A Little Thing on Value + A Great Board

Paul Ford

Hello, friends. Cruise director Paul Ford again. Not a ton to report in the feature front. We launched a bunch last week and are tightening all the straps and mending the sails and readying the vessel for the long journey ahead (fixing bugs). Seasoned software company co-founders are supposed to love nautical metaphors but I’ve rarely been on a boat that wasn’t the Staten Island Ferry, so I’m doing my best.

So I am on vacation, which is when I like to work, and the thing I most think about with Aboard is “time to value.” How long does it take for someone to find utility with our software? How can we prove that we’re valuable?

Different kinds of software have different opinions on value. Being “enterprise” means pushing software purchases to make huge bets on behalf of their companies, then customizing. Being “consumer” means getting new bodies in the door to try the product. Being “digital media” means you might provide momentary value but it’s read-only. 

We’re trying to get past those categories to focus on, well, what’s valuable. Instead of thinking about features first, or verticals to focus on, or how to enable AI—all things people have told us we must do—we try to think about timeframes. For example:

Minutes. By making the URL a first-class citizen, and keeping track of things like prices, we can provide value in minutes, by providing light, instant knowledge management. And by being really visual, with big, chunky cards that are easy to move around, we make it easier to understand the data—humans are visual and if we can look at pictures we can work a lot faster.

Weeks and months. By enabling chat and commenting around data, we provide communities with a simple framework for sharing knowledge, making collective decisions. (Mobile is going to help here, inshallah.)

Instantly. By making boards publishable, we let our users provide value instantaneously to strangers—even if they don’t really engage with our product. (That’s fine, we’ll make it up in volume.)

We’re a data management tool—well so is every piece of software in history. No particular feature of Aboard matters very much. Don’t tell marketing (I’m marketing). Our goal is to show value sooner, then let people share that value with others, and then keep meeting their needs. Then, over years, people will take us for granted.

Thinking in timeframes, not features, is one key to creating value.

One Cool Board

Today’s board comes to us from user twingeofregret who created a board showing tools and guides for serious players of Horizon. The screenshot is at the top of this email. Thank you, Twinge, for making it.

I didn’t know much about Horizon and then I mentioned it to people on our team and they got this faraway, wistful look in their eyes, and talked about bonding with their daughters. So apparently! Horizon! One of the most meaningful videogame experiences on earth!

Whole worlds I’m learning about here with this thing. I love the way this board manages a set of links and resources in a way that is useful, and I love the way it captures previews of Google Sheets for that recursive rainbow of raw data feeling. I also love the way it uses tags. I love tags.

More soon,

The Aboard Team

Make the internet yours.