I’m Making a Product

I thought since I’m bringing a product to market that I ought to record what I’m doing. I’m starting late, so here’s a summary of what I’ve done so far.

The product: I’m creating a card game for musicians. This was inspired by the fact that I’ve always been drawn to improvisation, but I’ve never been very good at it. Or at least I’ve never been very comfortable with it. Also, I think people have a real desire to learn improvisation in a way that isn’t strictly based on jazz or rock.

In short, I see some problems with the way music is taught is all wrong. I assume there are other people who feel the same way. So I think there’s an opportunity to help. They say you should scratch your own itch, right?


  • February – Brainstorming obsessively. Trying desperately to get all my ideas down on paper, whether they’re relating to strategy, marketing, design, influences, or the product itself. I tried Evernote but it got too hard to manage and I ended up putting everything into a massive Excel spreadsheet with a million tabs, one for each “theme” that I need to be thinking about.
  • Early March – Actually started creating the game. To test the market, I decided I would make something PDF-based so I could give it away for free. I read a few books about improvisation and music, and revisited several more, along with papers and albums from a few years ago when I was studying music seriously.
  • Mid-late March – I settled on a name (Tonic), pulled the nuts and bolts of the design together (fonts, colors, format, etc.), and build a basic landing page. The page linked to a PDF which I designed in Word and had an email subscription list. I posted to Reddit and got about 100 email signups, 5000 downloads, and hundreds of enthusiastic comments. My idea was validated. I decide to launch on Kickstarter. Full steam ahead.Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 8.19.34 PM
  • Early April – I researched manufacturers and decided what the game would look like. This was a lot of late nights emailing manufacturers and trying to understand design software. In the future, design is something I will definitely outsource. Not a strength or an interest of mine.
  • Mid-late April – I have samples in hand that I am satisfied with. Created a twitter account and am building it by churning followers and posting daily-ish improv-themed inspiration videos. Averaging about 30 new followers per day. Starting to think about the video.
  • Early May – Here’s where things get tricky. The social media ends up taking way longer than I had expected, and now it’s time to figure out how to sell this thing. I’m spending a lot of time writing and rewriting the positioning statement. Who specifically is this product for, and why do they care? This is all multiple times harder because I should have done it long before the product was designed.
  • Mid May – I am finally fleshing out the positioning and am working on the video. Identifying a story board is like pulling teeth. I spend a day or two filming and editing a rough cut. Then I trash it and to another one. I am humbled to realize just how little I know about video, photography, lighting and audio. Everything I do seems amateurish. Should I hire a professional and sacrifice control? Or do it myself and have the last word on everything? I opt for the latter.
  • Late May /early June – I scrap video #2 and do it again. Between filming, re-shooting, and editing, it takes days. But it’s getting closer.

Today is June 2. Video #3 is pretty good, but I need help with the audio. My voice isn’t good enough. I decided to hire a voiceover professional on Fiverr.