Tag Archive: business

Unbelievable initial research

Unbelievable initial research

The past month has been fairly quiet online for “The Project”

There’s been a lot of work going on behind the scenes. I suppose the scenes would be the people following the blog. Last weekend was the first major on site research done. There’s been a lot of pre-planning and idea development. Last weekend went very well.

So to bring readers up to speed here’s what the last three weeks have been:


The backend system seems to have a fairly finished “Proof of concept” in place. The back end is the database and the JSON/REST APIs into the data for consumption. All data seems to be going in and coming out as expected. The entire system is also currently locked down behind Tomcat’s firewall system. The backend is also now protected via a VPN for my alpha testers.

Data Entry: There is now a client that works to more easily enter data than creating hard data and importing or worse composing SQL. Currently this client is native to the desktop systems that we are using but enhancing this to a web based system should be a fairly trivial next step.

User client: The client is now working in a very rough form. It is pulling about 70% of the data we want from the backend and displaying it quite nicely. There is more to be done there, but it is beginning to move more quickly again.


This was my primary focus of the past two weeks. Over this time we have secured the name, the web domain, a post office box and other electronic contact information. This week we have ironed out a lawyer and filed the DBA as well as the LLC. Currently the Business plan is under development and going along well. We received initial seed funding through about the middle of 2014Q2 so we’re getting close to the grand announce and pray for support. A kickstarter for phase 1 is under development and there’s a very promising logo design (for what little that is worth)


Last weekend a survey was opened in the name of the business. So far we’re up to about 40% of the respondents we’d like to see. But this is again not even a week in on a 3 week survey. So I think things are going well. The responses so far have been absolutely what we were hoping to see to validate the business idea. Some fantastic first contacts were made for potential partners/contracts for our opening foray.


So, what does this all mean?

Next week we’ll be lifting the veil on the initial part of the project. This will also include priming people for a Kickstarter. This of course is an early warning to tell readers to help us plug the fundraiser.

Please help out “The Project” as you hear more and subscribe to the blog, give us feedback, and tell others to subscribe as well.

Thanks for reading. The vague ends on Monday!

I have a phone line for my Apolo Productions work. The phone is listed as “Apolo Productions.”

I get constant calls from Vendors that want me to lease credit card machines. I also get calls from agencies who want to list us.

So far this has got to be one of the stupidest script bound callers I have ever received:

Transcribed Phone Message

This will be a fairly long post, and I understand that most people tend to scan through long posts. I do invite you to try to find the time to read the post in its entirety, none the less.

As many of you may be aware, I left work in April to pursue the Great American Dream. Start a business. Today a stream of news left me in a bit of a position and now I will share all that I can.

Where we are coming from, where we are.

EDIT: had posted an image instead of a link. That was annoying. Fixed that. Sorry.

I just got off the phone with my ISP. Last week someone got onto my network and ran a peer-to-peer downloading problem. I discovered the next day that my network had gone to hell. I disabled the ability for such programs to be run on my network. (Without certain firewall precautions).

Well, it turns out the networking issue was unrelated. I called tech support at the ISP. They checked the line and told me it was obviously my hardware. (As always while trying to evaluate my hardware the tech started with, “Go to your start menu” At the mention of the accursed word “Macintosh” he sighed and said, “Oh.” Then he advised I call my manufacturer.)

After several internal tests, it was obvious that it wasn’t the computer or the ethernet cards. I figured, maybe my 5 port switch had gone to hell. Several tests suggested that it too was fine. Then yesterday I tried to open a video chat to the ever lovely, fiannaharpar. Insufficient bandwidth. I scratched my head and checked.

I have a business DSL line. It is provisioned at 5MB/768KB, I am told to expect (due to location), 3MB/768KB. As of yesterday’s check I am running 1MB/20KB. That’s right. I am pushing out 2.6% of the data I’m paying to deliver. I called my sales representative. I explained that tech support doesn’t work on the weekends. (Far be it for an internet business to work on the weekend) and the quality of service I’m receiving. Agog, he promptly credited my account and asked me to keep him posted.

The downside of living in a remote town is that net services are still not an automatic thing. A small town may have _one_ ISP. No choice, no debate… that’s it. You get what they maaaay be able to deliver to you. The only way to assure service is to pay for the laying of a T1 line. This usually amounts to about $2000-$3000 for set up and about $500 per month. Unless that is a line item on your business expenses… it’s not worth the cost for a startup.

I discussed with the sales rep that the quality of service and lack of weekend support makes me question exactly what I’m really paying for since a residential service can get the same ‘provisioned speed’ and the same ability to request static IP. He agreed wholeheartedly and said, “he’d pass it along.” Those who’ve worked in any service related business know exactly what I mean.

I suppose the one good thing that came out of it was the fact that at the end of the conversation he said, “I can understand your frustration” (Standard sales kiss-a&$ speak) and then ended with, “I hope the rest of your day is a bit better.”

This last comment actually meant something positive to me. I have a huge gripe with service company representatives who have conversations like this:

    Me: So, there’s not a thing you can do to help me. You can’t fix my problem and I’m pretty much screwed.
    SCR: Yup. There’s not a damn thing we can or would do. Is there anything else I can do for you?
    Me: Apparently not.
    SCR: Okay, have a nice day, thanks for being a valued customer.

Now, before anyone goes off on semantics. No. This is not the wording I use on a phone call. I am always professional and polite to a point. When I have been given the run around I will climb through wires and eat people, but in general I am polite, even when I make making thinly veiled threats… That said…

If you as a representative have not made every effort to help me with my issue and this includes passing me up the line to your supervisor. You have NOT assisted me. Asking me if there’s anything else you can do, is not only inappropriate, it’s downright annoyingly hypocritical.
Hi, I have a problem
Yeah, but I’m not gonna help you with your problem, wanna find another one instead?

But the one that gets me livid. The one that makes my blood boil. Is when an unproductive conversation ends with Have a nice day

I know fully that customer service is the fine art of making the customer blindly happy with as much pablum as possible. That being said… if I have just spent a phone getting more and more agitated because you are not living up to business promises and making less and less attempt to provide service; a sudden smile and vacant wish of happy day really gives me the impression that not only didn’t you fix my problem, you absolutely don’t care about how I feel about the company anymore.

Sadly, for most of the customer service industry, we have hired in mindless automatons who follow scripts and data paths to solve basic problems and then have the words to perform stupidity when the problem takes effort.

Another side comment, I would not be surprised if there are readers in Customer service who take complete offense at what I say. Well, on one hand you should and on the other, don’t. The average person who has a life (someone who is not an NPC for a living) actually tries. The really awesome waitress, the CSR that actually tries, etc. But in all honesty, what happens is that the company burns them out or they become viciously frustrated because they are not receiving support or recognition for the job they are doing.

An example: One nameless company that I know of that is somewhere on the planet Earth, Linked into the internet used to have a huge CSR division. It worked this way, “You are to process as many calls as possible as fast as possible. Get them on, make them happy, get them off. Offer them freebies to make up for problems.” One friend of mine in the order worked for them and honestly wanted to help them with their issues. (Go figure). He was constantly chastised by his manager for low productivity. He didn’t take enough calls. He spent too much time on the phone. Who cared that he had 95% satisfaction as opposed to the 45% which was the median goal line for the department? Eventually, he left in a huff. When I first went to work for that company he warned me that if I actually cared about the work I did, I would probably wind up leaving in a huff. I explained that I don’t do CSR (anymore) and it wasn’t likely. On a side note, I don’t work for that company anymore and the entire CSR (over half of the company’s 5000 employees) were outsourced to India. Having assisted in the scriptwriting of training for Outsourced support, I know exactly what the solution path script looks like.

In general, I look at sales agents and CSR like I do at any other bait or trap you’d get at the local hardware store. They have a job. They do their job. Their job is to give you as little of their company as they can. Their job is to dazzle you and make you feel good about how little they are giving you. And if they can’t make you happy, their job is to shrug and go away. It sounds cold, but in all honesty, if you haven’t done your homework going in, you really get what you deserve.

It sounds really kinda dark, cynical and jaded. But in all honesty, it’s also uplifting in a way. The truth is, the term customer service means that the customer is serviced. Most companies, take the approach of a badly dressed pimp, abusing their chattel of most of the money they earn. If you have to deal with a company, learn as much as you can. Be prepared. And most importantly, learn their game. Nothing throws a game player more than being good at their game or perhaps better. Be professional, know that you can always call for a supervisor, and that they are their to do work for you. They are charging you for a service and if they don’t deliver, they may be in breach of contract.

In my (not so humble) opinion. Once the customer learns his or her rights and learns how the system works, the power shift occurs. Then maybe we can live in a world where the standard elevates from caveat emptor to caveat venditor (Let the vendor beware)