Once the idea was in my head, I all of a sudden began to come across different scenarios where a screen sharing tool would become handy. Whenever I received multiple screenshots grabs from friends, a web link to an article that took those extra few seconds to open in a new browser window (hate when that happens), or when I got delayed responses from friends after I’ve shared something interesting with them, I wondered each time how much easier it would be If we could just share our screens with each other. This kept on happening continuously; naturally I did what everyone does and searched the app stores for such a tool. Surely it must already exist.
To my dismay, it didn’t. I couldn’t find a single app that provided a phone to phone screen sharing feature. The few who did offer that option only allowed you to do it via a computer (streaming your phone’s screen to a computer screen) which also required taking very complicated steps (such as rooting your phone). This was quite strange; out of the endless apps out there, there wasn’t one that addressed this issue properly. I wondered if it could be a technical limitation; maybe it wasn’t possible to screenshare from phone to phone. This was a big doubt that I had to keep fighting for the next several months. But I figured, if it can be done on computers, it must be possible to replicate on smart phones somehow. So one weekend, I decided to take the plunge.
Now if you read any entrepreneurial blogs or books (like okdork.com by Noah Kagan, fourhourworkweek by Tim Ferris or The Lean Startup by Eric Ries), the new “it” thing in the startup world was to “validate” your idea before you invest a cent of your money or energy into your project. In short, to validate your idea means to ensure you can get paying customers for your product before you actually create it. This is a great concept. It’s risk averse, it proves there is demand for your product and can hopefully prevent you from spending tons of energy and money on something nobody wants to use. A lot of people have used this method successfully and practically swear by it.
I gave idea validation a shot on a previous project that I was working on. I quickly found that it’s not as easy as it’s made to seem. There’s not one single way to test your idea and the execution of the testing is a critical factor itself. For my old project, I had tried to create a landing page for the product I wanted to develop highlighting its main features and tried to send traffic through it with Google AdWords and FB ads. Sounds simple enough; But like everything else, this actually took some time and effort. I had to learn the whole concept of SEO, site optimization and how to manage advertising money. Furthermore, I was creating a version of a product that wasn’t really out there in the market yet. So driving traffic to my site through ads proved to be difficult since nobody was searching for such a product on the web. Although I was able to get some good feedback from some people, the validation process never really proved unequivocally whether or not I should pursue this project.
By the end of it, several weeks had passed and the test felt like a wasted effort. So when I had the idea for Mimicr, I was not in the mood to do any validation. In fact, I was reading this simple book at the time called The 7 Day Startup by Dan Norris. Although I wasn’t too fond of the read, I was appealed by the idea of putting out a product in record time and seeing how it performs. I figured, if I’m going to spend weeks or months testing an idea (granted testing shouldn’t take that long but it almost always does), why not just put out a product and see how it goes? I figured I can at least put together a basic prototype pretty quickly that I can showcase to people. Again, idea and execution are two different things. It took me north of three months to finish the prototype. Stay tuned for the next post to find out how I did it.