When my son was in elementary school at Oak Hill Elementary in Herndon, VA, I volunteered to organize the fall festival. My wife had coordinated the first one, and I wanted to be involved with my kid's school and activities.
I had to organize about 60 volunteers because we were doing 2-hour shifts so volunteers could also enjoy the festival with their families. I spent over 40 hours organizing about 100 volunteer shifts using email and Excel. I realized there had to be a better way, but at this time, online signup sheets did not exist.
The next year, I decided I did not want to spend my evenings and weekends coordinating volunteer slots. Out of frustration, I spent one Saturday building a crude online signup sheet site using .net.
It worked, I got my time back, and people loved it. I got requests to use it for other activities. It was not dynamic and would not scale. I managed jobs and slots in the database. There was not a UI for managing slots, just signing up. Reluctantly, I agreed to set it up to organize an event at church. It started to gain traction, and I was getting more and more requests.
At this time, I was focused on Upper Quadrant's enterprise platform and business and did not have the time for a side project. When I had free time, I would tinker with building a scalable volunteer signup app, but life got busy. I also figured SignUpGenius and VolunteerSpot, now Signup, would evolve.
As I got more involved with my kids’ activities, I realized the need for good technology at the community level. I was trying to play super dad – Boy Scout Scoutmaster, Girl Scout Leader, FIRST LEGO League robotics coach, and church youth group leader all at the same time. When I had free time, I slept. Time was a commodity I needed and knew technology could help. Our enterprise software was mature, and I decide to pursue technology to benefit community organizations. I realized my passion was empowering people to pursue their passions together to make a difference.
Our first attempt was StartingPoints.com, a group and team management application with group email, contacts, and calendar with RSVP. As anyone who builds software knows, nothing works until you have the right team. StartingPoints had many slow starts because we did not have team right. We finally got team and processes right and now have a great community product.
Traction with StartingPoints was slow, like any new product (read “The Startup J-Curve,” by Howard Love) trying to find its footing. As we were looking at what to incorporate next, we happened on the idea of Going, Doing, Bringing over beers in the office one Friday afternoon. Anyone planning an event wants to know who is going, what jobs they will do, and what items they will bring. We loved the concept so much, and after seeing that SignUpGenius and Signup had not evolved, we made the hard decision of not building the signup feature in StartingPoints but to morph and make a new product, SimpleSignups.
The Jobs to Be Done concept inspired this decision. This decision also represented a shift in our product strategy from a platform to a portfolio strategy. Platform products are big and try to be an all-in-one solution for the user. Portfolio products are designed to do one job extremely well.
We hope you love SimpleSignups and will use it to make a difference. We're on a mission to make online signups simple.