How Nostalgia Got Agile By Practicing What We Preach

Ben Lee

Ben Lee

CEO and Co-founder of Neon Roots

Ben Lee is the co-founder and CEO of Neon Roots, a digital development agency with a mission to destroy the development model and rebuild it from the ground up. After a brief correspondence with Fidel Castro at age nine, Ben decided to start doing things his own way, going from busboy to club manager at a world-class nightclub before he turned 18. Since then, Ben has founded or taken a leading role in 5 businesses in everything from software development to food and entertainment.

“Practice What You Preach” isn’t just a hit 90s song by Barry White, it’s a motto that we take very seriously at Neon Roots. We do a lot of talking about our mobile app development workshop, Rootstrap. We talk about why so many apps fail. We talk about how we can better prepare your mobile app for a competitive marketplace. But we do a lot more than just talk. As Barry White said in 1994. “You say there’s a lesson that you want to teach. Well here I am baby, practice what you preach.” And speaking of the 1990s…

The Release Of Sitcomd

Over the past several years we’ve worked with a lot of great people to release a lot of great apps. We worked with Snoop Dogg to release his popular sticker app Snoopify. We worked with Tony Robbins to release his personal coaching library through the Breakthrough University app.

sitcomd mobile app

When Sitcomd launched, it was fun – but it was far from done

These apps all went through our Rootstrap process, and they came out the other end primed for success. And while these have been amazing partnerships, we wanted to do a little something for ourselves. That’s where Sitcomd came in.

The idea of Sitcomd was simple enough: give users all the tools they need to let them and their friends star in their own 90s sitcom intro. Love for a time where houses were full and princes were fresh has never been greater, and this app could tap into that sense of nostalgia. It’d be fun for users and just as fun for our developers to create.

We wanted the app to be a success and that’s exactly why we put it through the same ringer as we would any other client.

Inception & Creation

If there’s anything in mobile app development worth preaching about, it’s agile development. We’ve been singing its praises and applying its principals since the beginning of Rootstrap: Release early. Gather feedback. Apply findings. Repeat.

From the first napkin sketch to the release of our MVP took only 12 weeks. This wasn’t a rush job; this was working lean. The initial release of the Sitcomd app had no unnecessary features, but it worked. It was bright, it was colorful, it was fun. In week one alone, Sitcomd already had 5,000 users, and in the first month we over 100K impressions.

But we were far from finished.

As we would have told any client, you release lean so that you can gather feedback from actual users and then make your changes. And that’s what we did.

Reception & Iteration

We scoured reviews in the App Store and Product Hunt. Both good and bad, we wanted to know what users thought. What did they like? What would they like to see fixed? Best yet, what do they think would make the app even better?

Many had great things to say:

“Was looking through the App Store for a cool sitcom making app and ran into this bad boy… Having so much fun making my own little videos with featuring friends and family. Definitely a fun app!!!”

“This app has taken over my life. Now everyone can know what it means to be a 90s kid

“People stop me on the street and ask if I’m the star of the nostalgic tv show. 5 stars, would sitcom again.”

Even more important in this early stage were those that were more critical.

One user said,

“This is a cool concept. However, I’m frustrated because I spent $1.99 on an in-app purchase but I can’t do anything that I couldn’t already do. I can’t remove branding or edit the text. This is really misleading if you aren’t providing a true custom experience.”

Another said,

“This is a great and fun app to throw your spin on sitcom intros. Super funny and creative. All you have to do is record a couple of seconds of yourself and others and the app will do the rest. The only issue I’ve been having is that I cannot save the videos into my camera roll. I keep getting an error message. In order to save them I have been sending them to myself as a text message. I hope they fix that, as well as provide the option to change all of the wording in the reel, as well as make the intros longer. Other than that, it’s been fun!”

These are concerns that can’t be ignored. And they weren’t.

After its initial release, Sitcomd went through two iterations, applying the findings from customer feedback and making improvements to the application.

These included adding the ability to further customize and trim your clips. And even offering a first-time walkthrough to ensure users get the best Sitcomd experience.

The Art Of Practicing What You Preach

Despite being belted out by a golden-throated R&B legend, the phrase “practice what you preach” might be a cliché, overused to the point of losing some of its urgency. But the simple fact is, if you’re not willing to apply the same methods you use for clients onto your own products, there is absolutely no reason for clients to have faith in you in the first place. Because if that’s the case, you don’t have faith in your process and you don’t have faith in yourself.  

So trust us: it’s not just a catchy lyric. Practice what you preach.

Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/garryknight/