We demoed ribl in public for the first time ever at the Northern Virginia TechBreakfast yesterday and it went really well!
Dan, Jeff, and I trekked out to the AOL offices in Sterling, VA to spread the ribl gospel. Here’s a quick recap of what went down and the feedback that we received from the crowd.
Early technical troubles
We had a pretty interactive demo planned for the crowd. In order to highlight ribl’s features, we were going to use one Android phone to post a story to ribl, and then another Android phone to view that and other stories in the ribl feed in real time. Our entire presentation was predicated on being able to connect our Chromecast and phones to AOL’s WiFi network so we could cast our phones’ screens to the projector.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to connect the Chromecast to AOL’s WiFi network. Fortunately, we had a backup plan, and we ran the app in the Android emulator on Dan’s laptop, which was projected to the screen. So while the setup didn’t go exactly as scripted, we were able to convey to the crowd how ribl works using an alternate method. No biggie!
The demo of the ribl app
After telling the crowd what ribl is and how we came up with the idea, the first feature we demonstrated was the core of ribl – accessing stories that originate close to your current location without having to be a “friend” or “follower” of the person who posted it. To portray this, Dan used my phone to post this story:
I pulled this story up on the emulator’s ribl feed to show the audience that ribl users (riblers) can access the stories that are posted within one mile of a ribler’s current location without having to be directly connected to the person who posted the story.
We then walked through a valuable use case of ribl – a story from someone at the nearby Wegmans who posted a deal. We think deal sharing is going be an important benefit to users, and here’s the shot of the deal in the feed:
Next, we showed how you can comment on a story (below, left) to start a conversation, and boost it (below, right) so that the radius of the story increases (1/2 mile for each boost) so more people further away can see it and take advantage of the deal:
(Side note: we artificially created this story for the demo, so there wasn’t really a deal at Wegmans. We hope no one from the audience actually went to Wegmans asking for half-priced hot food.)
Next, we brought up a story that originated from Washington, DC, nearly 30 miles away, but reached us in Sterling, VA (see below). This shows the viral aspect of ribl; if a story is popular and gets boosted by a lot of riblers, people from far away will see it in their feed, and they’ll know its a big story.
This post was created by us for the demo, but it reflects this insane story of DC parents who left their children in a freezing car to attend a wine tasting, and the image is the mother running from the DC Superior Court after getting charged with child abandonment. Crazy.
Finally, we attempted to demo the Explore option, where you can bounce around on a map view to find stories in other places outside of your current location. Unfortunately the emulator crashed (not the app; the app worked just fine and dandy) and we couldn’t show the crowd this cool feature. But if the emulator didn’t crash, it would have looked something like below, where we can view the stories that were created in Las Vegas. Pretty cool.
What we learned
The first thing that we learned was that technology many times will fail to work and you need a backup plan. We actually had three backup plans, so we were definitely prepared for these technical glitches.
We also learned a lot from the crowd, who had some great questions and feedback for us:
- Overall, the audience thought that the demo was great, the concept was really interesting, and the app was designed well. We agree!
- One attendee wondered what would stop local retailers from blasting riblers’ feeds with deals and advertising.
- We do need to be careful about this, as we wouldn’t want advertising to ruin riblers’ experience on the app. But if local retailers find value in doing that, it likely means that we have many users, which is a great problem to have! And local advertising is part of our business model, so we’ve thought of plenty of ways to work this into the app smartly.
- Another attendee asked if we thought about allowing riblers to follow specific locations. E.g. my family lives in New York City, and I go there often, so even though I live in DC, I’d be able obtain a feed of stories from NYC without having to use the Explore feature.
- This is a great idea and we’ll keep it in mind!
- When we are going to beta test the Android app?
- Very soon!
- When are we going to have an iOS version to test?
- Not as soon as the Android version, but we’re working on it!
- They loved our frog logo.
- So do we!
We think this was a successful first demo and we were able to show the major features of ribl in a fun, interactive way. We connected with a bunch of people who were interested in becoming testers and received really positive and helpful feedback.
We are going to demo ribl all over the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area to help build our local user base first and expand from there, and this was a great first step in our journey.
We’re still looking for more and more testers, regardless of your location, so if you haven’t already signed up for our mailing list, please do so below!
And if you liked what you read, please share it with your friends and social networks!