The 24-Hour Mobile App Start-Up!

    How does one build a technology product and organization within 24 hours…

    I was fortunate enough this past weekend to join in at Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center for “Random Hacks of Kindness” (RHoK); a 24-hour event devoted to building web and mobile apps for non-profits and good causes. Although full of spirit and great fun, the event was very intensive with high output. I personally provided technical project management, marketing and branding skills to my team. Our team focused on WGACAH (What-Goes-Around-Comes-Around-Happens), an organizational idea – ultimately a mobile game – aiding disaster preparation and social survival.

    So how does one build such for success in 24 hours? In our case the realization came early that the project scope exceeded the immediate time and resources. So I identified the ideal, final deliverables, and tangible iterations along the way to get there. End-deliverables’ goals included both a “fun” hypothetical disaster-scenario mobile game for yet-unaffected areas and users, as well as a utilitarian app for on-site disaster handling. To get there we knew we needed to start an online community for crowd-sourcing, ongoing development to passionate programmers at large. And I knew we needed immediate, closed-group, online project management just between ourselves to get things rolling, as well as ways to collect and identify more detailed deliverable scope and features.

    How does one build for success in 24 hours – for free? With a heavy reliance on today’s technology tools as well as overlapping tasks with acknowledged predecessor-independence. While more traditional development timelines would require task predecessors and role approvals at numerous intervals, we agreed on simultaneous tasking for high-speed output:

    1. PROJECT MANAGEMENT SITE I created our immediate, project-management closed group in Basecamp’s free offering and invited our team to connect. Here I identified personnel, skills and roles, as well as basic milestones and tasks.
    2. SCOPE DOCUMENTATION  After the organizational representative discussed the project description and answered our team questions, we brainstormed on needs and features. I took notes in M.S. Excel and organized all against separate deliverables, input categories and possible iterations. As with all relevant files, I uploaded this spreadsheet of deliverables and functionality to Basecamp for our reference.
    3. FEATURES SURVEY I then dissected the brainstormed app attributes, and applied to a free online survey in Survey Monkey. I had our organizational representative review and edit the survey and it was then ready for submission to the RHoK community at large. The goals of this survey were to identify app interest, feature demand and inputs, and technological feasibility and more detailed scope assessment.
    4. FILE COLLABORATION Although Basecamp was a great solution for our immediate needs, we wanted tools more conducive to massive file-sharing and open social media groups for future crowd sourcing. Hence I recommended our developer open a account for this.
    5. CROWD SOURCING COMMUNITIES For development communities, we opened accounts in both GitHub and Drupal Gardens and our programmer began basic community structural development.
    6. SKELETON ITERATION Although we still needed additional, detailed features and scope documentation and survey results, we had enough documentation to identify a basic, skeleton-iteration features’ layout, which our programmer began developing to provide foundational guiding product vision.
    7. GAME IMAGE Meanwhile, our game designer was also attempting to provide some rough vision as guidance for final deliverables. She began creating game-app, rough-draft character identification and sketches in Photoshop for foundational image.
    8. BRANDING Simultaneously I began aggregating my thoughts and discussion notes on product brand names and messaging emotions-to-convey. I captured these as an editable “Writeboard” in Basecamp for us all to reference and add to. I then began taking some of these and applying to rough draft logos and presented these for team input and solidification. Logos were exported for web usage and uploaded to Basecamp (sample shown below).
    9. SOCIAL MEDIA & AWARENESS Finally I created social media pages and groups to build awareness and attract crowd sourcing developers and fans. I created a generic gmail address for our immediate team members to access all channels for admin, and recorded this and all our tools’ and sites’ access info in Basecamp. We have yet to add messaging content in social media, but the place holders are there (search for “WGACAH” or “WGACAH Community” in your preferred major social media channels).

    Next steps would include: A). Survey response aggregation, B). Deeper scope definition, C). Branding selection, D). Image utilization and interface, E). Skeleton completion, F). Community attraction, and G). Crowd sourced building workable product
    – And so it continues… keep your eyes open as the groups and deliverables grow – and use this as a guide for your next fast-paced start-up!

    Want more on what you read? Comment and connect with me!

    Jake Aull | Marketing Strategy | Social Media & SEO | Digital & Creative
    email | | @jakeaull |