tl;dr: To get better and faster responses for our user’s Requests, we’ve added new features and a network component to VENTUREAPP.
24 days, ~810 commits to our API and Angular apps later, we’ve released version 1.1 of VENTUREAPP. To those who know me, that equates to approximately 5 roles of Scotch tape. To those who don’t know me, mind your own business.
Before we jump into how VENTUREAPPP works, a little background on how it *used* to work is helpful…
Technically speaking, we started fielding our user’s Requests over email, at the time using Desk.com (a Salesforce product used for ticket-management).
We quickly learned a few things:
- People want to make Requests over a bunch of platforms. Which is why we now support email, Slack integration and web with iOS coming soon (thanks, Dan).
- We needed our own proprietary software to manage Requests. There was no way to build on top of something else. We needed to build from scratch.
- Lots of startups need lots of similar things.
So we had version 1, where users could manage and respond to their Requests. But we needed more….
So Why the update? Our Goals:
- Get faster and better answers for Requests
- Enable the right people in the Community
- Finally, we wanted our product to pass the “toothbrush test” – something that you could use twice a day (or once if you’re gross)
How Creating a Request works
VENTUREAPP users tend to make 4 different types of Requests:
- Type: Product/Service, Introduction, Advice, Reference. (screengrab first step of New Request)
- Users can request a product/service. Ex: “Need a better CRM.”
- Users can request an introduction to someone. Ex: “Need an intro to BostonSeed.”
- Users can simply request advice. Ex: “Need help organizing my sales team.”
- Users can ask for a reference on an individual or a company. Ex: “Need a reference for John Doe.”
- Category: Marketing, Real Estate, Legal, etc… (screengrab second step of New Request)
- Users can set one category (a primary tag in our database).
- This is a baby step into (potentially) the most scalable data point for Requests.
- Anonymous: Keep anonymous or make public:
- The default is for requests to be anonymous.
- All Requests via email are set to “anonymous” automatically.
Whether a Request is anonymous or public influences its homepage appearance and functionality. We’ll start with homepage…
The homepage is our network page. See the best Requests and the most recent Requests.
The homepage will have at least 2 tabs: Recent and Featured. For now, Featured is the default tab.
- Featured: staff-selected Requests
- Recent Activity: a feed of the most recent Requests made into VENTUREAPP.
- Popular: a feed of our current popular Requests
Here’s what a public Request looks like:
Viewing a Request:
When a user clicks a Request from the homepage, he or she will see the above. Notice the three features: Reply, Refer and Replicate.
- Reply: the ability for anyone to communicate with the Requester. (screenshot)
- If the Request is anonymous, the Requester’s name and company are hidden unless they respond.
- Once a Reply is submitted, the Requester receives a “UserX replied to your Request” email.
- The Replied also receives an email: “You just replied, here’s what happens next”
- Refer: the ability for anyone to send an invite email. (screenshot)
- for example, if I see a commercial real estate Request on VENTUREAPP and I know a broker, I can invite him to Reply to this Request.
- This acquisition mechanism is probably one of our most valuable, since it helps define a business network.
- Replicate: the ability for anyone to submit this Request for themselves. (screenshot)
- If you need the same request, simply click through and the Request will be pre-populated and ready to submit.
The Profile page is where a user can manage their Requests and Replies. When a user clicks on one of their Requests, they see the page below (or here).
- On the left, there are the conversations they are having with VENTUREAPP as well as anyone who has replied to their Request.
- Again, the Requester’s information won’t be presented to the Replier.
- Users can invite teammates and/or anyone else to a conversation.
This version of the product makes a lot of sense to our team based on user behavior that we’ve observed and in our own experiences running businesses, all the while seeking out access, advice and connections to the right people that will help. We hope you gain just that.