November 12, 2019

Finished Gleebeam MVP

Viesturs Marnauza @viestursm

The MVP for Gleebeam is done and deployed at https://gleebeam.com. It includes:

  • A fairly simple marketing site - I use Vue.js as a front-end framework for both the website and the app
  • Sign up with Google only
  • Three web application views (and several pop-ups for additional information/actions), one of which (the notification template editor) took a LOT of effort to make
  • Stripe for payments
  • Mailchimp for communication
  • Google and Firebase Analytics for gathering all the data
  • Hosting, database and serverless backend on Firebase
  • Appzi for gathering user feedback
  • A public Notion page for the documentation
  • Giphy integration for easy GIF access in the notification editor
  • All the HTML meta tag stuff for sharing and SEO

I feel it's just as important to mention the things I left out of the MVP:

  • Any way for users to manage their accounts
  • Multiple users per account
  • Other auth methods besides Google
  • Privacy Policy and Terms of Service
  • Blog (I've implemented a blog with Wordpress now since the MVP launch)
  • App onboarding - not expecting a lot of users initially so I'm happy to help them each individually and treat it as a customer research opportunity
  • Proper documentation page - just using Notion for now
  • Lots of different feature ideas for making the app more polished and feature-complete (e.g. easy TV dashboard set-up as in Geckoboard or confetti-like effects when the notifications appear on the dashboard)
  • A Zapier app for Gleebeam since it is easy enough to use the Zapier webhooks app
  • Lots of minor improvements!

Some learnings:

  1. Integrate payments only if you have a sizeable audience of people eager to start using your product immediately after launch.
    It will likely be a waste of time initially as you probably want to first validate your app's prototype and learn about the few users who will want to use it initially without having them pay to make full use of the product.
    This was my first time integrating Stripe in an app so I wanted to do it to learn the API. It took quite a bit of time to handle all free/paid tier upgrade/downgrade scenarios.

  2. Don't build too much specific functionality before you know what users expect from the product.
    The part of Gleebeam that was most difficult to build was the notification editor. Now having spent more time thinking about it, I'm pretty sure the app doesn't need an editor with so much flexibility - it only adds to the set-up overhead users experience when they start to use the app.

  3. Lots of technical stuff.
    I am a self-taught developer and am constantly learning incredible amounts of things. Some noteworthy examples for what I learned with this project: Firebase Cloud Functions, Firestore Database (I had previously used their Real-time Database solution), Firebase Hosting, tests with Jest, multi-page apps with Vue CLI, Stripe API, and the list could go on.
    Learning this is not essential for making Gleebeam a sustainable business but I just really enjoy expanding my tech skills with my projects and would never willingly stop doing this just to save time. That said, I don't think I reinvent the wheel too often - the goal is just to push my current limits and not to learn how EVERYTHING works.

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