Progress Update: May 2024

This update will be a little different: I basically took May off to recover after going hard for a month straight to prepare for HATCH. If you missed my talk there give this a watch when you have 10min to spare as it’s a good summary of the history of this whole project and the cutting-edge stuff I’m building with AI.

I spent this past month decidedly not doing any development and instead doing a mix of thinking and helping one of our most advanced projects.
The thinking part has been focused on what path makes most sense for this effort.

The grassroots movement I was hoping would catch fire and spring into existence once the right infrastructure existed has unfortunately not happened on its own. I’ve essentially committed the Field of Dreams Fallacy ("if you build it, they will come).

Photo cred RawPixel

The events we run in Lisbon are amazing but they are a ton of work to pull off and frankly, I’m not convinced at this point that this is the best path to scale this movement. While I’m missing the mark PM-fit-wise with that, the good news is I stumbled onto something bigger in the process: making the platform white label-able for HATCH was a key step and provided some validation that conferences and communities will benefit greatly from this system (and specifically the AI intros feature). I believe the play at this point is to pivot to providing a service to these groups that yields more magical moments and helps tip the fence-sitter would-be attendees into going.

This ^^ if done properly should take the promotional/community-building burden off me and alter my role to instead amplifying the effectiveness of those existing communities. That should be a chokepoint for onboarding talent (and maybe even capital) to the platform by giving them a useful tool. There are questions to answer around data ownership and policing things when I’m removed from the end user. Also ideally I don’t want to get sucked into building a traditional SaaS B2B business - I’m more interested to stay the course and build a protocol.

Other Wins

For any fans of the podcast, you’ll be happy to know I’m rebooting that. It’s been in hibernation as I’ve been unable to justify allocating energy to it but given the above strategy shift it actually becomes more strategic again as a tool for gaining access to these different communities. I am therefore rebooting the pod starting with an interview I’m doing in two hours with Dave Zaboski, an amazing guy I met at HATCH a month ago.

What I’m Thinking

At this point my gut tells me it’s time to decouple the tech from the community and rebrand the tech as OpenFix. I have our 4th advisory call planned for next week and this is one of the decisions I’ll be seeking some assistance on. Ultimately getting at least one project win in the bag remains a high priority so I’ve been working closely with Message Everywhere as they near completion of v1 of that app. Bounty funding remains a mystery of how to move that needle but I think that question will resolve itself if I nail the OpenFix rebrand and succeed in selling that to a few communities (or at least trial it to the right ones).

Open Questions

This is the agenda of our advisory call next week:

  • HATCH recap: new white label & multi-tenant capability, AI-based intro functionality, potential tool for conferences
  • “Shepherd AI” project with Jeff. Application for NIH grant
  • Bounty funding update. Considering intermediary pivot to B2B community organization tool
  • OpenFix rebrand and decoupling of tech from community

Next Month’s Focus

The main thing is to refactor how project contributions are rewarded and introduce the ability to add multiple assets as the reward. That will facilitate a hybrid token & cash reward system (not to mention non-fungible stuff if you wanted to bundle unique assets). Getting to the point where I can white label with custom domains is also a high priority. Tonya of ProNocoders introduced me to something called CoAlias that looks very promising on this front.
Project Success
We’re in process of applying for a NIH grant for this nextgen “Shepard.” It only bears discussing if we land the grant but it’s an exciting complement to Message Everywhere if we win the funding for it. I’ll be able to talk more about that once we land the grant.
Nothing planned. I did an Open Call yesterday with a few people talking through their respective ventures. I’m holding off on doing a formal Fixathon at this point but I like the idea of a casual monthly cowork group with a handful of project leaders to help groom the projects to event-ready status and then the next Fixathon will emerge organically by demand from that.
In keeping with the open source ethos of this project I’ve decided to publish the aspirational editorial calendar for the pod hoping that maybe some random strangers might have connections to some of the people on the list. Take a look and if you know anyone drop me a comment below or a DM.

Traffic Snapshot

The technical roadmap as always can be found here.