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QA with a Champion: What's the Core of BitRip's value?

James: Let's begin right there. We pay for things because they (should) provide more value to us than the money we spend on them. If not, we'd never pay for those things. With that in mind, let's jump to a very direct question that a lot of people avoid. Why did you pay for BitRip? What value did you see in it?

Natascha: This is a tough question because honestly, I didn't have a grasp on the true value at the time of purchase. It seemed neat at the time, and I always like to be the first to try out new tech. I spent maybe 2 minutes on your site then said, the heck with it, let's just buy it and experiment.

James: That's the trouble with new tech - it takes a leap of faith.

Natascha: Exactly. But your leap was fortunately $40.

Natascha: So then the tape arrived, it sat on my shelf for a week, then I started some minor testing in my free time. It reminded me of WhatsApp. A piece of your tape is just a single conversation thread. Except, it this context, it's conversation tied to physical reality - which is cool, but the burning question is why? Why does that need to happen. I didn't have an answer at the time.

James: So it went back on the shelf?

Natascha: Well it stayed on my desk, so a slight upgrade.

James: So what happened between then and now? How did it go from an interesting but 'not-sure-how-to-use' product to one in which you actually use on a day to day basis?

Natascha: A series of moments when you realize - I could use that tape. So it hit when we had these laptops that would leave the office and go out to the field. We just expect the laptops to return when used, but every quarter we do an inventory and 3 are missing. We then do a search around the office, then the field spots, maybe a day or two trying to track them down, then we either miraculously find them or we write them off.

James: No barcoding system to check them out?

Natascha: That takes some dedication. Metal tags, a barcode scanner, a bunch of enterprise software to learn. It might very well be worth it on a balance sheet, but people value their time. So no, we kept to a 'pen and paper' honor system and lost thousands as a result.

James: So you turned to BitRip - which was different?

Natascha: Yes. The app is basic in a good way, and does everything you need it to. Someone takes the laptop, tape gets scanned with a smartphone, that's it. One scan puts a geo-tag on the laptop with a user and now, when 3 go missing, we know the last known location and user. The $40 roll had 100 labels, and that did the trick for all the laptops. Right there is the value equation you mentioned at the beginning. A single tape to help track $2500 worth of missing laptops a quarter.

James: You previously mentioned some other ways you used BitRip in an outreach to us. Can you elaborate?

Natascha: So every quarter we have to put up these huge Gantt charts to display our long term progress and goals. We have to break out this huge printer and, for reasons unknown, we spend hours trying to set it up and get it going. Eventually we give up and call the IT Professional to fix it. They do the same steps every time to get it going. So think about the waste there - we spend an hour or two trying to remember, then we drag an expert from another location into the fold. Then it dawned on me - just record those steps in an audio message on the tape - while the expert is present and the steps are fresh in your head, then attach it to the printer.

A one minute audio message that says - "Hit this button, select this, plug in this, don't do this ...". It might sound like a trivial example, but it got me thinking - this tape captures expertise and puts it places it needs to be. An expert can spread their knowledge across physical space with a network of tape. Questions? Leave it on the tape - expert gets notified and knows exactly what the question pertains to.

James: We sometimes use the term 'Digital Sticky Note' because it seems to explain the concept the best, even though it's a tape.

Natascha: I didn't read that on the site, but yes, that would be a succinct way to put it.

James: Ok, we can't have all positive here. We do have some things we don't do - things that could be seen as negatives. I'd also like to add - all of these so called negatives are being worked on as we speak. There's no desktop app, you can't export entire labels, but are there any others? Perhaps this could be a good opportunity for feedback so we can start work on them.

Natascha: You mentioned the two obvious ones. But here's one that I might add. Some of our labels are getting very heavy in data - maintenance tags that store dozens of photos and PDFs. Some of the most critical information happens to be the first information added to the label, which is the asset documentation. Since all attachments are chronological, to get to this information, you have to scroll all the way to the bottom, which isn't at all convenient. There needs to be a way to get to this attachment quickly. So I recommend a search capability inside each label - so you can pull up early data at the bottom quickly without scrolling.

James: That makes a lot of sense. To be completely transparent, almost every feature of this app was built by suggestions like that. We honestly had very little part to play besides listening and executing on suggestions. I think a search inside a label is complete common sense, so I would consider this done with the next build.

Natascha: Listening to users is always the recommended approach, especially when it comes to cutting down time.

James: Well, I think that's a good place to end. We have our marching orders. But I think we forgot to answer the main question of this interview. What is the core value behind BitRip? I can't let you leave without an answer.

Natacha: No problem. So it's simple. It attaches fluid information to physical things so you don't have to spend time looking it up or spend time looking for it. The core value is saving time.

James: Perfect summary. Thanks for stopping by.

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