Week 17 Update - April 26

Finally catching up.. or almost caught up to the current week. This was meant to be posted on Monday. It’s Thursday today. Hopefully by Monday, May 3rd, I’ll be back on schedule.

More setup for cold outbound outreach

Setup MX and DKIM DNS records for two domains that will be used for outbound emails promoting our content. downpayment.io and projectdownpayment.com Clever right? the reverse of this very blog. There are several tools that piggyback on G Suite and Office 365 as well as use native SMTP servers for sending. Just listing them here is probably not productive. Once I have experience and opinions on which work well, I’ll write and report back.

Working in Public

This “Follow along as we build…” style blog in DownpaymentProject.com is my attempt to embrace the Work in Public (not to be confused with Work in Progress). I have been writing here as well as logging status updates on wip.co where I have over 250 sequential days with updates. They track the streaks and rank them… so I have a streak going.. I don’t want to break it.

I started reading a book by Austin Kleon, “Show You Work.” I highly recommend it. It’s all about the idea of publishing your process and early work… with all it’s imperfections. In software development, it’s very common to just continue developing and improving the product. We are motivated to add one more feature or upgrade one more tech stack or use the latest and greatest library. We want to refactor and improve it. In reality, we just need to ship it. Ship It! ..get it out in the world and get human feedback. Actual user feedback and adoption. Actual bug reports on what matters and what works.

In our case, we need actual Clients, home-buyers, raising money and have success on the platform. We need mortgage broker and lenders, Partners, to adopt this application and promote to would be client and referral partners, real estate agents. There are tons of other thought leaders in this space… we have Eric Reis and the Lean Startup movement, we have YC’s talk to your customer and ship the MVP (in the lean methodogy), we have the ‘Mom Test’… and more. In the influener space, we have Gary V. how says “Document don’t create” content. In other words… publish your process, your progress, document the behind the scenes, don’t worry about creating content for creating content sakes. Just document your process and build a movement with interested early adoptors that want what your are working on to exist in the world.

So DownpaymentProject… this blog, my twitter and instagram, the youtube videos, facebook page… podcast.. and other channels are all pushing forward on this theme of documenting the process of trying to get this off the ground. Unfortunately we have missed some of the very beginnings. Hopefully I can do retrospectives to document those early days, but I had embraced this.

“…that good work isn’t created in a vacuum and that creativity is always, in some sense, a collaboration, the result of a mind connected to other minds.” -Austin Kleon, “Show Your Work”

This blog does not need to generate leads or even have any kind of real audience, following. It exists to assist me in pushing forward and not give up. It exists to show prospective Partners the thoughtful process behind what we are doing. It exists to demonstrate to Clients and Home-Buyers that we geniunely want to help them take those early steps to buy a home. It exists to aid in recruiting potential team members in the near future. If someone visits this content… they will likely get the message within a short amount of time… and they will likely not come back. If exists to promote competition. Yup, go ahead and copy this idea. As they say.. a rising tide… does what?

Split out Honeybadger to Production, Dev, Staging

We are using Honeybadger for error monitoring in production. It’s also helpful in development and staging. When I originally configured it… we used the same project key in each instance.

I split these out so we have production, staging and dev.

Two thumbs way up for Honeybadger. If you are developing a web app, it’s worth a look. They have a nice free tier for early stage projects.

Blur app chrome extension

I have been using a clever chrome extension called blurapp. It allows you to apply a blurr on certain fields or elements in a web browser and then record or stream and not worry about thay sensitive data getting out there.

Blurweb.app on Chrome Store

This is a must have piece of our toolkit. I can’t believe someone did not create this before now. Maybe they did… Blurweb.app

I did have an issue with some progressive web apps with a recent update. As a result, I have switch to disabling and enabled as I need it.

The only short coming for a live streaming use case is that it only works in a specific browser window, tab. If you need to block something outside of the browser… other approaches must be used. For example, If I have sensitive data… I tend to use two monitors and keep the passwords, keys or others on the other monitor and avoid displaying those windows on the primary broadcast screen.

Toggling Trial Length in Production

We moved default trial length into configuration on production, so we don’t need code updates to change the trial period in production.

Datepicker fixes

I fixed the date picker in the app to only permit future dates, except for manual contribution pages where is permit +/- 3 months.

Max registry limit and discussions around fraud and self-dealing

I’ve been debating the max single contribution and max registry limit. This is mostly for risk management, fraud concerns. We have delays built into the app. By default, the first transaction cannot be paid out for 7 days. This gives us time to analyze transactions for risk. The max contribution and max registry limit are documented and can be changed in configuration based on risk.

The registry goal a user sets should be realistic. They should set a goal for their campaign that is attainable. Partners need to counsel the clients, users to focus on what they need and might get from a campaign and should not just set a 20% goal of their target purchase price. Goals around $8k to $15k to $20-25k are realistic. I except the average to be below $8k and most of the outsized contributions inside a family will occurr OFF the platform. In other words, the rich uncle or grandma will drop $60k or $80k directly to escrow or off platform… and may never be added as a manual contribution on downpayment.gift. That is perfectly fine! The starting of the campaign and sharing of it with family and friends may be credited, at least in part, with initiating that gift. The fact that our fees are zero to the end user and our goals are aligned means it does not matter.

The max registry and max transaction also exist to avoid clients ‘washing’ large credit card contributions to themselves… …to borrow a down payment for near future (this might be just fine in reality) and avoid cash advance pricing of 3% to their credit card. Also, we’d like to avoid clients and users trying to amass credit card awards and points by charging on their or their partners credit cards and then paying it off and receiving points or cash back awards… while we get stuck holding the bag due to zero fees. If we see any transactions of this nature, the registry is likely to be suspended immediately and transactions refunded.

Fixes Galore

Chased down a weird data validation issue when I changed the default City, State for Events, Users. I ended up leaving the default data as is (Springfield… common city, think Simpsons’ Springfield) and removing the city from the registry page for now.

Made a bunch of fixes around invite, source_code, discount_codes. More work in finishing these parameters, especially as we add UTM tracking. Also, pledge gift code in discount_code for Robinhood style gifts at signup.

Setup data-confirm-modal gem js to override standard browser modal with fancier looking bootstrapy one.

Fixed the Archive View in Partners dashboard. I had not been testing the Archive feature so when I did, I immediately found a bug in the column layout and view.

Disable XLS export buttons when no data.

Use shorthost url to dp.gift in home dashboard view.

Setup and Test Hoversignal spinner

Setup Hoversignal spinner and link to Pabbly Connect for API data retrieval. Due to the way this embeds and triggers, it may not be the ideal method of putting the spinner at the top of the funnel for end users.

Hoversignal spinner

Initial pledge gifts were defined as $20, $50, $75, $100, $250. The pledge is made at sign up from the platform and the gift fulfilled at the conclusion of their campaign.

Hoversignal has a robust API using a Resthooks pattern where we can subscribe to webhook callbacks. If we use it in the long term, we’ll want to custom integrate. Right now, the widget popup is the only way to integrate it. I need a way to trigger the javascript for all page loads, not just if the user clicks on the spinner widget on the left side.

Regardless, implementing these pledge gift “gamifications” into the funnel are critical in the short term.

slightly off topic

Home Renovation Update

If I did not mention it previously, spring break at my house was meant to tackle a big home renovation project. Removing the carpet in the house we have lived in since 2005 and replacing it with this DIY luxury vinyl plank flooring. Well removing the carpet, shuffling the furniture and getting the proper tooling took a little longer than expected. By the end of two weeks, I had removed all the carpet in this 1800 sq ft house and put in the new floor in one bedroom and started a second. A couple weeks later, this reno project has extended itself… I finally finished the second room. The challenge is starting straight and finishing the room when we are leaving the existing baseboards intact. I won’t go into details on the challenges… but let’s just say… thank God for Youtube (and one particular channel from a contractor in Canada…) Of course, my wife wants seamless transitions room to room so there is that challenge. The entire house ends up being one big room.