
  4. Think about telling someone about it, but not feel comfortable because the product isn’t actually “ready.”
  5. Get discouraged because you have no traction (even though nobody knows about it).
  6. Dream about what it would be like to run your own successful business and think that the reason you failed is because the idea was no good to begin with.

…raises hand

I’ve done it. More than … more than twice.

I’m now commited to doing the opposite.

Today, I am telling everyone about my idea without having written a single line of code.

Notifications

In the course of my day job, I work with a lot of younger people; high school, college aged. Over the past 5 years or so, one thing has become more and more apparent: If you want them to know about something, the last thing you should do is email them. Half of the kids told you an old email that they now haven’t checked in 2 years, or they only check it a couple of times a month. Bottom line, email isn’t what they use.

I’m quite the opposite. I use email extensively personally and professionally. I do beleive that as these youngsters grow older, email will become more ubiquitous in their lives, unless of course Slack conquers the world.

Even as an email lover, there are times that it is not the best media, namely notifications. I’ve found that SMS messages work far better for getting information to people quickly and ensuring that they actually see it.

Like most everyone else in the free world, I order a lot online from Amazon. One of my favorite things about the Amazon iOS app is the native shipping notification. It doesn’t require any action, but just tells me that my order has shipped, is out for delivery, delivered, etc.

What if every store could provide real-time, customizable notifications via SMS instead of relying on installation of a native app.

SMS Hooks

So, here’s my big idea. I want to integrate with Shopify, Stripe, Chargify, etc. and provide developers, store owners, or anyone else the ability to quickly and easily pre-make SMS templates and automatically fire them off as events happen.

Scenario:

I order a new pair of tube socks from an online store. Immediately, I get an SMS message:

Hey Kyle! Here's your confirmation #123. Thanks for shopping with Awesome Socks!

A couple of days go by, and boom! Awesome Socks shoots me another…

Good news Kyle, order #123 just shipped! Thanks again, we're thrilled you're our customer.

Quick, simple notifications that I can read immediately and move on with my day.

Scenario #2:

I run a SAAS app, and a big customer’s card is declined when trying to renew. My phone buzzes with the following:

Big Time Customer, LLC's subscription renewal just failed. Your MRR will decrease by $500.

At the same time, Big Time Customer receives:

Your monthly subscription to My Sweet SAAS, LLC has failed. Please check your card information at https://bit.ly/QDh37c to ensure that your serice is not interrupted.

As the SAAS operator, I can now potentially avert a big drop in revenue and ensure that my customers never see a drop in their service, all because I got notified immediately and it didn’t get buried with the other hundred emails I already receive daily.

Scenario #3:

Just kidding, I think you get it. You build SMS templates to be triggered by an event.

No need to worry about old email addresses that aren’t checked any longer. No need to worry about bounces and whitelisting IP addresses to ensure email delivery. Quick, push notifications to the device that most people now have on them at all times, without the need for any app installation.

Time for feedback

OK – I’m ready for it. What do you think?

  1. Sounds awesome!!! When can I put my credit card down?
  2. I don’t know Kyle… sounds a bit far fetched. What else ya got?
  3. Seems OK. Let’s see how this plays out.

Seriously, I want to know what you think. Would you pay for this for your business? Would you set this up for your clients?

My experiement depends on you helping me validate my idea before I dump hours and dollars into building the software.

Thank you!

I’ve already heard from a few of you, and I sincerely appreciate the engagement. I hope to hear from all of you over the course of this venture, and that we can all share ideas to help one another achieve our goals.

The Side Project

The Side Project, or how I went from $0 to $1K MRR.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted to this blog, but today I am excited to start a new chapter and begin a series on, The Side Project.

“What in the world is he talking about?!”

Glad you asked! I’ve decided to go all in on a side project and want to document the process from start to finish. It’s something I’ve thought about for a long time, and I will put it off no longer.

Inspiration

Like most of you, I read a lot of blogs, listen to podcasts and always dream what it would be like if I were the driver’s seat.

In the spirit of Journey to $500K, the excellent business blog by the good folks at Groove, and the new direction that the boys at Thoughtbot have taken with their Giant Robots podcast, I want to document and share my journey of trying to build a viable business online.

The posts will consist of code, successes, failures, and the resources and products I use. My goal is to build a community to help hold each other accountable in our ventures, and provide usefull feedback to help us all achieve our goals.

Short term goals

My goal by January 1st, 2017 is to have a side project launched and have at least 1 paying customer. As a side project, I cannot devote 100% of my time to it, and we all go through periods of varying activity. I think several months from now is a reasonable expectation to have a product launchged.

Long term goals

As you may have guessed by the title, my goal by January 1st, 2018 is to have a net $1,000.00 in monthly recurring revenue. I can hear a lot of you at there already…

“That’s not really a lofty goal for a year and a half from now…”

You are right! But, it’s also what I consider realistic for a side project, and an extra $12,000.00 a year can make a big difference in most of our lives.

For me, I’d like to use the new money to fully fund my Roth IRA and contribute to our son’s 529 education account. I also think that a $1K MRR business has proved to be viable, and could potentially grow into more, but I don’t want to put the cart before the horse, as they say.

Format

I will post weekly updates on what I’ve done, what I’ve learned, and what comes next. I’m going to blatantly steal from the Giant Robots podcast and answer these questions every week:

  1. What did you do this week make the business better for your customers?
  2. What have you done to acquire more customers than last week?
  3. What did you do well that you should repeat?
  4. What did you do poorly that you should reduce?
  5. What do you hope to do by next week?
  6. What is your MRR?

What can I do to help?

The number one thing to help me is to be engaged, offer feedback, and share with your friends. The only way I can hope to succeed in my goal of learning more and bettering myself is to hear from others. I promise to read all emails, and respond to most.

I’d also love to have you keep me accountable to answering the 6 questions above. If you haven’t heard from me by Friday, find out why!

What’s next?

I want to hear from you! I want to know where you struggle, what you want to hear about, what you think of my idea. Anything you’ve got, I want to hear it.

I have the idea for my product, and that will be shared with people on my mailing list later this week. If you’re not already, please sign-up for the list below.

I’ll be offering exclusive material and engagement with those on the list, and have a couple of other benefits in mind that I don’t want to disclose just yet. I promise to keep your email to myself, and never SPAM you with anything.

Hope to hear from you all soon!