kicked out of the office for 2 weeks.
Same team, new vision
Our team was previously working on the come back of Bebo, which we had turned into a chat app with animated characters that could be brought to life with hashtags. The product wasn’t organically growing the way we had imagined, and we needed take a moment to think creatively. That’s the moment Shaan Puri (CEO) and Furqan Rydhan (CTO) kicked us out of the office for two weeks and build something we’re passionate about.
We weren’t start-uping hard enough
Two weeks ago, our start-up kicked 7 of us out of the office so we could act like a start-up. Our office is super nice, if I told you about it, you’d hate us. Just assume the worst and let’s move on. We were told to work anywhere but the office, work together, and make something awesome.
Just to make sure we weren’t missing an opportunity to do whatever we want, we hit the bars with post-it notes in hand.
ON AIR = RIA NO = RIANO.
Public casual conversations. This was our idea. We were going to stick with it hard, and hopefully find a better way to explain it by the end of the two weeks.
To test our idea we came up with an MVP that required no engineering power. We put on our creepers and lurked around different locations in the city. Listening in on conversations, taking notes of the exchange, what was interesting, when we would feel like giving them props, jumping in on conversation, or just trying to spice things up.
An obvious tinder first date:
“do you like cars?”
“my brother has a mustang”
“i want to get my motorcycle license because it’s super dangerous… more about me, blah, blah, blah”
The date was awkward, forced, and conversationally dry. It brought up a possible unique use case for our app. Public awkward first dates without even meeting up. So that could be the worst to host, but as a viewer, that would be pretty entertaining. I had a good time lurking these people.
Our MVP felt validated. What we were listening to was funny. People already have private conversations in public, so why not broadcast them?
Working from Neo’s office
As week two was approaching, and we had a super raw prototype built, we ran into a few guys from the Neo office who were having a few beers at the Bebo office. It was brought up that we were winging it with workspaces, and they offered to let us work in their office the next week! Which is awesome, because it’s right next to Equinox and we can not only come back with a new product, we can come back with some buff bods.
Obviously needed some swag
It was a joke that we would leave for 2 weeks and come back with swag. Sure enough during Wednesday’s lunch, Neo was screen sprinting shirts for fun. I ran out to go buy a bunch of shirts (sadly they were all the biggest shirts in the world), and then I came back to give screen printing a try.
The stencil looked better before I printed 7 shirts in record time.
Keeping the team vibe high during a hacky sprint is important, so shirts were a necessity.
Towards the end of our sprint we had a functioning product! We tested it with ourselves for a while, and would just wheel ourselves away to different corners of the office and would just make fun of Viktor for a few minutes, “yacht” down some bugs, and get back to work.
Testing with ourselves in Neo’s office was okay, but we decided to finally share what we had been working on with a few of their team members.
The reaction was extremely positive and people kept having to confirm that we had nothing 2 weeks ago. “So you just made this… no like, there wasn’t any code written for it… wow.” Our sprint really came together once we had a work space to meet at consistantly.
Our team vibe started off pretty low and confused, and we quickly climbed to an idea that made us all very excited. The excitement and energy might have been a little low the day we were all working from different locations collecting research and working on building for the first day. Once our second week started at Neo, we hit an excitement level that just maintained itself. Working in a tight proximity of each other was key to keeping things positive.
So what did we make?
We are open air space.
No, seriously. Go live, or jump in to other people’s live streams.
If radio stations were still cool, all aired on television, and allowed viewers to participate on the same level as the host, it would be Riano.
We’ve brought the classic movie screen 4-way call to your mobile devices. Sure, everyone there can see the other person, so there wont be any eavesdropping. We’ve taken it a step further. That conversation you’re having with your friends is now public to anyone! If there’s only 2–3 of you, that allows space for any one of your viewers to jump into the call and participate actively.
Things we would do differently:
- We should have found a place to meet first thing so we could get in a steady work flow. Changing locations everyday was very difficult. Having a set time to meet was also helpful.
- Download more potential competitor apps and analyze the UX a bit more prior to building.
Things that worked well:
- We got a lot of the bad ideas out of the way on day 0.
- We had a work space the second week.
- We had a wide range of skills.