The quest for beta testers

29 10 2007

Earlier this month I began my quest for beta testers, quite uncertain about what might lie ahead. I had a vague idea of the number of potential partners (if only from conversations with others who owned climbing gyms), but had never sought out others who might like my software.

Before contacting anyone though, I laid down a few ground rules:

  1. Only University climbing gyms would be contacted, mainly because I was already familiar with the market but also because universities often don’t have a need for Point-of-Sale capabilities (which my software doesn’t offer). Universities are also known for being innovative, and I also figured that those in the university environment might be sympathetic to a graduate student working on a project.
  2. Participating sites would sign an agreement because as they say, “verbal contracts aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.” As I’ve mentioned before, NOLO has a legal guide that’s perfect for this sort of thing.
  3. Each site would preferably be within driving distance so that I could see my software in action if I so desired. I’m always able to better understand how my software is being used–and what features might be most helpful–when I can observe the user experience first-hand.

With the previous guidelines in mind, I went in search for universities with climbing gyms. I started out searching through the major conferences (Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, MAC, Sun Belt) and came up with quite a few possibilities. The Big Ten is incredibly weak in the area of climbing gyms, but the MAC is surprisingly stout (8 of 12 schools have gyms there). I also checked out colleges in Indiana and rounded out my search by checking the portfolios of three climbing wall manufacturers: Nicros, Entre Prises, and ElDorado.

When all was said and done I had a list of over 50 climbing gyms across the midwest and southeast. Then, because I am a geek, I calculated the driving distance from Purdue for 20 of the closest universities — and about half of them were within a four hour drive. I figured I’d be lucky to get half of those sites to participate in beta testing, but I began by calling the closest sites first and worked my way down the list.

Much to my surprise four of the first five climbing gym managers that I talked to were interested in testing out ClimbPoint. Two of these four mentioned to me during our conversation that they would like to have software to help manage their wall, even before I told them what I was up to. To top it off, each of the four universities is under 200 miles from Purdue (and two of them are right next to each other), so traveling to visit them is a definite possibility.

And so without further ado, here are my beta testers:

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3 responses

6 11 2007
ClimbPoint 0.5 released « Another Startup

[…] 6 11 2007 Late last week I sent out the beta release of ClimbPoint 0.5 to my previously mentioned testing partners. This version provides some basic membership management capabilities, and also keeps track of […]

10 01 2008
Visit to Indiana Wesleyan « Another Startup

[…] University. IWU was one of the first sites that agreed to test the rock climbing software, and I picked them because they were one of a few sites within driving distance of […]

19 02 2008
Moving toward an open beta « Another Startup

[…] toward an open beta 19 02 2008 Thus far in my development of ClimbPoint I have basically hand-picked my beta testers. Early on this served a few purposes. First, I wanted to give each tester some […]

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