Monday, April 1, 2013

Why we built

We're building a new way for students to interact with colleges, essentially inventing a new market.  Naturally, the first thing we've publicly done is enter a crowded arena with  While we are tackling the problem from a different angle (we're students, instead of cash-hungry bureaucrats) by creating a P2P system, eliminating the middleman.  Still, there's very little chance of success, and a smaller chance of getting rich if we ever do hit it big.

So why even build it?  Why not focus on our main product?  As full-time students, any time to code can be precious.  Class schedules conspire to reduce our days to small chunks, devastating to the makers schedule.  Still, we think that Textbook Trades is the best way to spend our time.

We're still relatively new to the world of startups.  While it's important to stretch our coding horizons  it's a bad idea to tackle a project several orders of magnitude beyond our current ability.  Textbook Trades is within reach, letting us firm up our grip on the start-to-finish project in a live-fire trial run.  While we accomplish the same work in the time we've got, a larger percentage of the project is completed, a big morale boost.

Unlike a mock object in testing, Textbook Trades is live and solves a real problem.  We're accumulating users slowly but surely.  Student users, interested in furthering their education with nifty websites.  In other words, this is the perfect audience to launch our real product to.  We don't plan on discontinuing Textbook Trades and risk alienating our users (thanks to Google Reader for teaching us that lesson).

I realize that this isn't the ideal path for every startup.  We think that the time spent on Textbook Trades will be valuable.  We've made plenty of mistakes along the way that we now won't make as we progress on the project as a whole.  

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