I started writing this blog post on Friday night -
"Hang out with all your PALS," I had joked in the car.
The off the cuff slogan seemed simultaneously compelling and embarrassing, like a Dad joke that already had too much emotional investment. No one will laugh, but everyone wants the relief of ending the comedic setup.
"PALS. Performances, arts, and live shows. That is what I want VIVA to do."
I really want to enrich life for everyone...
... but in order to enrich the lives of everyone, I have to start small.
We saw Briefs at the Sydney Festival over the weekend. The Brief boys put on a phenomenal show - which we had already read about in Time Out - but as with all live shows, words in a review can never quite capture the atmosphere and mood.
Maybe it was a bit presumptuous, but I really wanted the Brief boys to be well rewarded for putting on a show for us. I wanted to encourage more performances like Briefs and more people to attend these performances.
"I want more people to go out to see these shows. Not just go down to their local happy hour all the time."
Before Saturday night, the last time I went bowling was probably around two years ago.
I spend much of my time pondering the process for shaping our social lives - or, the customer journey, if you are familiar with marketing or startup jargon. How do we decide what to do on the weekend? Who told us about bowling? Where did we decide to go? So on, and so on. All the while trying to uncover some insights about this decision making process so that VIVA can better help solve the problem, whatever that problem is.
In the beginning, I thought the problem was...
... that we did not know what to do with our spare time. I felt that was the problem VIVA solved because I had about five hours of spare time a week where I did not know what to do, and so this must be a problem that everyone faced. After a while, I realised that I did not in fact have any spare time at all. The "spare time" was invariably filled with seeing friends, shopping, chores and little gremlins that appear last minute.
No, no. VIVA was not trying to help people fill their spare time. That is a silly endeavour because very few people have a problem filling spare time.
The real problem was...
... we do not always have a good answer to the question, "What should we do?" We would love to be social and do meaningful things, but we often end up doing something less. This came from two connected problems - we do not know the possibilities for what to do, and we do not have time to find and consider all those possibilities. So, we built VIVA to solve those problems.
Now, we have refined this again, so we edge a little closer to the real customer journey - it isn't that we do not have a good answer to the question, "what should we do?" Sometimes, we know exactly what we should do, but we want to find out more information about that thing, and this is what the next version of VIVA must solve.
... they will come.
I heard that famous movie quote again on a YouTube documentary about a Noah's Ark creationist museum in America. (Spoiler alert: And of course, nobody came.)
I think that is a big lesson I have learnt about product development in the past year. Building something from nothing is a good first step, but if the project trajectory is off the target by even a few degrees... well, how much you miss the mark depends on how far away that target is. The lean startup mantra of iterating a product over and over seems to be a good guide on how to overcome the inability for people to make accurate estimations of where a targets is.
Steve and Evan are both big fans of iterating products.
Andrew of Hello.Television (and all-round champion) must be too. We had a beer yesterday to chat about what our respective businesses are doing this year. So far so good, in the 18 days that have passed so far... but we must now iterate VIVA again.
Syed and I are due to chat this Sunday about the next improvements... and I hope that will bring more people to use VIVA more regularly.
I have been a little quiet on the blogging front. Sorry. Also we have been quiet on the social media front... sorry for that too.
Most people are still on holidays. I have made use of the spare time to consider a few other ideas that fluttered onto my desk over the break - like having lunch with Steve and Tim discussing a potential new project.
I presented the forest of ideas to Evan over breakfast last week. He made a good point, one that a lot of others have made to me, "Dude, you have to pick one."
I think that's the difficulty - there are so many big ideas, and then sub-ideas under each big idea, and then sub-sub-ideas under each of those... looking at VIVA, we are already juggling about five sub-ideas, and about 40 sub-sub-ideas. Even doing one will take many hours. Most of our time in the past two weeks have been spent carefully looking at how we can better service Sydney Festival. New ideas are emerging from the analysis, and so I will have to share them with the team in the coming weeks. I want to first sketch the Photoshop mock-ups before sharing the ideas, since some of the implementation are subtle. There are a few big ideas on the horizon for how to make VIVA better, but I am not yet sure the best ways to tackle these ideas.
So far this year, I have made no mistakes writing the date, no inadvertent reversion to 2017, no accidental mixing of the years... and this bothers me. I always mess up the years for the first few weeks of January, writing "xx January" followed by whatever the year was before.
I find myself asking, why am I so comfortable slipping into 2018?
Work has been a mishmash of too many things...
When Tze Ting and I caught up for coffee yesterday afternoon, I had just come back from my morning's meeting with Webhaus. The boys were planning out their world domination plans, while I simultaneously counted my quickly diminishing free time. I was a little concerned about how I will sustain VIVA amidst the tornado of other opportunities this year.
I dislike the title "serial entrepreneur" - the association the title has and the people who self-profess to be "serial entrepreneurs". Eeek. Gross.
I am a believer in doing one thing and doing it well... and so this week has distracting me from the goal of making VIVA better. That is over for now.
Sorry for the absence friends, but I am back properly now.