Yesterday Mike and I finally put the finishing touches on the splash page for LockerPulse, our next web venture that we plan on launching May 1 if all goes according to plan. As the site says, we’re promoting it as “an innovative new way to stay connected to your teams”
The story behind how LockerPulse has unfolded is an interesting one.
For years, I’ve had a rather unique way of tracking my favorite sports teams using Google Reader, RSS feeds, and some creative tagging. It isn’t so much about the tools involved, but the process of researching the proper amount of news for a serious fan without being overwhelmed: this mix of official team and league sites, big sports sites like ESPN, fan blogs, newspaper blogs, and more. About a year ago I had the thought “how come other people don’t do this?” and the answer was that most people have no clue what Google Reader is, what RSS is, or how to research and find the unique sources of information that will improve their experience as a fan. That night I bought a domain name (not LockerPulse) and decided that it would be one of my side projects. I planned to spend a few weekends on it and release it around when I released Z.ips.ME. I figured it would be a small side project that might gain some traction and generate a small amount of revenue, similar to Music-Alerts or maybe even SportsLizard.
But then I started really researching the project and all of the great sources of information out there. I gave Mike a custom RSS feed to test in the fall for his favorite teams. A few days later he came back and he couldn’t stop talking about how awesome it was. He said something along the lines of “this is amazing, how did you find all of these sources?” That’s when I knew I was on to something. So I kept digging and meticulously researched all 122 professional US sports teams (NBA, NHL, MLB, and NFL).
I built a demo application that I showed my partners in December. At our annual meeting we really finalized that this no longer was a “side project”, but a full fledged business venture, with the opportunity to make money selling a premium version of our software and serving ultra-targeted ads through our own in-house ad platform. I might normally be a little bit skeptical about such a model…except for that it’s the same model as we’ve had great success with on SportsLizard with a far worse product (not to say that SL is a poor product, just that this is that much better). I also got the “freemium” model to work pretty well on iPrioritize for a while. Not that it made a ton of money, but it did have a steady flow of customers paying $10/month. Considering that it wasn’t really that innovative, and that the free version gave away too much, and that the premium version wasn’t even that good…well, it gives me confidence that if we build a great product that the business model will work.
We’re really going to pour as much as we can into this project. Even with Tastefully Driven we had to back out and couldn’t really give it our full effort because we needed Detailed Image to carry us into consistent profitability, as I sort of touched upon when we decided to close it. This is the first project that we’ve been able to approach as a long term venture that we don’t *need* to profit from immediately.
Greg has been using the demo for the past few months. He came to me the other day and said “Adam, I’m officially addicted to LockerPulse. I can’t stop checking it. I don’t check any other sports site on the web”. And trust me, the version he’s using isn’t even 10% as good as what we’re planning on launching with. The version I’m working on currently is already leaps and bounds better than anything I’ve ever used on the web for this type of stuff, and there’s still a long way to go.
Essentially, we’re building out my vision of what the perfect tool for sports fans is. The fact that the early feedback has been so good has really elevated my expectations for the whole thing. Even if it doesn’t catch on, I’m going to be extremely satisfied because we’re building something that I’ll use and that will make my life better. I am my own target market. Mike has already been working on some killer designs (I personally love the splash page design) and the other guys are starting to get involved in the planning and marketing, so it’s becoming more of a team effort and less of something I’m just working on developing on the side. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to work on a project.
Oh, one more little thing: from a web business standpoint, it’s really important to get a splash page like this up as soon as possible. As soon as you have your domain purchased and server configured, just get something up and find a way to get it indexed. I talk about this in the SEO & Web Marketing Essay, but it’s important to know long before your launch that your site has been crawled and indexed by all of the major search engines. How easy is it? I had planned for this post to be what got it indexed, but just by adding a link to the Pure Adapt site yesterday and tweeting about it last night I noticed that it had already been indexed by this morning. Just one less thing to worry about…plus, for whatever it’s worth, you want to get that “domain age” clock ticking as soon as possible since the age of your site has some (probably minor) impact on where you rank.