Here are the questions, and the answers for IceCondor, from Carolynn Duncan's startup assesment blog BigPaperBlog.com. My motivation for this project is that I consider the technology of continuous location tracking(CLT) to be inherently useful and an inevitable progression of putting one's life on the Internet in an attempt to share it with others. The rise of the low cost, unlimited data plan smartphones has put CLT within reach of millions. At the same time I must focus on an income if I am to continue working on IceCondor the way I have over the past 6 months.
Does Your Idea Have Merit?
Problem: Do 500+ people have the problem you are trying to solve?
Continuous location tracking at the consumer level is new so that is difficult to assess. I believe 500 people exist who would use CLT because the rather ordinary use-cases that apple and due to the incredible reach of the android market.
use case: You are at a cafe with a 10am appointment. The person you are meeting with has allowed location tracking for the hour previous to the meeting. Its 10:05am and you're still stilling there. Is the other person still in the office or are they circling the block, looking for parking? I find a phone call is overly intrusive for this situation. Checking icecondor on your phone can give you the answer.
Solution: Are 100 of the 500 people willing to purchase your solution?
unknown. The app will go on the market soon and then there will be some numbers.
Test Market: Have you contacted 5 potential clients to get direct feedback on your product?
I have four casual testers who run the application about once a week. I have got limited feedback from them. Action item: discuss the software in more depth with the existing testers and/or new testers.
Prototype: Do you have a simple/basic working prototype of the concept in any tangible form?
Yes, the product has been a working prototype since November. In December, the idea of the georss reader created a second half to the project. That was in working form by January 09.
Friends/family $: Have you been able to get an investment of $5,000 from your personal network?
I am self-funding this project. My costs are my living expenses. What I can see spending money on is some graphics artists work to help make the app look better. Embroidering a couple pieces of clothing with "IceCondor" would be fun. A new server computer will be necessary if the app gets more than maybe 100 or 200 users who are storing their location at icecondor.com.
Sales: Have you been able to get $1 in revenue from a client/potential client?
The Android application market has not supported for-pay apps yet. That should happen within a week.
Second: Are Your Operations On Target & Healthy?
Is The Business Model Working?
What are the metrics for determining this? Income is an obvious one. The project has made no money to date. The Android Market switch will be watershed event. The project has a fair amount of social capital. My tech network knows of the project and what it is supposed to do. The blog post uses the phrases 'market need' and 'flow of clients'. For the former I need to do more interviews. For the later I need the app up on the market.
Are operational processes in place to support current work flow?
The work flow is well supported and generally consistent. I have been successful in putting my efforts into this project exclusively, with tangible results.
Is existing infrastructure enough to support operations?
The infrastructure is largely provided by Google and T-Mobile. The phones are self-sufficient and T-Mobile handles the maintenance of the cellular network. The app has two halfs, a read-half that consumes location from providers like brightkite and shizzow, which is completely contained on the phone - no icecondor server is used. The write-half which pushes the phone's location uses icecondor.com as storage. The current server is low-end but functional enough to support the first hundred customers at least.
The partnerships aspect is interesting. I follow the shizzow team closely as well as the location services segment in general. I expect social networks will want to consume up-to-date location data by quering icecondor - opportunity for partnerships there.
Are my people happy?
Including other people in the project has been a shortcoming. I have this blind ambition to see it through and Im pratcitally done. Interest from others is a crucial gauge. Thats an added value of open source projects. There is a very low barrier to getting into the code and contributing. I had two committers early on in the project, they have since moved on.
What’s my cash position?
The cash position is good - operations can be supported until at least the summer, though there will have to be good indicators of future success to continue past March.
Am I consistently hitting strategic milestones?
Development milestones are being hit. Nov 08- continuous location reporting, Dec 08- GeoRSS reading, Jan 09- OAUTH protected updates. The android app has been available from the beginning, if you knew to look for it on my blog. The next milestone is getting on the android market.
Im going to stop here since I'm not seeking funding.
Going through this exercise gave me some new things to think about, and pulled me away from thinking like a software developer. Getting some market research/interviews being the most prominent. This project will live or die by the direct result of sales. It has already shown me that CLT is feasible. Either I start making some income off it by March or I move on to something else.