RSOL94: Business planning and contracting

ROSL94 — Reflections on startup life, week 94

Wasn’t I here five minutes ago? I can’t even recall what happened in Week 93, suffice to say I was probably busy, but it was last week (week 94) that really crunched time.

So what’s been happening? It’s been quite full-on.

I guess the first thing, and by far the biggest time sink has been a business plan. Back in April / May we were encouraged to enter a business planning competition out of Dunedin (where Alex is based). It was a simple one page summary so we submitted it and promptly forgot about it. For the record we won a $500 prize which was great.

Jump forward to last week and what we hadn’t realised was that it was only phase one of the competition! There is a second phase now which takes a “full business plan” and has a $40,000 1st prize (plus some other smaller prizes of $10,000). Apparently our first entry was well received so we were being asked “where is your next submission”.

So despite my general reluctance to do a full business plan (because everything changes so quickly usually), it seemed like this would be a very good investment in our time. Regardless of the outcome, given the change of direction and focus post the China VC debacle, it’s probably a good thing to redo the sums and prove out the business on paper anyway. And if we ARE successful, well the money will be really useful given where we are at — for a few days effort we will get a good return.

There went most of last week. It took longer than I thought, but to be fair, it was also much more valuable than I thought it would be in terms of clarifying our thoughts again, getting down on the same page and planning the next steps. Fingers crossed we do OK, some cash would be greatly appreciated.

We’ve also been doing a little bit of contracting work. We worked with SportsGeek back in November last year to build “Sports Digital Passion” (that link is Sean’s marketing site, not the actual app). It launched successfully with the TimberWolves NBA club a couple of months back and Sean has been hard at work signing up more clubs, so he decided to expand it a bit and add some more features.

That’s been taking what little time I had left last week and will be the sole focus this week to get it out the door ready for the AFL finals where he’s got a new club to launch with. What constantly impresses me with the work Sean is doing with SportsDP is his positioning of the application — he really gets the market and the value that he’s bringing to it. I think it has a bright future.

With those two things sucking my time, the effort I could put into was somewhat limited, which meant that the previous weekend I focused on getting a new feature out the door and then shipping that during the week.

The interesting lesson with the new feature was that we were conflicted on where to place it — nowhere felt right. We tried two different placements before the third one got it right. This UX stuff isn’t easy. What was interesting was that we realised that one other feature (the bookmarklet) was also badly placed and we moved it in alongside the new feature. Despite having been released for over 6 months now, people started tweeting about the bookmarklet like it was new. That’s placement for you.

There you have it. Keeping busy! Back to some coding now.