Project Daytona: SwellChat
Formerly known as “Project Daytona”
We’re happy to report we are making significant progress on Project Daytona, our flagship product: a video application designed specifically for the benefits industry. Here are some of the milestones from the past few months:
- added two senior engineers to our team.
- begun using the new application for our own video meetings.
- completed the base set of functionality as well as our internal testing.
- introduced pre-beta testing with our “technical” friends and family.
And now we are:
- refining the product and making improvements based on feedback from our pre-beta users.
- iterating through our product marketing and key messaging content.
- preparing to open up testing to a broader group of our friends and family.
In our February update, we mentioned we were looking for two senior engineers to join our team. We decided to forgo the traditional recruiting path of many tech companies (outside recruiters, large fees) and instead handle the outreach ourselves. We wanted to see if we could attract top talent by leveraging our personal and brand networks on LinkedIn, in addition to posting just 2 small ads: one on LinkedIn (see below) and one on Indeed. Given our commitment to running a fully distributed team, we didn’t limit ourselves to any particular geography.
It’s fascinating to see how our “work from anywhere” philosophy along with our values and culture enabled us to find and attract such highly talented senior software engineers.
This brings our company total to six people, including our three founders. All six of us have backgrounds in design, product, and engineering. We also have a few folks who are part-time, or probably better stated, flex-time.
It’s been a lot of fun using our own software to have internal meetings. It has become a forcing function to consistently evaluate the design, functionality, and user experience. By living in the application, we’ve been able to make remarkable strides in both usability and stability.
Having identified the key product features, we are now focused on expanding user value through ancillary features. Due to the fast ramp time of our two new engineers, our pace of development is close to triple what it was just 90 days ago. We have made so much progress that we hit our milestone of introducing the application to our technical friends and family in March.
We are now tuning the application, fixing issues, and refining the usability as we gain additional feedback from our technical friends and family cohort, a group of about 10 people. This will be our focus for six to eight weeks, and then we’ll add more people into the friends and family pre-beta group.
We have purposefully resisted the traditional approach of setting a firm launch deadline, which often causes teams to cram in features and experience self-inflicted, unnecessary pressure. Instead, we are experimenting with a rolling budget of time, made up of a reasonable work week for each of our folks, and seeing what that leads to. We stop every few weeks and gauge our progress; then we discuss what the next phase should be.
Now in early April, we will likely continue the friends and family testing and feedback process for the next few months. We might be ready around June to open up to a true beta version of the application and make it more widely available.
We founded the company on June 8, 2020. In the span of one year, we will have formed a company, selected our first application, built the foundation, added to our team, and reached the precipice of formally launching our flagship product. It is also interesting to note that all of this will be accomplished for under one million dollars.
Some might not consider our team of six people as being truly micro-SaaS, but compared to the budgets of venture-backed startups—and especially compared to products built inside enterprise organizations—the long-term value that our small team will be able to create will far exceed our size and investment. Plus it is absolutely fun!
One thing about our culture: During the summer months, we will implement a four-day work week. We want everyone on the team to be able to get outside and enjoy nature, their community, and time with friends and family.
Of course, we do want to acknowledge that this is our first implementation and test of our philosophy. We have seen other companies, such as Patagonia and Basecamp, operate by similar beliefs and values. But we’re young and still making our way. Our goal in sharing our philosophy isn’t to boast or condemn others; rather we want to include our community in the journey as we put it to work in our daily and weekly operations and see where it takes us.
Up next is more pre-beta testing and feedback. After which we’ll plan the beta product launch, likely commencing sometime this summer. As we continue product development and user testing, we are discussing the right way to set up our marketing, sales, and customer service capabilities. Please check our LinkedIn page over the coming months for opportunities to join our team.
Thanks for following along with us! We appreciate all of the encouragement and support that we have been given in these early months. We can’t wait to share our first application with you!
We will likely be looking to add a part-time or full-time person to help us begin marketing the new product over the next few months. If you know anyone who may be a fit for that type of work, please also share this link with them. Thanks!
What We Offer
We provide a calm, innovative environment where you can focus on doing great work. We offer robust benefits to best support you.