Lean interview about Row0 iPad app

After a crazy week with Row0 where I was interviewed and featured in the Edmonton Journal and CTV National News and Sean was featured on Global TV, I took a moment to document some of the interview questions that weren’t shown in any of our coverage about the app.

What’s Row0?

Row0 is an iPad and iPhone app built for the World Junior Hockey Championships.  It allowed hard core sports fans an opportunity to consume as much information about the event as humanly possible.  It also allowed them to interact with other fans who care about the event as much as they do.  It was available in the app store for 4 days before we removed it after getting some heat about content rights of articles and photos we were embedding.

What’s the first thing people ask you about Row0?

So many of the people I’ve chatted with, especially since the press releases about the app, ask me “Where did you come up with the idea?”  I’ll often spew off some canned answer talking about my love for sports merging with my fascination  with computers, but the truth of the matter is … not only do I not really remember how “the idea” actually came together, but the app which we released is just a minimum product that tests a few hypothesis about a greater vision.  Answering “where did you come up with this idea” seems to imply that this is a good idea … when I really don’t believe this version of the app is good enough to be a bug business.

Well, what do you wish people would ask you about Row0?

The real question I wish I could answer is “Why did you decide to release *this* app first?”

Okay, you said that you don’t think that Row0 today is a big business, what IS the big opportunity that you’re going after here that Row0 sheds a bit of light onto?

I don’t know … but that’s the fun in all of this.  Experimenting and collecting data as fast as possible to iterate towards the big idea instead of spending a tonne of capital with a “build it and they will come” attitude.  

There are a few opportunities that I think could be pretty huge in this space.  Without going into too much detail (I could probably write several pages on each opportunity), here’s a list of some of these really high level opportunities that Row0 helps us learn more about.

1.  Elite athlete identity – How can we go way above and beyond what twitter and Facebook are doing to allow an athlete to create a brand for themselves, and to interact with their fans.  A portal for blogs, tweets, photos, and interactivity with fans.  

2.  Digital program guide for sports teams enabling fans to interact with their favorite teams before, during and after a game or season.

3.  Second screen service allowing fans to interact with other fans and content before, during and after an event.   

OK, all those sound great even though they’re incredibly vague, but why build Row0?  It doesn’t seem to be any of those?

You’re right, I believe that all 3 of these opportunities could be real businesses, but like any new software venture, each is riddled with leaps of faith and untested assumptions.  With Row0, we took a page out of the lean startup handbook and put metrics in place to learn the following:

– How often will people return to read about a recurring sporting event they care about?

– What do they care about reading?  Blogs?  Player tweets?  Fan tweets?  Looking at event photos?

– While consuming sports content, how often would people interact with a game about the event?

– How often will people interact with each other during a sporting event?  

– When will they consume content?  Before, during or after an event?

– How do you best reach these fans?  Social media, newspaper, news, feet on the ground marketing?  Radio ads? 

– Who owns the content?  do bloggers care?  Do photographers care?

Leveraging a number of unfair advantages (relationships with local journalists, sports bloggers, Radio personalities, the Edmonton Oilers), we felt very strongly that we could attract a good user base for our app.  With that user base we could answer a lot of the above questions and then iterate closer towards a bigger vision.

Ah, very wise young lean startup grasshopper.  Can you tell us more about the results of these tests?

We gathered a tonne of data.  In 4 days we had over 1000 active users and every interaction within the app was instrumented.  But lets save the details for a follow up interview /  blog post ….

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