Apologies for the recent lack of posts, but I have a great excuse which is also the topic of this latest update: I've been very busy trying to get my latest product membermeister (my latest project) up to MVP stage. Membermeister is an online membership management service targeted at small business owners that have to deal with a large numbers of members - for example sports coaches, childcare providers, dance teachers, personal trainers and so on. It allows them to keep all their member information in one place, create groups, schedule sessions and classes and most importantly produce invoice and track payments amongst other things.
Together with my friend Paul Bou-Samra we have been busy building this Rails based application for the last few months and we're now at a stage where we have something at hand that resembles a usable product.
We've learned a lot along the way, but the journey has only just begun and my intention is to write more about our experiences and ongoing learning in future blog posts.
Paul has taught himself Ruby on Rails in record time whilst I have tried to get to grips with the front-end development (not sure what I would have done without twitter's bootstrap) and heroku/ deployment. I've also got a good handle on the Rails asset pipeline now... don't ask. Heck, I've even dabbled in Photoshop and Fireworks to create graphics and designs - in a nutshell we are bootstrapping this baby 100%.
Those subjects are just some of many I could write about, and that's only the technology side of things. I have read somewhere that a successful product is one third code, and also needs one third execution and one third marketing. This certainly rings true for us, and we made sure to talk to potential customers BEFORE we embarked on building the application. Was it enough? Only time will tell.
But one thing's for sure, working on your own products is the most fun you can have as a developer (at least in my opinion), and if you manage to sign up paying customers then you're onto a winner and won't be likely to return to whatever you've been doing previously. It's addictive.
Right now membermeister will focus on UK based customers (in true MVP style you can't actually pay us yet!) with a view to expand in the longer term. Our backlog of to-do items is ever growing and for every item we tick off there seem to be two new ones springing up. It's true but if you're building a product you'll never be finished. We're ready to embrace the process. More to come.
Oh and if you know of anyone (maybe your tennis coach, your son's karate trainer or daughter's dance teacher) who seems to struggle with producing invoices, tracking payments or attendance then we'd love to talk to them. A tell tale sign of a potential membermeister customer is if the invoice you receive from them consists a of small piece of paper which your child fails to hand to you in time :-)