BrainBank is almost ready for beta

Wow, things have taken much longer than I expected at almost every stage of developing & launching BrainBank. But I see the light at the end of the tunnel now. Beta invitations will be going out in a week or two but I want to share a few insights I’ve had in developing BrainBank so far:

* Things take time.
* Break features down to smaller parts
* You need real customers to give you clarity. I have had myself as the customers POV but when you’re looking at it for for 2 or 3 months, it’s harder to keep perspective.
* The Rails community is awesome! Especially Radar, Mikeg1a and the countless others who have helped me in the #rubyonrails chat room.

Also, now that the general coding part is done, I need to take a short break. I feel exhausted. I’m excited but don’t have the energy to push this to market yet. I’m going to use the next couple weeks to get the marketing stuff updated (emails, PDF brochures, website, phone call scripts/guides) and get prepared for the new year. After the new year, I’m going to start going after potential customers and see how bad the economy really is. A few other SaaS software markers have said the down-turn hasn’t really affected them much. Let’s see how it all rolls.

Any Tips for a Sales Website for SaaS Product?

I’ve got BrainBank almost ready to show to the world (private beta) and I’m working on the sales website for it. For people with experience selling/marketing business software, any tips?

Rails Rumble 2008 Apps

UPDATE: Voting Is Now Open! Click here >

I was going to be competing in the Rails Rumble 2008 competition but I just didn’t have time.

Anyway, below are apps from the rumble that I’ve come across (in no particular order). Btw, official voting will probably open Tuesday but leave comments here on which ones you like and why. It would be cool to get a good discussion going and use it as a learning experience.

Food-Related

  1. Food Ferret
  2. Pic My Diet
  3. Live Resto
  4. Foodistic
  5. Pranziamo
  6. Nutty Swede
  7. Want Nom
Business
Projects, Tasks, Lists & To-Dos
  1. CouldYa
  2. My Idea Drawer
  3. GTD
  4. Just a F***in List
  5. Chores
  6. Laddernator
  7. Agile Tasks
  8. Bid Build Bill
  9. My Kids Party
  10. The Sandy Pickle
Entertainment / Leisure / Social
  1. Riverdex
  2. Hiked It
  3. Venture Capitalist
  4. Locatr – (use Safari)
  5. Comicly
  6. Ideas Ftw
  7. Assassin
  8. Pict Meme
  9. Finger
  10. uBetcha
  11. Azimuth
  12. Inspires Me
  13. MeetinBetween.us
  14. Beercamp
  15. i heart games
  16. goodbad.me
  17. Flockup
  18. Sticky Board
  19. Quick Beam
  20. Love Loathe
  21. Pickup Game Loader
  22. Utopianistic
  23. Ur Safety Net
  24. Fish Rumble
  25. Tagueame
  26. Latte Art
  27. Twalala
Music / Video / Movies
Misc
  1. Remindr
  2. Sell Your Attention
  3. Mood Bird
  4. Forever Home
  5. Sound Folder
  6. Ostraka
  7. Rails66
  8. Giwiki
  9. Wurbe
  10. Prickt
Educational
  1. Story Seed
  2. Cite Now
  3. Track Class
  4. Reveal The Bias
  5. Likis
  6. Share Your Stuff
  7. Quotagious
  8. Petticoat (Live Twitter & YouTube Search)

Financial

Fitness
  1. Run 1 Mile
  2. Sheep Fit
  3. Run. Track. Run.
Web / Programming

Beta Request

I was asking iHate (codename of programmer from substruct) some questions about Ruby on Rails a few days ago and he commented to me that it looked very unprofessional that BrainBankHQ.com had a server error.

This didn’t initially bother me for two reasons:

  • The traffic on the website is minimal.
  • The server error wasn’t a bug. It was just something that hadn’t been coded in yet and it won’t be a top priority until BrainBank is ready for alpha/beta users.

However, as I thought about it more, I realized I was potentially missing a marketing opportunty so I fixed it. Now there is a Beta Request page which is connected with my PipelineDeals account

Feel free to sign up and I’ll send you an email once beta accounts are available.

I think part of the reason I didn’t do this earlier was because I didn’t know how… and I didn’t want to spend the time doing it. For people who use Ruby on Rails, here’s how I did it:

#inside app/controllers/application.rb before_filter :sales_site_check private# real_account? just checks if an account exists for the domain used in the request.
# if it doesn’t, it will just render views/sales/index.html.erb

def sales_site_check
   render :template => ‘sales/index’, :layout => false unless real_account? 
end

It’s not really sophisticated and it won’t be usable once I’m ready to launch but it’s enough for now.

Mistakes: The Price Of Progress

For the last month, I’ve been in a state of “paralysis by analysis.” And today, I’ve had a remarkable realization: I am going to make mistakes. Obvious? Yes. Obvious to me? Nop.

See for the last month or so, I’ve been digging into training material of all sorts. Numerous screencasts, articles, videos, etc.  I think what I was looking for was something that be a step by step guide to build a superb web application.  Particularly interesting is that I didn’t tell myself this. I told myself I wanted to make my app very RESTful and DRY and a bunch of other bull shit. I wanted to follow all these ideals and best practices of web development. But if I keep on “learning” instead of getting down to “doing” aka coding, BrainBank will remain a pipe-dream project.

So I publicly accknowledge that I will screw up in BrainBank (aka I’ll pull a Twitter). BrainBank won’t be the finest lines of code that have ever been typed. It will probably contain many unRESTful things. It probably won’t be poetry-ish when read by other developers. And I accept that I will fix it… or I’ll hire someone to fix them once BrainBank starts making money.

Mistake is the price of progress. Make more. Make em fast. Move on.

Ever had paralysis by analysis? Leave a comment :D

Other stuff that I was going to include but seemed irrelevant/uninteresting
My original goal of launching a new SaaS product in 48 hrs has come and gone. In some ways, it was a success.

I rocketed forward, created a web app and got it LIVE in less than 48 hrs… but it was hardly a real business. Infact, in the spirit of boosting forward at jet speed, I ended up building something that was different than my original vision. That was mistake 1.

Mistake 2 was getting others excited about the product (or at least the original vision of the product) before I had something real… before even I had used it. Basically, I wasted some of that excitement. It’s rude to go sell someone a product (or the concept of a product) and tell them I’ll call ya as soon as it’s ready. You get them all excited just to let them down.

Post-launch, as I sat there looking at my creation, it was obvious that it didn’t fit the bill of my original vision in many ways. So I decided to start fresh. This is when the paralysis start.

PS: the original version is down. I’m using the server for development at this time.

FYI: Busy with tests, reports & lab write-ups

Just wanted to leave a quick note that I’ve been busy for the last few weeks with tests, reports & lab write ups. This is why the official 1.0 version has not been released. Summer classes are fairly fast paced. I love it, except I’ve had to give some things up… and BrainBank has been one of those things. I should have things under control after tonight so v1.0 will go live Friday.

Software as a Service (SaaS) Products/Companies

During the process of building out my first software as a service product (Brain Bank), I’ve looked at a large number of other companies that offer their software as a service.

It took me a while to find & bookmark these companies so I figured I’d share them… organized by categories they are closest to. This is not a comprehensive list. It isn’t meant to be a directory.

It’s more to give people perspective on what is out there, how people are pricing their apps, how they software looks & feels, etc. Some are examples to follow. Others are examples of what not to do.

PS: If I’m missing someone you need needs to be on this list, please leave a comment and I’ll update the list.

PS2: Some don’t completely fit into their category because it was probably narrowly focused or fit into multiple categories. I made the call on where to put it. Deal with it. :D

PS3: Expect another blog post later today with a status update on BrainBank later today.

HR

Projects / Plans / Collaboration

Groups / Social Networks

CRM / Contact Manager / Sales Pipeline / Proposals

Backup / Doc Sharing

Email

Hosting

Analytics

Learning Management Systems

Mobile

Forms / Application Development

Appointment Setting

Web Site Creation / Ecommerce

Shipping

Time tracking

Billing

Bug tracking

Customer Feedback / Survey

Comments Anti-Spam

Accounting

Narrow Focus