Alexander Bach

A tale of two years in iteration land

Writing this, we’re getting close. The app is live on Heroku, UI, authentication, emails — it’s all there. The road up to this place has been longer than we ever expected. The roadmap ahead is even longer.

This is our story so far.

Scratching our own itch

Me and my co-founder, Steffen, have been working together for several years. First in a start-up and later through my agency.

We have helped companies implement digital strategies, e-commerce platforms, transform their digital marketing, and reach new audiences.

Doing this, we began to notice a hole in the process of small- to medium-sized marketing teams. Specifically, their ability to work effectively within their team, to communicate and brief their organization and collaborate with external agencies.

We needed something different than a todo list, smarter and more collaborative than an Excel sheet, cheaper than the enterprise offerings and most importantly intuitive and fun. 

That idea turned in to Hey Sprint, which we founded in the winter of 2017.

So how do you make an app?

It turns out that it’s not as easy as it can sometimes seem when looking at the maker community from the outside in.

We needed a developer, and we found one in an old coworker.

We spent nights planning the apps. Features, USPs, audiences, blog post ideas, names — the collaborative process of building an app on a whiteboard is fantastic and something I really hope we will keep doing in the future.

We, or rather our coworker, began coding the app. His chosen language was Haskell, and unaware of language trends at that moment we agreed. Unfortunately, not very far into the project, it became clear that our dev was not going to be able to put in the time to match our effort. He went dark, and then finally pulled out.

4 months into the project, it seems we were stuck. No app, a bunch of code in a language we didn’t understand and no money.

Do what start-ups do

We were hell-bent on not giving up. So what do you do when you have the idea but just need to get it out there?

It’s no secret that our inspiration at the time was the unicorn Silicon Valley start-ups that are religiously praised on Twitter and in the tech news. They have one thing in common: funding.

A few PowerPoint iterations later, we presented the idea to a range of investors interested in seed funding us. Surprisingly, it didn’t seem as if getting seed money is the hard part. However, something much more terrifying became clear to us. If you are not 100% aligned with your investors, you compromise on the direction of the product before the money even reach your bank account.

During the investor talks, we managed to become yet another todo app, a calendar app, a media database, and an analytics tool. In reality, none of those was really what we wanted to do. We were now scratching someone else’s itch.

Gettin’ high on SuperHi

In the fall of 2017, it was like an angel fell from the sky when I received an email from SuperHi announcing their Ruby on Rails course.

I’m really fascinated by their ability to take heavy stuff and make it consumable and not dull. After having tried tools like Codecademy, this was really different. Especially the Slack community made it feel like a team effort, where you would get picked up if stuck. Further, it’s just amazing to feel part of a community full of creatives that are much more skilled than you. Is there a better way to learn?

Not very far into the Ruby on Rails course, I finished our first home-cooked version of Hey Sprint. Since then, I’ve attended several other SuperHi courses, build a handful of applications for practice and evolved the Hey Sprint idea through dozens of iterations and technologies to where we are today.

So where are we today?

A good project is never done, and neither will Hey Sprint ever be. When launching this fall, Hey Sprint will allow small to medium-sized teams to plan their marketing campaigns and activities, to manage accountability and the latest addition — to keep track of KPIs, channels, and assets and to benchmark the marketing plan towards that strategy.

We believe that this feature will be what separates us truly from other tools and can’t wait to share more information on that.

The technology stack now consists of a Node backend, React frontend and MongoDB. We will share an article with our complete stack as well as our process before launching.

This is an open process, and we can’t wait to get user feedback and to see where it will take the app. Our roadmap is full of ideas, but the real journey starts when the first user signs in.