So begins the short series I’ve been contemplating called the “Instant Ramen Startup.” This will chronicle a simple product idea that will scratch my own itch as well as demonstrate how quickly you can get a first draft product out the door using technologies like Meteor and NodeJS. I hesitate to call this a “startup” as its really just a product idea, but if it grows, then I’ll document that process as well!
The goal is to get the product out the door in seven days. Thats right, one week. While its ambitious, this is a product idea that is simple that should solve our needs nicely, and hopefully the needs of others.
Originally I would validate the market prior to building the product, but since the development will only take a few days, we’re just going to go ahead and build the product.
Why Instant Ramen?
The title is a bit unique, but really this process is supposed to outline getting a minimum viable product out the door quickly, validating that idea, and gaining traction all on a Ramen noodle budget. Plus, Oriental flavor Ramen noodles are delicious with a toasted sandwich.
The basic idea is an automated email system that sends out a sequence of messages to lists of prospects and measures the open, click and reply rate. If a prospect replies, then abort the sequence. The entire mission is to get prospects engaged so that a relationship can be built prior to the sale. There are products that do this (or similar) things out there, but include many more features than I need at this point in my company’s lifecycle. These systems also come with a hefty price tag. So, our product should be aimed at startups and smaller businesses who want a tool that does a great job at ONE thing for a low price… say $14 a month? Lets see if we can make it work!
We shall call this product LeadPilot. Why? Well, it sounds cool, and our domain, leadpilot.co, was available!
The feature set should be relatively bare-bones. After all, we’re doing something simple, so why clutter the process and UI required to accomplish this simple, yet critical task? Here are the features I’ve considered for the first revision:
- Connect to any IMAP/SMTP server so we can work with pretty much any email provider
- Send emails from the subscriber’s email account to ensure delivery AND add a personal touch to each email
- Statistics should update on the page in real time
- Add in support for open and reply tracking
- Support the sending of HTML for rich email content
I want the website to be clean and minimalistic, so the logo should also suit that! I tried to hire Chuy Ramirez who designed the Pied Piper logo, but sadly he wasn’t available. So instead I decided to spend about 20 minutes in PhotoShop with some creative commons artwork and free fonts to come up with:
Its minimalistic, and the chat bubbles can be used easily for favicons or applications where you need a truncated logo. We’ll probably be like everyone else and invert the colors and throw the logo into a square.
The next step was to get a quick landing page up, so we’re using everything free that we possibly can! Enter WordPress… surprised? I didn’t think so. About 15 minutes to spin up a new Linode server and set up MySQL and get the site running:
Obviously our copy and home page will need some re-work, but its a great start and only took about 30 minutes of time within the WordPress admin panel to set up!
Tomorrow we’ll be getting into the nuts and bolts of creating the first revision of LeadPilot.
Stay tuned… (You can view that article here)
More articles in this series: