Warts and all

Building a product is often a messy process and the best of product managers like us mere mortals struggle with prioritisation and building out effective Product Roadmaps that support customers and business objectives in equal measure. Over the last 2.5 months we have been hard at work pulling together a pretty rudimentary marketplace product that in a nutshell allows startups to identify expert help to grow their businesses.
Chucking the product out into the real world for feedback is a daunting process but there is no other way. The rubber has to hit the road and customers look at what you have built, warts and all, not realising the amount of time you have had to build it and offcourse what the thinking was when it came to trade-offs and why we decided to build what we did. This blog entry is an attempt to do two things:
Provide some insight into why we prioritised what we did? Share with our community what the plan is going forward with a view to getting feedback and hopefully feedback and input as we go forward
When we first started building AstraNova we knew that we wanted to ultimately be a place where our members could log into, set up their profiles and ultimately find people they wanted to do business with. Much of the matching for the MVP is very Umpa Lumpa if we are honest, where our nimble team is running around behind the scenes and matching startup demand to advisor supply. This will needless to say undergo a technology led transformation in the coming weeks but for now if you want to connect to a supplier, expert or advisor and are struggling to get a response just reach out to our team and we will do our very best to support your requests.
At the core of our system are the profiles we set up for the Startups, Founders, GTM and other experts / Advisors and offcourse Service Providers. You will find all manners of experts in this community of high signal, high octane and high output individuals and companies. From the fractional CRO to the part time Sales Rep, from the Intellectual Property Lawyer to the SEO expert. Everyone in this community is in it after having been vetted by our highly experienced team. Our goal is to ensure that every single person that joins AstraNova (and there will be many that we will not be familiar with initially as they would have come in via a referral from someone like you) will be thoroughly vetted and understood in terms of their appetite to work and support startups and scaleups. To enable a simple enough referral system we built in something that provides each member with a code that can then be supplied to their network to onboard new people that could benefit from the skills and expertise of those in the community. We even managed to squeeze in giving points to those that do so. Have we got a perfectly planned points programme for loyalty yet? Not by a stretch, but the idea is to work out the kind of perks that the community enjoys or wants and then facilitate them. For instance when you refer someone that joins the platform, do we reward you with 100 points which can be redeemed for a coffee somewhere or a Netflix gift card? Not sure we have all the answers yet, but there is a strong desire to work with the community to figure it out and reward those that choose to spend some time and resource in helping grow our fledgling community.
Building a social timeline is something that crept into the scope as we realised that we wanted people to be able to create User Generated Content. This is the equivalent of LinkedIn’s feed. However there is a long way to go when it comes to creating the ability to engage with the content, share it or event comment on posts from others. We want to make sure that we try and squeeze in the kinds of things that the community feels there is a need for and have utility.
As this is a marketplace you will notice that some pretty basic functionality around contracting, invoicing and payments that isn’t quite there yet either? And don’t even get me started on our mobile optimised journey. Yup! Deffo not a finished product. What on earth? Well…we applied the thinking that these are all things that could still happen off system but be communicated through the chat we have built until we had the time to get to it. We are a small team of builders and as such had to prioritise. Our ambitions however are to squarely provide the tools that make it easier and more efficient for the Experts to sell their services to the Buyers or startups. Our ambition is to introduce this into the next major build which comes out in June.
We will be releasing our product roadmap for you to consider and to get involved with. Why would you get involved? For one it’s great Product Management experience and secondly we love the idea of embracing a community led approach to building the business despite not being on blockchain rails. Over the coming months we will look to form a few committees around Product, Marketing, Community and Governance and will invite members to participate should they wish to get involved. These are not volunteer positions and we will look to ensure that there are rewards in place for those that participate.

In the meantime bring on the feedback and let us know what tricks we may have missed! You can reach out to us anytime at hello@astranova.io