When last we saw the Product Team, we were in the midst of testing various concepts to determine the right product direction. Since that time, we have made a lot of progress and we are excited to report that we are on track for an April release!
Choosing a Concept
After testing a few different concepts and determining market viability, we were left with three that we felt were worth pursuing. At this point, we weighed the various choices against the criteria of indication of interest, ease of implementation, requirements for outside help, time to impact, and cost. This helped us to determine which of the concepts made the most sense to pursue. The one that won out was a crowd-sourced and curated resource about sharing economy opportunities. The win was driven primarily by the fact that it would need little development effort as it could be done with WordPress and the majority of the effort was in content generation. However, since our primary purpose is learning and we like a challenge, we decided to go after our second choice concept instead. The ForgetMeNot concept is an app that uses RFID chips to track your items so you don’t leave without them. It will be the most complicated and require the most outside help to pull off but hey, we are nothing if not ambitious! As it received the highest score on market interest, we also felt we were justified in our efforts.
Feature Definition (and Bloat)
Once we had decided on the concept we wanted to pursue, we began writing use cases and creating a MoSCoW list of Must Haves, Should Haves, Could Haves, and Won’t Haves. Before long, the list became pretty lengthy and we still lacked developer talent…yikes! Realizing that we were getting carried away, we reoriented ourselves to a Minimum Viable Product approach instead. Asking the question, what is the absolute smallest amount of effort and features we can create to make something that works well enough to start testing? Once we had that, we could see how users respond and adapt our roadmap from there. This produced a much smaller (and more manageable) list and we began writing requirements docs for the MVP and creating wireframes using myBalsamiq. For most of our members, this was their first exposure to wireframing, reinforcing our raison d’etre, to gain hands on skills and experience in product management!
Finding Development Talent
While many of us spend our Friday afternoons learning Python, we have not yet developed the coding chops to build this on our own. Operating on a shoestring budget, none of which can be used for direct compensation, we knew we had to find talent aligned with or primary goal of learning through experience. Using contacts made through a number of cohosted events with the undergrad tech groups we put out the word and received a few responses from some super impressive undergrad programmers. Luck was with us as the three students we have working with us each have a different core competency spanning Python, Java, and Objective C. These just happen to cover servers, Android, and iOS, giving us flexibility in what we can develop and release! More importantly, our new collaborators bring an excitement and great attitude that has provided a new spark of energy to our whole team! We cannot wait to get moving and get something awesome out there ASAP!
As I write, we are working on getting our MVP planned and built so we can start testing with real users. One complication we ran into was sourcing the RFID strips. With a myriad of options, we are tapping expert resources to determine the right choice for our product. Concurrently, we are testing non-functional prototypes to determine the right look and feel of the actual tags. Exciting Stuff!
–David LoVerme is a 2nd Year MBA at Boston College and the President of the Grad Tech Club