FounderQuest

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Summary

This week The Founders talk about product positioning for Hook Relay and how launching new products has changed since releasing Honeybadger. They also discuss why Google would make a terrible airline, Microsoft Flight Simulator glitches, and flavors of bottled excellence.

Show Notes

Show Notes:
Links:
Snow Crash
Microsoft Flight Simulator glitch
Google deprecation article by Steve Yegge
Swiss Army
Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra
Heroku

Full Transcript:
Josh:
This is just why I know. I know that whatever happens in November, it's just going to get... It's going to get crazier. No matter what.

Starr:
I do feel like... More and more I feel like I'm inside of a cyber punk novel. Not really a William Gibson, Chiba City, going to get your bioware implanted or whatever but more of a Neil Stevenson Snow Crash type of situation where you have to... Everybody lives in gated communities, and the gated communities are owned by the different franchises. So, you live in the KFC gated community, and you worship the Colonel and all that.

Josh:
Or you live in a super PAC community.

Starr:
Yeah, exactly.

Josh:
Where they have your videos playing on billboards for everyone who drives by.

Starr:
Exactly. And the hero of the story is just this girl trying to deliver some pizzas through this wasteland of a country.

Josh:
Okay, this really is just Snow Crash, isn't it?

Starr:
Yeah. Pretty much. The only difference is the way the internet's played out is that we have a lot less sword fights.

Josh:
Right.

Starr:
I don't really just interact... I don't go online and just find myself in a seedy bar with my samurai sword.

Josh:
You got to give VR a chance to develop because you never... There might be more sword fights in the future.

Ben:
As long as you don't mind having a Facebook account since now, apparently that's a Facebook account for Oculus.

Josh:
Oh, Facebook sword?

Ben:
Well, you saw that news about Oculus. They're now-

Josh:
I did.

Ben:
Yeah. I had a friend of mine here in Seattle who said, "Okay. Well, I've got an Oculus for sale if anybody wants it."

Josh:
Really?

Ben:
Yep.

Josh:
Yeah. I never... I would not have bought an Oculus after Facebook acquired them. Maybe for that... Not necessarily for that specific reason but that's as good a reason as any.

Josh:
Obviously, they're going to do something with it in their interest.

Ben:
Obviously.

Starr:
Yeah, my house is too small too. I just break everything. It seems like you need a fair amount of free space to have some sort of VR set up.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
Or you can gesticulate and not destroy priceless family artifacts.

Josh:
Yeah, I don't even know. I tried one of the very early ones and it was like that but I'm not sure how far they've come since then.

Starr:
I know. Eventually, they'll refine it to the point where instead of having to jester around, you just have this little device that you hold in your hand and you can just move your fingers small distances.

Josh:
Oh. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I see where you're going with that.

Starr:
Yeah.

Ben:
Well, in non-VR gaming news, Microsoft Flight Simulator was released this week.

Josh:
Is that what I... I saw something that looked a lot like that and then the page refreshed and it went away. For a split second, I was like, "Holy crap. Is that Flight Simulator?"

Ben:
It is. Yeah.

Starr:
Did y'all hear about the OpenStreetMap thing with that? Okay, this is great. I actually didn't realize that it was just released but I read about this glitch. So, somebody... So, there's an open street map, right? That's... I'm getting the name right, right?

Ben:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Starr:
Okay.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Starr:
OpenStreetMap is people's open source version of Google Maps. So, you can go and get these maps and do whatever you want with them. So, it's maintained like Wikipedia by an army of volunteers. And I guess somebody in I think Melbourne, made a typo, and instead of... I don't know. Instead of listing a building as three stories, they listed as something like 3,000 stories. And so, Microsoft when they were developing the flight simulator, they went and got the OpenStreetMap data and they didn't scrub it or anything. And so, if you're flying in Melbourne, it's Melbourne and then this one really narrow building that goes up just like a giant monolith in the sky.

Josh:
That's amazing.

Starr:
And there's all these pictures on Twitter of people flying around it, going like, "What is this?"

Ben:
That's great.

Josh:
It's just a glitch in the data.

Starr:
Yeah.

Josh:
Wow. This is because Microsoft... I mean, this would never happen to Google Flight Simulator, I feel like. They don't use OpenStreetMap, do they? They've got their own... They've got Google cars.

Ben:
Yeah. But the problem with Google Flight Simulator would be that in three years, they would trash it. They would end it.

Josh:
Right. Because no one would play it. Or, not enough people would play it. Like 500,000 people would play but they'd be like, "We need 500,000,000 to play this."

Ben:
Exactly.

Josh:
"If it's going to be..."

Ben:
Exactly. Yeah, that's been in the news recently too. Google Cloud, and Steve... I don't know how you pronounce his last name. Yegge, maybe? Had this blog post about how Google deprecates so much all the time that... Why would you even build on it? And it's notable because Steve is an ex-Googler. And not just a luminary in the field in general but having worked there, he was pretty annoyed that he'd have to rebuild all of his stuff every few years just because Google likes to turn things off.

Josh:
Yeah. It's not a great policy.

Ben:
That's definitely a consideration that we had when we were shopping around for hosting, comparing AWS versus Google. That wasn't the primary consideration but that was an issue. My primary consideration was it's really easy apparently, to get your Google Cloud account shut off, and hard to get it returned back on.

Josh:
Wow.

Ben:
So, they made me pretty skittish.

Starr:
Based on complaints, or third parties, or what?

Ben:
No, based on automated algorithms at Google for detecting abuse.

Starr:
Oh.

Josh:
Nice.

Starr:
Oh, wow.

Ben:
Yeah, exactly.

Josh:
So, that's a good selling point.

Starr:
Great. Yeah.

Josh:
"Our platform is so free of abuse that you can't even use it."

Ben:
So, yeah, there have been a variety of Hacker News posts about people-

Starr:
Or it's, "Amazon just bills you for the abuse."

Ben:
Exactly. Amazon's just, "Oh, just pay us. We'll be fine."

Josh:
I guess with that Bitcoin money that you're mining.

Ben:
Exactly.

Josh:
Wow.

Ben:
Anyway, so yeah, so I think not a good idea to play Google Flight Simulator because halfway through your flight, they'll just turn it off.

Josh:
Just in the middle of the-

Starr:
Well, I don't know. They might keep it around because they got to train those self-flying planes.

Ben:
Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Josh:
Oh, yeah.

Ben:
That makes me think though, what would be really hard, so it'll be Google Airlines. Would you really want to fly in that airline? Because who knows.

Starr:
They might cancel it while you're up in the air.

Josh:
Do they have the courtesy of at least calling you from the Google control tower and telling you, "We're shutting down this product. Prepare for landing." Or, is it just like, "Lights out."?

Starr:
Well, the reason that we don't really have much... We're just rambling is because I was on a... I went on an impromptu vacation. My partner Evie was just... Quarantine and everything. We've been both working from... We've been trying to stretch a normal life into a more short amount of time. And because of childcare and all that and she was just like, "We need a vacation. I'm booking a place." Okay, I booked it. And so, it was like, "Ah. Okay." But she was totally right. It was a great thing.

Josh:
Yeah. How was it?

Starr:
It was wonderful. And we went to a little town called Shelton. We were actually outside of the town. It's... Let's see. I don't know. It's some direction in relation to Olympia. You get to Olympia and you turn right, whatever direction that is.

Josh:
Okay.

Starr:
So, I guess that would be West, West of Olympia. And it's on... There's a bunch of these little inlets from the sound, and so the tide comes in, and goes out, and it's called Shelton because lot's of shellfish grow there and so you can and dig them up and everything, which they did. And then we cooked them and then we're like, "Should we be eating these? Are these going to kill us and poison us?" And they didn't. They didn't. So, that was a good thing. But all in all, it was very nice. It was very nice.

Josh:
Cool. Do you feel refreshed?

Starr:
I do. I do feel refreshed. I'm wearing a colorful shirt.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
Which you can tell. And while I was gone this Summer, I went away, when I left it was in the 90s or whatever. And I get back and it's 70 all day. So, I can live with that.

Josh:
So, the colorful shirt thing, I don't... For some reason, when I put on a... Because I always wear... My uniform is a black T-shirt but you might know this but when I go on vacation, I'll put on a colorful shirt just to signify that I am on vacation. And it makes me feel a lot better. It makes me feel more like I'm on vacation now.

Ben:
Well, just...

Josh:
I don't know if that... If you have the same experience.

Ben:
How colorful are we talking? Are we... Stripes like Rugby shirt, or Hawaiian shirt?

Josh:
Oh, full on Hawaiian.

Ben:
All right. All right.

Josh:
No, not Hawaiian. Just maybe like a blue T-shirt or something. No, you know, actually, like my ElixirConf T-shirt which was bright. It's not even red, it's... I don't know. It's very bright for a conference shirt, yeah. I have a very interesting wardrobe is what I'm trying to tell you. There's a lot of variety in it. It's basically black T-shirts... It's black T-shirts and conference T-shirts.

Starr:
You can't wear the Hawaiian shirts out because people will think you're a CIA agent.

Josh:
Yeah. I should definitely... I could definitely pull off the Hawaiian shirt I think.

Ben:
You actually could.

Starr:
Yeah, you could.

Josh:
I actually got a few of those.

Starr:
Get some aviators.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Starr:
Nice... Turn your baseball cap around the other way for regulation.

Josh:
Right. Yeah.

Ben:
So, Hook Relay's coming along nicely.

Josh:
It is.

Starr:
Oh, yeah, yeah. Tell us about that.

Josh:
I'm excited.

Ben:
So, Josh has been digging in lately. And it was funny, we had a product meeting a couple weeks ago, and we're planning out what Josh, and Kevin, and I were all going to do, what our assignments were and I think Josh nervously asked something about tests because Josh loves tests. And Kevin and I are not quite as big fans of writing tests as Josh is. And so, Kevin and I both chuckled and we're like, "Oh yeah, Josh. That's your job." So, Josh started diving in and writing some tests, and it's been great. But it was really good because Josh was... Hasn't been working on Hook Relay until this past week or two. And so, he had to do all the typical developer start up things. Like, "Oh, how do I get set up with the database? And how do I connect to that?"

Ben:
And it made me realize in much shame, how little I had actually documented about getting set up, and getting everything going. And Kevin had learned along the way but Josh was like, "I don't know what's going on here." And I'm like, "Oh yeah. There's no documentation for that. Sorry."

Josh:
There is now though.

Ben:
Yes, thanks to Josh's-

Josh:
Because Josh also loves documentation.

Ben:
Yeah. So, thank you Josh for helping us out there.

Josh:
Hey, you're welcome. Yeah. Well, I think that's always a good... Actually, I mean, I always... You should probably write your documentation as you're building things but I think there is some benefit for having a new developer that's onboarding write the documentation because it's coming from their perspective. And you might get set up steps that are not something that you would think of that would save someone a lot of time that's not... Didn't start from scratch with the app or whatever.

Ben:
Right. Yeah. For sure. And when you do that, you just got to... Just how much context is in your head.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
Even on new projects. Like, "Oh, there's this thing, and that thing, and this other thing." Yeah. I had forgotten all that stuff because I had been in it for so long.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
Yeah, it's useful to have that fresh perspective come in. But Josh is tearing it up. He's added a bunch of onboarding stuff, which has been great. Kevin has been focused on the UI, I've been focused on the API, and Josh has been focused on, "Hey, can we actually make this usable for our customers?"

Josh:
Well, and yeah, and how do they learn how to use it when they first...

Ben:
Exactly.

Josh:
Like they just sign up and land on the dashboard or whatever.

Ben:
Yeah.

Josh:
So, yeah. We've been trying to come up with some ideas for things we could show... What's the first thing they see? What's the first thing you see when you sign up for something? Because there's a lot of options.

Ben:
I think having our years of experience learning with Honeybadger has really helped accelerate what we're doing here because it's like, "Oh, we should do this onboarding survey thing. And we should do this tour thing."

Josh:
Yeah. I had the same thought. I thought about that this week as I was... I was building this... I think we're going to with a... There's going to be... We don't want to put too much between the user between signing up and actually getting to work doing something in the app. But I think we are going to try showing a simple welcome screen, and maybe have a video or something. By the way, I need to get you to record a video, Ben. Because it's your app. So, I think it should be your face. But just saying hello, and then we are going to have a introduction... An optional introduction box where people can either say hello to us, or tell us where they... Why they're signing up which is something we did for Honeybadger after a long time and it's worked out really well I would say.

Josh:
We get a lot of interesting feedback from that little... Like, "Hey, where did you... Where are you coming from today?" People fill it out, and we get some interesting responses sometimes. For instance-

Starr:
And I can see that being even more useful for a new product when you're really steering direction based on user feedback.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, it'll be interesting depending on where we get our initial... I don't know... We don't know yet how the launch... Where people will be coming from with the launch. I assume people will be coming from our Honeybadger channels, and founder quest and stuff. But I don't know. This is a totally different product for us, and it appeals to a totally different... A lot more people. So, I don't know, we could get featured on... We could be front page of Hacker News with our show HN Post. And then, get a bunch of Hacker News people commenting like, "I don't know if I want to see those introductions."

Starr:
Oh my God.

Josh:
But those will be a little different.

Starr:
I haven't been on Hacker News in so long.

Josh:
Yeah. I don't... I check it out occasionally. You read it, don't you Ben?

Ben:
Yeah. I have an RSS feed specifically for show Hacker News because I love seeing all the new stuff coming in.

Josh:
That's a good idea.

Ben:
Yeah. It's a lot of fun to see what's going on out there.

Josh:
Yeah. What my thought this week was like yours, it's just all of these things that I knew to do, I was thinking back, "What would I be doing if this was... If we were back whatever 10 years ago building... And this was my first app." And I'm like, "I would be doing none of this." We would have just launched it as... You built it, which is just... Which is fine. I mean, it's a good app and it works but there's no... There's none of the things we've learned over time of how to teach the user slowly how to use the app. Introduce them, and then shepherd them along. It would be just dump them into a dashboard. Yeah. So, I thought it was kind of cool.

Starr:
This is really interesting to me because it seems like it's an evolution of me thinking that was... When we first built Honeybadger, we did do that. You signed up, and you got dumped onto the empty project page, or maybe you got dumped into some set up instructions but it was very, very minimal. And that was in-line with the times, right? There's this whole MVP thing, you build the least amount of stuff you can possibly build and then ship it.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Starr:
A lot of people did that. And I guess... I don't know. It seems like a lot of those things were kind of bad. Or not necessarily bad but just... It seems like people expect a lot more out of an app these days. They expect it to be a lot more friendly. They don't really want to just immediately log on and see just nothing. Or, just have to figure it out themselves.

Josh:
Yeah. I'd say the bar has been raised. People are definitely expecting more.

Ben:
I kind of feel like it's a pendulum. Before the whole MVP thing, the idea was, "Well, it's got to be perfect." Well, because you're shipping oftentimes a golden master CD, right? So, it has to be perfect when it's going out the door but even web developers felt that way. It's like, "Oh, it's got to be pristine. It's got to be just exact." And then, the whole MVP thing came and developers like, "Oh. We can throw away all that idea and just throw out the basic minimum app that people can use." And I feel like, yeah, it's swinging back towards the, "Well, let's give our new users a little more of a polished experience. Let's not just give them the little scooter. Let's give a moped instead. Or, something a little more developed."

Starr:
You can see the difference in how long it took us to replace the font awesome icon as a logo with a real logo.

Josh:
Because we did start with a font awesome icon, staying true to ourselves but then...

Starr:
Yeah, with Honeybadger, we had that for at least a year.

Josh:
Got to start-

Starr:
Those were our very first shirts.

Ben:
Yeah. And this time we actually have a custom logo that we had designed.

Starr:
Yeah.

Ben:
Of course, this time we have a little more in the way of resources than we had when we launched Honeybadger.

Starr:
That's true. That's true.

Ben:
So, that doesn't make a difference. We can afford that logo design whereas last time, we really couldn't.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
And that's... I'm excited to see how this develops.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Starr:
Yeah. And I'm excited to get back to work on the static site. I keep being like, "Oh, yeah, I'm going to work on this." And then, it's like, "Okay. I'm going to be gone for a week." Okay, coming back, "I'm really going to do this, this time." Then it's like, "Okay. Surprise. No, you're not."

Josh:
I've been in the same boat though. So, it's okay. This year has been a bit of a struggle to meet deadlines.

Ben:
I've been following your work, Starr, on the static site, and it's looking great.

Starr:
Oh, thank you.

Ben:
The documentation stubs that you have look fantastic, yeah.

Starr:
Thank you. Thank you.

Ben:
So, it's going to look really good. Yeah, I think on launch day, it's going to be looking a lot nicer than the Honeybadger did on launch day. For sure.

Josh:
Nice.

Starr:
Oh, definitely. Yeah.

Ben:
So, one of the things that I've been thinking about this week that's really got me excited is one of these little features that I want to have in Hook Relay which is to be able to send notifications about the success, and about the failure of deliveries to Slack. And we have a lot of integrations in Honeybadger, like sending notifications to Slack, or to Jira, or email, or you name it. We've got a ton of them. And I wanted to take a fresh approach to that in Hook Relay because we've had some pain points in Honeybadger with that sort of thing.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
And I realize, as I was thinking about this, I was like, "You know what? We could use Hook Relay for sending these notifications." The payload just needs a little bit of massaging from one JSON format to another JSON format.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
So, that it'll work well in Slack.

Josh:
If only there were a product who could do this.

Ben:
Yeah.

Josh:
That could do this.

Ben:
It's like, "Just so happens we've built this product that takes web hooks from one JSON format, to another format." And so, haven't written the code yet but I'm just excited about this idea that we can plug in a Slack notification, or any other kind of thing that takes a web hook, and we can easily support that in Hook Relay.

Starr:
Wait, so... I just wanted to ask, so you can actually... You can transform pay loads in Hook Relay?

Ben:
Yes. Yes, you can.

Josh:
Yeah. I was going to... Has this... Is this hinting at our secret evil genius plan to introduce serious transformations to pay loads?

Ben:
Yeah. So, JAMESpath, is what we're using today. It's a well known... It's like XSLT But for JSON.

Starr:
Okay.

Ben:
Incoming JSON pay load and you can spit out a different output JSON pay load based on this transformation language.

Starr:
I hope it's not too much like XSLT.

Ben:
So, it's pretty cool in that you can easily massage a pay load. And we use them at Honeybadger to send custom pay loads to pager duty for example because they don't want us as much data as maybe some of the other integrations that we support. But exposing this to Hook Relay customers is, I think, going to be pretty awesome because they can say, "Oh, well, take this... Maybe I have a web hook coming in from GitHub and I want to send it over to Slack, whatever, and I can select just the fields that I want, and put them in new fields, and it's going to be super awesome."

Josh:
Yeah. I'm excited about this... Back on the onboarding side of this, I was thinking about that this week because... There's certain aspects of Hook Relay which are just dead simple. You basically put it in between your web hook, and the user, and it gives you all this cool stuff for free basically. But then you have... So, in that regard, it's way simpler to get started with, I feel almost than Honeybadger. Even for example... Because you don't have to integrate into your application. You're sending the same... You'd be sending a post anyway, a request anyway somewhere. So, that's easy to explain. Fairly easy to explain. But then you get something like JMESPath which is... It's basically a custom programing language for transforming JSON data and that is the... That's a power tool or something.

Josh:
So, I'm looking forward to figuring out how to... Because you can't just drop that on someone. You can't just teach someone JMESPath and I'm getting that acronym, right?

Ben:
I think so, yeah.

Josh:
Okay. You can't just teach them that on that first screen when they sign up. "Here, learn this transformation language that you've never heard about before." And that's something with user onboarding and just even life cycle that you need to think about. How do gradually level someone up in the ability to use your product effectively? And there's opportunity there actually to teach people... Our customers who are developers, teach them skills that they didn't know before that will useful elsewhere. Because if you learn JMESPath with Hook Relay, I mean, you could use it... I mean, it's an open sourced tool, so you could use this in your own products or whatever. And it's something I had never heard of until we started using it in Honeybadger, and you introduced me to it Ben.

Josh:
So, I think that's cool to have things like that built in that are... It's super, super technical and powerful but you basically need to teach people how to use it effectively.

Starr:
I'm wondering what approach we need to take to support that? Right? Because I imagine that if people get really into the weeds on that, then they might email us and be like, "Hey, this isn't working." And in fact, their problem is that they've... They have syntax error and some...

Josh:
Oh, yeah. Oh, you mean from helpdesk support?

Starr:
Yeah, I mean helpdesk support.

Josh:
Yeah, you're right. Yeah.

Starr:
Yeah. So, it might be good from the outset to set a position on that and just be like, "You know, we can't-"

Josh:
This is something else we learned with Honeybadger.

Starr:
Yeah. People will... If you let them, people will have you... I don't know. SSH into their machine and do a day's worth of work for them. So, yeah, which you can't do if you're selling something for 30 bucks a month or whatever.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
Or for free.

Josh:
That's a really good point, Starr.

Starr:
So, I don't know. Maybe we have a policy where we're just like, "Okay. You're using this thing. We know it works on our end. If we have any inclination... Or any idea that it's an actual problem on our end, we will fix it but if it's debugging your JMESPath code or whatever, that's on you. Here's some books."

Ben:
Yeah. That's a good point. So, what we've done so far, is we do some upfront validation on the syntax that they use, and we try it out right when they configure it, so that they know right away as opposed to having to wait and discover, "Oh, wait, why are my pay loads not shaping up the way that I thought they should?"

Starr:
Oh, that's smart.

Ben:
And then, also, linking to the documentation for the JMESPath website where they actually have an online evaluator. So, you can put in some pay load, and you can put in a query and it will try and evaluate that for you. So, we could pull that into Hook Relay's at UI right there, and that'd be kind of cool. We haven't done that yet.

Josh:
That would be cool. Yeah. Well, we can add those... Those are nice finishing touches we could add after we see how people respond to it, and use it, and everything. And I don't know, who knows, maybe we'll be adding a JavaScript transformation feature at some point.

Ben:
That would be super cool.

Josh:
Write your transformations in JavaScript.

Ben:
But the early responses from our alpha testers has been really good. They love it. One person said, "This is something that I've wished existed for a long time now." So, that was great to hear.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
Awesome.

Josh:
That'll be on the home page, right?

Ben:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Josh:
On the sales page.

Josh:
One thing that was interesting this week that Ben and I... The discussion we got into a little bit on Base Camp, and this might be a larger topic that we could talk about on a future episode or something. But just was like positioning with Hook Relay because we have all these really cool things that it could do, and ideas, things we want it to do, that we know there's reasons we want it do this because we could... It'll do this for us. Which is primarily why we're building it. But then, we keep thinking of these other use cases that it could handle basically. Whereas, I think when it first started, it was really just about improving the quality of web hook delivery. Am I getting that right, Ben?

Ben:
Yep.

Josh:
I don't think we were thinking... I mean, in the back of our head, we had been talking about products that do some of these more advanced pipeline style transformations and things like that. But that's not really what we had in mind initially anyway. But those types of... These more advanced use cases fit nicely into what the product already does which is great but at the same time, it's... It doesn't necessarily fit in someone's mind in the same location that just web hooks do. If that makes sense.

Ben:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Josh:
Which comes down to... That comes back to positioning. So, even though the product can... Maybe it can do three really amazing, awesome things that different people want. You need to figure out, "Well, how are you going to actually tell people what it is?" Because you have to start somewhere. I mean, there's a competitive landscape for everything, so you have to look at what other people... What are other people... How are they representing themselves, and who are they selling to primarily? And where do we fit in that landscape? So, I think it's kind of fun too because it's exciting to have a product that isn't positioned yet. We don't really... I think at this point, we don't really know where this fits. And so, we really... We get to think about that.

Josh:
And this is something we really... We didn't really know... We didn't really think about this too much I think when we first launched Honeybadger. Again, it was just like... I mean, we obviously know what this is, we're basically copying something else that we can do better. And we already know that there's customers of that, that want... That would buy this basically. So, we didn't do any positioning exercise where we figure out, "Okay. Where are we going to fit in this market?" And do all the big product things that people do today. So, I'm looking forward to figuring that out. I guess that is part of the... How we... What will the copy be in and stuff. So, I don't know if you've thought about that at all, Starr.

Starr:
I haven't spent a ton of time thinking about it. The thing that... I want to compared Hook Relay's possible positioning to maybe... I'm interested in comparing it to Heroku because they do very different things obviously, right? It's not a competitor type thing. But Heroku came in and is like, "Okay. Well, you've got web hosting, you've got all this stuff exists already but we're going to take that and we're going to be like, okay, we're going to add easy deployment to web hosting, we're going to add scalability, we're going to..." It's basically, you have this thing, web hosting, that people already do, they already know how to do. And then, Heroku essentially came on and added these very simple... You press a button, and you add this to web hosting, and you get this to web hosting, and you add this to web hosting.

Starr:
So, my initial... Yeah, my initial thinking on this is that... Because Hook Relay's kind of like that with web hooks, right? You have your web hook, it exists, you know how to do it, it's fine. But then, you have this push button system where, "Okay, add reliability to your web hooks. Add..." I don't know, "Maintainability to your web hooks." Because you don't have to go into your app and edit code when Slack updates their pay load format, right? You could just change your JMESPath thing, you just change that. You just log in, you change that around and there you go. And so, it seems like each of these features that we've talked about is like this push button power up to web hooks as a concept.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
Man, really liked that. I hadn't thought about it that way but that's pretty cool.

Josh:
Yeah, me either. Yeah, we'll have to expand on that. Or whatever.

Ben:
Yeah. And then, another problem that we faced almost from the beginning when we had early alpha customers come in and say, "Oh, that's great. But can it do this?" Pushing the product in different directions. And we came to realize pretty quickly that while we had seen it primarily as an outbound use case, sending web hooks from Honeybadger to a variety of things, some other people saw it as primarily an inbound thing where they're handling a bunch of inbound web hooks and want to do stuff with that. And that was interesting. And as we worked through that, that changed the complexity of the home page. Just the sales high, okay, now you got to talk to two different use cases.

Ben:
And then in the past week, as Josh and I have been having a discussion on Base Camp, we've actually come up with a third area which is a higher level thing than just sending web hooks. It's connecting services both inbound and outbound. Being an actual relay like the name implies, right?

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
So, it's going to be interesting to come up with... Not just with the positioning but also, okay, now these use cases and how that plays into positioning.

Josh:
Yeah. It's difficult to... It's hard to sell a Swiss army knife.

Ben:
Yeah. That's what I was thinking earlier, "It's like a Swiss army knife."

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
Yeah.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
Well, I mean, you get it for the knife part, right? And then you discover all the other tools and their carrying usefulness.

Ben:
It's like, "Oh but I got this knife but it also tweezers. Right on. I love tweezers."

Starr:
Yeah, exactly. We'll just hire that super shamming guy.

Josh:
I mean, I have to admit, a product that really embraced the Swiss army knife thing and sold itself, maybe it's even the metaphor is a Swiss army knife. On the home page, you've got a literal Swiss army knife.

Ben:
I had the same though, yeah.

Josh:
I mean, it's cute but at the same time, I don't think I would ever buy that product. So, it goes back to the thing, you really have to figure out... Yeah, some kind of concept to fit into the user's head that clicks. I don't know. I don't think I would buy a product that said, "I'm a literal..." I guess New Relic is like a Swiss army knife of monitoring and that's the very reason I don't like it in the past, so I guess that's a good example.

Starr:
But then again, think of Heroku because you have... They are kind of a Swiss army knife. I mean, some of their weird tools are provided by third parties in their Heroku marketplace.

Josh:
That's true, yeah.

Starr:
But it's just menus of things, and you just click, "Okay. I want this database. I want these add-ons to do Redis or whatever."

Josh:
Yeah. That's a good point.

Starr:
But it doesn't feel like it's diluted because they have their core product which is a hosting, and then the other stuff is sort of like... Yeah, it's add-ons to that.

Josh:
Yeah. It's like power-ups.

Starr:
Yeah.

Josh:
Yeah. Yeah, that's a really good point because Heroku... You're totally right, Heroku is kind of like that but at the same time, Heroku has... When they first came around, they had some of their greatest positioning. I loved their positioning, and still do. It's like easy mode for app deployments. Hit push, and you've deployed your app. So, it's like the best of both worlds. It's dead simple, it's relatable but then when you get into it, it's like, "Wow. This is powerful. I can just click push a button... Hit push for my web app, I can't add whatever Redis or Postgress or whatever. Or monitoring. Honeybadger. Or Hook Relay."

Starr:
I'm wondering if the reason it doesn't feel like a Swiss army knife is that you have to pay for every button you press.

Ben:
Well, just out of curiosity's sake, I was thinking about the Swiss army knife thing. I'm like, "I wonder how their home page pitches the Swiss army knife." Because you've got all these use cases, right?

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
So, I loaded it up just now, and I went to the website. And the funny thing is, the actual Swiss army knife is nowhere on the page. If you go to Swissarmy.com, you can't see a Swiss army knife. Right now, at least. The headline is something about barbecuing. And then they have a backpack, and they have their kitchen utensils. And then you get down, you keep scrolling down, then you finally actually see a Swiss army knife next to a watch.

Starr:
It's the Swiss army lifestyle.

Ben:
Totally.

Josh:
That's genius, Ben. We should definitely do some sort of... This would be a great positioning research exercise.

Ben:
Yeah, totally.

Josh:
Like, how do you sell a Swiss army knife?

Ben:
Right.

Josh:
And then apply that to SaaS or, software products.

Ben:
Yep. Yep.

Josh:
I would buy that eBook.

Ben:
You should write that eBook.

Josh:
That's a... Yeah, maybe I will.

Ben:
Yeah. So, it'll fun to see what the Hook Relay home page ends up looking like. Maybe we'll have backpacks, and kitchen utensils.

Starr:
There you go. People can add a photo, like them with Hook Relay, using it in their lifestyle.

Ben:
Yeah, totally. That makes me think of Kathy Sierra and her thing was, "It's not about a product, right? It's about your customer. It's about making your customer a badass, right?"

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
You just had the book. You just pulled that book right up. You just pulled that book right up, Josh.

Josh:
Yeah, no, I do have... I'm showing the book for it. People who are listening, I have the book sitting on my desk. It's Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra. And I highly recommend it. It's a badass book. It will make you more badass but it will also make your users more badass. But yeah, I'm going... I've been revisiting it through this week for our onboarding just to remind myself how to go through this.

Ben:
Yeah. But the... One of the things that made me key into that idea, and with Starr's comment, was also... And I'm still looking at the Swiss army home page, and that hero image is an individual who is slicing through barbecue. He's preparing it. I'm like... So, it's not even about the knife. It's about what he can do with the knife, right?

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
He's using the knife to slice through some barbecue?

Ben:
He's making a really good looking barbecue. So, the knife-

Starr:
I found a Swiss army knife.

Josh:
Well, I think they sell... They sell cutlery as well.

Starr:
Oh.

Ben:
Yeah. It's Victorinox branded.

Starr:
Oh, that's right. I've got Victorinox knives in my kitchen. They're actually the best budget knife.

Ben:
Yeah, they're great.

Starr:
They're made out of stainless steel. So, if you're... Your family who never takes care of knives, kitchen things, once you use them, they can't destroy them accidentally.

Josh:
Nice.

Starr:
This is why... I may have backed off of buying $200 kitchen knives at one point because I just knew somebody was going to leave it in the sink, and it was going to rust, and I was just going to get upset.

Ben:
Right. Right. So, I think the challenge will be... If we... And we love that approach. We love Kathy Sierra, we love that whole idea. So, how do we communicate that on our home page? It's not about relaying web hooks perse, it's about what you can accomplish in your development workflow by having this service that's handling all that for you.

Josh:
Yep. It's all about what you can do.

Ben:
Or we can just throw up a picture of a guy cutting up barbecue and call it a day.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
How about this... How about this for positioning, it's a series of tubes. Hook Relay, a series of tubes.

Ben:
Love it. Can we get a picture of Al Gore with a testimonial?

Starr:
Yeah. I think... Yeah, I mean-

Ben:
These are the best tubes on the tubes.

Starr:
There you go. Wow, this guy has a really big beard on the Victorinox site. I guess they market to people with beards. You should check it out, Josh.

Ben:
Josh is like, "I have to buy that knife."

Josh:
This is obviously made for me.

Starr:
Oh, there's a recipe for barbecue sauce on here?

Ben:
What?

Starr:
I got to check this out. Yeah. There's butter, in their barbecue sauce.

Josh:
I think something for us-

Starr:
I'm sorry, no. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I have a Southerner's deep conviction about barbeque sauce.

Josh:
Starr loves barbecue. So, I knew we had lost her.

Starr:
I don't even eat barbecue that much. I just have very strong opinions about barbecue sauce. There's a great barbecue place down the street from me and they put cumin in there barbecue sauce. And I just... I lost it. I just don't understand that.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
On FounderQuest. Next episode, we argue the merits of barbecue sauce ingredients.

Starr:
I will. I will talk about... If you want to get-

Josh:
We'll do the barbecue sauce episode, okay, Starr?

Starr:
Yeah. Okay. You can tell I'm hungry because everything comes back to food but I can talk for an hour about my strongly held food opinions if you want but nobody wants to hear it.

Ben:
Go ahead, Josh.

Josh:
Oh. Oh, I was just... I was going to say, I think for Hook Relay, thinking about what can people do? What does it give you as a user that makes you think... Makes it click and be like, "I'm awesome. This makes me feel really good with what I'm able to accomplish here." It goes back to the stripe user experience. I would love to be stripe. I would love people to see me as a super reliable, awesome service that it's a joy to use. And the praise that people give Stripe for their developer experience, I would love to have that praise for my own products. And that's kind of what we're selling... I think that's kind of what we're selling with Hook Relay, is the ability to be that good, basically.

Starr:
It's sort of like bottled excellence that you can buy and sprinkle on your apps, and your products.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
Does it taste like barbecue sauce?

Starr:
It better not have cumin in it. 

Ben:
When I think of bottled excellence, that's got to taste like barbecue sauce.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
I don't know. What would I... I'm thinking more of a beverage. More of something that tastes like honeysuckle for some reason.

Ben:
Hmm. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Starr:
I don't know.

Ben:
Maybe vanilla maple syrup?

Starr:
There you go.

Ben:
Well, it must be time to eat.

Starr:
That's our positioning. It's, "Hook Relay, vanilla maple syrup for your technical team. Just slather it all over them."

Josh:
Well, we could always have some swag. We could have some barbecue sauce swag or something.

Ben:
There you go.

Starr:
That sounds great.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
Barbecue swag. Oh, man. That's a good business idea somebody should start up. Just to have some branded barbecue sauce that people can order.

Ben:
For sure.

Josh:
I'm sure... I don't know, I'd be surprised if one of the swag fulfillment companies out there isn't doing something like that.

Starr:
There's got to be.

Josh:
Maybe. I'm sure we could find it.

Starr:
It's probably crappy.

Josh:
It won't be good, yeah.

Starr:
It's probably not good. Yeah.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
All right. Well, it seems like we're losing steam here. Should we wrap it up?

Ben:
Yeah, let's wrap it.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Starr:
All right. Well, this has been FounderQuest. Thank you for joining us for our rambling discussion with actually pretty... Some interesting points in there. It was not all fluff. There's some real good... Some nuggets in there. If you want to write for us, for Honeybadger, go to honeybadger.io/blog and check out the write for us page. Read the whole thing. And email me with... Following the incredibly detailed instructions, and you could write for us. And yeah, so... Oh, and yeah, give us some reviews. Apple Podcast FounderQuest, something like that. Just go ahead and-

Josh:
Yeah. Not enough people are reviewing us. So, give us reviews.

Starr:
I don't know. I haven't checked in a long time. Yeah, you should... What? Why am I even seeing this then? Maybe I should just cut it... I'm just annoying people. I used to feel like I can't end the podcast without begging for reviews. I feel like it's something that's expected.

Josh:
Well, no. We've got some. We've got... I mean, we have good reviews. I'm just saying, we could... We don't have as many reviews as we have listeners. I know that. So, step it up.

Starr:
That's true.

Josh:
Step it up, people.

Starr:
If I don't ask for reviews, then I'm going to have to feel like this is a real podcast some other way by shilling Casper Mattresses.

Josh:
Yeah. We'll have to get advertisers or something because that's no good.

Starr:
Or Audible. Let me tell you about a book I listened to on Audible the other day.

Josh:
It's Badass by Kathy Sierra.

Starr:
Badass by Kathy Sierra.

Josh:
All right.

Starr:
All right. See y'all later. Have a good one.


What is FounderQuest?

Three developers building a software business on our own terms.