Progress Update: Jan 2024

The main push for January was in using the Clans feature to offload promotion of our Fixathon to other community organizations and to test out the concept of a community leaderboard for gamifying this friendly competition. So far so good. We had a total of 12 new members originated in the past month via these communities as per our leaderboard today:

This is an early stage effort with lots of room to improve but it shows early promise.

We’re now halfway through our current Fixathon having just had our Validation Day this weekend. I decided to take what was previously a pair of events knowns as the “Ideathon” and “Buildathon” and fragment those into four separate events and add a precursor educational event to the series. I call this sequence of five events a “Fixathon” and it’s now composed of:

  • A Discussion Panel: pure educational event open to all and designed to demystify early-stage startups by interviewing 5 panelists about their respective ventures in the early days.
  • A Pitch Workshop: this is an evening orientation for people who intend to lead a project on Validation Day and it helps them refine their idea, we capture their pitch on video and then spend the last third on going over how to get the most out of the event.
  • Validation Day: (formerly the Ideathon) this full-Saturday event is an exercise in drilling into a problem and validating it through a series of customer interviews and ultimately trying to get as close to a proposed solution as possible.
  • Build Day: (formerly the Buildathon) is all about implementing the simplest MVP for what we need to move the project forward. It could be a proof of concept of the proposed product or it could simply be a landing page that tests the demand for what we’re proposing and gets us quantitative feedback.
  • Demo Night: is where we show off our creations from Build Day and explain the learnings we’ve had thus far on the startup journey.

These all work in tandem with one another and I think this sequence is the right form factor for delivering all the components of the series. Our Discussion Panel last Monday was :fire:. I had attempted to record it and release it as a podcast but sadly even with redundancy the recording did not turn out (I had one bad cable and the backup mic turned out to have been shut off unfortunately). We did get the video below of the first half of the panel at least:

Pitch Night was a bit of a curveball in that out of the 9 attendees only one wanted to pitch and he hadn’t understood this was purely in prep for the upcoming full-day events which he would need to attend in order to lead his team. We had two ad hoc pitches though that both blossomed into projects for the event so it was unexpected in how it evolved.

Validation Day crushed it. We had 20 attendees in different roles and three projects in total emerged from that in varying phases of validation.

We now have a two-week respite before Build Day in which we’ll attempt to move those ^^ three projects forward and get Message Everywhere across the finish line and ready for production deployment.

Outsite is going to host us for Demo Night on Feb 21st and hopefully by then we’ll have 3-4 MVP’s to show off for the above projects. I’m hoping to invite members of various angel organizations to surround these projects with at minimum people who can advise them on what they’re missing in order for it to be an investable project but who knows, maybe one will be sufficiently promising and advanced to garner interest in a pre-seed investment.

Other Wins

I just hit deploy on a feature on the Projects page I think will be huge which I’m calling the “Opportunities Aggregator.”

This ^^ is a reverse-chronological listing of all the open opportunities for people to contribute their skills on projects and it respects the filters of the projects page. I then added a way to filter for all opps that have at least one of the tags you’ve specified in your profile so it shows you those projects you could work on:
Screenshot 2024-02-07 at 11.34.49 AM
This should help surface opps that are hiding on the Opps tab of each project and compile them in one central place and essentially act like a job listings section.

One challenge I’m proud of having solved creatively this past month is the need for self-updating QR codes on our physical collateral. I put up 12 of these large-format posters around various cowork spaces this past month:

And then printed around 100 postcard-sized versions which I’ve been passing out like candy everywhere I go. The problem with physical collateral like this and using QR codes is for the link to truly be effective you have to send the visitor immediately to the landing page for the event. Sending them to the index of upcoming events is not compelling and you get a very high bounce rate. By linking the QR to the next event, you have to go around and print a new QR code and slap it on each poster. What’s more, that only works for posters that are in a fixed position (you can’t do that with postcards in the wild). So this was the challenge.

My solution which I’m very proud of was to think differently about the role of the QR. I was able to make an interstitial page /go that serves as a smart router. You can test it out by scanning the QR code on that poster above. I created the concept of an event series and now the QR code links to the /go router and passes the event series and the router intelligently sends the visitor to the next available upcoming event that still has space. So it first checks to see which is the next event available in the series and then confirms that there is indeed space left. if it’s full it cascades to the next and tries the same thing. If all are full then it goes back to the first so they can waitlist. If all events have passed then it redirects to the homepage.

I feel like this ^^ itself could be spun out into a standalone product. I showed it to a few people and my father for example can envision his lawfirm replacing the QR codes they put on their attorneys’ business cards with a system like this as it would allow for having a dynamic billboard that can be altered over time. Imagine having your attorney’s biz card normally redirect to their about profile but then having the ability to interject with promoting articles or webinars or award recognitions dynamically depending on the timing…

Other advancements of note:

  • I made a viral promo component for anyone who has signed up to an event to display a masthead banner encouraging them to share with their networks by pre-populating their referral tool and making it one-click to blast across FB, IG and LI.
  • I changed the behavior of the signup button depending on the event type so that now events which require no onboarding screening steps instead display an “Add to Calendar” button that make it easy for the new signup to add the event to his/her calendar.
  • Fixed an issue with searching the Member directory by skill or role works so that you can filter down to a specific sub-tag regardless of the parent skills and roles above it.
  • Made it so the Community Leaderboard can be constrained to show signups from various time periods (last day, last week, last month, all-time).
  • I took the first step in offloading some of the technical Bubble dev for the Problemattic platform by adding some task opps to Problemattic Meta.

What I’m Thinking

At this point I’m squarely focused on making our Build Day in Lisbon on the 17th successful. We are now working with ASU’s “EPICS” program and have three of their post-grads as technical interns working remotely on Message Everywhere. This is a pilot test which if it works we should be able to build up a small army of these folks to deploy on various projects for engineering tasks. A fountain of highly-qualified talent trained in our methodologies is priceless for moving these projects forward and we’re cautiously hopeful that this could be the fuel source we’ve been looking for to get this blaze going.

Feature-wise I’m building out infrastructure to make the Build Day more effective, namely stuff around team formation, an aggregator for open task opps, secure password-sharing and a n8n server for automating various busy work. I’m tinkering with this idea of a “Skill Bingo Card” for Build Day as a way to gamify recruitment of the roles and skills we need based on the open tasks for each project we’re working on. I’m also thinking more about how we knit the community together between events. Coworking was one idea but I’m looking at creating a new event type = lunch roulette that would replicate something I implemented in Lisbon under the Digital Nomads Slack, only pairing people on cause affinities and disparate skill sets.

Open Questions

Always a question of focus but I believe this is the right approach to use these events as the forcing function to implement the biggest missing pieces. Mainly my questions at this point are:

  • How much emphasis if any to devote to the “Impact portal as a Service” idea? There is almost certainly something that can be sold B2B here and generate revenue but it’s not the main focus of this whole movement and therefore feels like a possible huge distraction.
  • What happens if we get to Build Day and still haven’t sufficiently de-risked and refined the project idea to the point where we’re confident it’s the right thing to build? By hanging a Demo Day right after it there is some expectation of having something impressive to demo and while I think some amount of pressure and time-constraint is useful, it also might tempt us to jumping the gun and building before we’ve fully finished the validation phase.

Next Month’s Focus


  • Building the opportunity aggregator and incorporating that into the site in a sensible way so it gives everyone a simple and intuitive way to find the open requests for deliverables that align with their skills and values.
  • Standing up Bitwarden and n8n servers for secure password sharing and task automation and getting all of this integrated into the app so new projects automatically get a Gdrive folder provisioned with their workbook, a Bitwarden team established, their Discord channel created and all this stuff automatically added to the links section of the project page.
  • Fixes and improvements to the workflow of signing up for events in various failure and success scenarios.

Project Success
Helping these four to get over the hump:

Build Day and Demo Day. LFG :rocket:

No planned content at this time. Have some great podcast guests queued up that will be coming once we’re through this current Fixathon.

Traffic Snapshot

Traffic is up 277% but that’s not surprising given that our traffic is very event-driven right now and we’re in the thick of this Fixathon:

The technical roadmap as always can be found here. Thanks for reading. If you’ve not already create an account and mark yourself as a virtual feedback volunteer so we can get your input on the amazing projects we’re birthing.