Why We’re Sprinting

If you’re running a tech startup, you’re running a marathon. Except you don’t know where the track is, and you certainly don’t know where to finish line is. So if you pick a direction and run straight for 26 miles at a reasonable pace, you have a extremely high chance of ending up in the middle of nowhere.

This is why tech startups run marathons as a series of short sprints. Pick a direction, run really fast for 100 meters, then stop. That stop part is really important. Stop! OK, now take a bit of time to look around. Are there any people around? Are you about to run through a busy intersection? Have you found yourself knee deep in an ocean? Might be important clues for adjusting your course.

And this is precisely what Deciding Vote is up to right now. We’re deep in product development, but we develop in one week sprints. They look like this: select tasks from the backlog of possible things to develop; develop those things and only those things; stop developing and talk about how we can improve the process; get user feedback; rinse and repeat. (We really to rinse…err “groom” the backlog each cycle to add/edit/remove tasks based on what we learned.)

The really, really valuable part is getting user feedback. And although this is a part that’s actually the most tempting to skip, skipping is likely to deliver you to the middle of nowhere. We’re not skipping this step. Our user feedback is based on the important contributions of beta testers. Beta testers not only get a first look at the app, but also have a big influence on how the app is shaped. If we think of a feature to add, but no beta tester says they’d want it, we probably won’t develop it. And likewise, beta testers tell us about features they’d want in the app that we hadn’t even considered.

We do have a few more slots open for beta testers. So if you want to help mold the future of this app to what you’d want it to be, reply to this email and let me know!

Finally, it’s primary election day in Pennsylvania (and Idaho, Nebraska, and Oregon)! So if that’s you, go vote! And if you need help figuring out who to vote for, well, there really should be an app for that…