Day 20: Getting out of the building…without getting out of the building.

STATUS: Landing page for thinglistr.com has been refined. It looks a lot better and is significantly more concise now. Did some promotion on the street and around friends and family. On another vain, my team is interested in starting getseatd for real, so now I’m the founder of TWO infant startups! Let’s just say that most of the rap lyrics I’ve ever listened to make much more sense now.

MOOD: I’m feeling pretty good.
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This post will begin the tale of the two startups that grew in Brooklyn. One will win. Only time will tell.
Thinglistr progress, or how I discovered the Mechanical Turk and REALLY validated my project with a few minutes of work.
I discovered the power of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk yesterday while learning more about the art of making perfect landing pages. The basic premise behind the Turk is that you pay people pennies to do just about anything, and Amazon takes a cut for giving you access to them. When this came out several years ago, I had no idea of how anyone would use this thing. I actually completely forgot about it until I found this (insert link) post from someone who successfully used it for validating a business ide…
WAIT! DUH! 50 cents to complete a simple survey? OF COURSE THIS IS PERFECT FOR THE TURK!
I spent $200 asking roughly 300 people (workers) to complete my survey. I made a small mistake by hosting the first survey on SurveyMonkey; they only let you see the first 100 results for free. I got much more useful data after moving it to Google Forms. I put in some constraints over the types of workers that qualified for my task (95% approval rating over at least 1000 human intelligence tasks, or HITs) to help prevent spammy answers, though now that I think about it, I should have also restricted answers to computer location given the market I’m trying to capture.
The results were staggering and definitely in my favor. It appears that my hypothesis of people having problems finding stuff to do is a valid one, given that most people (a) use Google or Facebook to find events, and (b) had at least some interest in a tool like this (7/10 or greater).
While this is pretty cool and is leaving me feeling pretty good, this isn’t why the Turk rocked my world. The Turk rocked my world and melted my mind because I got these results in less than 30 minutes.
30 MINUTES!
I can’t think of any other way of getting responses from that many people that quickly. Despite my mistakes, this was a very solid investment of my $200.
Armed with this information, I started wire framing my concept in Balsamiq. I don’t know why I used them when I could have used Photoshop and achieved the same effect, but it was somewhat easy to use and didn’t frustrate me too much.
What DID frustrate me was LaunchRock. Fucking LaunchRock. Their editing tool is buggy as ever, and all of their documentation refers to previous (and, I’m assuming, better) versions of the product. I’ve never seen buggier font sizing in my life. I used them because I wanted to make a pretty landing page as quickly as possible, but I still ended up having to roll my own CSS just so I could get responsive font sizing. Damn.
 If it weren’t for their easy hooks into analytics and mailing list management, I would’ve migrated off of them a while ago.
To end the night, I finally signed up for angel.co. I figured that finding an investor that believes in this will be tough, but that’s a better start than nothing.
…and then I gotseatd.
While all of this was happening, I fielded a lot of buzz in my email inbox about our weekend project, getseatd.co. Four people were quick to tell me about how a similar company, _____, announced their recent $1.8M funding this past Monday. Their approach to the employee onboarding problem is pretty, but, in my opinion, not fundamentally different from the horde of competitors in this space. Everyone seems so focussed on providing an awesome onboarding experience for HR, but the real problem here is that the onboarding process at most companies involves way more than HR. At the very minimum, the onboarding process at MOST companies, I hypothesise, involves many other moving parts, including:
  • IT: Accounts, computers, data access and other techie things,
  • Facilities: Desks, chairs, accessories, sometimes even security badges
  • Legal: Paperwork, paperwork, and even more paperwork (the amount of paperwork involved in normally proportional to the importance of the employee),
  • Compliance: Different paperwork from legal, some training
  • The manager of the employee: Mentorship setup, PRE-mentorship setup, etc.
  • etc.
What I’ll need to research, and I feel very strongly about this, is that ALL of the onboarding software available only makes things simpler for HR. None of them bring the entire process together from start to finish.
Furthermore, most of the software out there are data islands. They don’t integrate easily with a lot of other software, and they certainly don’t integrate well with custom software without dropping buckets of cash for special treatment. They are other systems that HR has to learn, IT (might) have to integrate and others need to be made aware of.
This is why we started getseatd this weekend. It’s an attempt to bring the process together in a meaningful and collaborative way.
Many of the folks on my team are interested in moving this forward. More work for me! Yay…?
(In all seriousness, working on this shit is 100000x more interesting than my full-time work. Never thought I’d say that, but that’s what makes life fun!)
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Day 20: Getting out of the building…without getting out of the building.