Project Grilling: introduction + real case

From Idea to Action: How We Ensure Projects Align with Our Core Values

As we navigate our project journey, we've discovered the importance of ensuring each endeavor aligns with our core values. Given the constraints of time and resources, we don’t have the luxury of pursuing every idea. Yes, creativity is abundant, but pinpointing where our team and the market intersect? That's where the real challenge lies. Enter our solution: a grill to systematize this alignment process.

Our Core Values

At the foundation of our every endeavor are our core values. These principles aren’t just ceremonial words; they're the pillars that shape our direction and decisions. Allow me to shed some light on the values that give purpose to our work.

LEARN

Never stop growing. Be curious. Dive into new challenges—they're our best teachers. We're all about that culture of sharing and uplifting.

Can be translated in action as “Choose projects where we learn new things that we would enjoy sharing with others”.

EARN

We're all about achieving a balance. While we're passionate about our work, it's essential to take care of our loved ones and personal aspirations.

Can be translated in action as “Choose work that improves our living, not losing ourselves in it”.

HAVE FUN

We're clocking in most of our hours at work, right? Let's make them count by truly enjoying the moment. That positive vibe might just ripple out to those around you.

Can be translated in action as “Choose topics that we are passionnate about or simply funny”.

GIVE BACK

We stand on the shoulders of open-source. Let's keep the love going—contribute, create, or chip in. Every bit matters.

Can be translated in action as “Contribute with code, tell your learnings, donate”.

Introducing: The Grill

We've rolled out two grills: one for apps and another for games. Although gaming isn’t our mainstay, it’s a perfect ground for experimentation and learning. The gaming sector is on an upward trajectory. It’s fueled by the fact that as the world evolves, leisure time becomes an essential aspect of everyone’s life. The numbers reflect this growth with global gaming revenues reaching unprecedented highs year after year. This paints a promising picture for those keen on exploring niche markets, like our focus on the Playdate platform. But, let’s table the Game Grill discussion for another post and delve into the App Grill.

App Grill Explained

The App Grill mirrors a startup pitch deck, but with a twist. The question we first pose: "Would anyone on our team use this project daily?" If the answer is yes, then we've hit gold. Such a project provides a consistent feedback loop, offering a launchpad to potentially greater heights. This singular focus has weeded out many fleeting ideas, emphasizing that what we really need aren't just ideas, but ones that resonate with our day-to-day lives.

Once it pass this first hard filter, we start the grilling process:

  • Purpose: what’s the fundamental idea behind the project?

  • Problem: what are we trying to solve?

  • Solution: what’s the ideal solution to the problem?

  • Product: how does the product fit the solution?

  • Market: what’s the total addressable market?

  • Why Now: why is now the best time to build the product?

  • Competition: who is addressing this space?

  • Go-to-market: how are we reaching our first users?

  • Business model: how do we make money?

The grill is translated into a concise deck.
Here’s a peek into our next project called "Alter” that passed it. Click to see the full deck.

This deck isn’t static; it’s evolving, reflecting our product vision and acting as a reference when facing challenging decisions.

Aligning with Team Values

Any project, including Alter, undergoes an evaluation against our core values: LEARN, EARN, HAVE FUN, GIVE BACK.

For example, with Alter, the learning opportunities are vast:

  • Diving into native app development

  • Elevating our usage of LLMs

  • Exploring the Apple Store distribution model

When assessing revenue potential, considering the AI buzz and the sizable MacBook user base (known for their purchasing power and technological acumen) indicates a ripe market opportunity. Moreover, AI tools like ChatGPT have demonstrated success in the consumer space, setting a benchmark for our potential reach.

It's also vital to remember that our aim isn't market domination, nor being the next billion dollar company. We’re looking for a niche market that a small team can capture without an heavy financial risk. Plus the insights gleaned from each endeavor, successful or not, are invaluable for crafting future products.

Wondering about the fun element of Alter? We are techies, exploring frontier tech and unlocking novel applications is dope! With emerging tech like GPT-4, the possibilities are vast and thrilling.

And our commitment to giving back remains strong. Through building this app in the open, we hope to inspire others to innovate or walk a similar path.

Mapping out the next steps

If everything aligns, we pinpoint the challenges we might face while bringing our product vision to life. For Alter, these challenges include:

  • User Experience: How can we ensure a seamless user experience, especially when it comes to clipboard use, text and file selection, and keyboard shortcuts on Mac?

  • Model Capabilities: A model's intelligence can be heightened if it's capable of executing code. So, how can we devise a sandboxed container in the user space that can safely execute LLM code generated by the model?

  • Offline Use and Privacy: What are the fundamental tasks that Alter can manage using open-source local models without requiring an internet connection?

  • Efficient Model Installation: How can we simplify the installation of local models to the extent that users only need to ensure they have adequate storage space?

Once these challenges are laid out, our next step involves brainstorming. We aim to find solutions or suitable alternatives for each point. For instance, we might collaborate with GPT-4 to fine-tune our prompts. And by our launch time, the open-source local models could very well be competent enough for the job.

Parallelly, we need to strategize about our user acquisition. The key question: how do we engage our initial user base? Currently, Setapp is on my radar as a potential distributor. If their marketing claims hold water, an app can receive up to 30,000 views within its first few days. This could significantly boost our launch, especially since Setapp's audience fits our target demographic: Mac users keen on maximizing their daily productivity. Notably, Setapp's marketplace boasts a plethora of productivity apps. Alter brings a fresh perspective by merging productivity with AI, offering a glimpse into the daily possibilities of AI when deeply integrated at the OS level.

However, a venture like Alter isn't without its risks, particularly concerning its long-term prospects. Even if Alter proves successful, there's a plausible chance that Apple is crafting something similar in their labs. Picture a revamped Siri, deeply woven into the OS fabric. Such an innovation could push Alter to the sidelines, especially if Apple nails the user experience – something they frequently excel at.

Final Thoughts

The grilling process assists in streamlining my decisions regarding which projects to greenlight. Additionally, it fosters team engagement, ensuring we select projects that captivate everyone's interest. While concrete evidence of its efficacy is yet to emerge, I'm optimistic it will soon!

Keen on Alter? I’d love to chat! Drop me a line: sam at heytwist.com.

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