May 26, 2010 Mac OS X

Minimum Viable Products

(This is the redacted version of a blog post I will update in the future. I’m redacting certain bits of information since there is virtually no moat or secret sauce outside of the novelty of the idea and an opportunity to get out in front of other likeminded people.)

A couple days ago, I happened upon the federal government’s [publicly available dataset]. Frankly, I recognize that this stuff isn’t of much interest to your average person, but—by way of my [good, knowledgeable friend]—I’ve developed a keen understanding that there are tons of [likeminded people] who live and die by this information. Simultaneously, I’ve been looking for a product concept that I can build through a fairly rigorous application of the minimum viable product (MVP) mindset. So, of course it struck me that there could be potential for a rather novel niche product, here. And, if I can manage it, I’d also love to have a topical portfolio piece to include in my application for Code for America.

Underserved niche? Check. Opportunity to apply a goofy product development methodology? Check. Possibility of actually making some money? Check. Serving my long-term goals? Check.

Naturally, the Federal Government’s [user interface for accessing the aforementioned dataset] is terrible. I mean, it’s really mind-numbingly awful. [So are all of the other tools that serve up this dataset].

And therein lies my niche: a Mac OS X-based [dataset access] tool with the added ability to [do some cool stuff no one else is doing].

I did some initial user research: I mocked up the UI in Photoshop and shot it over to [another person similar to the knowledgeable friend of mine] I know. When I asked her if she wanted it, she flipped and replied “YES!!!!!!!”. That’s encouraging: there might be a real niche market to serve.

Next up, I’m planning on buying some Google Adwords space for relevant keywords and putting up a website with more of my mockups and feature descriptions behind it. Luckily, literally no one is advertising on [relevant keywords] right now, so ad space ought to be cheap. The website will A/B test a couple different feature sets and price points, and ask interested parties to leave their email addresses. Hopefully, that will help me better gauge overall interest, and direct my development efforts.