Day 87 — Financial Plan & Risks

Addressing the biggest blockers to launch

My goal today was this:

Launch Metrics

I started with defining how we’ll track our launch success. I used Dan Norris’ Resources Page to create a progress tracker.

Tracking Progress

I really value the simplicity and the focus on financial targets. They may seem out of reach now, but it forced me to put some projections down in writing.

One key challenge is that we won’t launch our subscription feature in v1, so until we do, these are really hopeful.

Addressing Risks

Next I switched my focus to addressing some of our key launch risks. Kudos to my team for thinking through the challenges we’ll need to overcome.

Addressing Launch Risks

Risk 1 — Open Source Licenses

We use a fair amount of open source software to build our app. One of the requirements for this is that we publish what we used and who owns the license. Before we launch, we want to make sure we give credit where credit is due.

I found a really nice tool that works with Expo (how we build/deploy our apps) to generate our open source libraries here.

Open Source Licenses

We still will need to figure out how we link / display from the app.

Risk 2 — Updates require new app to be published

One of the challenges we have with our app is that we’ll constantly be creating new content. Can you imagine if Netflix published a new version of the app each time they released a new episode?

Luckily, Expo saves the day here again with a feature that allows us to push “over the air updates.” Expo over-the-air updates will allow us to publish new versions without requiring users download the latest version of the app. More details here: https://docs.expo.io/guides/configuring-ota-updates/

Risk 3 — Non-Compliance with Data Privacy Rules (COPPA & GDPR-Kids)

This was the most challenging risk to address. I ended up doing research into the data privacy standards that will impact us for marketing our app toward a younger audience. COPPA and GDPR are the key data privacy laws we will need to comply with to market a mobile app to a younger consumer base. Since we aren’t getting reimbursed from insurance, we do not need to worry about HIPAA yet.

From a COPPA perspective, what I learned was that because we collect information from users (i.e., to setup accounts and to facilitate care communications) we cannot market our app to users under 13 without “verifiable parental consent.” In English this just means parents need to agree our app is ok for their kid to use. In practice, this means that we need to have to screen users under 13 and develop a method to ensure that parents approve.

The FTC lays out a 6-step process for compliance with this law. So that we can keep moving forward, we’re going to have a short and a long-term approach.

  • In the short-term, we’re just going to limit our app to users 13 and older.
  • Long-term we will explore other solutions (e.g., SuperAwesome has a web services layer that facilitates parental consent).

Short-Term Approach

1 — Add UI to the app to screen for users under 13.

Screening users under 13

2 — Updated privacy policy and terms of use to indicate only for users 13+.

3 — Do not launch in Austria, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, or Slovakia. These countries have different age requirements for the minimum age and will add technical complexity for launch.

Long-Term Approach

To add kids under 13, we will need to get “verifiable parental consent” — check out “Kids Web Services” from SuperAwesome.

Risk 4 — Known Bugs Not Fixed

All software has bugs, but some matter more than others. We currently have about 20 open issues with the app, but most are cosmetic and aren’t high-priority fixes right now. I would love to get to a few of the UX-polish items but most likely we’ll run out of time.

Risk 5 — Legal Issues

Finally, I updated the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. I’m sure there are other possibilities to consider but for now this is what we can control from a legal perspective.

What’s Next?

I’m happy with the progress today. There are still a few risks I’ll need to address at some point this week. Tomorrow I’ll work to publish a new landing page.

Startup founder surviving in his parent’s basement.