Abra at Launch

by Bill Barhydt, CEO, Abra

We are so thrilled to have taken part in the 2015 Launch Festival. The reception to ABRA has been fantastic and we can’t imagine a better place to have announced our new company. We were excited to even take part but the idea of winning was not part of our thinking. We just wanted everyone to see how genuinely excited we are about our awesome product and hoped that some of that would rub off on all of you.

We had to scramble as a company to even get ready to participate in the Launch Festival — we were a last minute invitee. It was worth every minute of effort. The rehearsals were tough but we’d gladly do it all over again. When I heard that we had four minutes to present Abra on stage I thought it would be impossible. There is so much going on with Abra that boiling it down to that ‘essence’ would certainly make Abra incomprehensible. After going through hours upon hours of iteration to get Abra down to a four and a half minute demo (ok not exactly four minutes) it turned out that the opposite was true. The demo told a story that truly represented our vision for Abra… Making cash digital.

We learned a lot taking part in the Launch Festival process. But we can likely boil those learning down to three key points:

1. Always go for a demo over slides

As CEO I love talking about Abra. The reality is no one else really cares as much as I do. If you’re presenting slides people’s attention will waiver. However, when people get engaged in a really cool demo their attention doesn’t waiver one bit. While watching a demo they internalize their questions and you have a real dialog, not just a presentation. ALWAYS start with a demo, especially if it’s a consumer product.

2. Integrate a real story into your demo

Don’t just go through the motions, transplant the participant into the life of a real user. Give them space to visualize what’s really happening in the eyes of your target user, don’t just click.

If there’s a really cool feature that isn’t adding value to your story, take it out of the demo. People will figure it out later if they’re interested in your product. That part was painful for me but in hindsight I’m the only one who cared about presenting every tiny feature. Don’t do it.

3. Have a call to action ready to go

Abra needs lots and lots of Abra Tellers to make the system most valuable to everyone and create a global marketplace for digital cash. We knew the real value in announcing Abra in a big way was creating a call to action for Teller sign-ups. However, we weren’t ready when we were invited to participate in Launch Festival. We’d been keeping Abra quiet in our development lab for months. We knew that announcing Abra at Launch would be pointless if we couldn’t get sign-ups for Tellers going at the same time. The team scrambled hard, did what it needed to do and got ready for Launch with a fully working production demo, sign-up Apps for the iPhone App Store and Android Play Store, full web site, Twitter and Facebook feeds, external messaging and a lot more. It sounds easy. It isn’t. But being ready to take Abra Teller sign-ups on day one made it all worthwhile.