Little Gas Station – Product of Startup Lab

December 3, 2012

So how do we develop our great Apps? Well, lots of ways, sometimes at the keyboard or in the shower like everyone else 🙂

But also, we have our Saturday Startup Lab, which is when we get together and brainstorm new products and services. The idea is that if enough members of the Saturday gang likes some one’s possibly very weird suggestion, then regular people who don’t develop apps for a living might just like it  too. We haven’t come up with a warp drive or an App that reduces calories, yet, we’re still working on that. But here’s the history of how we got fed up with hunting for gas stations and did something about it.

It all started when Anna, (she’s a Project Manager) and Ivan (UI Designer) and Pavel (iOS Developer) were sitting around one Saturday and complaining to each other about driving their cars. This led to a gripe session about how it was just too hard, even in the 21st century, to get even basic information about the nearest gas station if you’re already behind the wheel.  And so the idea of an App that finds the nearest gas station when you need it was born.

We were a little biased when we went into development, since we like to keep our driving simple and our devices working for us rather than the other way around. The app we finally wound up with does two things only, but does them very well:

  • Shows gas stations nearby in list view mode and on a map
  • Tell you when you’re approaching the gas station

Sweet and simple, right? So how did we get to the result? More Saturday bull sessions? Extra keyboard time? More showers?

Want read more about the process?

Well, really, it went like this:

First, we broke our gas station project stages:

  1. Minimal Viable Product (MVP). This is the part where we sat down and made a list of features and sketched primary wireframes
  2. Idea validation. This was the basic user testing and then some thinking about what is essential, and what we would rather do without. At this point we got rid of about 60% of functionality we had on our initial list of things we thought the app should do, because it became clear quickly a driver isn’t helped if you give him a complicated app requiring a lot of his attention.
  3. Idea prototyping on whiteboard and functions split: This was figuring out the to-do lists for the app’s developer, designer, and product manager – who were Ivan, Pavel and Anna, in that order.

The prototype came out like this:

So we thought about that for a while, reminded each other several times drivers need things simple and user-friendly, and eventually settled on this:

4. Development and testing: This was in-house and really straightforward. It only took two weekends!

5. Real-life field testing: Well, obviously we weren’t going to turn our app loose on the world without checking to see if it helped real-world drivers, and so several of us got behind the wheel and drove around until we were satisfied the app worked and really does make life easier for the driver. Everyone thought this was the most fun part of the development process. No one ran out of gas  🙂

photo of project manager testing the application

So now that our gas station App is out there, are we done? Well, no. Right now we’re  piling up feedback from users and listening to their ideas on how to develop the app further. Sort of like our Saturday brainstorm session, just with more participants.

App is available in AppStore via link: