Beta Sign-ups…

It’s getting to be about that time, but since the entire development team of one is working like crazy to reach a nice beta release for The Platform, it seems reasonable to ask for some number of people to take a proactive step, to sign up for The Beta, and then to be invited to try it out first, with the understanding that they might find a bug or two here or there in the process.

The Y-Plexus Platform

FoodTruckYP is where this idea first landed in about 2011 or 2012. I’ve detailed the origin story here on Medium and before that on Tumblr, which is still at http://foodtruckyp.tumblr.com and will continue to live on as long as Tumblr does. The tale is long and might only be interesting to me, but it’s there for posterity either way.

Today, FoodTruckYP a satellite part of a larger project that I have been calling a “Platform” for Mobile Vendor business development and customer engagement, based on a lot of work and learning I accomplished over the years since this idea first sprouted. Now there is a central hub built on what I thought would be a shortened URL at http://FTYP.co and three other websites with different focal areas, which I summarize as Food, Non-Food, Mobile, and Moveable. All of that will become more clear if it isn’t already.

The “Y” comes from the connection of Hosts, Organizers, and Customers, and as the logo for each of the satellite properties illustrates, the vendor is in the middle of all of it. That’s the Plexus… the tangled network of the three parts that enable gatherings and people and vendors to come together with what I’ve taken to calling “Portable Variety.”

Obviously there had been an initial focus on food trucks, or more specifically, mobile food vending. Over time and with more exposure to different types of events in different places, it became apparent that some of the very same tools that make sense for mobile food vendors could be useful to non-food vendors, and it also makes sense to not lump mobile vendors such as clothing and services vendors in with food, because these are not food! Customers come looking for food, and they come looking for not-food, so why not be clear about this from the outset?

Anyone who has ever visited a Farmers’ Market or a First Friday or other festival or faire has seen countless tents or booths or stands selling foods, beverages, arts, crafts, clothing, and a variety of other products and services as well. These are neither Food, nor Trucks, and often these vendors are not given the attention they are entitled to. By attending the faires and festivals and markets, one can easily see there is a mix of vendor types and the products and services they bring to their customers.

While it has added some time to the development cycle of this platform to enable this diversity, I believe it is ultimately a great idea, to build a platform that is geared toward the mobile vendor as the focus, connecting with event organizers, event hosts, and the consumers who are themselves mobile customers. It is important to make that arrangement clear, and so it appears in the platform names and logos… my customer is at the center, connecting my customer to organizers, hosts, and to their customers.

What is a Beta?

As a Software Engineer, this is a word I’ve developed mixed feelings for, and surely by now we all know that technology is almost always in “Beta” of some kind. As a solo entrepreneur developing this platform over a fairly long time, I’m quite certain that there are small issues that I have not encountered or considered that will become obvious to my first platform users.

In the world of Software, “Beta” almost always means “Feature Complete.” It means that “Version 1.0 Beta” has all of the features that were intended for the first version implemented to some degree, and now it is time to see how they all work. If we were following the rules, this would be true, with additional features developed on a timeline toward a Version 1.1 release, or what we call a “point release.” This was really a way to implement all of the things we didn’t have time to make work for the 1.0 release, and when there are many software developers to point at the project, splitting it into main and point release efforts is not so difficult.

For this Platform, we might play it by ear a bit. There are some features that will not be available in the 1.0 Beta launch, but as they become available, whether it’s in a 1.1 release or similar, those who are brave and generous enough to sign up for the pre-Beta launch will most certainly get to play with those features first. That is the least I can do, and that’s the plan for all development moving forward. If you were brave enough the first time, you might be brave or curious enough again and again as more and more features roll out.

On that note, I hope you’ll consider checking out The Platform, as a pre-Beta adventurer, as a registered member (there are various reasons to sign up whether you’re a vendor or not), or as an anonymous person looking around for mobile vendors near and far. Now, back to work for me!