A Lean Tale of AppStore Battles and Evil Tyrants


We’re growing up & as part of that have moved our blog, head to http://blog.artspotter.com/2011/03/22/a-lean-tale-of-appstore-battles-and-evil-tyrants/ to continue…


Note: This is our submission to Appsumo‘s Lean Startup Challenge. Please, please vote with a tweet to help us. And ask your friends to too; obviously, only if they like us, art or this story 🙂


Far, Far away in a City called London, there once lived a girl called Raphaëlle who’s lived not in a shoe or a gingerbread house but an art gallery. For 15 years she helped out with preparing the exhibitions, press releases and having tea with the artists. She loved the art world and dreamed that one day she would be involved in making a difference to the cultural-way. She believed, “This is the way to enrich our lives, to reflect upon the society we live in. Art is emotional and can make us see the world differently, but most of all it makes us enjoy life.”

But this was all in her spare time for an evil tyrant expected her to work for him 12 hours a day in a cold dark office. This evil tyrant, was so awful that he made sure she never felt capable to achieve more than the work she did. He humiliated her in front of the other staff, shouted and threatened her – it made it hard for Raphaëlle to see beyond the life she had.

Having said this, Raphaëlle was not so unintelligent as to just do as she was told. She rose to each opportunity to take on more, learn more, discover more and eventually was running everything from Marketing, Accounts, HR, Quality, Office Management, Training and even had a couple of accounts of her own for this evil tyrant. And the story teller should point out, this was as well as studying with the Open University.

Her life was very busy.

One day she heard about an event that suddenly triggered something within her. An event where people who have brought their own small ideas to life, inspire others and where people reach for their dreams.

She had been helping to organise a new exhibition at the home-cum-gallery and began to think back to a project she had designed back when she studied Architecture. Around a park, the other students had created their art projects, but these were so hidden that without the student there, there would be no way to find them. She thought “There must be a way to tell people who walk through this park that these art projects exist?” Now, several years later, the opportunity arose again, but in this time The Kingdom of Apple had sent out their knights in shining armour to deliver iPhones to all the people across the land and the new battle was in the AppStore.

Raphaëlle was intrigued, and deep inside she knew that there was a new direction her life had to take, she needed to join the AppStore battle. But how to rid of the Evil Tyrant? Raphaëlle was a hard worker and had worked in the cold, dark office for several years now. Now Raphaëlle did not have a bad life, but just a series of unfortunate events led themselves to provide an opportunity of fortune.

Over the last month her dear Grandmother, who had been such an inspiration (she was the first female psycho-analyst in the UK and had never stopped supporting Rapahëlle even when things didn’t seem to be going so well), sadly died of a broken heart. Shortly followed by Raphaëlle’s not-so-Prince-Charming leaving her to pursue a career in Management Consulting and all on top of a recession that made the Evil Tyrant even meaner! Well enough was enough and she saw her chance …

Suddenly free in the world of Apps and the promises of Apple’s new Kingdom of possibilities, Raphaëlle quickly set to work. How could she combine her original project, her passion for art and mapping to bring about a revolution for the art world? But she’d never ventured into this new Kingdom and didn’t know how to speak iOS.

“Hail Twitter” she cried, as she had already been keeping a keen eye on the tweets of others and saw that there must be a way to find someone to help her on her journey. She tweeted and as soon as her tweet went live, a response came through from a local man, who was just passing by. He said “I have some Ruby and Rails and websites galore, I’m only starting but I’ll give you some Ruby in exchange for no more.”

She exclaimed “Great, you’re hired!” and off they set, building the foundations for what she wanted to create. They setup camp in Google, Heroku and GitHub, who let them stay there for free and gave them tips on how to be lean.

And then one day, only a few days later, the next member came along. A young trouble-maker was found stealing beers in the warm summer’s sun with the scoundrels and scholars of MOO.com. He wasn’t much into art, but something caught his eye and he wanted to help this girl soar high. Then next a designer and with four on board and greater momentum, the trouble-maker brought Pivotal Tracker to Raphaëlle’s attention.

The storyteller was now told to stop making it rhyme and get on with the tale, so how does this fable end? Well, there’s still a bit more to tell…

With some knowledge of agile and an introduction to lean methodology, Raphaëlle set out to bring on a final member — the vital iOS speaker. Again, she turned to Twitter and spotted a tweet about an Italian developer who was heading out East. While most of these developers are rare and expensive, she explained her story and asked if he could help, to which he agreed.

She learned of quests from famed Buccaneer Ries in Techhub Tavern and foul mouthed Pirate McClure on The LeanStartup Isles and even hunted treasures at a Launch48 Weekend, but it all just reinforced her vision — a place where galleries, museums, studios, artists and art lovers communicated freely and bring their thoughts to a platform which would allow them to experience the art world in an interactive way.

And now there was a team who could turn dreams to reality. The team were inspired to help and wanted to be part of something new and exciting in the Apple Kingdom. She travelled far and wide They knew there was something special about this girl… a go-getter, driven with aims to sail, on her valiant ship Zero Point One.

A year since escaping from the Evil Tyrant with alpha long gone, a website and app beta, ArtSpotter was born. A shining interactive art map that glowed with over 5,500 art venues in 27 countries. Now she was ready to join in the AppStore Battle.

Zero Point One was limited but a golden MVP that would allow her to build a following. But while she had been lucky to get to this stage with just a nickel and dime, the AppStore Battles were an expensive playground. Now Raphaëlle set out to find a Baron who could see that the app had more to offer and could grow and scale

On return from the Land of Cowboys on a high, Raphaëlle felt it couldn’t get better. Then some news from London, ArtSpotter was to present at the GeeknRolla Court! Finally Raphaëlle and her app were to launch.

And what about the team? Well, the iPhone developer survived the elements and continues to build strong. The passer-by helps where he can supporting the API. The designer calls in now and then. And the trouble-maker? Well, he now acts as an advisor to Raphaëlle and the next part of the adventure that lies ahead. But as with any agile story we will only know how the story ends when we engage with it ourselves. The future of ArtSpotter is now in your hands.

THE END (or just the beginning)

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