Comics Helper

There and back again.

According to the “start a small company wisdom” to which I subscribe, build the smallest viable idea and validate it with a customer.

Let’s make a messaging client for comic shops

Comics Helper does that. My customer, not so much. I did follow the correct steps of building something small, with a single purpose to solve a pain point. Unfortunately, life for my first customer got in the way. That’s normal and makes sense. He’s a busy parent and store owner. Having lots of time to fiddle with an app, even if it might help him, isn’t something he can do.

The man without fear…

No worries. There are other comic shops, and now my app has messaging pretty much ready to go! I’m lucky to have a great local comic, collectibles, and game shop right up the road. It’s where I go to keep up with Peter Parker’s adventures. I decided to ask about their systems the next time I stopped in. We had a wonderful chat. The shop owner was kind enough to show me the spreadsheet he used for diffing pull boxes and figuring out what to order. I think I understand the pain points pretty well and can solve them.

I don’t know a lot about building a SaaS for comic shops. That said, I can ask questions and learn to understand what is frustrating to a potential customer. Hopefully, with some time, I can build something generally useful. If not, at least I can build an application that’s useful to one customer. I’m going to continue my focus on one customer until it hurts. I validated in this conversation that my local comic shop owner is busy, understands the heck out of his industry, has a lot of work to do, and is happy to talk about the problems he faces. If I can understand his concerns and build valuable solutions, he’s open to the idea.

Back to building

Mostly, software applications are terrible. Almost all applications I’ve ever built require too many clicks or have loading spinners everywhere. It’s tough to build good software. But no harder than helping customers at a seafood store. You need to have empathy, ask questions, and work to figure out what the customer needs. Should you let them down, they stop being customers.

In this case, I love comics. I’ve made and sold plenty of things that I don’t love. I found the empathy needed to do the work. The goal with ComicsHelper is to build an app that makes my local comic shop strong and resilient. That way, I can have a place to go to learn about what new comic is coming out. That’s a straightforward goal. Hopefully, my application can help. If not, I’ll keep asking until my app makes running a resilient and bustling comic shop easier. That’s the guiding light for feature development.