Tis the season! I can tell by the wide-eyed look on the faces of folks in the mall that the holidays have ruthlessly arrived. Every year I find myself trapped in an elevator, held against my will, by the gripping 5 octaves of Mariah Carey. Yet this year you won’t see the panic on my face. I'm zen under pressure thanks to my new secret shopping weapon – the Mustbin app. Who knew that simply taking a photo with your smartphone and placing files in a "bin" could change the way you shop or function in life? Misplaced credit card? No problem. Pin number refresher? Yes, please. Santa and crying kid photo shared with in-laws? You bet. Plus the step-by-step guides make it easy to set up and start uploading to 1GB of free storage. Everything I need to stay sane is now securely captured and organized with military grade encryption. Mustbin's VP of Engineering, Satyender Mahajan, gives me the scoop on how Mustbin became the must-have app of the year.
Hey Saty, you've been keeping busy! Exciting times indeed. $4.5M in Series A funding and positive reviews right out of the gate from Tech Crunch, Fortune, Lifehacker, and Mac Life. Tell us about the app that everyone is raving about. Mustbin is a free iOS app that allows you to utilize your iPhone to capture information in your life that would be convenient to have stored securely in the cloud. Whether it’s your kid’s social security number or a picture of them, we intend to help you store your most vital information and treasured moments in a single, secure and organized place.
We have high-end security architecture that encrypts data at rest, in transit, and in the cloud. Our security goal is to make sure your data stays YOUR data.
Who is on the Mustbin team? Brian Shin is the founder. I head up Engineering. Algert Sula is our Senior Designer. Krishna Agarwala is our Administrative Assistant. Carl Shimer and Scott Prusinoski are our Software Architects. Michael Sollami and Nate Mackey are our Senior Software Engineers.
You nailed the app icon. It looks like both a bin and a safe! Tell us more about the design and UI. Algert was focused on creating branding that emphasized documents, security, and of course a “bin.” This culminated in our app icon. I agree. I think we nailed it.
The UX was heavily influenced by Apple core concepts of clarity, depth, and deference. I talk more about this in our own blog post. We believe in powerful, minimalist UI that enables the experience instead of dominating it. Your content should dominate the experience! And we defer to your content as much as possible.
What tools did you use for creating the app? Mainly Xcode, git and AWS.
What lessons did you learn building this app? Building software is hard. Having great tools is very helpful. Having used Xcode for quite a while, I’ve seen it go through some interesting transitions. Xcode 5 has made a lot of progress and I commend Apple for doing it’s very best to deliver developers awesome tools. We especially like the new basic profiling tools that are built right in. Very helpful.
What went right and wrong with the development and release? One of the most difficult things an engineering team will face is shipping a product. Shipping a 1.0 is the hardest by far. It’s so easy to find reasons why your product isn’t ready yet. “We can’t ship because it doesn’t have feature X or feature Y.” But when you look at the big picture, product development is iterative and you really have to come up with a set of requirements for a 1.0 that is viable and achievable. Sometimes that just means saying no to some features and prioritizing others. I joke that I’m “Chief No Officer” at Mustbin. But seriously for every hundred nos, there’s a yes that makes total sense.
Steve Jobs once said “Real artists ship.” And I couldn’t have put it better myself. This is the guy who shipped iOS (then iPhone OS) 1.0 without Copy/Paste! But when Apple finally came around to doing Copy/Paste, they nailed it.
We have the same philosophy. We have brilliant, very creative people here that come up with amazing ideas every day. All of those ideas are welcome and are encouraged to be captured in our backlog. We then review our priority regularly and focus on the set of features that makes sense and deliver them (in 2 week sprints).
We ship, sometimes not everything we want, but we ship!
I'm having flashbacks of Mark Zukerberg’s famous photo reminder to “Stay focused. Keep shipping.” While it's exciting to actually ship the product, it's the constant refinement of features and product iterations that make the journey so unpredictable and often rewarding. How is the team holding up post launch? Good. Our team is awesome. We all came from varied backgrounds, some startups, some consulting, and some big companies. I feel fortunate. It’s an inspiring group to be around.
Besides Mustbin, what are some of your other favorite apps? I like Apple apps a lot. I use the iOS 7 camera app daily. I love the simplicity and free texting of the Messages app which helps me stay connected with my wife and my son. Calendar and Reminders keep me sane. The Remote app for our Apple TV is the best for movies and Netflix (which I love to watch with my 2 year old son.)
For third party apps, Twitter is basic but gets the job done. Facebook’s design is OK but I mainly use it to help me stay in touch with family and friends that I normally wouldn’t be able to regularly communicate with. Instagram has awesome UI (even though I’m no longer an active user). Finally Uber is a well-built app with inspiring UX and UI. Love that simple minimalist design.
Saty, congrats again on the successful launch! This won't be the last that we hear of Mustbin. Personally, it's become a staple app for my phone. Keep us posted for when you launch on iPad and Android.
Hey you! Wanna be featured like our friends at Mustbin? Be sure to check out www.powerslyde.com/developers.