Learning Pains

Learning Pains

Last night, my business partners and I had one of the biggest debates within the last year of being in business. We ended up making a decision that will forever change our company. We were suppose to update our iPhone football apps. They had some bugs that caused them to occasionally crash and they needed to be updated with 2010 information.

Corey brought up his concern of reputation with the sports apps, as in developers may shun our next product (it’s iPhone developer focused) because our sports app are seen as shovelware. He suggested we either move our next product to another LLC to remove association or to move our sports apps to another LLC. He had a point. We dealt with this a bit on Reddit when I posted my article about how developing for the app store was a losing proposition. But, I wasn’t willing to move anything out of Reflect7 or start anything outside of Reflect7. Reflect7 is who we are. It’s our brand. It’s our story, mistakes and everything.

I didn’t agree originally. I felt that we should stick to the plan. Brian definitely didn’t agree. Brian’s point was that we should stick with the plan since it makes us money and we can move on to our ideas afterwards. He rationalized that to finish up the sports fan applications, it won’t take us much more time. Maybe a month at most. Then we could tackle our next projects.

I soon conceded with Corey. But not for reasons of reputation. My points are as follows and they aren’t listed in any particular priority.

​1) Time is our scarcest resource. Day jobs already consume a good portion of our time. Therefore, we must be selective on how we spend that time.

​2) Money is not a motivating factor for me. I simply don’t care about money. Money is a means to end. I just want financial freedom. The sports applications were bringing on average \$2.5k a month. Not bad. But, I had no passion behind them. Originally, we developed them to solve our own problem. That is, we wanted the information in an easy accessible manner on our smart phone. We included the Husker logo and the player photos in the original Husker Fan app. We were oblivious to trademark issues (yea I know, we should have done due diligence). We eventually were contacted by the CLC to remove it or face litigation. So we changed Husker Fan to Nebraska Fan. It became a generic, a commodity. We eventually made more teams. More commodities. The only way to make more money, is to make more apps. Scale to new sports and new platforms. It feels cheap. Concerning corporate survival, the difference between \$0 and \$10k is nil when your expenses are \$100/month.

​3) Passion & purpose mean the world to me. I lost my passion and purpose behind the Sports Fan apps. People aren’t loyal to generics and commodities. I want to have a bigger impact. I want to change the world. This won’t happen with sports fan applications.

​4) We all conceded months ago that we will eventually stop making/improving the sports fan apps. I rationalized that it makes sense for us to do it now, since it’s early in our company’s life. To make that kind of change later could be disastrous.

​5) We developed a product idea about a month ago that we’re all very enthusiastic about. We also developed a non-profit idea called Mind Spread at Big Omaha. Mind Spread is essentially Pay-It-Forward for books. We wanted to ride the momentum of Big Omaha and get it out ASAP. We want to recruit others to help us with our mission of improving the world by spreading knowledge and culture. We want to lead a tribe. We believe that this would truly help us change the world and that if we followed Gary V’s mantra of Legacy > Currency, we are making the right decision, as the currency would follow.

​6) If we got the sports apps up and running to where they should be, we’ll still have problems. We screen scrape data from CBS/ESPN. They change the HTML, the pages change. The screen scraper misinterprets data at times and causes crappy data for our customers. That makes us look poorly. We don’t own the data we are dependent upon. I don’t mind putting out fires if I’m building Rome, but I don’t like trying to continuously fix my house that’s built on the sand.

​7) I live by the axiom of living life with no regrets. If the sports fan apps take too long, and we can’t get Mind Spread out, I could see myself potentially regretting it. Whereas, if I follow my passion and purpose, I don’t think it’s possible to be wrong.

I don’t know if we made the right decision. I like to think that we did, but time will tell. I do know that Brian isn’t comfortable with it, and that bothers me.

I would really appreciate your thoughts on this post, especially if you disagree. Thanks for your time.

Take care.

You can follow me on Twitter @jprichardson


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