Johan Bjäreholt - Thankful
Johan Bjäreholt - Thankful #1
Describe the idea:
Thankful is an open-source browser plugin that helps you donate to all your favorite creators. Enabling direct-to-creator donations using microtransactions with near-zero fees through the use of cryptocurrency.
Who are you? Previous education/jobs/ experiences etc.
I’m a software developer who has been developing the open source time-tracking software ActivityWatch with my brother Erik for the past two years. While working on it we started thinking about uses of the data ActivityWatch collects, and among other things came up with Thankful. Since then we’ve gotten friends excited about it and we’re now a team of six who are building it together.
What will you do during these three months? How will you spend the time?
We will build an MVP that collects data about the content you read, watch, and listen to online and then enables you to donate to the creators using cryptocurrency. We will spend most of the time developing, but will also:
- Build a good landing page and learn good marketing
- Figure out what users and creators want or need
- Get the attention of early adopters
What do you expect to achieve during Leapfrogs?
We hope to be able to get an MVP out that will be usable, but we don’t expect to be able to make it as user-friendly as we’d like. We’ll build a landing page (already done!) and a small user base of early adopters to give us feedback.
Tell us what you have done on your projects so far during the Leapfrogs time:
We have put most of the time towards developing the browser extension MVP. We're currently using it internally, have tested it with a few users and are about to start using it with real money. Apart from building the MVP, we’ve been thinking about how to get users, how to make a good user experience, and started thinking about what will happen with the project at the end of august when most of the team resumes their studies.
Has everything gone according to the plan? Has anything unexpected occurred? Has something been easier/harder than expected?
Even though we expected marketing to be difficult (given our previous minimal experience with it) we’ve found that it’s harder than we thought, but we’ve been looking around for advice and now have a better approach that makes it easier for our engineering-focused team to deal with. The visual design and UX of the app is something else we've spent a lot of time on and are learning a lot about. It's still pretty ugly, but it's slowly getting there.
What will you focus on during the remaining time? Will you follow your original plan or has anything changed along the way?
Our focus for August will be finishing the MVP and then starting user testing and marketing. We're aiming at ~20 active users spending ~$5/month each at the end of August. The plan hasn't changed much in essence, but it has gotten a lot more concrete as the MVP has begun to mature, especially with respect to which features we should focus on and our marketing plan.
How did you experience the three months?
They were great. It was a new experience for us to work on the same project together all summer and we realized it’s probably how we’d like to continue working in the future rather than take a job at some other company. We got a surprising amount of work done, and it’s truly been a unique opportunity for us that we’re really thankful for, no pun intended.
What has been hardest/most enjoyable?
Learning in general has been hard, but also the most enjoyable. It's been a bit of a crash course in marketing (which has been the hardest to learn), some software frameworks, starting a company, and other things. But learning so much so fast has been amazing.
Did it go as expected? Will you continue working on your project in the future?
It went about as well as we expected, surprisingly. We have a few features left that we really need to finish before we can get it in the hands of real users. We're currently in the process of looking for funding so we can fund the finishing touches.
What would you say is the most important lesson learnt while working on your project?
That it can be really difficult to get going on high-impact tasks if they feel difficult or critical to get right (and you might only get one shot). Marketing was one such thing for us, there was always one more feature, enhancement, or bug we had to fix before we felt it was ready for end users.
Do you have any tips to other ”new” entrepreneurs?
- If you can't decide if you want to try starting a company, just do it. The worst thing that can (reasonably) happen is that you learn a ton.
- Find other people early who share your values and are interested in the same problem as you.
- Try not to get hung up on small things. Do something small that works now and improve it later when you have to.