Monday, May 30, 2016

The fallacy of custom design for a startup

I should have been more scrappy.  I fell into the process I knew from working with larger companies (and larger budgets).   Start with a blue sky approach, and custom design an interface and process.  Unfortunately, this leads to a need to have a custom developed solution.

When it comes to the marketing website we stood up, we didn't need custom design.  Frameworks were already in place, and developing the site using existing design frameworks would have been just as effective, and much cheaper and easier to manage.

In hindsight, focusing on process and product and using existing marketing site templates would have saved time and energy without sacrificing outcomes.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Keeping Photo Metadata intact

As we're trying out different methods of collecting a person's photos, it's become clear that there are some things that work and others that don't when keeping metadata intact.

Things that work:

  • Computer to Dropbox
    • Dropbox Uploader Mac app
    • Dropbox website
      • Add photos to your own account
      • User adds photos through file request
  • Computer to Google Photos
    • Google Photos Uploader Mac app
  • Computer to Amazon Cloud
    • Amazon cloud uploader Mac app
  • iPhone to Dropbox
    • Dropbox App

Things that don't work:

  • iPhone to Dropbox
    • user adds photos through file request (mobile web).  Metadata is stripped out
  • Downloading from Social sites
    • Facebook strips metadata
    • Instagram strips metadata

Here's a good reference as well:

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Not building software feels terrible, but it's better than building something that's not needed

In the short span of our startup's life, I've seen new companies formed and other companies shuttered or acquired.  The consumer photo space moves very fast.  Researching companies that are out there and understanding better the competitive landscape has led us to Product building inaction.  It feels like no progress is being made.  It is not something I'm comfortable with.  But it's probably the right thing to do.

The scope of what I've focused on with regards to consumer photos includes:
1.  Finding the best photos from your collection and keeping them in a secure folder.
2.  Have photo specialists create photo books for you using your pictures.
3.  Subscription service for consumers to help them manage their photo collections.
4.  Use photo book creation to understand the content and metadata patterns of how people choose pictures for photo books, with a future intent of better automating the process.

The list of companies who play in the space is very long, and new technologies are coming online all the time to aid in the effort.  Through the continued research, I've put Product building projects on hold and limited the scope of some product that we have built, mainly because I've found there are overlapping products that are already built.

Rather than rebuild those products, I'm looking for ways to reuse what they've built.  It's not as satisfying, but it saves a ton of capital - important for a bootstrapped startup.

The mermaids from an 10 year old mind

Sketching is a pastime in our household.  We often draw animals or creatures or funny looking people.  We're not artists, we just do it for fun.

Not to brag, but I'm better at drawing than my kids.  I've practiced more.  I try to teach them how to think about what they're drawing to make it more realistic, and to look at the actual object or another drawing to figure out how to draw things better.

For the most part that's worked out.  My kids' drawings have improved over time.

Recently my daughter was drawing mermaids.  What she drew was from an overhead view of a mermaid, looking down on her swimming.  The hair was long and flowy, and the mermaid had a straight body down to her fin area, that tapered then flared out.

I was about to 'correct' her about the curves of the body - draw a skinnier waist, and fuller hips to make her look more realistic.  But I realized something before I spoke - she was drawing a 10 year old mermaid.  10 year olds don't have curves - she drew a perfect adolescent mermaid.

I'm glad I didn't say anything there, but it makes me wonder how many other things I've 'corrected' when really I've just had a different point of view.