For as long as I’ve been working on this project there is always that one question that sounds like fingernails on a chalk board: “When is it going to be finished?”
My pat answer is always, “Well, if you cook food you don’t want to give it to someone until it’s finished cooking, right? You don’t give people under-cooked food, I don’t want to launch this project under-cooked either!” But that is a bit of a dodge. While the best chef anywhere is completely unable to re-cook the food after it’s eaten, software is always subject to being tossed back into the pan. In fact, that is inevitable.
During the early days of development, as I would hack together a new experiment in a local coffee shop in Sunnyvale, California and then head out to a nearby food truck event to test out the latest machinations, the other denizens working on their projects would say things like “just put it out there and fix it later!” This is the Lean Startup mentality, I suppose, or definitely the MVP pathway… get up and running and then fail fast. This lacked appeal and I’ll tell you why.
As I was getting to know the various food truck owners all over the Bay Area in California, they would always tell me about the latest app developer who was pitching their warez at their windows during events. They were always the same… some sort of twitter knock-off, sometimes actually parsing twitter feeds, other times having the food truck folks re-enter their location information, etc etc etc. Sometimes the website would pop up and then disappear, other times the site would just languish (I can still see some of them running, but no longer updating). Whatever the case, there was always some evidence that a few owners had put in some testing time to try some of these out. Time that they usually don’t really have.
Each and every time I speak with a mobile food vendor, even as recently as 5 days ago, I learn something new. There is always something. Over time the design of what is now a Platform has morphed a bit here, blown up a bit there, and in general suffered from what we call Feature Creep. In my own defense, though, I will say that along the way I learned that one of the more important things will be to react to these new details that pop up along the way. A design that assumes too much just might languish next to those other websites, after all.
Then I met Makers. People with that drive to implement their ideas and who learn everything they need to know along the way to do so. Rarely is a Maker project finished without it pointing at the next chapter of learning to do, and that is true of so many things. With a concerted effort of late to reboot this platform project and show it the light of day, there has been much in the way of resetting my own expectations, which will hopefully align with those of my prospective customers.
Whatever happens, it has been an interesting learning experience over the years, to see the market change, the tools change, the technologies change… so where my favorite entrepreneurs often begin their journey with a plain white catering truck or maybe a plain white cart or trailer, and then they make it their own with all of the trials and tribulations and inspections and modifications and leaks and bumps to deal with, I’m doing something similar here. In the end, it’s all about throwing those doors open and saying Hello.