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Update: FAMnerd rejected by KickStarter.

To them it was too much of a new-business development than a creative project. We disagree, and can point to multiple examples on KickStarter that are less creative and more business development projects than FAMnerd, but we lost that argument.

So KickStarter is off.

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2012 Progress Update

We want to share the process of developing FAMnerd: the ups and the downs, the good and the bad.

2011 Ups

  • We finished work on interface and navigation flow
  • We completed chart graphics and chart logic

2011 Downs

We had hoped to release FAMnerd in 2011. What we found out was that, while we are well prepared on the design side of FAMnerd (all screens are mocked up, chart logic is mapped out) we were very poorly prepared on the funding side.

Here’s what we learned:

Starting in the Fall of 2011, I began lurking in iPhone developer forums looking for programmers with chart-generating-app experience (typically developers who had built stock/investment charting apps). I began approaching developers and requesting bids on FAMnerd.

While there were slight variances in timeframe and pricing, iPhone app developers cost about $150-$200/hour and need about a month’s worth of billable hours to build FAMnerd from scratch, which puts us in the $20K+ range.

We have funds set aside for development, but not $20K+.

Our options now:

1) Build it ourselves (or at least as much of it as we can).

I’m a web designer/developer by day, so I’m in the process of learning Objective C and Xcode.

  • Pros: Fits our budget
  • Cons: I’ll still need help with the heavy lifting of generating charts and other more complex computing tasks

2) Launch a KickStarter campaign

3) Ask you to fund the development via AppBackr or something similar

If we asked you to back the project by buying FAMnerd early, we could potentially raise a large chunk of funding.

  • Pros: Opportunity to raise funds without being indebted to investors or tied up with partners.
  • Cons: If every person we have on the waiting list for FAMnerd were to pledge $40, we would raise about half of what we need.

If we go the KickStarter AppBackr  route, we’ll need serious FAMgelistic help in spreading the word about FAMnerd.

Update: FAMnerd was rejected by KickStarter.

To them it was too much of a new-business development than a creative project. We disagree, and can point to multiple examples on KickStarter that are less creative and more business development projects than FAMnerd, but we lost that argument. So KickStarter is off.

3 Find a Strategic Coding or Funding Partner

We’ve been approached by a developer who is interested in FAM and iPhone app development, but hasn’t developed for the platform before. He was willing to develop FAM as his first project as a partner in the project (with ownership).

  • Pros: Having a developer committed to the project without having to shell out the full cost of development.
  • Cons: Dave Ramsey often says, “There’s one kind of ship that doesn’t sail: Partnership.” Partnerships are a tenuous thing without careful legal structuring and a really clear understanding of responsibilities. FAMnerd is our baby, so to speak, and we have a certain vision for it. Adding another vision for FAMnerd to follow feels uncomfortable.

I also worked out a profit sharing agreement with a developer for a certain percentage of FAMnerd’s revenue, but that fell through (why should he risk working for free when he can work for cash?).

What we’re doing right now:

I’ve begun learning Xcode, and am pursuing the 1st option of building the simple functions of FAMnerd (interface and data entry). If I can build out the interface and data storage procedures two things can happen:

  1. We can get the app in a few beta testers’ hands for feedback on the interface
  2. I can approach developers to help me build out the chart portion of the app

We’ve opened a KickStarter account, and are considering the message we want to put in it: probably a video of the mocked up app in action.

So… tell us what you think. Which route do you think we should go? Would you consider paying for FAMnerd early to turbo charge development, in exchange for a copy of FAMnerd free or at a reduced price when it’s released?

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Overcoming fear by using fear

I don’t mind telling you, there’s a level of fear associated in building something on your own.

Here’s a list of potential anxieties if you’re interested:

  • What if the app won’t work right…
  • What if the developer won’t be able to complete the task…
  • It might cost too much to make it…
  • Maybe it won’t sell well and we’ll lose money…
  • Someone could steal our design and calls it FAMgeek or something…

Really, those fears are pretty easy to overcome if nobody knows what you’re doing.

But what if there are suddenly thousands of people who know, see it online, email you, share it with their firends, all wanting to know when it’s available.

That’s another kind of fear entirely. The other fears only affect us and our pocketbook. That fear affects other people and how they feel about us.

It’s for that very reason we launched the website early, began promoting FAMnerd early — because we could use that fear to overcome other fears. We’re using that fear as a driver.

Thank you for your emails and encouragement! We love hearing from you and getting a feel for your enthusiasm for FAMnerd. Even your stories of disappointment with other apps are helpful because it reminds us why we’re doing this in the first place: because nobody else did.

If FAMnerd already existed, we’d be using it. But it doesn’t, so we have to build it for Annette.

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Why doesn’t FAMnerd show more information on the chart?

We know that some PC-based apps let you place seemingly unlimited amounts of information on your charts, and some of you would like to do that with the app. We hear you, but listen to our point of view. Well kept charts are extremely gratifying to look at, it’s the equivalent of a well kept diary for some. Believe me, we really do understand that; Annette is a complete nerd when it comes to charting. Everything goes into her chart from temps to miles ran to flow volume in mL.

But FAMnerd is intended to help FAM users get started with FAM and keep the accurate charts necessary for using FAM. It’s robust enough for advanced users to keep records of how many glasses of water they drank (not that you’d need to record that), but we intentionally keep the chart simple and immediately gratifying.

We may create an iPad version if there’s enough demand, where charts could become more complex and contain more data, but for now, the iPhone screen dictates how much information can be displayed on the chart.

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What can you record?

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First talks with a developer

I met with a young iPhone developer to discuss FAMnerd, and he had some suggestions that will make the app better (and cheaper) to develop.

While he’s still in grad school and booked til the summer, we’ll be retaining him as a consultant on the project as we search for the right person.

Most of FAMnerd uses conventional iPhone inputs, except for the chart. The chart will be the biggest programming challenge of the app, and it has to be just right.

Sign up to be notified when FAMnerd is released.

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FAMnerd wouldn’t exist if someone had already made it.

An iPhone is a perfect place to record, chart, and interpret fertility signs, and we’re not alone in this thinking.

Seriously, there are a number of apps out there for tracking fertility signs.

They just got it wrong!

We were disappointed after Annette spent money on apps that were clunky to use and had static charts that lacked even basic information.

The apps were awkward at best — using the wrong inputs for temperature, requiring lengthy setup, and had charts divided by calendar month rather than cycle! Who made these?

If you hand us lemons, we’ll hand them back to you and demand apples. Or in this case, we’re going to grow our own.

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On mockups and planning

Everyone says, “We want [insert app name here] to be as simple to use as possible.” But simple ain’t easy.

Charts are Gratifying, Setup Isn’t

You shouldn’t have to set up the app before you start working. You should be able to go from zero to looking at your charts immediately. Yes, you can change some stuff, but you shouldn’t have to configure the whole app just to get started.

Convention Over Configuration

Annette and I spent nights poring over iPhone interface conventions. One of the principle mistakes some app developers make is using buttons, sliders, and other built-in widgets in a way that’s counter-intuitive to the user.

We focused on making actions feel natural — a flow in how the app responds to the user. It should almost feel like you’ve been here before.

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