Do you remember that science experiment you did as a child – the one where you spread iron filings over a piece of paper and then held a magnet underneath?
As soon as the magnet drew close enough, the iron filings sprang into the shape of the magnet.
Over the last few months – as we have drawn closer to the launch of Mclowd – I have come to see the Crowd as similar to those iron filings.
But in this case the Crowd springs to whatever the shape of the problem is to which they are drawn.
Mclowd in ‘Lean Start Up’ Mode
When we first released Mclowd back in September 2012 it was a very basic system, unsuitable for most Trustees and lacking many of the features of existing software.
This was a deliberate move on our part designed to trigger engagement from the Trustee Community – in order to prove (or disprove) the hypothesis that a business model could be developed around a free cloud-based SMSF accounting system.
(Incumbents who didn’t understand the concept of Lean Start Up mistakenly interpreted this as a sign of weakness, when in actual fact it was an indication that Mclowd had the potential to be a very disruptive force because of the capital efficiencies associated with this approach).
Regardless of the incumbent response, over time, as more and more ‘earlyvangelists’ engaged with us, contributing time and effort to help with designing or testing new functionality (or just sending an encouraging email), our confidence grew, and we were able to raise small increments of capital to continue to fill the gaps or start more conversations about our vision to improve net returns for investors by leveraging the economics of cloud computing and crowdsourcing.
But eventually we needed to pull the trigger and commit to building out the Platform into a credible alternative, otherwise we risked being caught in an ‘entrepreneurial no-mans land’, unable to justify more capital because we weren’t moving forward, but not moving forward fast enough due to a lack of capital.
This is where the story gets interesting.
I started Mclowd with a small team of freelance design and development resources, coupled with accounting knowledge and SMSF subject matter expertise. In addition we quickly attracted the attention and support of a small group of SMSF Trustees who shared our vision, and understood the potential of an SMSF accounting platform built ‘by the Crowd, for the Crowd’.
While this closely knit and highly skilled Team were ideal for kickstarting Mclowd, in number they were never going to be sufficient to complete the task in a timeframe that allowed us to maintain the necessary momentum.
Iron Filings at Work
This is where the Crowd really came into their own.
In order to scale up over a relatively short space of time (and at a globally-defined marginal cost) we reached out to the Crowd.
Whether it was PHP, HTML, CSS, AWS, UAT (or SMSF) the ability of the Crowd to literally ‘morph’ into the shape of the problem at hand (the launch of a free cloud-based SMSF accounting system) has been nothing short of remarkable, even for someone like myself who has worked with crowdsourced resources for more than 7 years.
And all of this occurred in real time, on the basis of per-hour resourcing and as mentioned at per unit costs that are globally defined, meaning that Mclowd has been able to maintain its profile as the leanest of Lean Start Ups.
Official Launch – 5:00pm Sydney March 27th
If you would like to get a look under the hood, meet the Team involved with launching Mclowd and gain an understanding of the profound changes that are taking place in the way work is performed and organisations configured click here to register for the official Launch. We’d love to see you there.