Ideas and Validation May 24, 2020

2 ideas - which would you build?

Dave S @daves106

I'm torn between two ideas. I'd love to hear some feedback from the IH community.

Which one do you think is a better bet? Or.. are they both bad? 😀

Customer feature request app
This is a well-trodden path. There are plenty of apps where your customers can suggest new features, upvote them, and track their progress.
I think there's some room to innovate in this space, and I like the idea, but I'm not sure there's that much room to differentiate from other tools. I have some unique ideas, but I'm concerned about being able to stand out and whether the market is already saturated.

Pros: Proven market, people are paying for this now.
Cons: Limited ability to differentiate from others in the space (including some good companies already here on IH)

Generating Release Notes
In every small to medium sized team I've working in, generating release notes for a product has been a pain. It often ends up being the job of one person to interrogate the team, trawl through bug trackers and project management tools and try and put something together, often last minute.
I think that great release notes are a missed opportunity for most companies to shout about what they've been working on and stay front-of-mind with customers.
I have some ideas in this area, and think I can do something to improve the process, and the end result, considerably.

Pros: I think this is a neglected space, and there's lots of room for innovation. I'm more excited about what I can do with this concept.
Cons: Some, but not many existing tools doing the same. Does this indicate insufficient demand to build a product around?

Thank you!

  1. 4

    I would try and find a forum, website, slack etc... where your potential customers might be and ask for feedback to help you validate which idea is better.

    At the moment, generating release notes seems to be the better option based on your description: neglected space, room for innovation and you seem excited by the idea.

    1. 2

      Agree about talking to customers.

      Disagree about release notes. Mostly because I can't imagine a target audience that would pay for it. Could be my lack of imagination, but talking to potential customers would prove one or the other!

    2. 2

      generating release notes - azure devops is offering this. you move the pbi's to the column you wish and it creates release notes based on what is in that column.

      1. 1

        Thanks. This is one of the things I've looked at and tried.
        The results aren't great in my opinion, but perhaps it's 'enough', and this is more of an extension to an existing product rather than something new.

    3. 1

      +1 very clear that you are passionate about it [GR] more than the roadmap[RM].

  2. 2

    I think release notes idea worth trying. I don't know if there is currently competition but if not definitely go for it.
    I was thinking about the feature request tool as well but found there are a few competitors already. Maybe it's not a show stopper but I always want to be the only or at least the best solution available for the problem.
    Anyway good luck, go for it and keep us updated!

  3. 2

    Generating release notes via something like Git would be awesome (like an interactive CLI). Whatever could remove steps to make it easy to communicate with customers without having to remember to go somewhere else and do something.

  4. 2

    I would focus on the one where you think you can make the biggest impact. The reason is that believing you can make a difference will make you more motivated and creative. It makes it easier to find a differentiator / unique selling point and thus succeed. Also, both ideas seem related, so starting with your most passionate one will give you momentum for the other if you need to change course later.

    1. 2

      Thanks, that's good advice.
      You're right that both ideas are around improving communication with existing customers, which is what interests me. Perhaps I need to think of that as the problem I'm solving, and these are just two possible ideas to experiment with.

  5. 2

    Huh, i had the same idea about (internal) release notes.

    Over the years i've been working with startups and communicating product updates is very helpful but also very hard.

    After some thinking i came to a few realisations:

    • You can't just extract jira tickets or commits, it's not readable. It has to be manually crafted and summarised.
    • It's a nice to have functionality and people will appreciate it BUT, there's a lot of friction and no immediate pain.
    • A bit boring for my taste.

    Of course these are assumptions based on my own experience so take it as it is, casual brainstorming.

    1. 1

      Thanks!

      The friction for new customer concerns me too, as does the lack of immediate pain; it's painful and time consuming at the time you're doing it, but forgotten again between releases.

      I agree entirely that it has to be a manual process, tickets and commits give you a starting point, but ultimately it needs to be compiled by a person. Especially in larger teams, which is where I'd be aiming to place this. Making that easier, and making the end result nicer, was what I had in mind.

  6. 2

    I would suggest you go for Generating release notes, with some tight integration to Giltlabs or Github.

  7. 1

    Hey Dave, thought to share my 2 cents as I have some experiences with both areas. 😊

    1. Customer feature request app

    This reminds me of canny.io. I know Gitbooks uses them to manage feature requests from customers. https://gitbook.canny.io/feature-requests The prerequisite is of course for getting good feedback is having a community/engaged audience. Maybe that's an area that's unexplored?

    1. Generating Release Notes

    To automate this technically, there's semantic-release. Generates release notes from well-formed commits. Perhaps worth exploring as they're fairly popular with over 9k Github stars. Non-technically, there are tools like headwayapp.co and changefeed.app that offer a simple changelog feature.

    ...hope this helps in your research! My vote is not a resounding yes for either but perhaps there's an opportunity in the shortcomings of incumbents in either area? 😊

  8. 1

    Question on Generation Release Notes

    Why did you think apps like Slack , Ms Teams, Notion, Evernote are strong alternative for your app ?

    Ideally, your idea here is essentially solving a communication problem.

    I would just create a channel / notes and ask my team to dump everything and every change that they want our customers to know for this week ..

    Once I get all the answers from the team , I would just consolidate it and put say 30 minutes and publish it.

  9. 1

    " I think that great release notes are a missed opportunity for most companies to shout about what they've been working on and stay front-of-mind with customers."

    • Does this real? you need to check 1st [ Suggestion ] [ Market Research ]
    • How you are plan to put end to this? [ TODO: , Improvement: ] [ Market Research ]

    You are free to contact me as I am like you on the mood of research on the same area of interest [ Feedback Loop ]. Hope others can add more into this topic