From Sketchy Trends to Running Away with Fitbit

Every week I read thousands of blog posts. For your weekend enjoyment, here are some of those highlights. What are you reading this weekend?

02_sketch

On Design & Product Experience…

http://www.myinkblog.com/2011/04/05/design-trends-40-hand-drawn-websites-for-your-inspiration/comment-page-1/
Sketch in the latest online design trend.

03_fitbit

On Modular Innovation…

http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/05/fitbit-partners-with-runkeeper-microsoft-about-me-and-others-with-new-api/
Exercise the expansion of modular innovation in the real-world.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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From Criticizing to Google’s UI Enforcement

Every week I read thousands of blog posts. For your weekend enjoyment, here are some of those highlights.  What are you reading this weekend?

01_criticism

On Starting Up…

http://zenhabits.net/criticism/
Starting up requires the grace of accepting criticism.

02_android

On Design & Product Experience…

http://www.androidguys.com/2011/03/31/mips-releases-statement-googles-ui-crackdown/
Google’s lessons in UI enforcement.

03_usatoday

On Modular Innovation…

http://blog.programmableweb.com/2011/03/23/usa-today-api-now-serving-reviews-and-snapshots/
USA Today, now delivering more Modular Innovation.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

DokDok… It’s Advice!

dokdoklogo_thumb15Email will be with us for a good time longer. DokDok, along with founder Bruno Morency, is seeking to evolve this often cumbersome communication mechanism, solving the often onerous challenge of exchanging documents via file attachment, tracking them, versioning them, facilitating interaction with them, and extending this vision to facilitate other products.

In Part 3, of this 4 part series, I sat down with Bruno to pick his brain and see what advice he may have for other entrepreneurs and startup pioneers.

00_dokdok_homepage_thumb15[5]

Learn

TPG: What are some tips/advice you can offer entrepreneurs?
Bruno: There are vast amounts of very good blogs written by successful entrepreneurs that cover all aspects of starting up a company. A good starting point is to read them regularly, debate these ideas and post comments.

bruno-pic I would add one simple piece of advice: just do it. A lot of people wait for the perfect time or opportunity to come. It just won’t. Is success more about luck than anything else? That question misses the point. Luck and opportunity knocking are consequences of what you do. You have to become a magnet for these. Build your first prototype now. Show it and iterate on it until people care enough to pay for it and/or invest in it.

TPG: How can DokDok help startups or others in the community?
Bruno: The startup community in Montreal has been coming together really nicely over the past 2 or 3 years with many great social and tech events and we’re actively involved. We share offices with other startups and we’re aiming to host regular events and workshops opened to everyone interested. We had a first one about automated QA a short while back; we’re hoping to host more of these in the coming year.

See DokDok

DokDok began as an email enhancer, working with your Gmail, Google Apps, Highrise to overlay concepts of a robust document management and version control system to email attached documents. As many resilient products do, it has now evolved to tap more deeply into the trends of Modular Innovation that are propelling many of the most successful and emerging companies out there. However, my conversation with Bruno covered many other topics. We can all look forward to the next part in our conversation with Bruno and DokDok, understanding how DokDok is surfing the Modular Innovation wave.

Part 1: DokDok: Who’s there?
Part 2: More than Just Email Being Brought to the Future
Part 3: DokDok… It’s Advice!
Part 4: More Companies are Becoming Modular Innovation Enablers

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring DokDok, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

From Being Google-y to Consoling the (API) Masses

Every week I read thousands of blog posts. For your weekend enjoyment, here are some of those highlights.  What are you reading this weekend?

02_scvngr

On Design & Product Experience…

http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/12/scvngr-ceo-seth-priebatsch-the-game-layer-is-coming-sxsw/
Designing the next Level-up … in your real-life.

03_apigee

On Modular Innovation…

http://mashable.com/2011/03/11/apigee-to-go
On consoling the masses of Modular Innovation.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

From the Shape of Grids to the Latest MI Milestones

Every week I read thousands of blog posts. For your weekend enjoyment, here are some of those highlights.  What are you reading this weekend?

01-Zwilling

On Starting Up…

http://www.businessinsider.com/eight-key-problems-every-startup-should-anticipate-2011-3
Anticipating the most common startup problems is a good start.

02-grid

On Design & Product Experience…

http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2011/03/web-culture-grid-based-layout-designs/
Explore the grids at the core of today’s evolving web culture.

03-milestones

On Modular Innovation…

http://www.readwriteweb.com/cloud/2011/03/programmable-web-apis-popping.php
Modular Innovation’s latest milestones.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

More than Just Email Being Brought to the Future

dokdoklogo_thumb1Email will be with us for a good time longer. DokDok, along with founder Bruno Morency, is seeking to evolve this often cumbersome communication mechanism, solving the often onerous challenge of exchanging documents via file attachment, tracking them, versioning them, facilitating interaction with them, and extending this vision to facilitate other products.

In Part 2, of this 4 part series, I sat down with Bruno to understand more about the future of DokDok, as well as from finances to fundraising.

00_dokdok_homepage_thumb1

The Future & Finances

TPG: What’s your goal with the company?
Bruno: In a few years I’d like people to think back and ask themselves how they could ever use email without DokDok. If we get to that point, I’ll be one happy guy!

We have big objectives in mind for DokDok. Whether the best way to execute that roadmap is through venture capital or as part of a bigger company remains to be seen.

TPG: What are your near term and long term goals for DokDok?  Where would you like to see DokDok in 3 years?
Bruno: Our near term goals is to work with our active users to really refine the product and get feedback on the features we’re about to add. Longer term, we’re aiming to expand the service outside of Google Apps. In 3 years, I hope to see DokDok support most email systems with our API implemented by a majority of email clients.

As a matter of fact…
Our effort will be focused on the Email API (behind the initial DokDok presentation).

TPG: What are your growth plans?
Bruno: There are more than 2 million companies that adopted Google Apps for a total of over 50 million users. It’s a great customer base that includes many early adopters of innovative technology.

We’re currently in beta so the product is completely free to use. We will offer a paid account with premium features for a monthly or yearly cost in the coming months. We don’t plan to monetize through ads, referrals or anything else than our users paying us because they love our product.

TPG: How successful is your business?  Profitable yet?
Bruno: We launched on the Google Apps Marketplace on June 15, 2010. Feedback so far has been really good and we’re happy to see more users register daily. Putting a price tag on our premium account will be a good first step to profitability ;)

TPG: Did you ever consider taking on any investors?
Bruno: We funded initial development through my personal savings, revenues from consulting contracts and R&D grants.

Also noteworthy, (DokDok) closed a seed round of funding with Real Ventures a few weeks ago (http://nextmontreal.com/real-ventures-announces-first-two-investments-fabric-technologies-and-dokdok/).

Following DokDok

DokDok began as an email enhancer, working with your Gmail, Google Apps, Highrise to overlay concepts of a robust document management and version control system to email attached documents. As many resilient products do, it has now evolved to tap more deeply into the trends of Modular Innovation that are propelling many of the most successful and emerging companies out there. In this part of the series, we learned a good deal about DokDok, its finances and future plans. However, my conversation with Bruno covered many other topics. We can all look forward to the next part in our conversation with Bruno and DokDok, gleaning valuable advice from this exciting company and its founder.

Part 1: DokDok: Who’s there?
Part 2: More than Just Email Being Brought to the Future
Part 3: DokDok… It’s Advice!
Part 4: More Companies are Becoming Modular Innovation Enablers

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring DokDok, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

DokDok: Who’s there?

dokdok-logo Email will be with us for a good time longer. DokDok, along with founder Bruno Morency, is seeking to evolve this often cumbersome communication mechanism, solving the often onerous challenge of exchanging documents via file attachment, tracking them, versioning them, facilitating interaction with them, and extending this vision to facilitate other products.

In Part 1, of this four part series, I sat down with Bruno to understand more about the product and its origins.

00_dokdok_homepage

Background

TPG: How would you describe DokDok to the average person?
Bruno: Have you ever spent a few hours editing a document only to realize that you didn’t start from the latest version? That01_dokdok_ui shouldn’t happen and this is what we solve. When a document gets emailed to colleagues or clients, typically, a long sequence of emails follow.  DokDok makes it easy to keep track of who said what and list versions of the document attached from different emails.

 

TPG: Tell us about yourself and how you decided to start DokDok.
Bruno: My first company, started right after graduating from McGill Engineering in 2001, developed a web-based knowledge management application and was bought in 2003. Before founding DokDok in 2009, I was involved in other hi-tech startups as head of marketing and product development.

02_dokdok_ui

Since being introduced to Pine on an old UNIX terminal, I always had a love-hate relationship with email. I kept on trying to find a better way to share documents rather than sending attachments but always ended up coming back to email. With DokDok, my goal is to make attachments a sensible way to share document. That effort made me love email even more as a user but, coincidentally, hate it more as a developer.

TPG: What is your business model?
Bruno: DokDok is a SaaS product. It’s offered as an hosted service and once we’re out of beta, we’ll have membership options with added premium features.

03_dokdok_ui

TPG: Who is your competition?
Bruno: Currently users manage attachments and documents in email in an ad-hoc way. As it is, the process of handling document revisions in email is time consuming and prone to error. The competition mainly includes solutions addressing this problem by trying to eliminate email: folder synching (Dropbox, SugarSync, …), collaboration rooms (Box.net, Huddle, SharePoint, …) and traditional enterprise document management systems.

Fact is, unless you can force everyone to create an account on these services and check it regularly for updates, you can’t escape from email. Products like Xobni and Gist brought relationship management to the inbox because that’s where it happens. We’re doing the same for documents.

04_dokdok_ui

TPG: What is your work environment like?
Bruno: Amazing! We’re still a small team and we’re sharing an office with a few other tech startups in downtown Montreal. Being surrounded by people close enough to your team (you see them many times per week) yet not directly involved (they’re working on their own startup) has given feedback, ideas, opportunities and connections that just wouldn’t have happened if we all worked from home or in a tiny office just for our small team.

It’s DokDok

DokDok is an email enhancer that currently works with your Gmail, Google Apps, Highrise to overlay concepts of a robust document management and version control system to email attached documents. In this part of the series, we learned a good deal about DokDok, its origins, and environment. However, my conversation with Bruno covered many other topics. We can all look forward to the next part in our conversation with Bruno and DokDok exploring the company’s finances and future.

Part 1: DokDok: Who’s there?
Part 2: More than Just Email Being Brought to the Future
Part 3: DokDok… It’s Advice!
Part 4: More Companies are Becoming Modular Innovation Enablers

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring DokDok, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

From Freemium to Casting Plans in Modular Innovation

Every week I read thousands of blog posts. For your weekend enjoyment, here are some of those highlights.  What are you reading this weekend?

01_teachstreet

On Starting Up…

http://techcrunch.com/2010/06/13/free-to-paid-tips/
Transitioning from a free to paid service.

 
 

On Design & Product Experience…

http://www.grokdotcom.com/2010/06/14/scroll-with-me-baby-the-80-20-rule-strikes-again/
Scrolling by the numbers.

02_above-the-fold
03_plancast

On Modular Innovation…

http://techcrunch.com/2010/06/16/plancast-api/
Casting new plans in a cloud of Modular Innovation.

 

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

Standard Customization. Evaluating Flexibility through Quick-MI.

clip_image001Having choices, broad capabilities and feature sets, is definitely a good thing. All of the previously discussed categories of Quick-MI (4 of the 5 categories)…

…represent the critical components that illuminate the key variables instrumental in the sustained success of many current and emerging products, increasingly becoming part of the Modular Innovation trend.

Having the Flexibility, and being pliable and easy to grasp, further enhances the relationships inherent in successful and emerging products. Flexibility, in the abstract, prevents important relationships from breaking. Without Flexibility, a relationship becomes rigid. Rigid, brittle relationships don’t respond well to strain…

control,
self-determination,
change,
etc.

…often failing under the pressures of the people and products involved.

As previously described

Modular Innovation (MI) is all about relationships, be they between people or products online. In looking at how these relationships are established, maintained, enhanced, and expanded, one can achieve greater insight into the underlying forces shaping Modular Innovation, quantifying the degree by which a product is participating within, as well as evolving towards greater degrees of, Modular Innovation.

Equally important among the 5 categories that make up Quick-MI, is Flexibility. Flexibility is the measure of both the ease and degree of adaptability and customization permitted by a product.

In abiding with the overarching goals of both Quick-UX and Quick-MI (quick assessment for summary, directional guidance, and quantitative comparison), the variables constituting the minimal representative subset for Flexibility are…

  • Customizability
  • Standardization

Each variable and category (e.g. Flexibility) is assigned a value that can be compared and combined. When all the categories’ values are combined, they form the Modular Innovation Index of a product.

Customizability

Customizability is the measure of degree of plasticity of the other 4 categories of Quick-MI. The overall Customizability of the core components of Quick-MI as represented via a product’s present capabilities is sufficiently important to be represented by independent quantification.

Of each feature set representative of each individual Quick-MI category, Customizability is the evaluation of the proportion of the present capabilities that can be customized and adjusted to desired preferences. An example of Customizability of a data feed can be found in the permitting of the recipient, via an API, to customize the format of the data feed, e.g. choosing between JSON or XML.

The Customizability variable’s value is the sum of evaluated Customizability for each individual Quick-MI category; thereby, resulting in a maximum value of 4 (a maximum value of 1 per category: Sharability, Interoperability, Portability, and Convenience). Each Customizability value is determined to be…

  • 0 if the Quick-MI category does not allow any Customizability,
  • 0.5 if the capabilities associated with the Quick-MI category are allowed some Customizability and indication of preference, or
  • 1 if the all capabilities associated with the Quick-MI category can be Customized and have preferences indicated.

01_wordpress-exportWordPress proves a good source for demonstrating the variable value for the Customizability of the Quick-MI category of Portability’s variable User Generated Content Exportability, with this product allowing for some customization of the exported content, by way of controlling which authors are included within the resultant output.

Standardization

The benefits and value associated with Quick-MI’s Flexibility category are weakened through the lack of adherence to common practices and standards. The more non-proprietary, standard methods and formats are employed, the more they will be used in the relationships between product-product and people-product. And, in turn, the more resilient will be these relationships.

Some good questions to ask when evaluating the extent of Standardization within a product are…

  • Is there a non-standard API?
  • Is the resultant file in a proprietary file format?
  • Are standard methodologies employed throughout?

The Standardization variable is assigned the value of…

  • 0 if no standard methods or non-proprietary formats are employed within the product,
  • 0.5 if some places within the product make use of commonly accepted practices and formats, or
  • 1 if all of the product’s touch points follow common standards, methodologies and formats.

02_ostatus Identi.ca is a micro-blogging service much like Twitter. But, unlike Twitter it is built based on free and open software standards, implementing the OStatus suite of standardized protocols; resulting in a Standardization variable value of 1.

Fast and Flexible

Quick-MI is all about understanding and measuring the relationships formed and supported between online products, especially those pioneering the next generation of web products via Modular Innovation.

With too much rigidity, an inflexible relationship can strain and even break. Flexibility of the components of Quick-MI and simplification of benefiting from that Flexibility, through adherence to commonly accepted standards, is crucial to forming strong, sustainable products and product relationships.

Altogether, the 5 categories of Quick-MI …

Sharability,
Interoperability,
Portability,
Convenience, and
Flexibility,

… constitute a sound, representative, quantitative understanding of a product’s ability to foster and maintain relationships both within and without — yielding an oft missed, yet critical, perspective into the success and sustainability of an online product.

Enjoy, Discuss & Tweet!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

PS Try it out, tweak it, learn more about Modular Innovation and share you experiences.

From Team Motivation to Design Hell

Every week I read thousands of blog posts. For your weekend enjoyment, here are some of those highlights.  What are you reading this weekend?

01_motivation

On Starting Up…

http://www.entrepreneur.com/humanresources/employeemanagementcolumnistdavidjavitch/article206502.html
Motivating your team can be tricky in the best of times.

 
 

On Design & Product Experience…

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/design_hell
Finding humor in a design process gone wrong.

02_design-hell
03_blippy

On Modular Innovation…

http://news.cnet.com/8301-27076_3-20004735-248.html
Blippy broadens its Modular Innovation footprint.

 

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy