Reminds me of when Guy Kawasaki launched Alltop for "only 10K." Yeah, 10K + 500K worth of PR that comes with having an enormous following.
This is not to diminish what Metalab or Guy Kawasaki do, I'm admire both. But it's not like these results are as reproducible as they infer without significant connections.
You say these results aren't as reproducible without significant connections... but getting significant connections is reproducible. I guess you could consider that step 1 in their process.
I would also say that you can build an audience and get connections with some hustle and/or money. A well designed pre-launch page and some paid advertising will get you an audience for launch day.
Flow sits at the top of my "most annoying web app ever" list, because it follows the pattern of loading an empty shell, then populating it. I bet this works amazingly well for the guys developing it from their local dev server, but for those of us across the Atlantic from your servers it's really really painful.
Workflow involves clicking a link to look at a task. Then hitting the back button. Then waiting several seconds for the list to slowly repopulate itself. Then trying to scroll down (which is no easy feat since there's no scroll bar), and just before you get back to where you wanted to be, the list jumps back to the top. Repeat (scroll/jump/scroll/jump) several times before the page settles down, usually cutting the last item in half with no way to see it.
So yeah, Step One: HTML in a table. So that the back button works, and the page otherwise behaves like a web page.
Glad to see you're doing well for yourselves, but I'm sorry to report that I'm one of the people in your "churn" column.
Edit: Ok, I was downvoted for my comment. The reason I posted this is because the parent wrote a long comment about the product that has nothing to do with the content of the article and may not even be viewed by the team.
They're also 100% fixable.
If you're going to do this sort of "empty container" app, it's worth modifying your approach a tiny bit and instead going with "filled container". That is, sending the actual page content over the wire, then doing all your smartness and auto-updating behind the scenes where the user can't see it. You get all the benefits that the browser gives you for free such as cache management and back-button support, and you can also build in all your rich UX just like before.
And of course, if you're going to rip out a 20-year-tested native control like the scrollbar, it's up to you to make absolutely certain that the thing you replace it with is better. Theirs is demonstrably worse in pretty much every way a scrollbar can be worse, and actually fails the simple case of "scroll the document", as it tends to lose its position. The fix for this is as obvious as it is easy to implement: use the native scrollbar to scroll your list.
If they do those things, they may win me and my team back.
It's great feedback. It points out specific problems and solutions. Ways that, from his point of view, the UI could be improved.
> Someone who's asking for a plain HTML version of a rich desktop style application probably wasn't going to use it in the first place.
That's a very unfortunate comment. In the end the technology is what matters the least in his feedback - odds are if you make the RIA responsive enough, use smart caching, sensible navigation, respect default behaviors, etc, nobody will ask for a "plain HTML" version. It's about the experience and usability.
You can catch an interview with Andrew Wilkinson here: http://5by5.tv/founderstalk/28
I've had the opportunity of having the Flow product lead (Luke Seeley) speak at my conference - seriously smart guy.
Congrats to them for growing to $500k+ per year on their own!
Its like giving users extremely fast rocket to fly on and telling them "there is no windshield and seatbelts are extra $5".
Bottom line: I would rather have less customers and everyone with minimum security over their data, than safe extra couple bucks. IF they would ever get their data sniffed and shit would hit the fan, guess who would media blamed for it?
I believe it was just a way to get people to upgrade. Views have changed in the meantime as it's dawned on everyone how bad an idea it is not to have SSL on for everyone given how negligible the cost is.
Realllly interested to hear more about this. Can anybody from Flow elaborate? How well does this work? How did 4-6 hours come about? Why not 5-7 hrs? Or 3-5? How do salaries work - is everybody full time?
> We believe in working smart, not hard, and having lives outside the office.
Why can't you work smart and hard? Couldn't you accomplish in 8 hours what other teams could accomplish in 8-16 hrs?
Please share :)
That's working smart, IMO working longer just for the sake of it is working stupid because long and constant working hours aren't just wasted time, they negatively impact the time you wouldve been productive.
I'm pretty sure there are a good number of people on here who are splitting their days like this.
I was just hoping somebody from Flow could weigh in with a first-hand account. Since everybody obviously has different work needs/environments for productivity, I was wondering how they managed to build an office culture that fosters these types of work habits.
That said, if I were on your team, I would love having the extra time away from work.
That all changed once they hired their first devs, for actual money. Once he was paying "$5000 per month for you" you damn well better be in by 9 and stay till 6.
I wonder how their culture will change when they start paying big bucks for real employees.
What does that mean? Perhaps they're only working 4-6 hours on Flow, and 2-3 hours for client work for Metalab. Who knows? I think there's a lot left out of this story.
Will weak workers achieve great things in 6 hours or 16 hours? No.
Will over-achievers do brilliant things in 6 hours instead of 16 - depends on your definition.
Hours worked, working smart and all this BS doesn't matter. What matters is the size and complexity of the problem your working on, and how many problems you have to solve to move the needle on your goals.
So if you can do a great 30 hour week a move the needle - lucky you! Some people have to pour in 80-100 hour weeks just move the needle because what they are working on just cant be done 'smarter'.
I think the discussion needs to move from hours worked and quality of hours worked, back to quality of people : and hopefully the right people will work the right amount of time to productively deliver whats needed.
#1 How are you able to connect to 4,000+ paying customers so quickly?
Actually, that's it. I'm guessing any number of HN guys could create this product. But we don't know how to get people to buy it.
You see a lot of apps in this space for two reasons: a lot of people need project management tools, and most of these people will pay for one that works well for them.
It is very difficult to not give every single minute to a startup. There is always so much to do. My first question is, if these guys were able to accomplish this with short days, would they have gone further and achieved even better results if they worked just a little bit harder. How do you know when you are giving too much, and is there really an amount of hours of work per day where you go from progress to regress? Does somebody say hey I can see your project and at this stage you can add a little bit at a time?
My second question is would this company have received so much more than the 500k had they had investors, and ultimately be better off?
I would appreciate any feedback or suggestions. My startup is http://1800businesscards.com and it is all self funded. Do I continue to put exhaustive hours in or do I step back and let it mature slowly. Should I seek venture capital or do I move slowly? There is just no resource or place for advice on these issues in my very small world. Thanks all.
I guess it is something that comes down to preference alot, and some are too opinionated to be flexible and offer all the options (i.e Basecamp), others too simple. But maybe they're all the "MS Project" of this generation.
(Oh, and personally use Pivotal Tracker and love it)
Do you know anything like that?
Most products, including PM apps invent the tool and then try to find a customer, which ends up resulting in generalized products. There's a lot of opportunity for products to capitalize on a specific customer and their workflows.
So let's estimate their run rate of last month at $75K and it becomes realistic - albeit a bit tight - to have 10 people on the payroll.
That's peanuts compared to VC funding but still quite a sizable sum for a lot of people (e.g. me).
They took the other road, the road which is in my opinion the best and the wisest. You must work hard to get to your point, being funded is not working hard (opinions may vary that while you're funded you can focus on your project instead of money but I think this is a very good part of the startup concept).
Once again, Metalab inspires me, my projects are starting to get real and I'm doing it the Metalab's way. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one and that this method is successful as well. (I couldn't care less about having 4.2m or 500k, at least you have enough fund to back up your dreams and projects).
That was my 2cents. Keep up the good work guys!
The "first mover" advantage is largely a myth. Many successful companies that dominate their market segments weren't the first entrants in that segment.
I think this depends upon how granularly you bucket the different companies. If you just use broad strokes and say "Apple wasn't the first to make a cell phone", then what you are saying is true, albeit at ignoring the fact that they were the first to make a cell phone with a glass touchscreen, advanced software, app store integration, and sustained improvements. Now if you put companies into that bucket, you basically end up with Apple. Samsung followed, and makes outstanding products in the exact same space, but in that bucket, Apple is the leader.
Apple is an oft-cited example, but I'll bet that if you look at any product that leads its space, it was the first to do what it does in exactly the way it does it. The reason I'm skeptical about how well this can work for project management saas companies is that there are only so many pixels to manipulate on a screen, and only so many ways to organize a project. If you are making a "me-too" product you will lose out in the long run. That's all I was saying. Not sure why people get so upset with facts.
I have no idea why you are being down voted.
Obligatory plug: http://www.surveygizmo.com
Here's a question - is it possible to ever do something like this without the requirement of finding 300K via consulting gigs first? I assume that given there were 3 of them and they spent only a few months building it, they didn't need all of the 300K on salaries.
I suppose you would have to grow the product from a smaller stage, rather than build it and launch?
I think the main unexpected cost that you can incur is advertising/marketing. You can build the software cheaply, but it's very hard to get the word out without spending money (and it can add up very fast). Considering their fast growth, I would also assume significant spend in this area.
As long as you are getting a positive ROI from this spend, then it's worth throwing as much as you can at it, but obviously you need to have it to throw... that may be one the keys to their success.
Wondering what their stack was/is
jQuery, (customized) Backbone.js, socket.io, and a fair amount of other custom JS.
That only works if there are people with the exact same expectations on the market (which seems to be the case).
Congrats. Great work.
>>"..with no VC Money"
What makes it something to be proud of? Doesn't that imply taking VC money is bad? Why?