Progress Update: Feb 2024

February was a busy month with platform development, events and project work. We concluded our Winter Fixathon series with the Build Day and Demo Night (photos of each at their respective links). As is tradition I published my hand-written observations from this past series (4pgs vs 9pgs from the previous event so a positive sign).
The main experiments I tested in this past event series were:

  1. Using physical workbooks The rationale of printed workbooks at the event was to put a linear process to the day and have concrete deliverables and milestones. It also makes it so we preserve the learnings of the day in handwritten form which then get appended to the project page. This worked well and we’ll keep with that tradition.
  2. Using the Community Leaderboard. The motivation of that was to test out this idea of using the clans feature to track the participants originated from other communities and gamify it a bit. This worked moderately-well. This still requires a bunch of hustle to post in all the various communities but ideally once the incentives are established and we have an ambassador in each this should offload that promo work from the event organizer.
  3. Breaking the series into 5 smaller events. We moved from Ideathon + Buildathon → Discussion panel + Pitch Night + Validation Day + Build Day + Demo Night. I renamed the full-day events and now call the whole series a “Fixathon” as it’s like a marathon composed of smaller pushes. The motive for breaking things up into into this 5-event series was multi-part: Kicking things off with a purely educational event (the Discussion Panel) is an easy thing to promote and serves essentially as a commercial for the rest of the series. I had 5 high-power founders talking in a panel format about their experiences to a packed room at Selina. From there I promoted the Pitch Workshop which was an orientation for anyone who wanted to run a project at the event. Pulling pitches forward a few days in advance of the event let me work with just the prospective project leaders to help them refine their idea and pitch and then capture it so we ensured we had all those on the site in advance of the Validation Day. Validation Day (formerly Ideathon) was then an exercise in getting through the workbook and customer interviews to refine the projects in prep for Build Day. Build Day (formerly Buildathon) was intended to focus on creating the MVP’s but we realized at that event that both ideas needed more refinement so it essentially became Validation Day Part II (although we did have some cool stuff built - check what the TrashTreasure team pulled off with their image-recognition trash classifier). Separating Demo Night from Build Day was intended to give us extra time to put a bow on everything and then get added visibility to celebrate the wins we had as well as invite back past projects for an update.

Other Wins

  • We onboarded our first 10 ASU EPICS engineering interns and Jeff & I have been working with them on getting them productive doing dev for Message Everywhere.
  • I tested out this idea of what I’m calling “smart links” for making it so QR codes on the posters and postcards promoting the events always route the attendee to the next available upcoming event in the series.
  • Added a subtle photo verification step when constructing a trade to ensure you’re sending to the right user.
  • Solved the DNS issue causing all our email to blackhole.
  • Stood up Vaultwarden and n8n instances to enable secure password sharing amongst teams and connective tissue / automation amongst systems.
  • Created a “draft mode” status of Task Opps so project leaders can stub out Opps before publishing them.
  • Implemented enforcement logic for a “2 strikes” no-show policy at the events.
  • Added the ability for project leaders to reorder their Task Opps.
  • Curated the roadmap for Spring 2024 development priorities:

What I’m Thinking

So the exciting news is I’ll be facilitating the Impact Labs for the Hatch summit in Arcosanti, AZ coming up end of April. Problemattic will be powering this effort and coordinating collaboration after the event. Very excited to see what we can come up with and how repurposable the Problemattic fabric is outside of our own event format. This should be a great step towards validating the “Impact Portal as a Service” concept and their event draws high-caliber people so odds of success go way up knowing that we’ll have solid participants involved.

Open Questions

Correct prioritization of the roadmap and my emphasis is always the main question. IMO at this stage it’s all about getting bounties fully-funded. I’ve found ChatGPT super useful in sketching out the cold outreach strategy for that. Devil is always in the details of actually executing it and making it produce but we’ll see. Other main questions at this point:

  1. What are watering holes for finding the .orgs and .govs who are actively struggling with the challenge of galvanizing their stakeholders around outcomes and optimizing efficiency of deploying capital and talent in pursuit of solving well-defined problems?
  2. I have one foot in the B2C world running our events in Lisbon and one foot in the B2B world with this idea of IPaaS. Are we better served fully-committing to one or advancing the way I’ve been doing working on two fronts simultaneously? I see pros/cons to each but lean towards the current hedged approach.
  3. Need to craft a super-simplified version of the pitch to explain Problemattic to new people. I have the “curse of knowledge” being so close to it. It’s so massive in scope and has different value props depending on which stakeholder you’re talking to. Really need to figure out the concise elevator pitch. I oscillate between “a community-powered, gamified problem solving engine” and “barn raising for impact ventures.” I don’t know that either accomplish the goal of intriguing the recipient particularly well. I’m open to better elevator pitch ideas.

Next Month’s Focus

At this point I’m very much focused on cracking the bounty funding equation and figuring out who our initial customers are to fund the first set of bounties. Adding contextual help is high on the list as a way to give users a reliable convention for knowing how to use the app at each stage. Getting one project to a successful outcome is critical so I’ve been spending a good deal of time on Message Everywhere as it represents the most promising win at this point. And I think 4th on the list will be implementing something akin to the “Leviathan” system I built for Pagely that will help nudge various stakeholders along depending on where they’re at in their respective funnel of involvement.

Project Success
This is occupying about 50% of my time right now as I’m digging into the Message Everywhere Bubble application and providing daily support to our ASU EPICS interns. Given this is our most promising, furthest-along project I’m planning to maintain this emphasis until we ship it and get some favorable results that we can celebrate publicly.

Fixathons will be quarterly so no more until May. Late April I’ll be facilitating the Hatch Impact Labs experience so emphasis at that point will be around making that effective. Planning to do intermittent coworking sessions in Lisbon with the projects that birthed at previous events to nurse them along.

Nothing planned. Have lots of great potential guests but the pod is a low-priority until bounties are funded and we have 1-2 project successes to celebrate.

Traffic Snapshot

The technical roadmap as always can be found here.

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