Thursday, August 23, 2012

Architexa, Pivotal Tracker and the need for customer magnets


When you write book, a thriller, you need a diagram, to make sense of what is going on


If you are coder,  an engineer writing a Java application - for example - the question is what you  code?


 Rimbaud calls poetry "the derangement of all senses". If you are customer ordering a software from developers might feel as talking to Rimbaud prototypes, some unique not  replaceable creators who see an invisible world.
I say it is necessary to be a voyant, make oneself a voyant. The Poet makes himself a voyant by a long, immense and rational derangement of all the senses.
The best way to write a code is like a thriller, where every detail is well placed to create the whole plot. Essentially you need a story where - clients - the people who pay for the project place their desire and make sure the developers understand them. Pivotal Labs has an exciting tool, called Pivotal Tracker that achieve this elegance.
Start your project by breaking down user features into small concrete user stories. Each story is bite size, about what might fit on a small index card, and represents an increment of value for your product's customer. Deconstructing your project into concrete stories can be enlightening, and gets your entire team on the same page what's really important about your project.
Architexa provides a fantastic tool that takes over from the User Story, by visualizing all the code on a sketchpad. I am not a coder, but here is 2:45 minutes video explaining what they do.


 These three diagrams below summarize what you saw in the video
You got it? Don't worry if you didn't, you are not the only ones. You must be a programmer to really appreciate the power and genius behind Architexa.

Vineet Sinha, Architexa's founder and CEO was interviewed a year ago. He said:
I did a PhD at MIT looking at the problem of diagramming code, trying to understand how to do it right.  When I finished my PhD I presented my work at a conference.  The first question was from a developer who said “I’ve been waiting for this all my life, where can I get it?” I knew then that I had to make this available to everyone.
The biggest challenge from an engineering point of view was:
 Most diagramming tools focus on design only – they try to help you at the beginning of a project before you’ve started coding. We instead focus on all the tasks that need to be done when you’re working with real code. And we realize that software developers need better collaborative capabilities around their diagrams, they need to find their diagrams more easily (straight from their code), and they need more support for the frameworks they are using like Spring, Struts, and so on.
Here is the very issue. While Architexa is a an elegant solution for developers, the developers themselves need customers who pay for their salaries, bonuses, profits and offer opportunities for new business and ventures. Architexa by itself needs the gasoline, which metaphorically is a portal to attract and communicate the wishes and budgets of their customers. A portal that makes easy for clients to understand. A customer magnet, if you wish.All diagrams generated should start from there.

So here is what  Flowtown's Co-Founder and CEO Ethan Bloch, a customer, says about Pivotal Tracker

Developer tools are niche markets. After a while, the business is harder and harder to grow. It needs a customer magnet, that one that makes them pull out the wallets and pay. People almost never pay for things they don't understand.

Architexa beginnings are as a star of the ivy league business plan competitions. The were semi-finalists in "the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition is one of the premier business plan competitions", and a finalist in the "MassChallenge,  a global competition seeking to find ventures making a big impact".

Fedex, the juggernaut success story started when founder Fred Smith made a paper on  the idea of an overnight-delivery service -- and he received a C from a  professor. Fred was an undergraduate student, he never made it to the graduate school.

Today we know why, from the teachings of Steve Blank et al.:
Startups do not execute business plans, they go from failure to failure until they define themselves. Startups are not versions of larger companies. A startup is a temporary organization designed to search for repeatable and scalable business models

Architexa has as an innovative product that amazes many developers, but now there is a need to make a new business. This means that have to experiment with a few alternatives, until they pivot to a final set of products from a business perspective.  Superb engineering can not achieve this by itself.
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