The past week involves mostly on experimenting, somewhat similar to the experimental learning concept mentioned in the Lean Startups.
The readpeer project finally went on test by real users and we gathered feedbacks to polish the system based on real situations. Xiaoli and Prof went for meeting in Hangzhou early last week and I'm the only one who dealt with bug fixing+ web service api development+operation.
Early in the week, one senior(CTO) from Visenze(one of few real technical startups) in SG emailed me to join his company. Actually I was supposed to join his company after graduation instead of the Prof's company for a better exposure/involvement to a tech startup. However, I confirmed to Prof to make readpeer a product-standard one before moving to other projects. Now my role is almost fulfilled but I start to realize that it's not just about production design and development, but more about operation and continuous grows. Even the functionalities and design works have fullfilled doesn't mean I'm done with the project. There are plenties of other stuffs. I told the senior that we are validating the idea and developing mobile apps right now, so I'm not ready yet but can talk to him by end of February. Kindly, he emailed me some suggestions: 1. when the product goes on public, operation(运营) becomes more crucial. 2. Do focus on one mobile platforms instead of both iOS and Android to reduce the opportunity cost. 3.when the idea doesn't work, quickly switch to other directions for validation. The suggestions are really frank.
Let me share more about the readpeer idea dispite that the Prof strongly disagree exposuring ideas to others. It was firstly about academic reading and annotation. However, we consistently seek for potential unique way out to make the system workable in real business. We started to explore the possibility of novel reading four months ago, later finding out we are not special enough to distinguish ourselves. Then we narrowed down to script reading, which then evolve into mini movie production. The mini movie production idea can be found here: movie. readpeer.com. However, the Prof wrongly assumed that people will easily create music/posters/photo annotations out of their intrinsic motivation+some money awards. The result turned out that the cost is too high to generate such kind of highly time consuming annotations. The first few days of market testing turned out that people are not annotating given the instructions that they have to attach originally created posters/music. In another word, this idea is Invalid. However, the Prof seems to be happy to see 10+ unique visitors coming to the site while that's certainly a bad number. Though we still haven't started really marketing the site, I started to wonder about the business model. It is impossible to make into a business if we continue believing that extending user base will be a business way out. At least, the market doesn't fit Singapore if we are targeted to people who read original created scripts and making annotations purely out of interests. I started to realize it's a business problem instead of a technical issue.
If I were only a normal employee, that would be none of my business if the business doesn't make sense. However, I guess I'm responsible enough to remind the Prof of the potential dead ends. There are possible way out like selling sub systems to enterprise customers. We will have better competitive advantages when the mobile app goes into play.
For this week's diet, I'm doing good, eating only fish vegetable and toufu, thanks to Prof.Ben's reminder. I hosted a young couch surfer yesterday and today. Unfortunately, he bought me a cup of milk tea in Chinatown last night and my stomach hurts until now...