How a broken garage door opener launched ICwhatUC
Life is interesting, if you listen & share, connections happen, and sometimes you connect with people that share the desire to reimagine how things work.
ICwhatUC was born when a series of seemingly random events / touchpoints happened.
August 2018 - Random Collision #1
In August 2018, a couple things happened at the same time.
I (@gsalazar100), was doing work for a company in downtown Calgary, and when I needed to work off-site, Luke (@luketkrueger) would let me sit in his office if he wasn’t using it.
One day, my garage door opener failed. I called in a technician to inspect it; the tech charged me $150 for the trip, and told me I needed a new garage door opener and quoted me roughly $1000 for a new unit & install.
Annoyed by the reality that I just paid this tech $150 to come to my house & quote me $1,000+ for some work, I started to do some investigation.
I learned that the opener still had warranty left on it & reached out to the Lift Master call center. After a successful call into the call center, a technician and I worked together over the phone for 1+hr and figured out that the control board had failed, and that they would send me a new board.
Sharing the problem
The following day Luke arrived to reclaim his office, I thanked him & replayed the events from the night before. He had similar experiences with an internet modem. Both of us marvelled at how something so simple (diagnosing the opener, diagnosing the modem) would be so simple if the tech could see what we were looking at, rather than have us try to explain it. Danny was in the next office, he had a similar experience 2 Christmases in a row with his furnace; we grabbed him & started working on Luke’s white board.
Amazing white boards
This is the picture or our first design mock up, from here we started the technology design and roadmap.
Key points for our design and target customer experience was that it would be all cloud based, the core features would not need an app, and it needed to include augmented reality so that the agent could draw and pull objects into the customer’s field of view.
At this point we had 3 founders, an idea and a whiteboard spec. Many & most ambitions die at this stage.
Random Collison #2
We were fortunate to also be down the hall from a senior developer, who had a development shop. From our initial research we understood that no one had built browser to browser video with augmented reality. We learned what we wanted to build is called ‘Web AR’, everyone told us it was 2 - 3 years out before it was practical to build. We inspired our developer with the challenge, assuring them we had confidence that they could do it, oh, and by the way, no one else has done it before.
Random Collision #3
The difference between a hobby and a company is this magical person called “a customer”.
We were/are very cash tight, so we needed to find someone to work with to ensure that we were spending our money in the right places, and we needed proof that this wasn’t just a great idea to the 3 of us and our development team.
From some work 2 of us had done in the past, we knew somebody at our local gas utility. Our research had shown that regulated business are very motivated to 1. serve their customers fairly and quickly, 2. create a safe work environment for their teams, and 3. are very interested to learn how to save costs, if it can also keep #1 & #2 the same or better. We didn’t know how lucky we were about to become.
First Customer, First Release
We had a preliminary meeting with our contact, and at the same time getting close to finishing our first release. Our contact was leaving the company, so we had a short window to try and get a meeting with their leadership. We wanted to target a live demo with the leaders, which meant we had to run our first release bug free, get a meeting with the leaders, and do it in the time left our contact was at the company. In one of those lucky - unlucky situations; our release pushed out, we got a meeting, the leaders had to postpone, our contact left the company, our release was ready, the leaders moved the meeting, and we were able to demo. The most senior leader said to everyone in the room, ‘make it happen’. We had our first customer, on our first release.
Who do you serve?
Since our first customer meeting we have learned to better understand the problem we are solving and a lot about ‘who we serve’. We started with an end customer problem, but realized we need to solve our customer’s problem first. As ICwhatUC shapes, this is our emerging mission; we want to enable anyone to serve anywhere, anytime.
(If you made it this far: the garage door opener control board came in the mail & I installed it myself)
This blog series will be dedicated to those that serve. We are going to cover off the foundations of the service business model, issues that are impacting service delivery, trends, new emerging tech, and anything/anyone that you can use to make your business more sustainable, more profitable, and hopefully a little more fun to run.
We invite you to follow us on our journey to transform the way service is delivered, and if you see a fit for your business, we invite you to try ICwhatUC; all the contact details follow.
Sign up for our newsletter at https://icwhatuc.com/contact.html, Follow us at blog.icwhatuc.com, @icwhatuclive on twitter, @icwhatuclive on Instagram, or at www.facebook.com/icwhatuclive
Thanks, and remember that some of our finest work from through the service of others.