Building a Web App in 24 Hours: Feed My Inbox

It started over brunch with my parents, as they were visiting us in New York over the summer. The subject of Twitter came up, and my Mom wanted a way to see what I was up to. I knew the only way she would be able to do that was if she got email updates from the RSS feed. A lightbulb went off, and before brunch was over I purchased 3 domains from my blackberry.

Over the next 24 hours, I tried to find any services delivering feed updates through email, and was eventually convinced the market is up for grabs. I threw together a pitch to Jared and Denny (my partners in crime at Brightwurks), and by Monday our project was a go.

Being a new and bootstrapped (no funding) software company, making time to build Feed My Inbox was the first challenge. We had ideas on how to monetize the app, but knew it would take time. It became clear very early that we could build the most basic, first version of this product fast if we gave it a full day and developed only the "must have" features. So that is just what we did.

The goal was to build Feed My Inbox in 24 hours.

We each took a day off from client work to focus completely on building the app. By end of day we had a logo, finished the designs and front-end code, and were 75% done with the back-end portion that pulls it all together. Getting that far was a huge victory in itself. Had we not originally placed these time constraints on the project, we would not have gotten half of that done.

Just so that Feed My Inbox was not an utter failure or full of bugs, we decided not to launch until giving the equivalent of one more day to put on the finishing touches.

It is tough to put into words the great feeling of launching a web application merely a few weeks after having the idea. Today, a little more than a month after launch, we have over 2,000 accounts and are tracking nearly 6,000 feeds across the web. TONS of back-end improvements have been made along the way to make Feed My Inbox a smooth experience for all users.

Are we anxious to build more features for Feed My Inbox? Absolutely. Is it important to monetize the application eventually? Absolutely. Should either of these things have kept us from launching the application after only 2 days of development? Absolutely not!

5 Reasons to Build Web Apps FAST and with Minimal Features

  1. It forces you to be decisive.
  2. It is cheaper. Bootstrapping your application helps minimize time and cost until it is profitable.
  3. Launching is a huge WIN, and confidence boost for everyone involved with the project.
  4. A minimal feature set gives your customers the opportunity to tell you what features are important, which may shift your internal priorities.
  5. After launch if you realize that you need to adjust your original plan or even do a 180, you are not in a hole so deep that you cannot dig out.