I spent most of the last half of December in the hospital with appendicitis, a bit of an unpleasant surprise that came just before my birthday and kept me attached to IV tubes until just after Christmas.
During that time I wasn't getting much sleep and I started to have some strange ideas. After neglecting shaving for a few days, I realized it would be amusing to get my friends to vote on whether I should keep growing out a beard or go back to the clean-shaven version of myself that I'd always been since I was a teenager.
I wasn't thinking particularly clearly, so the path wasn't entirely linear, but this took me down a path thinking about the possibility of a generalized crowdfunded decision-making app. A form of A/B testing where people back up their opinions with money.
For about 10 days in the hospital I spent the few hours a day that I could concentrate clearly enough building out a prototype. I figured the fastest way to get something out the door was to be pretty minimalist about features, so I only made the code that allows creating and editing decisions good enough for me to use, and I focused on the code for payment flow, user account creation, and vote and funding stats.
My immediate goal was to build the simplest thing that would work for my silly use case, and then learn just enough to figure out what to focus on next.
I spent about 4 or 5 more weeks refining the code when I had time, and released the first campaign to the world around the end of January. 2 weeks later, I had a decision, backed with $92.50, the bulk of the dollars favoring keeping my beard. It wasn't a life-changing amount of money, but better than the $5-15 I anticipated.
Yes, it's a completely trivial decision, but I've learned enough to think about what comes next. I'm hoping to make it useful for both trivial and more serious choices, likely initially focusing on creative folks like authors, artists, designers, maybe even product plannners and market research specialists. The idea is help anyone who has a fanbase, a network, or an audience figure out what their most committed customers and fans want the most.
If you'd like to take a look at the project, check out Ochokochoi.com.