Late last year, we launched a new experiment: an SMS-based, highly curated beta list called Lowercase Alpha. You sign up with your phone number and every so often we text you when a new app is available. If the app sounds interesting, we send you the invite info and provide you the opportunity to give feedback to the makers directly.
The goals were:
- Let non-VCs and tech people see fun products before they officially launch
- Give founders a new way to gather insights from a broad range of engaged users while still in beta
- Provide Lowercase founders and friends a new way to overcome the “cold start” problem
We were blown away by the early response. With the support of ReplyYes and the community on Product Hunt thousands of people have joined up to play with beta products and offer constructive feedback to founders.
As we’ve continued to think about Alpha, we’ve been listening to your feedback and brainstorming ways to better connect the community. Here’s what’s on tap:
- Blab Jams: Not only did thousands of people download these products, but the feedback they offered was hugely valuable for both companies. The insights were so good in fact that, following the first Alpha release, Hyper, I hosted a Blab with founder Markus Gilles to discuss Hyper with the community. It was an awesome chat, and 5by founder Greg Isenberg even joined to give Markus some fantastic advice, given that he tried to solve a similar problem around video discovery with 5by. We’re going to be doing more Blabs after each app is sent out, and we’d love to have you all involved.
- Slack: In between launches, we want another way to engage with the community members and get feedback. To help with both, we’ll be launching a Slack team for the Alpha community to live in: a place to discuss new Alpha products, keep you updated on Blabs, and be a home for all other experiments we tie into Alpha. This will be completely optional — you’ll still continue to receive app invites via SMS. It’s simply another experiment that we hope will appeal to the Alpha community and people who are passionate and curious about new technologies and products. If you’re interested in joining the Slack channel, just click here and we’ll get you set up: http://bit.ly/lcalphaSlack
- Beyond Lowercase: While we are excited to offer Alpha to Lowercase portfolio companies, this was never meant to limited to Lowercase exclusively. Expect to see a broad range of products from non-portfolio founders with products we think you’ll enjoy. In fact, today we will be helping Polymail (2015 Mac App of the Year on Product Hunt) with the release of their new iOS alpha. It’s damn pretty and we think you’ll agree. Expect more products like this in the near future as well as a faster pace of app releases as we get our sea legs under us.
Thanks to everyone for their help so far, especially Jackson Dahl, newest member of the Lowercase posse and the man making sure the trains run on time around here. Looking forward to seeing what people think about the next round of products and as always, your thoughts and feedback on Alpha and Sacca’s questionable fashion choices are much appreciated.
For those of you who are international, we’ve heard you and are working to get Alpha to you as well. We’re not quite there yet, but will let you know when you can join as well. In the meantime, please sign up for updates here.