Launching a minimum viable product

“Better 60% done than 100% ready.” My classmate Sneha can frequently be heard uttering this (or the rather more piratical alternative, “F**k it, ship it”) on a Monday evening over coffee and what may just be New York’s best cookies. A small group of my Tow-Knight classmates and I have a regular catch-up at this time where we brainstorm, problem-solve, and keep each other on-track to meet our project goals. There’s also a fair amount of irrelevant discussion about politics and puppies but hey, what would life be without those. This gentle peer pressure was instrumental in helping me launch Kitchen Chapters last week. At this point it’s not much more than a very shiny-looking blog, but the main thing is that because it’s live, I can stop talking in hypotheticals and start getting meaningful feedback, building an audience, and working on the business strategy in earnest. The process went something like this, although it is important to note that most of these steps were happening simultaneously: Begin producing content. Organising, researching and conducting interviews, then writing and editing. Set up a basic site. I chose a free WordPress theme that loosely fit my desired aesthetic without needing extensive customization, which is an unnecessary cost at this stage. Start building an audience. I began to increase activity on my Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts: posting interesting links, participating in live chats. I discovered how time-consuming it is to manage multiple accounts, each of which has a different purpose. Adding to the challenge is the fact that my audience is split between New York and New Zealand, giving me an...

Conducting a user survey: trials and tribulations

Does time move faster in New York City? It certainly feels that way. February vanished in a blur of classes, guest speakers and site visits, and in just two weeks we’ll be halfway through the Tow-Knight program at CUNY. I only wish the weather would catch up… For me, February was about seeking out my potential users and finding out more about their behaviours: what media they consume, where they go to look for it, why they like some things and not others. In short, developing empathy that would help me identify opportunities in the market and problems I could solve. Jeff Jarvis is a great proponent of treating anyone and everyone as a user ripe for surveying. In this city of more than 8 million people, I wasn’t short of potential interview candidates. The problem, of course, is that New Yorkers are perpetually in a hurry. When they do find rare moments of peace, they certainly don’t feel like talking to a stranger with a funny accent who wants to ask probing questions about their reading habits. I abandoned that strategy after dismal failures on the A train and then at Penn Station. Ok, so perhaps places of transit weren’t the wisest choice. But Mother Nature made sure there was nary a soul in any public place of leisure. Success came with the friendly Kiwis I met at an event, and when I distributed an online survey through my personal networks. I have a clearer idea of how I can create something meaningful, and am now in the process of creating what is referred to in the startup...