My third week of self employment is wrapping up.

One of my product ideas has bitten the dust: the Magic Marketplace. I found an existing marketplace that my product wouldn't be much different from, and a friend of mine showed me a traditional magic shop with a ton of online content.

No way I'm going to head-to-head with either of them 😅.

The Virtual Tabletop has been knocking down the obstacles in its way though. It even has a name now: Shmeppy! Goddam adorable.

The fake backstory behind the name is that Shmeppy was a friendly Kobold who kept appearing in my DnD campaigns, and now in my current sessions there's legends of the hero Shmeppy The Kobold who saved some-such from destruction and mayhem. But of course none of that's true, I just like the name 😂.

I was getting ready to Kickstart Shmeppy so I shoved a draft of the Kickstarter's text under various people's noses. Here was my first bit of feedback from a random chatroom user:

I think it looks great. [...] Roll20 makes Theater of the Mind hard, and this would be the "just enough maps" to let me not worry about 15 vs 20 feet away stuff.

Hella heartening 😃. They signed up for my mailing list right after. There hasn't been too many of those positive-responses-followed-by-subscription though. Mostly I've gotten silent non-responses or muted optimism.

There's definitely some work to be done on my landing page to get higher conversion rates. But at a high-level, when I look at the marketing channels I have available to me, I've got a wonderful network of kind folks who I know or have known personally, but my invested network of "random folks spread throughout the tabletop RPG community" is quite small.

Ideally I'd get most of the Kickstarter money from a random sampling of the tabletop RPG community though. Because my Kickstarter's real purpose is to establish whether the market wants Shmeppy before I spend a ton of time building it. Getting a quick injection of money is much less important.

So I'm gonna shift my approach. I'm gonna build a Shmeppy Minimum-Viable-Product (MVP) to sell to users, instead of Kickstarting. I think it'll take me a month to get an MVP together. Quite the investment. But a Kickstarter would take about as long to resolve so the difference in cost isn't so drastic.

Next week I start development.

If you wanna hang out with me while I do it, join the brand new Shmeppy Discord server. It'd be easy to convince me to set up a Twitch stream too, so lemme know if any of ya'll would like that.


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