How the middle of nowhere helped launch our product

6 weeks after launching Hassl we’re finally able to take some time out to share tales of our sprint to beta launch. Here’s an overview of our pre-beta sprint in the middle of nowhere, we hope it inspires other start-ups to head to the wilderness.

10weeks to beta launch, we’ve got no content, no marketing and half a mobile design. This calls for many a phone call, sweet talking 10 of the smartest people we know, and kidnapping them for a weekend in the middle of nowhere Australia. Not quite a retreat, more like a preheat.

As all app creators do in times of pressure and need we turn to another app — the mighty Airbnb. It’s time for a change of scenery.
Our neighbours, uninterested in collaboration.

For those non-Aussie readers, if you drive half an hour out of a major city you get kangaroos. If you drive 1 hour out of a major city you get wombats. If you go 2 hours out of Melbourne apparently you get camels.

Night one, light the fire and set-up four workstations — marketing, mobile UX, bug testing/training and development. Out developers are going to code all night but the rest of us spend the night swapping roles, grilling each other’s ideas and finalising our creative.

Here’s an overview of each workstation:

Mobile UX

They’ve got a bunch of whiteboards from the pool room to wireframe the unfinished sections, a list of feedback from our alphas and two phones (iPhone and Android) set up for whoever takes a break from the marketing room to try out the live prototype on InVision.

Marketing

They’ve got two main goals for the weekend: first is to coerce the designers to get the creative done for the launch collateral (we’ve managed to convince TEDx Melbourne to let us launch at their conference so it’s got to be on point). Second, to bug the founders for our USPs to a get a press release shiny. The marketers drink the most wine, after the bug testers.

Bug testers

Create a simulated large team environment on as many devices as we’ve managed to find. Make 20 new accounts involving so many phony Gmail accounts. They also make process maps and scripts for our imminent training videos with the brief to condense all the features of Hassl into 12 video scripts under 40 seconds each. These videos have a rigorous and brutal testing process planned — give them to our mums. If they can’t figure out, then they’re not straightforward enough. They end up with a Donald Trump, a Putin and Jared Kushner account. We wonder if they’ve lost the plot, but let it slide because that’s over 50 hours of bug testing on the weekend.

Development

They get the spot next to the fire, the good whiskey and I bring them homemade snacks every 2–3 hours. Our alpha users have a list of nice-to-haves as long as the camels outside so they need concentration. Our head developer powers on with fixing bugs, our next in line builds in the light UI theme.

Video production

There is a secret late-night lonely workstation, it’s our CD James and he’s tasked with the impossible — turn our crazy dinner ideas into a marketing video. He leads the creative during the day and spends all night on After Effects. I find him here at some point early Saturday morning.

Saturday night dinner and debate.

The climax of the trip comes on Saturday night when we all sit down for Mexican, wine and a 4-hour debate about what integrating business insights into Hassl would look like. We’ve got users, analysts, project managers and engineers at the table. The mix of perspectives is invigorating and necessary, but the exhaustion and copious amounts of red wine mean we’re calling it a night. We’ll need to leave the business insights planning for our next wilderness adventure.

Sunday brings a review of our mobile prototype outside in the sun followed by a very cringe-worthy photo shoot, a dog walk and a final debrief with the whiteboard — we achieved it all. Time to head back to Melbourne to clean the office and great ready to build mobile.

Some of the team refused to partake in the cringe-fest, the dog was forced to.

A big thank you and shout out to the preheat heroes who gave up 72 hours of their time to help get Hassl over the line. You know who you are. One day we’ll repay the favour.

Join us in beta stage at hassl.co

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by + 377,008 people.

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