Find two cheap roundtrip flights to Salt Lake City to go to Sundance Film Festival for me and my wife as an anniversary gift. Me and my wife are the biggest fans of Apple and Steve Jobs, and so seeing the movie Jobs premier at the festival would be an amazing experience.
I have a strict budget, need to leave money for the hotel, rental car and food; so I can’t spend too much on the airfare. I also don’t fly much, so I don’t own any credit cards that rack up frequent flyer miles that I could use.
Consequences of Failure:
I’m probably one bad anniversary gift away from spending the year celibate. For any guy in this world, this means the stakes are high.
The Executed Plan:
The movie premiers January 25th. I want to get there a few days early and leave a couple days after so that I have time to take my wife skiing, hot tubbing, shopping and check out a couple of the other cool attractions in the area. So I choose the dates January 23rd and January 27th as my respective departure and return flights.
Price is my biggest concern when finding the tickets. I want two tickets and I don’t want to spend over 400 roundtrip per person; so I do add that to the filters. I also know that I want to fly out of O’hare instead of Midway; Midway is just a little farther from my house in Chicago. And SLC airport is the closest to Park City, UT where the festival is taking place. I don’t really have a preference on the time of day that the flights leave nor whether or not there is a layover; so I leave those filters untouched.
Now, instead of having to go from Travelocity to Southwest.com to Priceline to Orbitz; I can sit back and as the prices of flights fluctuate on airline sites and deal sites, i’m immediately notified as 2 tickets become available in my price range.
Resultly tips me off to a deal from Southwests site that is exactly what I wanted. I pay for the tickets and were on our way.
My wife thinks i’m the greatest guy ever. I enjoy a life that is so far from celibate that if the moon was celibacy, I would be three galaxies over. We even ran into Ashton Kutcher (who’s taller than I thought he would be).
Get my kid a Nintendo Wii U for Christmas without breaking the bank.
The Wii U is one of the hottest toys this Christmas. Most retailers are sold out. Supplies are low and what inventory is out there is sometimes being sold at a premium on eBay and Craigslist.
Consequences of failing:
My kid will cry. Probably end up hating me. Possibly join a gang later in life. And ultimately refuses to take care of me when I’m old.
The stakes are high.
The executed plan:
There are two models of the Wii U. The one i’m after is the 32GB Deluxe model which normally retails for $349. But things are crazy out there and I may have to pay a little more than that to secure it before Christmas, but hopefully not too much more.
When creating my Resultly interest; I decide to use the keywords (Wii U Deluxe 32 GB Black). The model I want has 32 GB of capacity and also comes in Black as opposed to the White model. So these are good descriptive keywords. But the keywords are a start and will only get me so far in ensuring I get the most relevant listings sent to me.
Next, I adjust the price filter. I choose $320-450. It’s likely that no one will be selling one for under the retail value, but just in case, I set the minimum to a little under retail value. Setting the minimum price also helps to eliminate any listings for games, controllers or accessories (that may contain the same keywords in my interest) which i’m not interested in at this point. And setting the max price helps ensure that I’ll be getting results that are a good deal.
Next, I set the condition filter to (Any). I do this because, while i’m ideally after a brand new one, sometimes you can track down one thats literally been opened and used once and put back in its box and now the person is selling the system and a game or two for a good deal.
I also put a check mark in the box (Show Initial Results). I want to know about all the future created listings and postings-yes, but I also I want to know about some of the already existent ones out there.
Half a day after creating the interest, someone creates a new listing on eBay; “Buy it Now” Wii U Deluxe model with the game Zombie U (normally $60 alone) for $445. I’m immediately notified and luckily was one of the first people to see it. Clicked buy and its on its way.
My kid is super happy. My wife loves me. A statue is constructed at a nearby park honoring my greatness as a father and a tech savvy smart shopper. The statue is later vandalized by a gang, that gladly my kid did not end up joining.
The greatest thing the creation of the internet accomplished was the spread of information. News articles and blog posts could roam free and thats a powerful thing. In the beginning however, all the new information was read on desktop computers; and thus, all the articles, posts and entries were formatted for such. But now, a growing number of people are reading these same articles on smart phones or tablets and not a 13-30 inch computer screen.
The old formatting didn’t cut it anymore. A traditional browser view just looked silly on the smaller screen. The user had to constantly zoom in and out to read and track down the pictures related to the article. And this is where great apps like Pulse and Flipboard found success. They took the necessary information from the article, removed the Ads and other distractions, and formatted it for a small screen. This process is often referred to as “reader mode”.
From the start, we knew that Resultly was going to be popular for staying up to date with News; which is why we incorporated a reader mode into our mobile app for all news results that come to a users profile. The user simply clicks on the result and is brought to the reader mode version of the article. It shows the source of the article, the title of the article, its author, the picture, the text and two buttons (to share or comment); removing all the noise of ads, logo banners and formatting problems.
But we wanted to take it a step further than all the other readers out there. So here are a few things we do that no other mobile reader app currently does:
1. News Delivered Based On Expressed Keyword Interests.
The user can choose the topic, keywords, sources of their interest to be notified of. Most other reader apps, let you choose just the source or topic. The advantage here is that a person may be looking for just articles that mention just Apples Stock Price; so instead of getting articles for all Apple news (like most reader apps), the person only gets one specific to their stock price.
2. Staying Up To Date In Realtime
The user is notified in realtime, hourly, daily, according to their preference as news articles and posts hit the web that match their interests criteria. Most of the competition has significant delays due to their indexing crawling times. Faster is always better.
3. Grouping and Bundling of Similar Articles.
Occasionally, when a big event happens, lots of news sources will create an article that pretty much houses the same information as the others out there. For example, If a building was blown up in the Gaza Strip; there will be a lot of articles written about the tragic event. Most of them however will have all the same info (not offering a lot of opinion or new insight). In which case, we group these articles (lets say its a thousand) and present the user with the most popular and the user can of course click to view the other nine hundred and ninety nine similar articles. But the user benefits from a far more manageable digestion and a cleaner look. This feature has not yet been rolled out, but will very soon.
The Doors are Open!
Today we officially went from private beta to public beta. No longer will a person need an invite to join the site. It is completely open and launched now.
It’s always exciting, but sometimes nerve racking, to open up the doors for the world to use your product. It’s probably worse if you design roller coasters and a mistake in the construction could result in the derailment and death of rider. But it’s still scary for a software product too; worrying about bugs and the servers holding up.
Everything went smooth though, servers held and we were quick to fix a couple bugs that were brought to our attention so far. We got press coverage today at TechCocktail, TechCrunch and TheNextWeb in connection with our launch. We have a running count of some of the stats on a TV in our office now. Stats like new registers, interests added and results delivered. Its fun watching the numbers change.
No doubt the work of building an internet product can be very straining. It’s possible to spend literally hours upon hours fixing a bug that turns out to be a little file out of place or a slightly incorrect line of code (among the 1000s of lines). When the work gets frustrating, its always important to take the brief break here and there; to unwind, relax and ease the tension.
When that break comes; some of us like to grab a coffee or a snack. But all of us love to play a quick game. Now, I feel like there are two types of games out there. Ones that engage and stimulate the brain (like the number game Sudoku or any of the games on Luminosity). And then there are games that are purely for entertainment value (like Mario Brothers or any of the Call of Duty games) and aren’t particularly challenging to the logic or problem solving side of the brain; at best they improve hand coordination. For work breaks, we prefer the former.
Sometimes we’ll walk into Marbles: The Brain Store on Grand Ave and pick out a handful of games and bring them back to the office. And when we have a quick 10 minute break, we’ll learn and play a new game. Recently we discovered a really cool card game called Swish. The cards are completely transparent minus a small design on the card that correlates to other cards. The idea is to identify patterns in the cards faster and more correctly than your opponents.
When not feeling the urge to leave our desks. We play games like Civilization V. Its a turn by turn strategy game. Its available on Mac (a lot of computer games are only available on PC), which is important since every single person in our office has a Mac. It can be more of a time consuming game, but can easily be played in very short time intervals. It invokes the part of the brain that plans and orchestrates.
These games and others like them, are fun and stimulating. The brain is given a boost of problem solving activity. You also get to release some aggression in the form of trash talk with opponents. And when the break is over, we tend to see that we are more effective when getting back to work.
There is a great workout DVD program called P90X (which is the workout of choice among us at Resulty). It’s intense and people that stick to the routine get amazing results. One of the many workouts included in the program is Yoga (actually one of the more intense of all the workouts in the program). During one of the final muscle stretches of the Yoga workout, the instructor Tony Horton gives a little advice. He says, “Fight for every last inch, centimeter, millimeter, anything you can get.”
Now that were in the final stretch before we go into public beta. We’ve applied Tonys advice not only during his workouts but also in our plain work. Placing a focus on fighting for every last minute, second and millisecond in making a faster database with greater server optimization. Every tweak we make at this point during the final push of the product has a great effect on the experience of the users. Which is all we care about. In this final stretch it’s important to not get complacent. Instead we want to know that we are giving it our all and are pushing and fighting to win every possible battle (no matter how great or how small).
Things were focusing on in the “Fight for every last inch… “
-increasing load efficiency
-website and mobile app bugs
-better social integration
Early on when people would ask, “What does Resultly do?”
I’d usually say something like, “It’s a website and mobile app for streaming results. It allows you to follow any interest across the entire internet in real time.”
The person tended to respond back, “Cool. What do people use it for?”
I’d share a simple use case at that point, “Let’s say you were looking for an apartment in Wicker Park, you’d probably type in a search into craigslist or some apartment finder website. If you didn’t find what you were looking for, you may try again later that day or later that week; to see if there was any new listings. Instead of doing the same search over and over, you just add it as an interest into Resultly and the minute that a listing is created that matches your criteria, you get a notification.”
They would then say something like, “Thats awesome. So It’s a housing site?”
“It can be used for housing but it’s for everything! People have been using it for getting notified of:
-an iPhone coming up for sale for $150
-a daily deal site offering a massage under $30
-a round trip flight being available to NYC under $300
-Facebook’s stock hitting $20/share
-a ‘95 Buick LeSabre showing up in the inventory of a nearby dealership
-friends posting a baby picture
-construction job being listed in Schaumburg
-TechCrunch publishing an article about Pinterest
-foreclosure in the 60654 zip code getting processed”
One thing is for sure though, you definitely do not have to use only as directed by the examples listed above. Because Resultly is a tool that is not only for housing, jobs etc. It’s open ended. In the future, the majority of users may tend to use it for a certain purpose, but right now, people use it for anything and everything. And thats the goal, to keep building out functionality so that more and more types and categories of interests can be followed. Part of the fun thus far has been trying to figure out new and exciting ways to use Resultly.
One of the perks of having an office located in the River North area of Chicago is the food and restaurants nearby. When we first moved in, one of our goals was to eat lunch at a different place every time we ate out. Heres a list of the best places that we and other startups in the building have come across and enjoy the most. And also a few of the not so good places. For the purposes of making the list interesting; I won’t be mentioning fast casual restaurants like Chipotle, Jimmy Johns and Subway. Simply because, while these food chains are good, they are everywhere and not terribly unique to River North. But we definitely attend them when were looking for something that tastes good and only costs 7 bucks.
The BEST places:
Located at 110 W Illinois. This modern asian restaurant has awesome ambience, fantastic food and fast service. One of our favorite things about this place is that they bring out fresh shrimp chips when you are seated (similar to how a mexican restaurant brings chips to each table) and they are delicious and light.
Dish of Choice: $18 Sunda Bento Box with NY Steak (served with seaweed salad, miso soup and sushi roll)
Located at 22 W Hubbard. This place is just great american food. As far as burgers go, one of the best ones in Chicago is offered here. Occasionally tech events (like technori reunion) are hosted on the second floor, where there is a bar and a pool table.
Dish of Choice: $19 Rockit Burger (kobe beef, melted brie, fried shallots, medjool date aioli, red onion brioche bun and truffle fries)
The WORST places:
Located at 116 W Hubbard. Wait! Isn’t that Resultly’s address? Yes, these guys are located in our building, which makes it a major bummer that they are in the Worst places to eat list. We have been here a handful of times. Each time we have dined, something has gone wrong, from bringing the wrong dish or under cooking grilled salmon to forgetting to bring out soups. The service is what really makes this place bad. The food, when it actually comes to the table correctly tastes fairly good, but nothing special. They also updated their menu not long ago and removed some of the items we liked the best.
Dish of Choice: Anything from Red Violet Modern Chinese across the street (I know he’s cute but try to avoid the turtle altogether)
Located at 11 E Illinois. When you are in River North there is a very high standard for food and service. This Thai cuisine joint just does not cut it. It is mediocre food compared to very solid Thai places else where in the city (Sticky Rice at Western and Irving Park or Siam Rice on Wells). It does have a fairly unique seating area with carpeted blocks, but that doesn’t make up for the mediocre food and service.
Dish of Choice: $7.75 Mussaman Peanut Curry
So there you have it, from tech foodies that know. Keep in mind also that for the most part our opinions of these locations are based off the lunch menus and day staff (some have different menus and wait staff for dinner); so results could vary.
Theres a great story about Steve Jobs in the early days of Apple; where Steve went above and beyond (almost anal) to ensure that the esthetic of the internal mother board of the Apple II looked a certain way. It had to look very organized and generally beautiful (at least to computer nerds). This would have been a very easy corner to cut, with tons of reason and logic to do so. The majority of users probably never even opened their computer and saw the motherboard. But theres something to be said for people that care so much about their work that they care even about the smallest detail. Such care for the product has resulted in Apple being able to construct motherboards for future laptops that are thinner and more powerful than competitors. To the right is the Apple II motherboard and below the MacBook Retina motherboard. It looks almost like art.
Most the team at Resultly has been heavily influenced by Steve Jobs. We are passionate about what were working on and try to deliver the absolute best product and experience to our users. A few weeks ago we ran into a weird issue with our iOS app as we were building out additional features. The basic functionality worked, but it had a bug that made it slightly annoying to use. There was a moment where we thought that it wasn’t too big of a deal to leave it as it was. It was possible that most people would not even notice the problem. But this thought did not linger long because we definitely would notice the issue, even if no one else did.
We searched all the usual places for an answer; mainly StackOverflow and Apple Developer Forums. We found others having the issue, but no answers to the problem. Others were in the same boat, but seemed to give up on fixing the issue. We began to play around with a few ideas for potential remedies. After a little bit of time, we had cracked it. This annoying bug would never plague our app. The end user will never know about the careful work that took place to make it the process smoother and better.
Yesterday, I downloaded an app. Without saying the name of the app, I will say that it is popular (over 4 million downloads) and its developed by a well funded company. Within 15 seconds of having opened the app, I noticed the feature that we had added to our app and the bug that caused us grief. A strange sense of pride hit me as I realized that this big company let such an annoying bug slide; a corner had been cut. That our team had cared more about our product and out worked them on this particular iOS feature.
“This is what customers pay us for - to sweat all these details so it’s easy and pleasant for them to use…” -Steve Jobs
When we moved into our new offices in July, the color scheme from the previous occupiers of the space was Red and Gray. We repainted everything to Blue and Orange to match our brands scheme and it looks great. But we wanted to go a little beyond that. So we looked into a few options to give the office some extra flavor. What we decided on, was a mural for the conference room.
A little bit ago, a girl from Fox College became a graphic design intern here. One of her first tasks was to draw a few concepts for the mural. She came up with two or three. One of them seemed interesting and reflected the brand and product well. Our intern was very good at drawing/sketching but painting on an entire wall is a little different and she had never done it. But she did happen to know a street artist in Chicago named Ricardo Gonzalez.
We brought Ricardo into the office, showed him the conference room wall and the rough concept sketch. He wrote down a list of materials he would need to make the mural and gave the cost (very reasonable) for his time to paint it. We ordered ten acrylic paint colors and five different sized brushes from Blick’s website. Choose Blick because they had super fast shipping and good selection and prices on art supplies. And after a few days of work, Ricardo had finished the mural which ended up being loosely based (with Ricardo’s own vision thrown into the mix) on the original concept.
The mural looks great and the conference room feels complete now. The mural is a reminder to all the team that we aspire to do great things. In the mural the Resultly robot is surrounded by lots of logos. Logos from huge internet companies that are all synonymous with a popular product. Facebook=Social. Groupon=Daily Deal. Orbitz=Travel. And very soon Resultly will be just as big and synonymous for Streaming Results.