Product Simplicity

A lot has been read about simplicity in product development. Go ahead, Google it. My lesson in simplicity is the outcome of my experience at Wallaby.

I founded Wallaby to produce the Wallaby Card. The Wallaby Card was to be one card to rule them all. It would be a single piece of plastic that allowed you access to all of your credit cards in one physical item and automatically choose the best card for every purchase to maximize rewards, minimize interest and fees—whatever you prefer.

(Side Note: The Wallaby Card predates Coin, Stratos, Wocket, Plastc, etc., etc. and was conceived as a completely different solution. Wallaby Card was to be a software-based, cloud-based digital wallet with intelligent routing. The others are literally computers shaped like a credit card—that is they are hardware solutions.)

When I described the Wallaby Card I received one of two reactions:

  1. Awesome! How can I get one?
  2. I don’t get it; I only have one debit/credit card

This is why I knew I should quit my job and start a company.  I could explain it in a few sentences, in less than 30 seconds and a large portion of people would just ask how they could get one. The other people simply weren’t my market. Lacking classic Silicon Valley ambition, I hadn’t yet considered that my product should be for everyone; a subset served me fine. I knew that more than 70M people had more than one credit card and the average American carries more than three.

Well, as you probably know if you read my blog, there is no Wallaby Card. For reasons I won’t get into here, I was never able to turn my original vision into a reality.

What we did build is an intelligent decision-making software platform that does optimize for all the things a Wallaby Card was going to do (rewards, interest, fees, cash flow, etc.). We build the absolute largest and most complete database of credit card information in the US. We just don’t have a card and can’t process payments.

Now when I explain Wallaby it sounds more like this:

Wallaby is a personal finance software company. Our apps help users to save hundreds of dollars each year by making the right decision every time they shop—to maximize rewards, minimize interest, manage cash flow, or whatever their preference is.

I think it’s great. We have lots of users and great growth. We sold the company on this software.

That said, we haven’t quite put it all down into the simplest and best format yet. When I explain this, many people in our market (not market #2 above) are a little turned off because, it’s just another app. Yes, we’re all suffering from app overload.

We need to make it more simple. We’re working on it (in reverse, our next version is more capable, but hopefully easier to use). 

Everyday I think about product planning and what to do next. Everyday I challenge myself to make it simple and find a way back to when people just got it. 

That’s the magic of an amazing idea and a great product. If you have stumbled on that, you have to keep building it. It’s a rare opportunity.