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Ask your community: Is YEN is right for you?

April 12, 2021 Old Logo Dump

I shared a ton of old logos / branding ideas that I found in an old folder as I was cleaning things out this past weekend.

Take a look:

It's fun to think about where we've been and how long we've been working at this; we're too close to stop now.

April 5, 2021 #yenHOURS

I’m opening up #yenHOURS a bit more over the next few weeks:

The goal, to be honest, is to get connected with more folks that might be in our target demographic as well as prepare a larger cohort of folks to test-drive our platform that we want to open up a bit more this month as well.

Would love to hang! Check it out here.

April 3, 2021 Team Picture!

A fun tweetstorm sharing a new picture of the current team:

I'm super-grateful to have a team that's been able to work with me over the last year and who have allowed me to be me, in all of my glorious imperfections and insecurities.

This was never about just me; it was always about the vision: Communities, Everywhere.

We are on our way.

March 29, 2021 Demos that Excite!

I've been showing demos of our platform the moment that we had something (anything!) to show; starting back in March of last year.

It's pretty crazy to see how far we've come and how our #yenOG squad have "kept the faith" and have continued to scale and grow with us over the last year.

@titans has been one of our longest-supporters and I'm sure I've demo'd the product a dozen times over the last year; we hung out last week and I gave him another update:

As he's mentioned, he's pretty excited about what he's seen!

Demos that fundamentally excite aren't hard to design and present as long as you remain consistent with your value drivers — if your product demo clearly and unambiguously showcases the deliver on the product's promise then you'll always have something that shines.

Progress, every single day of every single week. Let's keep going yeniverse!

March 25, 2021 Value Drivers

I’ve been meditating on a few product "values" that we believe to be drivers for customer success and I shared a few things internally with the team about how we want to talk about the product itself.

I’ve come up with a 3 things — I do love systems of 3 — that I really want to highlight throughout our content marketing and positioning.

YEN is purpose-built for the following:

  1. Speed
  2. Money
  3. Personalization

SPEED is a must-have as time-to-value is everything for our customers!

Who are our "customers"? They are business-minded creators who understand the fundamental business ($$) relationship between their work and their growing audience / community.

They want #nocode / #lowcode solutions that can get them up and running fast, especially tools that do not require 10 technical integrations, in-house software development skills, or long setup times.

Our customers love to move fast, experiment with new products and services, and know that speed to market is one of their most sacred competitive advantages.

MONEY is one of the problems that we solve the moment our customers experience YEN as every new user starts with an allotment of rooms they can use to charge access to. These “paid experiences” can be used for limited, time-bound, cohort-based training and education or on a recurring monthly subscription.

Our creators have test-driven behind-the-scenes content, subscriber exclusives, premium video / audio events, and more.

YEN enables our creators to get the financial support they need from the community that loves them and that wants the creator to continue to do their art, whatever it might be, without breaking the bank! Every room, after the first 2, is just a $1.00.

Finally, our customers love that they can PERSONALIZE their own "universe" (or yeniverse) quickly and easily with a variety of different types of rooms (public, private, paid) and experiences (scheduled events, time-bound, educational cohorts) for their members out-of-the-box.

We're working hard to build a platform that is deeply-customizable, giving creators powerful community-building & monetization superpowers from the jump so they can grow their membership and build revenue the same day they start using YEN.

In a nutshell... we obsess about creator success every single day.

March 19, 2021 One Step Ahead

As I shared the other day, startups are hard, full stop.

But that's also what makes them so fun and why it's the only place that I'd want to work because the (intellectual) challenges are never-ending. "Hard" is just one way of describing what a startup really, truly is.

And every startup is different, with different cultures and different operating virtues, with different leaders who have different leadership styles. It's hard to know what one should expect when they enter into a new startup as an employee, even if much of the culture is documented.

As a leader I must be thinking one step ahead while also thinking (and staying) very much in the present.

During some stages and seasons of a company's life it can feel as if "one step ahead" is knowing what tomorrow will bring (and nothing more) and sometimes you get a chance as seeing a bit further down the road; a quarter or two when timing and good fortune meet preparation, skill, a great team, and a fuckton of luck.

At the moment this means two things:

  1. Migrating our early platform from alpha to beta on a brand new architecture that's taken us ~2 months to build from scratch.
  2. Hiring the right folks as we move into the next stage of product development.

Like I said: One... step... ahead.

March 10, 2021 The McGurk Effect

I wanted to share a few high-level thoughts this morning on my personal design philosophy; or more specifically, some of the influences of thought (and science!) that has informed and influenced my thinking as we build a communication tool for creators, business, and community builders.

One of the questions that I’ve been asked many times is what I think about when it comes to the obvious and visible rise of video and audio-centric communities — and, of course, the platforms that power them.

A poor but honest answer is that I don’t have the vision that those founders have; instead, I have only my own empirical observations and data-driven analysis of the opportunities that the current market provides and how it matches with customer needs. I also think that it’s strategically-important to always start with first-principles to what makes human communication work; a digital distillation of what is fundamentally true, for most (if not all) people.

I believe that text is, and has always been, the simplest and most effective form of communication; both a lubricant and universal scalable solvent. Here’s one specific reason why I believe that to be true.

The McGurk Effect is an audiovisual phenomena which effectively creates a multi-sensory illusion when you experience it.

It was first discovered by through audiovisual speech:

McGurk and MacDonald reported a powerful multisensory illusion occurring with audiovisual speech. They recorded a voice articulating a consonant and dubbed it with a face articulating another consonant.

Even though the acoustic speech signal was well recognized alone, it was heard as another consonant after dubbing with incongruent visual speech; this is a striking demonstration of multisensory integration. It shows that auditory and visual information is merged into a unified, integrated percept.

via NCBI

Neat, right? This is also the reason why it’s very hard to build audio or video-first platforms or even social networks for that matter because the user’s experience is dependent on their own level of audiovisual integration.

Consequently, what could have been a well-managed / curated and unified experience is now a multi-variate, user-dependent one that limits the ability for a system or technology to scale maximally.

This is why a focus on text is the singular, prime directive; it is the irreducible minimum, a simple, powerful, and unmistakable communication device that is the most responsible starting point for scale, technologically and financially.

You see, the “McGurk Effect” demonstrates that our eyes can influence what we hear and even “deceive” us into thinking and believing something entirely different. And with audio, we lose that critical component of scale and utility (although we can solve both of those but it’s pricey).

Here’s another great example:

Prof. Patricia Kuhl is mouthing the syllables /ga-ga/ while the dubbed video has her saying /ba-ba/. Your eyes are messing things up for us! They want to tell us that her lips aren’t closed at the beginning of the syllables — and therefore she can’t be saying “ba” but that’s actually what she’s saying.

It’s a bit of a trip, right? Trying to reconcile this is hard as your brain works through a mental fist-fight between your eyes and ears.

Bottom-line: Things like the McGurk Effect can impact a user’s experience with a product, especially one that is as fundamentally important as a communication device for teams, organizations, and communities.

It’s worth giving this serious consideration when you’re building any product that helps folks communicate, connect, and build community.

March 2, 2021 Our First "Notification"

We added the first "notification" in our platform this past week with a real-time visual update in the form of a counter in the sidebar:

It's not much but that's kind of the point! Most products have poorly-designed notification systems and they are designed to annoy customers and users instead of provide value.

I've written a bit more to the community already (and I share a few more thoughts on tomorrow's YEN.FM newsletter):

It's fun to build better products.

February 24, 2021 Private, Ephemeral, Limited Rooms

One of the more exciting experiences that we're building into our platform is giving creators power-tools like private and ephemeral rooms for their community members to hang out in, enjoy, and appreciate for a limited amount of time.

In addition, adding the ability to have a "hard cap" or limit on the number of participants in any given room is another bespoke customization that we enable for our community and business-builders. Take a look at what we've enabled just this past week:

Above you can see the new workflow for adding new members into a Private Room or Group Message and below you can see how easily it is to actually do this:

There are too many ways that our yenizens will be able to mix-and-match with private, public, and paid ($$$) rooms; the options are nearly endless as you begin to think creatively about permanent and ephemeral rooms and communities:

February 16, 2021 A Few Designs in the Create Channels View

Here are a few updated designs for the "create channel" workflow which essentially the same type of experience that you might encounter via Slack:

Many of the options here aren't fully-baked nor are they finalized in any way, shape, or form but they are ideas that we're experimenting with, especially in terms of permanent and ephemeral communities.

I'm excited to test-drive these ideas in our early alpha:

As I mentioned in today's issue via #yenFM, we're always looking for more passionate business builders who want to help us build the best community-building platform ever.

Ask your community: Is YEN is right for you?