Back of the napkin

So although I symbolically titled the first post in this series “File > New Project“, I definitely look at this initiative as a product.

Not a product in any business sense, but in the sense that there is no outlined path of what’s going in and what will come out of it.

napkin

This is how I currently see the minimum viable product, an app consisting out of:

  1. First-time user wizard for a dummy proof setup
    1. Should configure your home location
    2. Should connect to at least one smart service or device
    3. Can configure what to do when leaving home
    4. Can configure what to do when arriving at home
    5. Explains how the app will help
  2. Home screen reports performed actions that were configured
    1. This includes failed actions
  3. Settings screen that allows customization of the initial settings

I forgot to mention I already tried out a basic proof of concept before I started these blog posts, just to make sure it has some chance of working out. So I have some confidence this is conceptually feasible.

Next step is sketching some mockups and developing a first draft.
I should be able to get in the more technical details by then and share some code.

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Back of the napkin

File > New Project

Spare time is the best time

If you are a software developer and occasionally daydream of quitting your day job with a bang like Dave Chappelle, it makes sense to spend some time on a pet project. That’s how humanhuman started and now it’s a promising company.

Mark Heath from NAudio made a convincing argument on this topic, about why you should create a digital product and sell it online. Specifically the point about being able to do it in your spare time, takes away all the reasons not to do it.

So this is where I’m at right now, in my spare time and ready to journey from idea to pet project and if the stars align, to digital product.

Billions and billions ideas

Now when you share an idea for a digital product with a friend, they will very most likely point out that it has already been done. This used to be reason enough for me to abandon an idea, until I realized:

  • there are billions of people, having a truly original idea is like winning the lottery
  • ideas are not even half the battle, it’s the execution that counts
  • there’s always room for a different take on an idea

If you are investing money in an idea, different rules might apply. But in your spare time, the stakes are so low that an abandoned idea is a missed opportunity.

App store or bust

I have had countless exciting ideas that quickly simmered down and then quietly fizzled out. So the number one priority is minimizing any hurdles of completing this endeavor.

That’s why I’m sticking to what I know, which is .NET development. As a result of this, I’m picking the Windows Phone Store as the platform to sell my digital product.

I feel this sets the bar at a realistic height. The goal is to remove any excuses of not completing it, making money in a store of which I haven’t heard many promising stories about is not the point.

Elevator pitch

This is the second unoriginal idea I pick, the first one turned out not to be technically possible on Windows Phone without a backend (app that sends email or SMS in the background before you battery dies, for example to notify your significant other you can’t be reached in case of an emergency or for teens out for the night to give their parents a heads up so they don’t panic just yet)

Anyway, step in the elevator, going up:

  • Do you have your phone on you all the time?
  • Do you have any connected smart devices in your home?
  • You probably commute to work and back five days a week following a pretty regular pattern
  • I’ll build you an app that upgrades your comfort at home by suggesting and letting you customize what your smart devices should automatically do when you leave and arrive at the house every day
  • Left for work? Any running devices get turned off, the heating gets turned down and any other thing you configure
  • Back at home? Well, welcome, we already saw you coming, the heating has already been turned up

*ding*

First floor, please step out.

Ideas on paper are harder than they appear

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On this journey from idea to app store, I will share sketches, mockups, technical diagrams, code and depending on how far I get, a working app.

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File > New Project