Tag Archives: alpha

4 Things That Drive Early Adopters Away

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We’ve had the alpha sign up page up for couple of days now. So what are we seeing? Not much, to be honest.

The people who leave their emails are the people whom I know personally, and who have ignored the ominous warning that says:

It’s preferable that you are not related to or are friends with either of the founders so as to allow yourself to lash out against our vision without fear of breaking the bonds of friendship or family.

So why would the rest be turned away?

  1. Lack of trust or credibility. Leaving your email is a gesture of trust since it involves passing your personal information to another party. At the end of the day you don’t know what’s going to happen to it. And if you don’t know us, your first inclination is to keep your distance. That’s perfectly natural. Moreover, in our case neither co-founder has a well known public persona that could boost credibility or count toward reputation.
  2. It’s not clear what you get. So you sign up, then what? Are you going to be among the privileged few who get to play with the app or are you being recruited for alpha testing? Well, a little of both actually. But why would you volunteer your time? You wouldn’t unless you know us or have something to gain. I keep hearing about early adopters all the time, but where do they actually come from? Are early adopters just a euphemism for fools, friends and family or is it something more?
  3. It’s not obvious when you get it. Our sign up page is purposefully vague on when the app is going to be ready for alpha. It’s vague because we do not yet have a good handle on our own bandwidth and velocity in the coming weeks. As we are making progress we are getting better with time estimates, but the margin of error is still pretty high. What we do know is that we are probably done with 70% to 80% of what we set out to do for alpha.
  4. Scarcity or urgency is not fully conveyed. There is no indication that this is somehow limited availability. Should we have said that we are accepting 20 alpha users only with the counter indicating the number of spaces left? I don’t know, but I feel like trying that soon.

Thanks, but no thanks!

The recurring theme with the four points above is clarity. In the coming days we will attempt to increase clarity along those four dimensions and see if that brings in some new folks, preferably the ones we don’t know personally.

Have you tried recruiting early adopters and motivating them to sign up? Please share your collective wisdom in the comments below.

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Building a Chevy

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I think it’s a pretty intuitive and natural idea to start small. My first real boss used to say: first build a Chevy, then build a Cadillac.

We are still firmly in pre-alpha era, building our Chevy, but during the first couple of rounds of discussion there were may be 50-100 tempting features that just sneaked onto the product backlog. Writing them down then was perfectly fine, as long as we didn’t also try to cram them all into alpha (or even beta).

I think the key has been finding the minimum subset of functionality that could be demoed to other people not familiar with the idea. This subset is probably half of what you think it should be, and it takes a certain objectivity and discipline to throw out all the bells and whistles. We settled on getting the basic flow of the application and a few main screens in place. The main requirement was to capture the idea , and not even try to build a prototype (that’s beta). This would be all there is in scope for alpha, and that would be locked until after we show it to a few people. So far we managed to stick to the plan pretty well.

The rule is “once we get the first round of feedback, we can unlock the scope”. And then it’s iterate, iterate, iterate.