Nystartad.se about the development of the tool Idékollen
Idékollen (“The Idea Check”) is a web based tool that helps new entrepreneurs start developing their business plan in a fun and easy way. This is the story how they built their product.
Removing the boring things, keeping the fun
Have you ever seen a business plan? Ever created one? If so, you know that writing a business plan is not easy, in fact, it’s anything but easy… And on top of this you should conquer a new set of words, the business lingo and all the intricate little calculations resulting in your business/company’s plan to success. Facing this as a fresh entrepreneur, one could guess that many good ideas never sees the light of day.
“We wanted to remove all boring, hard, and spirit-killing things with creating a business plan and instead put together a tool that turns all that into a fun, easy and energizing way to write your first business plan.” says Julia Sjövall, project manager behind Idékollen.
The idea was to build a web application that ask questions about the business idea in a fun and informative way, without using hard words and keeping you from dying of boredom doing it. The result is then mashed up into a PDF for you to print, share and start bragging about.
“Our first sketch was made in Balsamiq. It was ugly, but it had all the questions we wanted it to have.” says Julia.
At this point the team consisted of one slightly confused content manager and a marketing manager with large visions. A perfect team at the point being, but they were missing some vital expertise, specifically lacking a web developer and a designer. They wanted to find a designer that focused on usability and UX.
Turning a sketch into magic
They found Malin, a UX Designer student from Chalmers in Gothenburg. “She created magic of our idea. She took our ugly sketch from Balsamiq and made a first minimum viable product in Keynote. It was nothing more than a fancy presentation, but it made our idea much more tangible and visible.” Says Julia.
Malin’s plan was to build the application using PHP, and to include parallax scrolling. In short parallax scrolling is a way to build a web page. It creates an animation effect when you scroll using different layers moving at different speeds when you scroll. It’s fun. And looks damn good!
But who would want to use this application? The team contacted the business plan competition Venture Cup and asked them if they would take a look at our idea and give us feedback. Venture Cup returned with feedback – and they loved it! They actually loved it so much that they wanted to use it as a part of their competition in September the same year.
This was in August. The team had a Keynote presentation. Nothing more.
“At this point we panicked a little. We really wanted our product to pop and the chance to partner up with one of Sweden’s biggest entrepreneurial contests is nothing you just throw away.” says Julia.
Ramping up the team
A web developer, Marielle, joined the team. She and Malin started coding at the speed of light. At the same time they needed to do user tests. As soon as they could they started reaching out to their friends and acquaintances and asked them to test the application and give feedback.
“This is not so much developer-point-of-view-important. Coding is always coding. With a good web developer you can always make it work. But if you don’t ask your potential users what they want and what they find fun and engaging you’re at a great risk of developing an application that no one will ever use. That’s the difference between a good development team and a great one.” says Julia.
“So we worked long days (and nights) during a couple of weeks. We drank a lot of coffee and cried a little.We tested, changed, designed and tested again. We thought parallax scrolling would be the end of us, conquered it, and realized this was going to be awesome.”
Last minute fixes
Just a few minutes before the launch at Venture Cups startup night, where they were to present the application for the first time, they did the last fixes. They still had a few bugs and spent the following weeks fixing them. But it worked and Venture Cup loved it.
“When you build an application of this size you will always have bugs. If you can build a bug free application at the first attempt, please give me a call. You can get my number by contacting the host of this site. Really, I mean it. Call me. Anyway, we did a lot of work at a very short time. We coded in super speed and we learned how to prioritize the important parts and kill our darling when necessary.”
“We also had the privilege to have a UX-designer and web developer in our team. You don’t always have that, especially if you just started your business. But don’t worry. There are other ways to build a web page without buying some boring WordPress theme and start hacking away in CSS and HTML.”
The next big thing is waiting for you to build it
“Tools such as Weld has opened up a whole new world of application and web page building. No more ugly web pages for small business! No more expensive consultants! Your can do it on your own. What are you waiting for? The next big thing is waiting for you to build it!” concludes Julia.
Go check out Idékollen now.