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Episode 6: MVPs: Where Do You Draw the Line?

TEMPLATE BTB Episode Guest Graphic (13)


About the Episode:

Angel Rutledge, Co-Founder at Meetify and SignUpGenius, and Kevin Carney, Managing Partner at Kingsmen Software, join us to discuss the importance of MVPs in product development, emphasizing the need to keep them simple and centered around customer needs. Angel Rutledge also shares her experience as a co-founder launching Meetify, a new platform that simplifies the process of scheduling meetings in person.


About the Guest: Angel Rutledge

Angel Rutledge is the CEO of Meetify, a scheduling tool to easily book in person meetings at central locations and ideal times without back and forth emails and texts. Before Meetify, she co-founded and bootstrapped SignUpGenius with her husband Dan Rutledge. Along with their partner, Michael Vadini, they sold a majority stake to a private equity firm in 2017 when the group organizing tool served 100M+ users annually. 

In late 2018, Angel moved to a board role and began advising Charlotte entrepreneurs and angel investing. She served on the board of Charlotte Angel Fund II and continues to be involved in the fund and with local entrepreneurs.

She is passionate about building mission driven businesses that simplify tasks, so people can spend more time building better communities. Her hope is that Meetify would grow in order to enrich relationships for a better world as people meet more in person, and that she and Dan would again have the opportunity to work with a team of smart people who love serving others. In addition to building purposeful tech with Dan, Angel’s happy places are cheering on her four adulting children, spending time with her church community, reading and writing, and walking with good friends.


About the Host: Pete Seeber

Pete Seeber is a Partner and the Chief Strategy Officer at Kingsmen Software. In this role, Pete is responsible for overseeing the expansion of Kingsmen. Pete also plays a key role in developing new products and services, identifying new markets, and creating strategies to achieve these goals. To this end, Pete is adept at partnering with our clients to help them overcome their technology and business challenges to reach the complete development of their business model and vision. Pete is a combination of technology, risk and finance executive who has developed his multi-disciplinary background over 25+ years of business and entrepreneurial experience in professional services, large scale consulting, information technology and cybersecurity. He is an entrepreneur who was lucky enough to start his career under the umbrella of one of the most respected consulting firms in the world. It was these early professional experiences that shaped his passion for moving businesses in the right direction and his own personal mantra, “Always Forward”.  He is a proud graduate of Wake Forest University. Pete has been actively involved in the Charlotte and Lake Norman communities as a member of the Board of Managers for Greater Charlotte YMCA (through YMCA Lake Norman and YMCA Camp Harrison), Eliminate the Digital Divide, Habitat for Humanity, Summit Foundation, Davidson Youth Baseball Association and others.


About Kingsmen Software:

We are dedicated, experienced practitioners of software development. We grow software iteratively and adapt quickly to changing business objectives, so we deliver the right software at the right time. Our proven approach combines processes, tooling, automation, and frameworks to enable scalability, efficiency, and business agility. Meanwhile, our advisory & coaching services enable technology leaders, business partners and their teams to learn and adapt their way to sustainable, collaborative, and data-driven operating models.


Production Credits:

Produced in partnership with Mistry Projects: https://mistryprojects.com/

Angel Rutledge 00:07

We usually try to look at, okay, what are 90% of the people going to come in and do most of the time, there are a lot of ways to be able to add extra functionality without it slowing down the 90%, who just want to get through there quickly and do the core thing that most people need.


Pete Seeber 00:28

Welcome to the Kingsmen Software Beyond the Build podcast, where we highlight our friends in the software development community. We get to know them, their story, their influence and their impact at a deeper level. We also have a good bit of fun along the way. I'm your host, Pete Seeber. And among other things, I'm the Chief Strategy Officer here at Kingsmen Software. Hey, listeners, this is Pete Seeber host of Beyond the Build, you're going to love this next conversation. For anyone that is currently building software, or has built software in the past, you've come across the concept of MVP, minimum viable product. It's a relatively simple concept. However, in practice, it means many different things to different people. Trust me at Kingsmen, where we have been building software for over 10 years, we've seen a ton of different interpretations of the concept. We often find that as we are active in the build process with our clients. We are also equally as active in advisory process of coaching them through MVP. Typically, it's an iterative, back and forth process that ultimately gets to the right application of MVP. We sat down in this episode with two guests. The first is Kevin Carney. Kevin is our Chief Client Relationship Officer here at Kingsmen and overall resident smart guy, he has his fingerprints on pretty much everything we do. The second guest is Angel Rutledge, who as everyone in Charlotte knows is the founder of the wildly successful SignUpGenius. But angel has a new gig now, building a fantastic company that addresses a different fundamental need. The company is called Meetify. You'll learn all about Meetify and how Angel has navigated the concept of MVP at both organizations, I'm looking forward to everyone hearing that story. Because it is anything like her previous venture, y'all are gonna love it. We'll talk about concepts like performing customer discovery, even before you decide on MVP, proper scope for MVP versus scope for the software build as a whole. We talk about the process of establishing the customer feedback loop, filtering through customer feedback and gaining the proper insight. We'll talk about setting the appropriate filters as part of MVP. The filters that ideally can be scaled at a later point once you validate the initial thought process with the feedback loop. We also cover the mental challenge of putting down your own preconceived notions to really understand what the customer truly needs and wants in the MVP. If you're driving around town, getting things done around the house, or just generally pretending like you're getting some work done in the office. We hope you enjoy this episode on MVP. Thanks for listening. We're excited to get into this today we have two great guests. Kevin Carney. Welcome back, Kevin.


Kevin Carney 03:18

Howdy. Cheif Stark.


Pete Seeber 03:22

Always great to have you, Kevin, multiple guest appearances now and always solid viewpoints on what we're doing. So thanks for taking time out of your schedule.


Kevin Carney 03:29

Love to be here


Pete Seeber 03:30

Kevin's our Managing Partner here at Kingsmen Software and by role Chief Client Relationship Officer, sometimes Chief Operating Officer, but Kevin's fingerprints are pretty much on everything we do at all of our clients. He has some high level involvement, and sometimes deep level involvement in what's going on. I'm also really excited to have Angel Rutledge here today with us. Angel is the Co-founder at Meetify which we're going to hear about also Co-founder of SignUpGenius on a 10 year journey from startup to exit. We want to hear some of that story. Also an author, former middle school English teacher by background


Kevin Carney 04:10



Angel Rutledge 04:11

Absolutely. That was my first job.


Pete Seeber 04:13

Did I miss anything?


Angel Rutledge 04:15

There were a number of parts in the middle but most of them involved writing and volunteering, taking care of our children all kinds of things. So yes, you've got it


Pete Seeber 04:26

Lots of different roles. Fantastic. Well, let's hear about it. Let's just jump right into his tell us about Meetify. What is it where are you in the journey kind of open up that package for us? Tell us?


Angel Rutledge 04:36

Absolutely. We are at the very beginning of Meetify. We just launched December 1 of 2022. So two months ago, we launched and Meetify makes it very easy to schedule in person meetings. So it helps you to figure out the where you want to meet up and where and when you want to meet up and eliminates all the back and forth. So all those times where you're texting back and forth, emailing back and forth, when are you available? Where should we meet what's a good central location or getting together for lunch or dinner or coffee, all of that it puts into one easy tool. And you can get together with one or a group of people


Kevin Carney 05:19

Yeah, I've used with my swim team. And whenever you're trying to get 10 people together, it's always a matter of where we're going to meet and how when we mean, what's good for you, what's good for me and Meetify makes that very simple.


Angel Rutledge 05:28

Thank you, thank you. That was that was the goal. So both Dan and I Dan is my husband, and he's the Tech Founder, and I am on the business side. And for both of us, as we were coming out of the pandemic, we were trying to do those meetups of oh, wow, we can finally get back together in person with people. Let's meet up for coffee with an old coworker, or let's do a girls night out for me with the girls. And, you know, it was just it was a lot of back and forth. And it would interrupt our day with a bunch of texts or you know, you'd meet up with some you'd want to meet up and you'd start to email and then you get back and forth for a couple of days. And you think Wait, was it my turn or their turn? Or? Did we figure that out? yet? I don't even know. So yeah, that was for both that we said, okay, there's got to be an easier way to this to do this.


Pete Seeber 06:18

And simplifying where you're gonna go


Angel Rutledge 06:20

Exactly. So that's the big piece of it. We were seeing, you know, there's so many good tools to help us with remote meetings now. And even, you know, planning in the office. So we've had those tools, but to meet up in person, we thought, okay, there's gotta be something so so we were looking for it. Where can you figure out a good coffee shop in between our location, say yourself, Charlotte, and then you want to meet up with somebody who's working in uptown. How do we figure out a place to meet in between? And we couldn't find a tool with that, well, you know, we're, we've done something before where we organized help people organize something and simplify a process that was too complicated. This is probably something that that we could tackle together.


Pete Seeber 07:09

Yeah, I mean, thinking through it, the first time I used it, it kind of had that light bulb go off above your head, where you're like, wait a minute, I have my I'm texting someone or emailing somebody, then I have to pull up a calendar invite. And I also have, you know, Google Chrome up saying coffee shops near me, right and providing options. And I also have my calendar open, because I'm looking at what availability I might have. And you've condensed all that into one web based tool.


Angel Rutledge 07:34

Exactly. Yes. So all of those pieces, and the reviews and the Yelp and all of that. So finding out how to do that in one tool, rather than opening four or five, like you said, is the goal for Meetify.


Pete Seeber 07:47

love it, congratulations. 60 days, you've been out, right? So if this topic is MVP, you're living that


Angel Rutledge 07:55

we are living it, and all of the things that, you know, you you struggle through to try to figure out the MVP. We are in it right now. So this is a great topic to talk about today.


Pete Seeber 08:07

So let's start with that. Where How do you decide what's in and what's out? Right? What's the we talked a little bit about the inspiration, right, and the mission? But then you have to get down to first 60 days, early adopters, what do they need? And what what do you want feedback on?


Angel Rutledge 08:25

Yes? Well, you know, before you even figure out the MVP, I think one thing that I often see young entrepreneurs miss is the customer discovery process. So I often, you know, have also advised entrepreneurs and continue to do that a little bit. And so what I see from most first time founders is they jump all the way to, here's what I want in the product, and then go straight into the build, and really need to think about, okay, maybe what what I want is one person or what our small team wants, maybe that's not exactly what the customers want. And so starting with that customer discovery process first actually is what I think helps with your MVP, because you know, getting that MVP out, it's it's before you have people actually working on the tool. So making a good MVP first needs some good customer discovery. So however you want to do that, whether it's interviews in person with your target customer, you want to take surveys, do something like Pollfish, we did a little bit of all of that figuring out okay, what is what is the problem of actually meeting in person and went and found a lot of different people who have a lot of in person meetings, and did in person surveys, went through online surveys, Google Forms, Pollfish and got a lot of data to decide, okay, this is the core problem. And that is really I would say what you want in the MVP, you want to solve what is the very basic core problem that the user has. Solve that and nothing more than that. So what we decided was okay, the core problem is figuring out where to meet that central two or more people, and when to meet, so the where and the when, and with no other features, that that is exactly what you know that the core thing that's needed.


Pete Seeber 10:31

And the where, from from, from Meetify, you can define it by coffee, lunch, dessert, right, a few different options in there. So it'll pull up a few, you know, kind of different categories, I guess, right of coffee shops or restaurants or dessert spots between you between person A and person B. Right, and give you those choices right there


Angel Rutledge 10:52

Exactly. So you have the option to choose as many of those to offer your invitee or invitees as you want. Whether you want to say hey, I just I know exactly where we should meet. Here's the one option. Or if you want to have five, however many you want to have, you can typically people like to choose about three. And yes, it can be a food meetup, coffee meetup desert, go into a brewery, any of those categories. So you know, making it real easy to choose which of those and then it that the tool then will narrow down. Okay, here are all the coffee shops between you or here are some restaurants in between. And then you can you can decide which how many you want to offer.


Kevin Carney 11:37

This is your second startup with your first startup. Did you go through the customer discovery? Or was that a lesson learned that you put into Meetify?


Angel Rutledge 11:44

I would say that it was a lesson learned. And we went through it inadvertently. So we actually created SignUpGenius, because our family had the problem of being able to organize groups of people around some kind of responsibilities. And we had it in all of these different niche verticals. So we would have, you know, organizing, for example, Dan would do sports, little league sports for our kids, and had the problem of organizing parents around snacks for you know, the team snack. And then we had like small group for church and would do get togethers and trying to figure out responsibilities, whether we were serving or bringing food. And then it just went through, you know, especially school schools was a huge one, there are all kinds of volunteer, as any parent can tell you, you could attest to that, at schools are a million ways that you have to get people coordinated for some responsibility, usually around volunteering. And, you know, so they're all all these things, colleges, nonprofits, businesses, that we realized, hey, we have these problems, organizing groups, and it's, it's essentially the same problem, we need to get people to sign up for a responsibility, a task, register for an event, but it's all the same. It's all about signing up people in a group. And so we already were facing those problems, and knew a lot of other people who were facing the same problem. So so we started out trying to fix that problem for ourselves and for our communities. And thankfully, we were organizing groups in so many different places, that we got a lot of feedback from the very beginning. And it actually was started as just, Dan started it as a side project. And so I didn't realize it, but I was doing a whole lot of customer discovery by continuing to hold events, and have everybody tell us okay, that was great. Could you just add this? And then of course customers as well.


Kevin Carney 13:57

You must get a lot of feedback from your customers discovery, how do you figure out which is core and which is Oh, that's a nice to have later on?


Angel Rutledge 14:05

Right. So it could definitely tell you for SignUpGenius, since there were there are millions of many millions of people who use it every month. There are 1000s and 1000s people writing in every month, so is basically our customers told us and so we learned from that to do the same thing with Meetify your customers should be the ones who are telling you what needs to be developed, going forward and they do that by either, you know, somehow interacting with you whether that is through your customer support social in person, and that's what we're doing right now as we're sending out our our emails and talking with people done that with you. You know, tell me everybody tell me exactly what went well and what didn't go well, because we want to make it better for you. So that's exactly the you know, customer, that continued, listening to your customer and realizing that this is not something that you're just trying to sell to people, this is something that you are trying to make your customers life better. So what can we do to do that? That's constant question


Kevin Carney 15:16

With our clients in order. Over the years, I've seen that it's so hard for someone that has a vision in their head, that they know what they want to build, and then they go talk to their customers, and the customers want something different. And so many people I've seen say, well, our customers don't know this product very well, as much as I do. So I'm gonna build on what I know that they need, not what they're telling me that they want. And then they deliver it, and then it's just not as useful, because it's not what the customer needs, we've had a couple of clients that way


Pete Seeber 15:47

Or they've overcomplicated it, just put too much in it, it prevents the adoption,


Kevin Carney 15:52



Angel Rutledge 15:53

That is definitely something we try to keep in mind. And something I think we both, Dan and I are very passionate about is making it simple. So whatever, you know, and we usually try to look at, okay, what are 90% of the people going to come in and do most of the time, that's what everyone should see. And then anything else, those are things you should be able to easily find. But they don't need to, you know, you don't need to have a 50 buttons on one screen, you know, let's have the core action. And then there's an icon here, you know, there's there's a checkbox here, something that can drop down, where people can find other options, settings, what you know what, there are a lot of ways to be able to add extra functionality, without it slowing down the 90%, who just want to get through there quickly and do the core thing that most people need.


Kevin Carney 16:56

I love how Meetify, how do I describe this. It's so simple, which is partly what you want the product to be right you want you want. If I were to create a meeting and said to Pete, and he's never seen Meetify before, then he should be able just figure it out, right should be very intuitive, right? There's no instruction manual or anything like that. There's also no mobile app, right? There's, there's nothing you need to download or anything like that, it's all web based. Pete doesn't have to sign in. And so part of this is just enabling the adoption. But I would have to think that also the that makes it easier for MVP, right to strip all that off. I don't need a web app, I aren't native app, I don't need sign in and authentication and all that other complexity. And so it actually makes the product easier to use, even though it's still in its formative stages, right. And you don't get to these paths that are that are just wrong. We had one client that went down a path of what they thought the client wanted. And he spent an entire year working on it, and they deliver to the client, the clients, like I just wanted to just load my data. It's all I want. And so there was a lot of a lot of backtracking and revamping, but by not going too far down the path, you there's no path to go back. So you can keep going forward and adding new functionality and add complexity to it.


Angel Rutledge 18:12

Right. And then that's yes, then the trick is, how do you make it seem as simple on day 10,000? As it was on day one? Yes, exactly. So a very powerful, but still very simple to use.


Kevin Carney 18:28

In theory that you get, as people get more used to it, especially some of your more active users. They like you said that you can you can open up more options, you can get more complex, and they can they can customize how they want. But for the most the person that just picks it up, they don't need that, that complexity.


Angel Rutledge 18:46

Yes. And that is what we find already. The majority of people want to meet up with one person, and they want to do that to meet for either coffee or a lunch or dinner. And so, you know, that's that's what's helpful about getting the MVP out quickly, because you can then get that data. So you find out well, do we need to have this extra button here? Do we need to have? You know, do we need to have 10 options? Maybe no one uses five of them. So you know, that's, that's so that's really what helps to be able to just get something out as soon as you can. The painful part of that is it's not, it's not yet what you want it to be


Kevin Carney 19:30

Sure, sure.


Pete Seeber 19:31

Emotionally, isn't it, you feel like you're chomping at the bit, right, because you have all these ideas in your head that you know can get in place and can be effective. But you you believe that you have to validate it, right? You just want to build it faster, you just want to get started. And that's what we see that all the time I would say with our kind of, I would say middle market clients when you have the non technologist who has this brilliant visionary idea, and they talk about MVP and Then it's like the whole enchilada. Everything is in their definition of MVP. And then you come back and you ask him, you say, okay, when MVP is done, what's left? And they go nothing. It's all there.


Kevin Carney 20:10

It's a trained behavior, right? The trained behavior, though, is that you've got phase one or project and in phase two of a project, and phase two always gets defunded at some point. And so you need it in phase one. Because if you don't, you're not getting it. And that's what people get they it's a learned behavior.


Pete Seeber 20:28

I gotta shove it all in now.


Kevin Carney 20:30

It's all mandatory. It's all required, right? Yeah. And then it never gets done.


Pete Seeber 20:33

I'm putting the towels in with the sheets and the whites, and we're all washing it at the same time


Kevin Carney 20:37

And it comes out pink. I read something on LinkedIn, someone had a quote, and I forget who it was. I would have cited otherwise. But it says if you love your MVP, you went too far. Fair statement?


Angel Rutledge 20:48

That's right. Actually, I know. That's Lauren Marturano.


Kevin Carney 20:52

Oh, okay. Great.


Angel Rutledge 20:53

And it is, yes. It's a very, very true statement. And so good to be reminded of early on. I remember, it's Lauren, because I remember she did when she posted. Okay, that's right. That's right. Just remember, remember, it's not supposed to be what every single person will fall in love with on day one and say, Okay, this does everything that I want it to do.


Kevin Carney 21:19

Go into a different dimension from from scope. What about time to market? So I had spoken to Rob Cummings, who was involved in DealCloud. And Rob had said that they started off very basic using like a SharePoint site. But that was very important to get 100 clients on it quickly, because other entrants were coming into the market. And if you didn't get out there quickly, if he'd spent another year rewriting into something official, or more robust, they would miss the opportunity. Has that worked into either one of your startups?


Angel Rutledge 21:56

Yes. And I think there are different pieces there for what, why you make the decisions you do for the MVP? You know, are you building it for? Is it a b2b? Is it b2c? So, you know, is your total addressable market for the number of customers you have? Are they in the millions? Are they in the hundreds, the 1000s, so that that's definitely a piece, then also, the piece of the investment that you have available at the time is another piece of it. So you know, how the funding exactly the funding, so? So how much can you get built? And, and then again, you know, even the market, you know, are you is this a product, like for many of your clients, this is a product that's been asked for by your clients, you know, over and over and over. And so you have, maybe you have a fairly good idea of what they need, already. And so that product may take some extra resources and time to build, because you already have enough input that you are pretty clear that product market fit will come if you have, you know, the the list of 10 features that you need. Whereas, you know, if you're starting out in b2c brand new space, that and you've got millions of potential customers, Well, you want to start and get it to market as fast as you can, and try to, you know, capture capture as much of the market as you can, as quickly as you can.


Kevin Carney 23:37

You mentioned earlier on that Meetify was born out of coming out of COVID. Right, getting into the face to face, the that that interaction that we've all missed, and we now we want that back, if you waited six months, would you have missed that opportunity? Or at least not, you know, not hit it as well as you would have liked to?


Angel Rutledge 23:57

Yes, I Well, I think that anytime as I think as a, as a founder, you always feel like you're too late. You know, like I always want this to be out sooner. So would it be too late? If there wasn't another product? No. But do as does it already feel too late When you're, you know, when you're still like, Okay, we still need two more weeks before we get this out? Yes, in the fall, you know, did we want to get it out sooner? Absolutely. So I think you're always chomping at the bit and it always feels like it's gotta be done yesterday. And when you add features, it always feels like that as well. Like there are customers asking for this, we need to get this out right away. But but at the same time, you know, that balance of it needs to work is is also there and it needs to work well to solve the problem, you know, well enough that it solves the customer problem.


Pete Seeber 24:52

Yeah. And in this particular situation, maybe it's not necessarily the competition of another product that comes to market. It's the competition of us going back to the old habits that we had before the pandemic, right? We're going back out again, we're meeting with people, you're competing against what I used to do?


Angel Rutledge 25:10



Pete Seeber 25:10

So keep me hungry for a while I'm hungry to retrain myself, let's get it out there and go,


Angel Rutledge 25:15

right. Absolutely. And right now is certainly the best time because we all know we need to get it, we know that we want to meet in person, and we miss it. And so this is, you know, this was the time that we thought, okay, let's capitalize on that, at being, you know, an ideal time to get it out.


Kevin Carney 25:34

I think as spring comes out, it's clear, you know, people want to get out, they want to get out their homes for the weather, they want to get out because of COVID. They want to get out. Because they lack that that face to face interaction.


Angel Rutledge 25:44

Yes, absolutely. That's, and you know, we're excited about it being out, there's already it's so fun to be able to talk to people and just pitch the idea and immediately have people get really excited, oh, I, you know, I, I need this, I need this for this group of guys that I get together and play poker with, you know, we go out here, and I need this, to be able to get together with my colleagues working on this. And oh, I've just been looking for this exact tool, because I no longer go into the office and have all my meetings, I like to be able to meet up in a coffee shop. And so this is useful. So


Pete Seeber 26:24

well, it is the official tool of setting up meetings for the Kingsmen podcast, it will carry forward.


Angel Rutledge 26:31

That's awesome.


Kevin Carney 26:32

You mentioned funding. Now I know that you you, you and Dan are bootstrapped. So that it's your funding, right, it is funding out of your pocket, and, you know, some of our enterprise clients, it's funding out of their budget, which is, you know, definitely easier to spend than money out of your pocket, how did funding work into your, your MVP, and, you know, at some point, you're gonna be able to monetize this, and that's dirt down the road, right, at this point? How do you how do you balance that with being able to recoup your investment? And, you know, queue that up for a long term exit?


Angel Rutledge 27:09

Sure, yes. You know, I think we have always bootstrapped this is, you know, we've done that, we did that on SignUpGenius, and we're doing it again, at this point, I think that it does help you as a founder, and then when you build the team, it helps all of you to really think in a way that constantly focuses on the return on investment. And we used to, you know, have training on being scrappy, and using company money, just like it's your money. And, and we would say, you know, because it is your money, I mean, it's literally your money, either you get it in salary, and, you know, benefits and team building activities, or we use it to build more on the product. And, you know, it's, I mean, the more that we build on the product, the more that the customers use it, the more money we make. So, you know, the better that we do with the resources that we have, the more that everybody succeeds, our customers and, and our staff and ourselves. So, yeah, I think that's that piece is one of the pieces that I like as a result of bootstrapping the most, it certainly makes a lot of things more challenging in those early days as well. It forces you to do what you should do, but may not have to do and when you raise a lot of funding funding, you know, you can kind of play around and try a lot of things out without thinking through as hard. Why are we doing what we're doing? Is this the best thing to be doing right now, as opposed to three months down the line or six months down the line?


Kevin Carney 28:49

I like the discipline of of having the funding constraint, it adds some clarity to do I really need to build this feature. At Kingsmen, we often bill our clients on output, so our team can run 30 points every two weeks. And if you have a feature, that's 30 points, you can translate that into dollars very quickly, because we know what our team costs for two weeks. And so we know what that feature will cost. Just you can do it like thumb in the air. And so when someone says, oh, well, I really want this. These are big companies that are in uptown Charlotte with big buildings and huge budgets. And they say I want this. It's okay, well, that'd be about 30 points, and it'd be about this amount. And once you distill it down to a dollar amount, you know, it's it's not their money, but you distill down to a dollar amount, all of a sudden, it's, oh, maybe I don't need that. Maybe I don't need to automate this entire process. So that once a month, a person doesn't have to copy a value from this spreadsheet to that spreadsheet or this system to that system. Maybe I can just have that person go do that. And operationally, that's that's a little inefficient, but it doesn't cost as much money, right, as long as you remember to do it. We can automate that later. But if you would automate it now it might cost you $50,000. Like, well, it doesn't really cost me extra money to have a person go do that manually. So you start to have that clarity of thought as to which features are most important. And do you want that feature to jump in front of another feature? That's actually adding value to the business?


Pete Seeber 30:16

Part of that concept now you hear a lot about startup resiliency, right? And bootstrap resiliency, and, and knowing how to make those dollars work, Kevin, to your point in the large enterprise world. If your budget gets cut, maybe there's another budget cycle coming in the startup world, if you've spent it, you don't have it,


Angel Rutledge 30:36

You have to go raise it.


Pete Seeber 30:37

There is not a tomorrow, you have to go find it somewhere else. It's not going back and making a business case to line a business CFO or to beat somebody else's business case and their budget dollars if the dollars aren't there. Right. So every dollar you spend, you're always in your mind, right? Is this the best use of this particular dollar and what we're doing with it? Whether you're hiring someone, buyinh supplies going to an event marketing, whatever it is.


Angel Rutledge 31:02

Yes, that's right. So I think that's, that's where it helps too with the MVP, and then the product going forward is to have a matrix of, okay, well, how long you know, as you're thinking about what needs to be in here? And then what will we add? Just being able to say, Okay, well, how long does this take to build? And then what value level do we see this having? And then you can decide value level by a number of criteria? How valuable will it be to our customers? Does it save us time internally? Does it mean that we can build these other things that will be a lot faster? If we have, you know, have this underneath it so, so yeah, being able to constantly look at not just what does the customer want? That's, that's where you start, but then looking at okay, so if the customer wants these 10 things, then how do we decide which one gets built? And in what order


Kevin Carney 31:56

Going down the scope road again, you often hear the phrase do you need a Chevy, or do you need a Cadillac? And our CEO Bill, Clerici. He hates that phrase, because he's like, but don't Cadillacs all have four doors, heavyset four doors, everyone's got power windows, like it's not, it's not a good example. And where I'm going with this is that you have a feature map if I want feature a, b, and c. But you could have another product that's feature a, b, and c, but not the same quality level, right. So we say leather seats and a car leather seats in a Chevy and leather seats in a Cadillac should be a whole lot different, right? The leather seats in a Cadillac should be a lot more supple and quilted. And I don't know perforated and good stuff like that right? Much Corinthian leather Rich Corinthian leather. So my point is that you can have a feature that is, you know, it allows you to choose a location. Well, you can do that through. Here's a list of locations, put in your zip code, and we'll figure it out. You could use it with, you know, looking at your GPS in your phone and figuring out that way. If it's your laptop a little more complicated, you could do it. I don't know, using Chinese balloons that float over the over the of the sky. Like there's lots of ways you could you can accomplish that feature. And so just because the feature is available, do you like do you look at that? I see this like two dimensions, one dimension being I want more and more features, more and more capabilities. The other dimension, the y dimension being How built out is that feature? How much complexity does that feature have? How much usability does that feature have? how many bells and whistles does that feature have? Do you look at it that way as well?


Angel Rutledge 33:47

Absolutely. In fact, just today, before I came over, we were looking at filtering. So this is one of the things that hopefully will be the first version of it will be launched by the time this airs. But we've already knew before the MVP, and then heard from customers afterwards that they wanted to be able to filter the types of restaurants. So you might get you get every type of restaurant possible between point A and point B, currently. And so then we said okay, well we know that people are going to want to filter by the type of cuisine. Do you want to get pizza? Or do you want to get Thai food or American food? What are you What do you want to get? And then you know, dietary restrictions, what do you what do you want there? And then and then you know there then there are a million things. So after that, so said Okay, well let's let's start. So already, there will be the functionality of the type of cuisine and the dietary needs.


Kevin Carney 34:50

That great example, right? You can filter I can say I want all cuisines or I want Mexican but then you can also say well I want Mexican or Italian or Vietnamese. And you can have like multi select, or you could choose a by dollar amount or you could do, like, that's, that's exactly what I'm going to say because I want to be able to filter my restaurants. And that's one aspect to it. But trying to add so much more complexity to it is a more advanced version of that same feature.


Angel Rutledge 35:22

Yes. So yes, so some of those like, you can, you will be able to do that. But then, you know, if you want to say, hey, well, I would really, really like to search for greenways, or, you know, I want to meet at a co working spot. Well, that's, that's a level that's completely different, and will take more time. And it involves building out different datasets and getting different data from different places, you know, there's, there are some things that it's like, okay, that's going to be much further down the road. And then there are some things that it's we go, okay, this is really easy to create now, and then a month from now, we can add in even a little bit more, but not go all the way, you know, to where we know people are going to want to go.


Pete Seeber 36:11

But for MVP coming out in December, it's four categories, coffee, meal, dessert, and you had another in there, right? Keep it simple. That's not drill down below that, because at some level, done beats perfect, right? Because if you're going to spend all this time building out all these filters. It's going to be June, before you get to the point where you can be out and launched and getting that feedback, right? So you have to make those base level decisions, right? And then layer everything after that. Yes, that was my point. That's where we see so many clients, they put everything into MVP, right? They don't know how to pull it back, right? There's an emotional attachment to it, right. But there's also an entrepreneurial attachment that I gotta run fast, I have to go before somebody else gets there, it's tough to find that balance.


Angel Rutledge 36:57

It is very tough.


Kevin Carney 36:58

The example I use is the iPhone, I use it with my clients, the first iPhone that came out was not really good. I mean, it was really neat and cool, but it didn't have 3g. And so unless you're on Wi Fi was really slow, and didn't have an app store. She had to go find the apps and install them. And it was big pain. You know once those two things were added. It became a lot more functional, you had 3g and the 4g, and the App Store, I could just download apps and put stuff on there. I think it was a third generation iPhone was a whole lot better than the first one. But it got out there. And I'm sure everyone wanted to add all those things before they went live, but it would have been a couple years before they went live.


Pete Seeber 37:39

And while there were like you're saying there were challenges with it. We all still loved it. We all loved it. Right? Yeah. And we're still buying. Nobody's passing yet.


Angel Rutledge 37:48

That's right and we didn't have anything to compare it to at that time. So even when you say that now I think I don't even remember that. You know that, that I really have to think back and go wow. Yeah, you're right, that there are a lot of things that were different. And you know, how many years did we say, ah, the camera on the iPhone? Can they not just make a better camera before they finally made a good camera?


Kevin Carney 38:12

Yeah, I do remember getting the third one because the first two seem like gee whiz, that's cool. But it wasn't it wasn't extraordinarily functional at the time.


Pete Seeber 38:19

How was this going to help me?


Kevin Carney 38:21

Yeah. Okay. So bugs? Angel. I am sure that in Meetify, I haven't found any, but I'm sure there are. I'm sure there are defects


Angel Rutledge 38:30

Don't look too hard.


Kevin Carney 38:31

Okay. Because every piece of software has it right. Having built software for many years. I always know there's, there's, there's defects in there. And some are easily noticeable. But minor, like, you know, there's a word that spelled incorrectly or you click the drop down once and it goes away. And if they click it again, right, it's like, it's like pain in the butt kind of stuff. But they're definitely more cosmetic. And then there's stuff that just doesn't work, and clearly you need to fix that. And then there's stuff that well, if I click this button while standing on my head, and there's a full moon, then the app breaks. All apps have that


Angel Rutledge 39:14

Yes. Right. What browser you happen to be using when you're doing steps, one, two, and three. It you know, then it it breaks.


Kevin Carney 39:22

That's right.


Angel Rutledge 39:22

If you do them in this exact order.


Kevin Carney 39:24

If you're an iPhone 12 with a Chrome browser and you're on WiFi, then this happens, right?


Angel Rutledge 39:30



Kevin Carney 39:33

If I ask a lot of my clients that are not a lot of our a lot of our clients are subject matter experts that don't build software. And so we think that most software has is bug free. And trying to convince them like no that every software has bugs, you just may not see them. And you have to make sure that all the blatant ones are clearly taken away and removed. But they're always edge cases and there's always some little glitches here and there that you can live with, Well, until you fix those, what is your taking that what what, what? Where do you draw the line of Yeah, that's not going out. That's just that's not professional. People are not going to like it, they're gonna reject it. If it doesn't just doesn't work. What's your, your line?


Angel Rutledge 40:15

Yeah, well, I mean, generally, you know, you do the testing for the couple of days before you're going to launch and you fix those bugs that you find and you're doing, what you're doing is what, again, you know, 90, 95% of the people are doing over and over. So you're, you're planning a meet up with one person, you're planning a meet up with several people, you're using different browsers, you're using the phone and the desktop, and you know, you're trying all these different things. But then there are the things that you will have that you that people don't usually do that, you know, for instance, here's here's one, when you plan a multiple person meetup initially, the there would be, say, there were five people and three people responded where they wanted to meet up and what were good times. Well, in the case of a multiperson, meet up, the planner gets to decide, you know, who who did everybody agree? Great. That's the place that we want to go. And that's the time or, you know, maybe not everybody can meet but only one person can't meet at this time. So the planner has to be the one who actually finalizes it in a multi planner, planning meetup. So what we didn't realize is that if you had not signed up as an invitee, when you went to go click on the link after it was finalized, you couldn't see the details of the finalized meetup. You know, that was initially a security. Well, you know, security wise, not everybody should be able to see this. But you know, there was a reason for it at the beginning. But then when you actually see the use case, play out, you go, well, that's a terrible user experience, if not everybody can see where they're going to meet up, and the location. So that was a fix that was put in. And so there are so many of those things that you don't realize you need to test them until after you get it out. And that was, you know, that was one that I found in doing a multiperson meetup right after lunch.


Pete Seeber 42:26

It becomes part of the feedback loop.


Angel Rutledge 42:28



Kevin Carney 42:29

I think we ran into that inadvertently, right? It because Pete never responded because well, like, so when we held the intro session with you, I sent out the Meetify, and you responded, and we were just waiting, like, you know, we'll we'll meet at your schedule. So Pete's like, I don't need to respond.


Pete Seeber 42:46

No, I responded, but I declined that particular location at that time. So then when you I said,


Kevin Carney 42:53

but I made that I made a judgment call said well, Angel can meet if Pete and then right. Change your schedule Pete.


Pete Seeber 42:58

So then it cut me out. And then when my schedule did change when I came back, I couldn't see the details of what was right. So that was a customer feedback loop right there at the coffee table. So worked great.


Angel Rutledge 43:09

Yes. Exactly. Thank you. And you guys being early Meetifiers, I will tell you that is incredibly helpful, particularly for people who build software, you know, you and to have both of those. So you are what is called on an adoption curve as the innovator, the first two and a half percent of people who use a product and are really excited about it and want to give the feedback because you can see where this is going. You can see the potential for this. So thank you for being an early we have it on record, you are one of the earliest Meetifiers.


Pete Seeber 43:45

We are good at breaking stuff. We break stuff all the time around here.


Kevin Carney 43:49

I'm gonna put that on my LinkedIn, early adopter. Yep. You


Angel Rutledge 43:54

Actually, you know what? The funny thing is, it's actually you're an innovator. Oh, so early adopter comes after innovator. So, you're even better than an early adopter. You're an innovator. Yes, I remember those those days. Yes, putting out a new feature, and 1000s of millions people getting to use it quickly. That's it's never fun.


Pete Seeber 44:06

I feel taller.


Kevin Carney 44:06

Those scenarios that you have to go through. Here's a little plug for Kingsmen and our software systems analysts. That's what they do. Right? They go through these different scenarios. What happens if you have one meeting organizer and one participant? What if you have one you have two What do you have one you have five? What if you have one and one response and the other doesn't respond? What happens if they don't respond, but after the meeting is set up and they do respond? What if they reject like, all those different scenarios is what a normal subject matter expert never thinks about. Because they think about well I can have a meeting and I'm gonna have people respond and they're going to accept and then we all we all go on our merry way. The happy path is always very clear. And those exception case scenarios or edge cases are always ignored. Until real life world comes around and then they then there they happen all all the time, right? It only happens 1% of the time, but you have 1000 meetings going per day that is happening 10 times a day, which seems like a lot.


Pete Seeber 44:38

And then all of a sudden, you see all the ditches and potholes along that road, right, that road that is so clear, but you didn't see the potholes and the ditches along the way that you have to navigate through as it comes up to fix them


Kevin Carney 45:27

Until you've got a very hot and full cup of coffee. And then you see every pothole and bump on that road, right. One last thing I'd like to bring up, and this might not actually apply to you, but a lot of our clients have regulatory constraints, they're regulated entities, whether they're payment companies, or banks or capital markets and things along those lines. And clearly, they can't just roll out a product willy nilly, they have to get regulatory approval, or they have to follow regular requirements. And so this is more of a statement than a question really, but it's, the regulatory requirement can be fulfilled in many different ways. It can be filled manually, it can be filled automatically, if you can be filled by a homegrown solution or a third party solution. And all too often our clients because they're so programmed for regulatory, they push back on this concept of MVP, MVP, oh, that's a startup mentality, you could just roll out something very simple, and no one really cares whether it passes an SEC audit or things along those lines. But as something that we talked about today, there's features and there's different levels of how complex that feature can be. And so they should be able to deploy an application that adds value meets the minimum regulatory requirement, but then they can improve it over time, even though they might have some regulatory like manual steps. So I need to let me give an example. We have a trade blotter and every trade that I make Angel, you need to attest to that at the end of the day, you can get a printout, you could check, check, check, check, sign your name, you have attested to it, that's meets the regulatory requirement. Or you could automate that process where it shows up on an app and you go, you know, hit checkboxes and pull this one aside and say, I want to go look at this further. So just it's more of a statement that MVP, even though you're a regulated entity, you still need to figure out the bare bones that you can deliver quickly. So you're you're adding business value, even though you might have customers might be internal yet business value that you're providing to your, to your trading desk or to your bankers. And then you can add automation, you can add features and functionality to that over time, and still follow the concept of MVP. How do I best use my time? Best Use my my funds I have available? How do I best make sure that I don't go too far down that path of where I think the business needs. Le t them have the minimum functionality so they can react to it. And maybe that'll work really well for them. Maybe it doesn't, and they start morphing what they want, you know go too far on that path. That's more soapbox. That was my soapbox.


Pete Seeber 48:24

No, I like it, though. I mean, you're starting to point out and we do a lot of this right with with financial institutions that have certain regulatory compliance issues. It's just a whole nother bucket of stuff that has to be dealt with in the right way, or you're gonna get popped on the back end.


Kevin Carney 48:38

No doubt, no doubt.


Pete Seeber 48:40

Last Word on MVP. biggest takeaway, Kevin sum it up for us.


Kevin Carney 48:46

I'm all about not the features, I think a lot of our clients understand. Adding this extra feature will cost more money, take more time, but the level of complexity of that feature, and then the filtering example is a great example. Get some filtering so that you're not scrolling through 1000s of locations, add some filtering, and then we can improve that filtering as time goes on.


Pete Seeber 49:11

You've been through this a few times.


Angel Rutledge 49:13

For me, I would say definitely start with the customer discovery, even before the MVP, save yourself a lot of money and time. And then with the MVP, just solve the core issue that your customer is having, what is the basic problem they need to solve? Solve that, nothing more. Put it out, get feedback.


Pete Seeber 49:34

I love it. Thank you so much for joining us.


Kevin Carney 49:36

Thank you Angel


Angel Rutledge 49:38

Thank you for having me and letting me see your new office.


Kevin Carney 49:41

Our inaugural podcast we forgot to mention that in the beginning, right?


Pete Seeber 49:44

Yeah, we're still figuring it out.


Kevin Carney 49:46

The smell of fresh paint and the scissor lifts beeping go by the podcast room while we're recording.


Pete Seeber 49:54

Drywall dust everywhere still get used to it.


Angel Rutledge 49:58

I'll be moving in one of those side offices over there so you won't even notice me don't you won't notice me. It's very cool here


Kevin Carney 50:04

We'll get you a fob.


Pete Seeber 50:06

I say this at the end of every program but I mean it as it relates to you guys like really mean it what you're doing with Meetify, go build something great.


Angel Rutledge 50:13

Thank you Pete. And thank you, Kevin. It was great to be here.

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