Mining Data for Miners
Our client owns land used for natural resources and needs to know what sort of residual income to expect from the property. In this industry, land owners will have wells on their property and will make a deal with a oil or gas company where they get a percentage of the income from the sale of the resources.
The problem is that the land owner does not have an easy check and balance system that will show them what their resources are being sold for or what sort of residual income to expect.
What we needed to do was gather the data on how much oil was coming from their fields (publicly available) and combine that with oil prices and tax history to show the land owners what they should expect in terms of income.
A land owner may have several different companies drilling on their site, so we had to generate reports for each gas company on a property and aggregate their production numbers with all of the other companies to get a total expected income for the land owner.
There was no product that did this well in their field (yes that was intentional), so they decided to make a product that would not only serve their personal needs, but could also serve the needs of many others in the industry
Drilling Down into Your Needs
When we take on a project like this, there are a lot of questions that we and our clients need to answer to get at what is truly needed and important. The most expensive mistake that you can make in the software world is building something you don’t actually need (check out our explainer video on how Iterative Development helps solve this problem).
Here are a few points we discuss with our clients:
The diamond in the rough – what is most important?
To phrase it a different way, what are the pieces that, if you had them, your product would be a success?
This will help us define the Minimum Viable Product and provide the roadmap for building the first iteration of your product. This helps you avoid paying for “gold plating” (looks good, but doesn’t really add functionality) and keeps your budget and scope in check.
Crystal clear vision – What will the product look like?
Everyone wants a cool app these days. We all want to see our product in the Apple and Google stores.
You have to be careful, though, because what I just described is not 1, but 3 different products – the Apple app, the Google app, and then the web app that sits behind them. Maybe you have the budget to develop 1 app, but do you have the budget for 3 different developments?
Often times the best way to start is with a mobile friendly web app that an prove your product and start generating revenue for you. If the product does well, it funds your next development. If it is a bust, you have saved a lot of money.
Untapped potential – how big is the need?
There are a couple of things to think about here.
- First, how big is the market? This is an important question because it will help you determine the subscription price. If you spend $200k on the platform, it is going to be a lot easier to make that money back with 10,000 users with a $20/mo subscription than 100 users at a higher price.
- Second, how unique is your idea? Do your solutions already exist and do they meet more than 80% of the market’s needs? If not, then you may have found your gold mine!
Scalability – What cloud to use?
When running a startup or building a SaaS product you almost always have to think about how to scale your product up.
The goal is to take the industry by storm and bring on millions of user, right? To accommodate this sort of scale (and to make sure you only pay for what you need at times your app is not being used) you will probably need to deploy an Amazon, Microsoft Azure, or Google cloud service.
While AWS is the leader in the cloud computing world, each service offers great flexibility and you have to think through what meets your needs and interfaces with your other software tools the best.
Resources – Where are you getting funding?
Did I mention that software expensive?
Typically when you go down the road of building a SaaS platform you are going to be talking about a six figure project, depending on complexity. Is this coming from your personal checking account, investors, friends and family?
We often have people who come to us with a big ideas but small funding. If that is you, it may be time to put your sales hat on and get buy-in from investors.
If you would like more information about Level 12, check out our “About Us” PDF.