77) Pulse – co-locate with potential users


 wēi danger

The d.school’s Launchpad course requires students to start a company from scratch by the end of the 10-week academic quarter. Two of the students on the course, Akshay Kothari and Ankit Gupta were self-described “geeks”—technically brilliant, deeply analytical, and definitely shy but they believed they had a big idea – to create an elegant news reader for the then–newly released iPad. With absolutely no funding the pair were unable to afford a quiet space to work on their project, in fact their workspace became a local Palo Alto local coffee shop.  Surely the talented pair would struggle to get any meaningful work done and their course project was doomed to fail?


 jī opportunity

On the contrary, the pair realised that working in a café they’d be surrounded by potential users. Getting over the awkwardness of approaching strangers, Akshay gathered feedback by asking café patrons to experiment with his prototypes. Ankit coded hundreds of small variations to be tested each day—changing everything from interaction patterns to the size of a button. In a matter of weeks they rapidly iterated their way to a successful product. “We went from people saying, ‘This is crap,’” says Akshay, “to ‘Is this app preloaded on every iPad?’” The result—Pulse News—received public praise from Steve Jobs at a worldwide developer’s conference only a few months later, has been downloaded by 15 million people, and is one of the original 50 apps in Apple’s App Store Hall of Fame. Linkedin recently bought Pulse for $90m.


TL;DR / How About…

  • Co-locating with your potential users and forcing yourself to solicit feedback with every change?


This and many other fantastic stories are in David and Tom Kelley’s Creative Confidence book – you can pre-order it on Amazon here