EBT – Y1 – ’13
So for starters I have had a long history with EBT. Ever since I was a kid my mom would give groups to people in our living room. So it has always been a part of my life. In 2012, after my time ended a Proven, EBT was not doing well as a business so I first spend a few months trying to increase sales but I finally realized that it was the business model itself that was broken. This meant I had to step in make some hard decisions and get the business stable, if still inefficient.
With the opening of 2013, I had decided to stop nReduce and move fully on to EBT. It was time to make it a real tech based scalable business. At the beginning of the year we had a pretty good customer base and quite a few people doing EBT. The problem was is that we had 10 different systems, none of which talked with each other. We were using a free conference call provider, our iOS app didn’t talk to the server, we had no idea who was studying with what providers, our group management was still done on paper and our closest thing to a backend was a drupal site was feature rich and user experience poor.
So I started replacing one part of EBT at a time with one connect app. So we replaced the conference call system with a new twilio backend. We moved from paper billing to auto charges via stripe. We required every user to have an associated provider so we can know who is with who. We produced a new Android and iOS app that are connected with the site.
In all it feels like a very foundational year. I feel like saying, “Okay, heres where the fun starts!”
Learnings from the year.
1) Apps are Functional Tools
When I designed our current app, I put most of the emphasis on the visual idea of the group. When you sign in you initially see the picture of the people in your group in a nice circle. This is a really nice visual but it diminishes in value quickly.
2) Facebook Killed the Poke for a Reason
So, this past summer I was really impressed with myself on how I was going reinvent to small group social network by bringing back the poke, but calling it a “Support.” My idea of the use case was people would see that someone had not Checked In in a while and they would “Support” them. The recipient would get the “Support” push notification, smile and Check In. Besides users telling me that they hated it because it was socially awkward, this group says it all. (Launch was the second week of Oct)