After cracking the global top 50 in the Pioneer Incubator yesterday (see previous update), we received our first feedback from a "Pioneer Expert." Here is what they said. 

Interesting idea—how do you think about the improvements that Great Album makes over existing solutions (like iOS's "memories" or "albums" feature that uses location/image metadata to group like images). I think there's a few dimensions to this problem: need, effort, and scale. On need, I'm guessing that this problem is something that most people would bucket into a "nice-to-have" and a small number of people view this as a pressing problem. How are you finding the group of people that are already doing this manually who would benefit most from Great Album? This is closely related to effort as I'm sure many people enjoy going through the Photos app on their iPhone and seeing some of the nice compilations Apple has made (trip to Japan, times spent with your cat, etc.). but wouldn't go out of their way to create these albums. Lastly, it depends entirely on your desire to turn Great Album into a venture-scale business vs. a lifestyle business, but in either case it'd be interesting to get a sense for what market size looks like.

We'll review you again after you submit another 2 progress updates.

Note that while about half of our Pioneers were selected after 1-2 months in the Tournament, others have persisted for far longer before winning -- even as long as a year!

Keep at it. We remain ever eager to see what you do next!

- The Pioneer Team



The Pioneer team raises some good points. Here are my replies:

  • Need - I believe there is a much greater latent pain that people experience by not being able to easily browse, share and relive their experiences through their media, even if they aren't really expressing it now. No one missed having an iPhone before it was created, but now they couldn't live without it. I've conducted close to 70-80 customer interviews over the past 18 months, and 90%+ of the time, the response has been along the lines of, "OMG, that would be amazing if I could do that with GreatAlbum." Once people experience the joy having their media more accessible and shared, I think they won't want to live without it.
  • Effort - People don't go out of their way to create these albums because it's time consuming - not just to create the album itself, but even more so to then identify all the people you really want to share it with. This is where GreatAlbum will dramatically simplify the experience, by creating albums once for each specific collection of members, then auto-creating events based on clusters of photos (which the user can refine as desired), and then making it easy to share those events into the appropriate new or existing albums, based on who they want to enjoy the event.
  • Scale - good point on my preference for this to be venture-backed or a lifestyle business. I think it's deserving of become venture backed, but I've been conservative so far about really trying to take that plunge. At the moment, I want to get the Private Beta running again and prove product-market fit. 

Well, it's been just over six months since GreatAlbum Joined the Pioneer Incubator Community. In that time...

  • Weekly Updates - we've submitted updates 27 out of 28 weeks (we forgot to submit an update the weekend after New Year's Day, when we were still on holiday).
  • Our Pioneer score - has gone from 30,900 to 41,094
  • Our global rank - has gone from so high it was unreported to breaking the top 100 on 30-March to 54th this week (we were actually 50th after Monday's scoring, then dropped to 54th after feedback star scoring)
  • Our US East rank - has gone from too high to be recognized to top 50 as of 26-January and top 20 as of 30-March.

We've reviewed a number Pioneer player's sites/apps multiple times and enjoyed following their progress over time. And see our first feedback from the Pioneer team and my response.

In that same period, i've attended 25-26 weekly Pioneer Players Thursday zoom calls. Where possible, the Pioneer facilitator for each call tries to group the same players together week after week. While I've met with 15-20 players across these calls, I've found a really nice rhythm with three other players in particular:

Early on, our calls would go in a round robin, with each of us getting ten minutes to highlight a problem we're facing and get feedback from others. More recently, our calls have evolved into deep-dives into one or two specific issues each time, which has enabled us to have more much meaningful conversations about how to address those issues. We've also developed a wonderful sense of collaboration between ourselves and partnered up on other activities together.

As we look forward to completing our Beta6 sprint and relaunching our Private Beta (which we paused at the start of Beta5 to rebuild on the OpenSocial distribution of Drupal), we're excited to dramatically ramp up our user base, determine just how strong our product-market fit (PMF) is, and see how we fare in Pioneer incubator competition. It should be a wild ride!


Pioneer TrackerTo further explain how Pioneer scoring works, here are explanations for several of the factors:

  • Ratings from players and experts:  Your score will change as other participants and experts vote on you during the Pioneer Tournament. Scores change based on the quality of other players. For example, if you’re upvoted over a top player, you’ll get more points than if you’re upvoted over a low-ranked player. You still get points if you’re upvoted over a low-ranked player—just not as many. The best way to reach and maintain a high score is to demonstrate impressive progress every week.
  • Progress update streak: You get 50 points for each consecutive progress update you submit. You can't get more than 200 points, but you'll drop back down to 0 when you break your streak!
  • Votes you've submitted: These are points you've received from voting on other players' progress updates over the last 4 weeks (200 points max).
  • Feedback to other players: These are points you've received from players liking your feedback for them over the last 4 weeks. You get 25 points for each piece of feedback other players like, up to 100 points per week.