I’ve been away from Engine Yard (officially speaking) since May 1, so that’s just over 2 months. The main thing I’ve done in that time is create PollyTrade – a service to buy & sell stocks by sending tweets. The service is basically a bridge between your Twitter & E-Trade accounts. The idea was spec’d out on June 3rd and the site started accepting beta users on June 26th. We got on TechCrunch on June 28th and we were in The Washgington Post the next day!
It turned out to be hard to get serious beta users, and E-Trade turned out not to like the idea of trades originating on Twitter. I don’t have any hard feelings toward E-Trade; they are doing what they feel is in the best interests of their business. I of course hope that they or another broker will give PollyTrade & Twitter a chance in the future.
But there is a silver lining in all of this that’s a more important realization.
The experience has reminded me that with the right tools (Ruby on Rails, Engine Yard, Basecamp) and the right people (an efficient developer & a free-lance website designer), it’s possible to execute an idea really quickly and for relatively little cost. QHI spent a sum total of about $9K for all the above development, plus just a little over $100/mo for hosting.
I’m developing a couple of other ideas – one Twitter-related and one not – and will of course use the same combination of ingredients above. But even then, there are elements that can be tweaked to get even better results.
Fast, cheap iteration is a really good thing! I remember when the same cycle took 6 months or a year!