It’s All Fun and Games Until Somebody Talks About Product Testing

March 16, 2014

3:55 pm

I don’t remember the first time I had a great idea. And nobody else does, either. There are a couple reasons for that. First, it probably wasn’t actually a great idea. Second, I sure didn’t tell anyone about it. And, third, you better believe no prototype saw the light of day.

Controlled environments are good for brainstorming and ego-boosting, but not-so-good for building robust platforms that have to stand up to the messiness of implementation. So if you think the early stages of your startup have been chaotic, just wait until your pride and joy land in the ham-fisted hands of another human being. Truly, it’s all fun and games until somebody talks about product testing, and yet there’s hardly anything so vital to execution as iterative refinement. We’d be remiss to forget Facebook’s early (but perhaps not lately) mantra: “Move fast and break things.”

Stadium Runner, a Tallahassee-based startup that brings mobile access and concessions delivery to the sports industry, found their way into an affiliation with Florida State University athletics and food service giant, Aramark. Their iPhone app, now little more than a month old, is in the midst of beta testing at FSU baseball games, and the firsthand feedback has proven invaluable. “We’ve learned a ton of things from actually being on the ground operating,” says Bryant Joseph, Stadium Runner’s co-founder and CEO. “We’ve already released one update to the app with numerous bug fixes, and we’re working on another one due out this April.”

It’s already hard out there for a mobile app. But fail to test and you’ve got yourself a real pickle (not the kind Stadium Runner delivers, as it were). The honest truth is, no idea is a great idea until it has been vetted, poked, prodded, and broken. Great ideas take time and testing. In the immortal words of Bill Nye, the world’s favorite Science Guy, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” That means there’s a ton of untapped feedback that walks by you each day. For platforms like Stadium Runner’s, the ability to scale up to larger and more profitable sports venues is directly tied to their ability to find partners and engage in rigorous product testing at the ground floor. A chance at a high-growth future relies on diligent refinement right here and right now.

“Florida State baseball is a smaller venue than football,” Joseph says. “It’s a perfect place to work on perfecting the logistics of delivering concessions. As we work towards operating in football, the logistical challenges will certainly increase, but so will our ability to address those challenges.”

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Lucas is a connoisseur of urbanism, civic tech, & startup economies. Writing at the crossover of tech and community development from Tallahassee, he works to build the modern south one startup story at a time.

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