wipFollowing on from last week’s post this week has really been about finishing off the remnants of the technical work for our MVP.

Technically quite a lot has been achieved over the last week and we’re really in the hands now of the contractor who is finishing off the look of the user interface.

The meeting with the test consultancy went pretty well and we have a follow up session booked for April.

All of this means that my work will now largely divide into two camps (1) Business development activities and (2) Managing the UI contractor(s) to make sure they are pushing ahead each day.

This week:

Business Development

  • Test consultancy meeting
  • Date booked with accountant to get 2014/15 R&D rebate by submitting corporation tax.

Customer Development

  • (Minimal) marketing.

Product Development

  • Lots of dev work.
  • Some assistance with PSD to HTML/CSS conversion
  • Contractor management.

Next week

  • Package up QM materials and send out to previous interviewee’s.
  • Reboot the daily marketing efforts.
  • Contractor management.

light tunnelLooks like this has turned from a weekly blog to a monthly one. Probably for good reason in that possibly the last 10-12 weeks have been very much about building out the product into an “proper” MVP.

For my own part, thankfully, this is coming to an end. The vast bulk of the technical changes for the new user interface for the main product have been done now.

There is one last “techie” thing to do, which I cannot do myself, which is to apply the new UI designs I had created to the application itself. For this I have another Elance contractor working at the moment. This apparently will take 3-4 weeks.

There are some small technical pieces that I could pick up to save contractors time and/or speed things up. But at least I am in a position to pick and choose what I do again. In particular, after a good start at the marketing side in January, it has completely fallen by the wayside again.

In other news I have been put in contact with a Test Consultancy who have expressed an interest in finding out more about CodeFuse and whether there is anything we could do together.

So there are really two critical things going on at the moment:

  1. Will my new contractor deliver the new UI screens (a) on time and (b) to good quality.
  2. Can some partnerships with one or more consultancies be made over the next couple of months?

In some great news, HMRC did cough up the R&D rebate which I was owed with comparatively little fuss. This was for the year 2013/4. Because the tax year has just passed over I can now also put my return in for 2014/5 which may yield some more working capital.

Unfortunately given the weight of technical work, I have not been able to seek feedback on our secondary product QualityMap, although this should now be possible now that has passed.

Oh, and the sales website has been given another slight re-vamp – check it out here.

Business Development

  • Test consultancy meeting set up.
  • HMRC Corp tax R&D repayment received.

Customer Development

  • Sales website improvements.
  • (Minimal) marketing.

Product Development

  • UI designs completed in Axure/PSD
  • Lots of dev work.
  • Contractor management.

Next week

  • Test consultancy meeting
  • Package up QM materials and send out to previous interviewee’s.
  • Organise 2014/15 R&D rebate by submitting corporation tax.
  • Reboot the daily marketing efforts.
  • Some product development coding.
  • Contractor management.

My weekmvply update has suffered somewhat over the last few weeks due to it being a month of pure technical grunt effort really.

I found this graphic (to the left) which really epitomises the mistake that has been made with our core product unfortunately. A few months ago we had something which was a really good technical prototype but it was neither usable nor inspiring.

The grunt work of the last month (and more) in fixing this has been frustrating as it could have been avoided if thought about from the start. I guess the takeaway in hindsight is that an MVP is the minimum that someone would want to use.

Anyway, the month has been beset by techie-resource setbacks which I have had to personally plug with my own time. We lost Ratz at the start of the year, Faz has been struggling for time to deliver and even our primary contractor Gabor fell ill. So really it’s been up to me which means the marketing side has been virtually non-existent. I have started to engage early with the Indian outsource company who were going to implement the new screen design/CSS work. So they are going to bolster development effort.

The new screen designs are coming along well and the product, when complete, should look awesome.

But still finishing the basic product is likely to be 4-6 weeks off and time is running out now…

Business Development

  • Dealing with HMRC regarding the Corp tax R&D repayment.

Customer Development

  • (Minimal) daily marketing.

Product Development

  • Lots of dev work.
  • Contractor management.
  • Design of new screens is perhaps 75% complete.

Next week

  • Package up QM materials and send out to previous interviewee’s.
  • More product development coding.
  • Contractor management.

Page-Technical-IssuesThis week has almost entirely been about technical challenges. There has been an important feature on our radar which was strongly suggested by one of our potential customers. Everything seemed to be going fine and the feature almost complete within 2.5 days. However, there were massive complications deploying it to Microsoft Azure (mainly to do with security but also pre-built .NET modules not performing as they should do). A further 3 days of experimentation and debugging resolved the issue. Coupled with another day of improvements and testing, it pretty much consumed my whole week. It kind of reminds me of working in dev teams and developers say “it’s 99% done”. What they mean the coding is 99% done but the testing and deployment haven’t even started yet!

Other than this, I’ve had to make time to deal with various contractors.

In good news the “QualityMap” product should have reached the end of its UI redesign in a day or two. This means that I can start to package up some materials, including a demo video, for the website but also to the 5-10 people that I interviewed a few months ago to get another round of feedback on it.

I’ve also had to be specifying jobs for (a) the graphic design of the UI for the Console application and (b) getting some additional bandwidth from Gabor, our usual tech contractor, to help us do the UI upgrades. Even after this though there will still be another job for the contractors who are working on QualityMap at the moment to do the CSS/HTML work to produce the final Console UI.

Let’s hope HMRC cough up my R&D relief petty sharpish!

Business Development

  • None

Customer Development

  • (Minimal) daily marketing.

Product Development

  • Lots of dev work.
  • Testing of latest check-ins for the QualityMap UI.
  • Contractor management.

Next week

  • Package up QM materials and send out to previous interviewee’s.
  • More on the marketing schedule (mainly social media and web site updates).
  • More product development coding.
  • Contractor management.

I’ve been doing a lot of product work myself over the last few weeks. This has been coupled with testing deliveries from others but also getting stuck in with contractors. Currently I am having to manage a group who I have doing CSS work for the QualityMap product, try to engage a design team for the Console product AND set up a new Elance project for our old colleague Gabor who is hopefully going to give us some extra bandwidth now that Ratz is off the project. On top of that I’ve had to sort out the known bug list which was becoming a bit messy as it was all in emails. Now it is in a highly advanced Excel spreadsheet🙂

I also had to spend some time preparing some info for a test consultancy that hopefully CodeFuse will get an introduction to. The idea here is to partner with the consultancy with us bringing the product and them bringing their sales and support network.

Also, the Corporation Tax submission has gone in which is good. I’ve found HMRC to be pretty useful with regard to the whole R&D tax rebate scenario. But I am only going to be completely happy once the rebate is nice and safe in our company bank account!

On a final note, another competitor has been spotted in the market. A year ago there were only competitors who were almost substitutes rather than direct replacements. Now however I know of at least 4 competitors doing very similar things to CodeFuse Console. This could be a good validation of the market, or a bad indicator that things are going to get even tougher.

Business Development

  • HMRC Corporation tax submission.
  • Writing up overview for large test consultancy.

Customer Development

  • Daily marketing.

Product Development

  • Lots of dev work.
  • Testing of latest check-ins.
  • Contractor management.

Next week

  • More on the marketing schedule
  • More product development coding.

Not a particularly dramatic week this one, but things are creeping in the right direction.

The marketing efforts seem to be paying some dividends although nothing dramatic. We had out first beta sign up for the products via the website to go with the firm I met face-2-face who are also willing to look at our stuff. Blog views have doubled since we started. The email open and click rates seem to be out-performing industry averages. Website visitors have nearly doubled. Twitter followers are up by 50%. LinkedIn followers up by the same. We are still dealing with pretty small numbers, but at least things are going in the right direction!

I’ve finally managed to find a freelance outfit to do our CSS styling work on the QualityMap product. This will be another £500 cost but is necessary in my judgement.

Work on the Console product has been steady, but not as fast as we would have liked. Unfortunately we have parted company with one of our developers and this has left a big hole in our bandwidth. This could push the beta testing phase for Console back by up to a month.

In better news, after my short rant against Government policy two weeks ago, HMRC may be about to throw me a lifeline. This is in the form of an R&D tax rebate. It transpires that there are significant rebates for R&D which can be paid in cash to a company that is not making a profit. This may keep things rocking along for another few months if I do get the cash!

I have also applied to do a couple of speaking events later in the year, but these will be June and September if they happen at all. These may help me raise the profile of CodeFuse.

Business Development

  • Meeting with mentor

Customer Development

  • Daily marketing.
  • New survey created

Product Development

  • Lots of dev work.
  • Testing of latest check-ins.

Next week

  • More on the marketing schedule
  • More product development coding.

Something of a quick update this week as it has been pretty much all about executing the marketing plan and head-down coding. But some other little bits going on:

If you read my first blog entries, you will know that we used to be called “Cirro”, and then “Kiwiro” and finally “CodeFuse”. This total waste of time was caused by “Cirro, Inc” issuing us with a cease and desist letter. Which was fair enough looking back on it as they had trademarked “Cirro” and we were called “Cirro”. And even a drunk, bribed and/or insane judge would not have found in our favour. I could rant on here a bit about how difficult (and expensive) it is to even FIND a good name never mind actually trademark it, but I’ll leave that for another day. Anyway, the good news is that “CodeFuse Technology Limited” is now the owner of a Euro-wide trademark (CTM) for “CodeFuse”. So I can legally have at the footer “CodeFuse is a REGISTERED trademark of CodeFuse Technology Limited”. Doing so before would have been illegal and the long arm of the law would come my way… assuming the law reads codefuse.io.

The new marketing plan is in operation and traffic to our various sites has increased by a decent amount (although still too low by far).

I’m still having trouble finding a CSS expert on elance which could potentially hit our ability to beta at the end of January. It appears to be quite difficult to find someone who knows enough about back-end server programming AND has a flair for design.

We also wrote a new whitepaper here.

In other news the guys at Startcelerate are now seeing if they can find compatible companies for us to start work with. Watch this space.

Business Development

  • Trademark application complete for the “CodeFuse” mark.

Customer Development

  • Started executing the marketing plan. Results TBA.
  • New whitepaper written

Product Development

  • Lots of dev work.
  • Testing of latest check-ins.

Next week

  • More on the marketing schedule
  • More product development coding.
  • Find a CSS expert to spruce up the Quality Map app