Behind the scenes #9: Good stuff takes time to build
...and also the power of serendipity in the age of social media
In this issue
Good stuff takes time to build, a.k.a. why we haven’t launched publicly yet.
The power of serendipity. We put ourselves out there on social media and it’s starting to pay off.
Latest podcast episodes.
If you know someone who will enjoy this, please forward them the email or link.
Behind the scenes, vol. 9
TLDR: We’re the team behind the podcast app Metacast. We’re in closed beta right now and are gearing up toward a public launch. Enter your email on our landing page metacast.app to receive an email when we launch (we won’t spam, we promise!)
This newsletter and our Behind the Scenes podcast is where we share our entrepreneurial journey with anyone who’s into storytelling about entrepreneurship and product development.
So, what have we been up to since the last newsletter?
Good stuff takes time to build
We’ve been building Metacast full-time since June. We launched a closed beta in August and were hoping to do a public launch in November. Come November (or rather the end of November), we’re not ready, and there’s still a lot of functionality missing.
Reid Hoffman famously said that “if you’re not embarrassed by your MVP, you’ve launched too late.”
Well… yes and no.
We launched an MVP in closed beta and it wasn’t initially useful enough for most of our testers. The hypothesis was that we’d ship the “secret sauce” feature on top of a bare bones podcast app and see how it fares. We learned a ton about the table stakes features that were missing.
Had we launched the MVP publicly, it’d likely have been a flop resulting in negative reviews on app stores. On the other hand, it could’ve helped us get more feedback from more people sooner.
The problem with building a product over an extended period of time is in maintaining momentum. As everyone in our company works for equity, we have a powerful incentive to launch the app and kick off a revenue stream. But the longer we build it, the shorter our runway. Doubt might start to creep in if it takes too long to launch. Good for us, we’re all humans and sunk cost fallacy is a thing, so everyone keeps pushing!
I am conscious that this is volume 9 of a bi-weekly “behind the scenes” newsletter, which means we’ve been sending the newsletter out for four months! We’ve been teasing our audience but the app is not available to general public yet. It feels odd for a small startup to take so long to ship a product that doesn’t require any hard science or new in-house technology.
Anyone who’s built complex software knows that it always takes longer than anticipated. In our case, we underestimated the complexity of some of the UI work in Flutter. Tasks that we thought would take a week or two stretched into a month. We’re plowing through the difficulties and learn as we go. Ultimately, our velocity will go up as we become more proficient in the mobile development stack.
Now, we’re on our final stretch with ~9 features remaining, most of which are small-to-medium size. We’re optimistic that we can launch in January and enter a new phase for our company!
Thank you all who have supported us all along!
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The power of serendipity
“Can I work for you for free?” was the subject line of an email we received recently from a recent graduate with a design degree who discovered us through Reddit.
We offered him an unpaid one-month internship. We get some tactical work done for the app while he’ll get some experience working with an ex-FAANG team and can use Metacast on his portfolio or resume.
Here’s how it went down:
The email we received was to the point, very clear, with links to LinkedIn and the portfolio. It was trustworthy.
We scheduled a one hour call where he presented a concise slide deck that clearly outlined his motivation and skills. Communication was clear and we made a decision to offer an internship on the spot.
We used a consultant contract template in Clerky (we have a lifetime package, so it’s free for us) with some customizations to account for no payment and a fixed duration of the contract (one month).
We got together with the team to discuss potential projects and narrowed them down to three tactical things we’d love to get help with. We wrote up a project brief for the first project.
After all the paperwork was signed, we got together for a kick-off meeting. We discussed team culture (our culture is awesome!) and how we’re going to communicate during the internship.
We stroke a balance between the principle of least privilege and transparency and gave the intern access to:
Slack (unrestricted, mainly because we have a free account…)
UX research video recordings and notes
Specific files in Google Drive that are relevant to the projects
We also included him into our rituals — async standup in Slack, bi-weekly team sync, and bi-weekly retro. All other communication is expected to happen asynchronously in Slack with ad-hoc meetings as needed.
The internship has just started and we’re looking forward to writing more about it (and talking about it on the podcast) once it’s over and we have results.
The cool thing about this is that we throw ourselves “out there” on social media and serendipitous connections just happen.
Holidays are coming up
Since we have a bunch of travel coming up within the team, we won’t be able to send a newsletter in two weeks. The next issue will come out in 3 or 4 weeks.
Latest podcast episodes
Ep. 44: Doing Agile vs. being agile with Pragmatic Programmer Dave Thomas
Dave Thomas, co-author of The Pragmatic Programmer and Agile Manifesto, on the true spirit of being agile (vs. "doing agile"), common mistakes engineering teams make, and common practices of successful teams.
Ep. 45: Lego Blocks vs. Model Airplanes of Software Products
Arnab and Ilya discuss different approaches to building products from the angle of do-what-you-want platforms vs. opinionated products.
Coming up next
Next week (ep. 46), we’ll be talking about our approach of “building in public” followed by a couple of guest episodes with entrepreneurs!
Support our journey
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