A crazy couple of days, but wanted to take a few minutes to shout out our incredible team at NeedHop.
A few months ago we had an idea for a platform to help people connect one-on-one to solve their shared problems.
A week ago we submitted our app to the App Store. We imagined folks would use it to help each other through chronic health problems, addiction, relationship and work challenges etc etc.
Fast forward just seven days later and we’re living in a different world. A world in which the cutesy question we put at the top of the NeedHop app – “What’s your problem?” – seems faintly ridiculous.
Today we all have the same problem, and it’s a pretty fucking scary one.
A better question is “What do you need right now?”
To that end, yesterday I had a call with the team to figure out how NeedHop should react to the current crisis. Specifically how we can apply all the incredible engineering, product, design talent we have in house (and the venture capital money we have in the bank) to helping people get through this crisis.
A few minutes into the call it was clear we were all on the same page: Now and for the foreseeable future NeedHop needs to shift from being an app that helps people connect over shared experience to one that says “NO SERIOUSLY, WHAT DOES YOUR FAMILY NEED RIGHT THIS MOMENT?” And then makes it as easy as possible for you to find someone who has that thing.
Now, bear in mind, this is a team that had spent months building version one of our app. Painstakingly engineering, designing, researching – figuring out all the various use cases. We had a road map of features planned for each of the next six months. We were going to start on iOS in the US only and then roll out to other platforms and countries over time.
People plan and God laughs, as the saying goes.
By the end of yesterday’s call, that entire roadmap was in pieces, replaced by an insane plan to rebuild our entire front end, re-engineer the back end, rapidly add in geolocation for people who need help locally, and prepare to roll out this new version of NeedHop to as many people as possible on whatever platform they prefer, in whatever country they find themselves. (It turns out viruses really are platform agnostic.) (Sorry.)
By 3pm we had confirmed the new roadmap. At 5pm our UX lead called me with the first wireframes (our engineers were already building), and by 6pm I was looking at the first fully designed screens on Figma. All day today my phone has been buzzing with new TestFlights from our CTO and Lead Product Engineer. At this rate we should have the completely revised NeedHop ready for initial release in the next two or three days.
The team has planned and is implementing a total product refocus just one week after launch. They’re not thinking about long term revenue, or whether any of this is exactly what they signed up for. Rather they’re all focussed on the same question: Will this new feature, or this tweak, mean we can help more people, more quickly?
And that’s not even the most remarkable part. The most remarkable part is that our team is all based in LA and the Bay Area so they’re doing all of this remotely, with a virus spreading, and their cities on near total lock-down.
As one of the team put it to me last night: “Thank god this is the product we’re building right now. Because if we weren’t I’d probably have to quit and build it myself.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. I also couldn’t be more blown away by the amazing group of human beings who a few months ago agreed to take the leap of faith to build NeedHop and who are now doubling down amid the chaos.
But here’s the thing. Across SF and LA and the world there are thousands of teams like ours. Teams who showed up yesterday and today – remotely or in person – and did their job, despite the craziness and panic going on around them. Often while trying to homeschool their kids and make sure they have enough food in the freezer. Not just engineers, but grocery store workers and chefs and teachers and doctors and trash collectors and doctors. And doctors. Did I mention doctors?
My point is this: If you’re a CEO or (co-)founder or any other kind of boss and your team showed up or logged on or dialed in to do their job *at all* this week then they are fucking amazing. Period.
As CEOs and founders we owe them our gratitude, but we also owe them some other things. We owe them good (ideally fully paid) healthcare, flexible hours, and a promise that they’ll get their full salaries regardless of whether we have customers or not.
We owe contractors a promise that they can rely on our income in the coming months. That we’ll pay them even faster than usual by whatever method is easiest for them. In a lockdown, a same-day bank transfer or Venmo beats a paper check in the mail every time.
Not every business can survive this downturn, but those of us with money in the bank have a moral obligation to match the resilience and professionalism of our teams with every last thing we have to give.
Because it’s never been more true. We’re in this together.
Thanks for all the kind responses to this post. Of course I’m passing them all along to the team.
If there’s anything you need right now, or have something you can offer to a stranger in need, please do post it on the current version of NeedHop.
It’ll update automatically to the new version as soon as we release it. I’ll also update this post with Android, web, etc links as we have them. (International versions coming VERY soon.)Updated Mar 18, 2020, 9:11 AM