A Year of RFPs - What We Learned in 2012

1/31/13 6:44 PM David Hulsen Our Story

You know how at the end of the year how you get Christmas cards and letters highlighting what's been happening with those you love throughout the past year? 

Well here's ours (albeit a bit belated). 

We've now spent a year building RFP software and reimagining what the process could look like. (More on our story here). It's been a good and busy year. 2012 taught us a lot.

Here's our milestones and what we've learned so far. 


Snapshot 

Last winter we started the design work. Since then we've brought product development on-line, and created our marketing site.

It's been fun, frustrating, and rewarding all at once.

 

2012 Lessons & Milestones 

#1. Boot-strapping. My partner Stu and I both worked on RFP365 while maintaining our ‘day jobs.' We started the real design work after our motorcycle trip in Vietnam. We met at my dining room table most nights and at least one afternoon on the weekends. This continued from the beginning of February through the end of December.

#2. Contractors. We started employing outside help with the visual design of the application. That labor was our first hard cash cost, so we started off sparingly.

#3. Guides. Because we had to be lean, we employed some concepts from Steve Blank and Ash Maurya. Stu did the reading, but we discussed the key concepts. 

#4. Customer interaction. Our first customer interviews were concurrent with our initial product development. It sounds logical, but we made it a priority. Features we thought were important were continually vetted to our would-be-customers. As Steve Blank suggested, we continuously discussed price and value perception.

#5. Development. The deeper we got into the development cycle, the more technical assistance we needed for certain functions. We sought out skill sets to complement ours, and we paid independent contractors to help. Their help was critical. As we cycled through product iterations, the fresh perspectives brought from outside contractors continued to streamline the functionality, and most importantly, the user experience (UX).

When we compare our original sketches and wireframes to our first release, the changes are absolutely staggering. 

As a down to earth, details guy, the sheer amount of work scared me. But the customer feedback helped to continuously challenge and set our priorities. The wisdom of those who've gone before, helped break down an impossible challenge into daily steps. And the encouragement of our community has cheered us to the finish line. 

Have any suggestions for us? We'd love to hear them. We're always trying to make our proposal software better. Thank you so much for being part of our story. 

Happy new year to you all!

 

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**Image Credit credit: Death to Stock Photo