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The shower problem

Rails/Angular developer, Entrepreneur & YC alum. Previously built and sold Now O(only)TO at and part time partner at Entrepreneur First.

The team and I are out in San Francisco warming up our landing before moving the company here in January. We’re staying in a nice little AirBnB in Northbeach and have plenty of space but all share the same bathroom.

One of my little luxuries in life is nice shower gel and I brought a bottle of Lime Source out with me. It’s not particularly expensive but it’s awesome. It smells so good you want to lick yourself after using it. If you washed your hands with it you could make a Gin and Tonic taste better just for stirring it with your finger. 

The problem is that it smells so good that two people will cut a bottle down a fortnight. The three of our team would easily hammer it in a week. So when we arrived at the house I wanted it within reach but not so obvious that it ended up gone. 

I was rather pleased to discover then that at the far end of the bathtub was a discrete shelf.

The shelf is open and visible to anyone in the bathroom but occluded from someone in the shower. The perfect place to store some tasty shower gel.  

Not only that but our landlord provided three standard-issue dispensers with shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. Even if a showerer were to notice the luxuriant gel on the way into the shower, their urge for shower gel would likely be sated by the convenient dispensers in front of them. 

It was only on the second day of showering and revelling in my (somewhat mean) smugness that I realised that the same thing that was protecting my shower gel was also choking the green shoots of our software. 

Over the past two months we’ve built some pretty cool stuff. I’ve used a lot of software and built a fair chunk so I’m jaded enough to be cynical but this is good. It’s eight weeks old and we’ve been using it constantly for the past six. It’s totally integrated with email and completely natural to use. 

Except that you have to remember to use it. Like the Lime Source it kicks the pants of the alternative. Like the Lime Source though you don’t have a taste for it until you have actually tasted it. We’re only two weeks into customer development but it’s clear that while people love the idea of it, they completely forget to use it.

We needed to solve the shower problem. We’d packed 40 limes worth of software into one bottle that makes you want to lick yourself after using it. The problem is that when they you reach for an email address, the one that stares back at you is not ours. 

So with that in mind we’re building a simple Chrome extension that modifies the send button on GMail to include the our email adresses. We are going to get up and in our users’ faces (as they don’t say where I come from).

If I put the shower gel out right beside the other dispensers it’ll get hit. So too the email address.

We’re looking forward to seeing how this goes. I’m bullish about our engagement but, post-publication, bearish about my shower gel.