Product Development & Solving Customer Problems

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I have to admit I have always wanted to create a product. I also would really love to develop Theatrical-At-Home into something that other indie filmmakers can use and that we can use in the future. I’m nervous to say that because it is a steep task, and also because I have shiny object syndrome. I love chasing new ideas. I’m not always sure what constitutes a long-term commitment and what is just a short-term adventure. But I think I at least need to try…

I have a good understanding of some of the immediate needs and problems that indiefilmmakers face — because we have them ourselves. After what we’ve learned the last month — and really the last year — I have ideas for solutions.

It’s interesting when developing a product…

My tendendency is to get an idea and then go into my hole for weeks or months until I have something “perfect”. Then I test, and if it doesn’t work, I give it up.

There is an alternative which is to solve immediate needs for customers with less than perfect tools.

What I’m learning is that the second approach seems to be the correct approach — even though it’s against my natural inclination…

But I can see that it’s better. As we release Phoenix, Oregon on our platform, I learn from our customers and partners every day. Mostly, they are very happy — which has completely astonished me. My expectations are high for what my product needs to be — when in truth, partners are desperate for a solution — and happy with any solution.

If I can help to solve their problem in collaboration with them instead of producing in a vacuum, the product will be simpler and more useful.

Simplicity, usefulness, minimum viable fuctionality, instead of shiny objects.

I had soooo much fun researching new systems and software this weekend. This was valuable, but what I really need to do the next few days is go back to my current partners and make sure that the current platform works amazingly for them for our events the next three weekends. These are good partners — ones I’d love to work with in the future. I want them to have a great experience. I think I can do that on the current platform with a little extra attention to their current needs.

It’s easy to get discouraged by the work of the bigger companies who are creating products for the whole world. I am tempted to feel small. But sometimes customers just want a personal, customized interaction — even if the software isn’t perfect.

I have had a few conversations with partners about our platform. I occasionally direct them to other software or start telling them how they can build a similar platform. They stop me and say — “I want nothing to do with that; can you just do it for me?”

It’s hard for me to imagine. I like control over my tools. I quickly get frustrated with pre-built systems… Even with my own systems, I constantly need new features.

But some people just purely want one problem solved. And that is enough. They do not want to dream about the minute details of intricate functionality.

This is a beautiful lesson to learn. Solve one problem. Simply. Create massive value.

♡ Annie


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