We have been successfully KICKSTARTED!
The revolution has begun and we're so stoked to have such an incredible community surrounding not just the app but a philosophy that empowers creatives, artists, and content creators to own their content fully!
The story continues via our blog: http://blog.pressgr.am !!!
Below you'll find our original project overview.
Why Build This App?
I explain a little more (in person) why I'm building this app!
Want more details? Prepare yourself for an epic overview...
What is Pressgram?
Pressgram might seem like just another "_[fill_in_the_blank]_gram" app but it's functionally and philosophically different.
You see, I want to build an independent publishing platform that isn't beholden to strange and changing Privacy Policies, Terms of Service, or Licensing agreements under big-name publicly traded social networks for the users to get confused over.
Instead, I'm looking to combine my long-standing love with WordPress, the best open source publishing platform on the planet (it currently powers over 17% of the top 1MM websites) and my mobile device to create a new creative solution.
In an over-simplified nutshell, it's WordPress + iOS + Filtered Photos.
(iPhone right now ~~~> see FAQ for other versions!)
And it's going to be a 100% free download for everyone to enjoy, as long as I'm able to get this project kickstarted and the app built - which is why I need your help!
(Remember: You don't have to post every single time to WordPress - you will be able to select which ones you want to publish. And, you don't ever have to publish to WordPress either! You you can use it without as a great image filtering app!)
I suppose another way you could say it is... it's your filtered photos published directly to your WordPress-powered blog, when you want, where you want, how you want.
It's the first of it's kind as there's nothing out there quite like it.
Sure... functionally, it may not end up to be a Black Swan but philosophically it might just signal the beginning of one.
Here's a video explaining the Problem & Solution:
Your (Powerful) Creative Control
Functionally it's simple (and I hope to keep it simple) - but philosophically it's much, much bigger.
You see, you now get more creative control over your content than ever before. You won't have to "license" your photos from the app or the company - they are yours forever and you'll never see them anywhere else except your own profile and blog.
This is a boon for the artist, the creative, the independent content creator who doesn't need to worry about digital agreements or where they may end up seeing their own handiwork.
It's yours, for goodness sake. No worries here.
You see, we believe that true creative control is not just about act and process of creating but also publication, especially in today's digital economy.
So, with that being said, secondly, you get to publish your images directly to your WordPress-powered blog when you want. This means that when you share them through your favorite social network (I really like Twitter) it'll send your network and your friends to your own blog instead of yet another landing page where the corporate hounds are monetizing your traffic.
Oh, yeah, that's right. Think of all that traffic lost which might have helped you better monetize your blog or build that fledgling startup company that you're trying so hard to build.
This makes complete sense for a strategic online publisher, a business, an editorial/news blog, and others that need more control!
Those are your pageviews so you should get to keep them. Besides, that's one of the rewards for your content creation! No need to give them away to someone else. No need to line the pockets of another's purse.
Oh, and don't worry, you won't have to publish every single image to your blog - just the ones that you want to share via your blog.
The rest go into your profile, safe and secure to share with your growing network of other Pressgram lovers.
Oh, and don't forget about the all that great conversation that you get on Instagram but that you can't easily respond to or capture for a much larger audience. Well, imagine if you could have those conversations saved to your WordPress blog.
Yes, we'll create a synchronization between the Pressgram network (in app experience) and your published post so that you can continue the conversation in a much larger context.
Finally, social sharing via Twitter and others will come right out of the box. We'll have those for you because they are awesome.
Here are two videos sharing some more thoughts about Creative Control:
And... the Business Value of control as well:
And What of a Social Network?
Besides the neat functional differences with the publication to your WordPress blog and all of that awesome creative control, you'll still have the ability to create your own Pressgram creative social network.
Very much like other social networks of those other 'grams you'll have friends, followers, and the ability to manage privacy settings are all built right-in. Follow your own network of creatives and give them valuable critique and incentive to keep on creating.
Yet it's fundamentally different - because you understand the power of the creative and the importance of creative control. You and your growing list of select friends appreciate the sincerity and depth of everyone's publishing intention and motive - to create without oversight and with absolute freedom.
No childish games or hoops to jump through. Serious creative publishers networking with other creative creatives? Oh, but to dream a little more!
Here are some more thoughts on this:
Why I Need Kickstarter, and You!
Because building an app is good but building an app with motivated individuals, partners, and a global team is much, much better.
I started building the app for myself but when I caught a much bigger vision for a movement of great artists, entrepreneurs, and business owners and leaders taking control of their work, I knew that if it was going to be successful it would take more than just one lonely person working at night by themselves while eating ramen noodles.
So I need you guys to help us all get there. With your help we'll make it a movement, not just an app.
Ok, Great. So Who Are You?
Great question - I'm married, have two girls, got an undergrad degree from a "tech" school (post modern philosophy and UX psychology... WTF?!) and 2 Master degrees, one in education - go figure (learn more here).
Yes, I've got an interesting background. But I married a hottie.
But more than that I'm just like you. I love online publishing - I've been blogging since 2001. I love WordPress (I've made a living with it!) and I love taking pictures with my mobile device.
I'm also a proven software engineer having worked for a few Fortune 50 companies. That was fun, for a time, but then I started thinking that building apps for myself would be much more fun. So, I became a full time entrepreneur. I've raised angel and venture capital. I've had a number of successful exits, and I've had even more countless failures. But that doesn't stop me and just like you your failures don't define you.
In other words, I've done this a few times before. But, I've never done anything like Kickstarter - shoot, I'm sweating an anxious like no one's business, putting my own reputation on the line for this!
Hey, it's a bit thrilling to be honest.
But I didn't want to give up control of my images to Facebook or Instagram (apparently they are the same now) and instead I wanted to selectively publish them to my WordPress-powered blogs when I wanted to.
Just like you, right? Right.
Show Me the Money (Or How I Will Use Yours)
So here's the kicker (pun intended...?) - I've committed myself as far as I possibly can with the development of this app. I've spent the last 6 months concepting, designing, and architecting the application. I started sometime in late October of 2012 and have worked nights and weekends on it.
But it's not enough. Not even close.
Remember, I've got a full time job as a husband (B- average), father (B+ probably..?), and I continue to lead my venture-backed startup 8BIT (my partners probably think I'm like a C/C- average here... LOL...! Love you guys.). I do a lot of other stuff too to help pay my bills and close the gap for my mortgage and other assorted things like... food (sound familiar?). Contract work. Ugh. Yes. Ugh.
I've aways had side-projects and we believe in the power of these sideprojects. Our flagship product was once a side project. Twitter was once a side project. Blogger (Blogspot) was once a side project. Etc. Etc.
So I've always got one. Except, this time, this is feeling a bit "bigger" if you know what I mean.
So, I want to accelerate the timeline of launch as well as to ensure launch success. And I need to create more time for Pressgram and spend less time on other side projects and contract work.
This will help me focus my efforts on building a quality product in a reasonable amount of time.
Your help will directly fund the project timeline and the amount of time that I can spend on it. Remember, this is about one major thing: FOCUS.
And when focus happens things just naturally get better.
$50K Budget (Loosely) Broken Down:
1. $30,000 for core development of the functional (and awesome) MVP (minimum viable product). See roadmap budget below for more info. This is 100% app development - you won't see me going on vacation or anything. Just images of me at my desk working on it. This is insanely trim.
2. $3,000 for the first full year of server and hosting requirements for the storage of data (looking at AWS for this but open to suggestions). This is a super-rough estimate and may be low or high depending on the # of users that we get in FY2013.
3. $5,000 for quality assurance and technical scaling of the application. Iterative development. Ongoing short term support.
4. $2,000 for more design help. I've done all that I can design-wise and I've gotten a lot of help via existing design applications (see blog posts for more info) and toolkits but I'm going to need to contract out some of this.
5. $5,000 for strategic development help. I've built an iOS and a OS X app before so I know what I'm doing but I also know my own limits. I may need to bring in some help on certain parts so we can meet our deadline.
6. $2,000 for a sweet landing page design - The landing page at Pressgram really sucks right now. Actually, it's really nothing more than a signup form for more info at this point. I need to spend time on designing and developing that out right.
7. $2,000 for a sweet product video - I'd like to make a killer video for the landing page. As you can see above, I have zero video skills. But a killer marketing video would be awesome!
8. $1,000 for all the freakin' goodies I'm hoping to dish out to backers. I want to do the party so badly!
9. $??? for whatever is left over for late night ramen and diet coke. Lots of it.
10. $0... because I've already got everything else that I need since I'm building it on my own notebook and have 10 fingers that work really fast. Like 90 WPM with 99% accuracy fast.
Here are some more thoughts about Money and Building Apps:
I've been around for quite some time and have developed some very large scale applications - I'll be honest, I've charged a lot more for my previous consulting contracts than what I'm asking for here.
But I'm trying to keep it as trim and as MVP as possible. I have a crystal clear picture of the end-result and product but it's simply going to take a lot of time. Most people think you can bust out an iOS application like no one's business but it takes time, planning, and a lot of hard work to "throw one" together.
I've estimated that it's going to take anywhere between 1,100 - 1,400 hours to complete. Do the math really quick:
- That's 5.5 - 7 months of total work @ 40hrs per week working 8 hour days for 5 business days. This assumes that I'm working by myself.
- I believe I can cut this down to 4.5 months with the strategic allocation of funds and select design/development work. It's going to be tough but what the heck. Let's make a go of it.
I've given myself a semi-artificial deadline of August 2013 - that's 5 months.
Well, not completely. My iOS development program license runs out then:
So we have to get to work.
By the way - this isn't just some "guess" - I've worked most of it out:
There's an iOS and API segments and then a lot in between. Like I said, I've budgeted trimly and should be able to hit these deadlines.
Don't believe it actually takes that much time to create an amazing iOS app? Please read this amazing thread on Stack Overflow about iOS development costs and then come back.
Finally, for those designers and UI/UX junkies out there, you can see that I've thought through the experience from beginning to end:
I want it to be simple, elegant, and easy to use.
Transparency & Partner Updates
I believe in transparency - sometimes to the point of going too far.
I've been blogging a lot about the experience and the challenges of building the application from the ground-up already so you can see that I've kept pace with keeping my audience up to date with things.
Go ahead and look back into the archives a bit and see what I'm sharing - I'm all about transparency:
You can read it here: http://blog.pressgr.am/
I share my thoughts and will keep you updated with the progress, like I already have. I love sharing updates because I believe that's just as important as the application launch itself.
If you back this project you're not just a "backer" - you're a partner in something amazing.
You can also follow the action on Twitter too: @Pressgram
As of today, the launch of this Kickstarter campaign, I have only one amazing follower... myself. Yippee.
Again, I'm big on tranparency and trust - and I'm also big on giving back. I think there's an opportunity to Educate people along this journey as well:
Crazy Stretch Goals
I'm pretty dubious that I'll be able to make it to my intended goal of $50k. I have a healthy dose of doubt and skepticism about nearly everything I do. Cynic by nature I suppose.
But, if we do make it past the initial goal then I have some obvious opportunities:
- $80K - ANDROID! Let's do it! GOGOGO!
- Anything else would be... nutso.
Ah. Now that would be neat!
How I Create Backer Confidence
As I've mentioned, I've already committed the last 6 months to working on it and I've just started laying code. Please, please, please - I want to continue to work on this app and I don't want it to take a million years to release!
The point is that I've taken a crazy idea that was stuck in my head and started building it already - this isn't some nebulous idea that has yet to be realized; it's already partly built! And I've kept at it over the last 6 months.
So here are some neat screens to get you excited and to help you build more confidence that I do what I say that I'm going to do - more to come via the blog!
Original Concepts (circa late 2012):
Some Original Wires (January, 2013):
High Fidelity Comps (February, 2013):
It's time to get crackin'.
I Need Your Help!
Obviously. Thanks in advance for all the tweets, the direct support, the fact that you shared it with your parents and your brother's sister's husband's cousin via a massive CC: email thread.
Thanks. You rock. Like this guy rock:
It's Go Time. Let's take on the "big" guys and create a sweet useful app while we're at it.
I'm working on it right now... and I'd love you to be a part of this awesome story.
Finally... if you want to see the original video that I created for the campaign, much longer, then here you go:
[Video showcases how incredibly bad I am at videos, creating and producing... but hey, I filmed at 3:00am in the morning. Music is via Tycho.]
You can now support and pledge via Paypal!
Send full amount to this email: firstname.lastname@example.org with a note about the Reward Tier you want.
Risks and challenges
There are tons of risks - the biggest one is the fact that Pressgram might not ever get created.
But if we do then the biggest risk is scaling and growth - that is, that it becomes vastly more popular than I had anticipated (I'm looking at a micro instance of EC2 AWS and scaling to 10,000 users in 2013).
At that point we'll need more money to manage the server growth and user support. More development time == more money and more risk.
If it doesn't grow it doesn't grow, but I can't imagine that it won't. WordPress ain't stopping and people won't stop sharing images. I'm in a good crowd.
The biggest challenge, though, is whether I should charge for the app to help support the growth of it. Obviously if it's a free app then it'll grow faster. If it's paid it'll add a bar of adoption that I'm not sure I'm interested in creating. But I'm not throwing advertisements on the app so direct monetization is out.
We'll have to get creative - me and my fellow kickstarter partners.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)