The CreatorCon® Challenge, part of ServiceNow Knowledge17 conference came at a perfect time for PlatCore. CreatorCon is in essence a competition to develop an application based on the ServiceNow platform. In addition, there is a good size cash award pool with marketing and partner awards that make it quite appealing. We at least wanted to give it a go and see what happens. As a new company, we had lots of other activities to attend to like making a web site, getting the legal aspects dealt with, corporate identity, etc. The one thing we needed most, regardless of CreatorCon, was a product.
What to Create?
This isn’t an easy question to answer. We engaged early and often with the partner team from ServiceNow to not build something they were already building. This might not have mattered just for CreatorCon, but we’re still making a company and a viable product that wouldn’t immediately compete with ServiceNow was key. After discussions, requirements gathering, market analysis, we decided our initial application would be an Learning Management System (LMS). This market is VERY crowded and there are plenty of choices out there, but there was not one LMS available native to ServiceNow. We believe that learning records in the same system as support data, compliance data, HR data, etc., is far more valuable than data in disparate systems. Our LMS was born, feedback was sought, we matured the application, and finally entered it as our CreatorCon application.
That wasn’t the end of the CreatorCon process though. In order to round out the application, we needed to create an investor pitch video, presentation deck, data sheets., etc. All of these things together make the application and the entry deadline created a sense of urgency needed to get them all done by Feb 15, 2017. Now the judging begins or more specifically, the waiting begins.
Waiting… and Waiting…
We had to wait nearly a month to find out if we made the cut to the shortlist. We did! I got the notification email sitting in Maui, HI which is probably the most appropriate place for a spontaneous party. There were 9 fantastic applications shortlisted, and PlatCore is definitely honored to be one of the nine selected from 226 entries.
Of course, with the selection to the shortlist, there was more prep work for a live pitch with numerous ServiceNow executives which followed a few weeks after the initial short-list selection. This presentation held the key to who would be selected as finalists and pitch on the big stage at CreatorCon. We again were honored to present but had to wait another week to find out if we were one of the finalist. We acquitted ourselves well, but weren’t selected to the final three.
Beer followed… As this is not youth soccer, not everyone gets a trophy, so enough self-doubt. It was time to get back to work and serve our customers which are ultimately why PlatCore exists.
So Was It Worth It?
Yep! Even not being selected to be a finalist, there was enormous benefit for us to be part of CreatorCon and Knowledge17. We are showcasing our LMS at CreatorCon. As a semi-finalist, we have had more time to meet with customers and bring it to market than even the finalists. An interesting fact… Of the three apps certified, two of the three are semi-finalists. We have been able to focus on maturing the product and the CreatorCon deadlines really focused our attention. ServiceNow was a fantastic partner and provided lots of great PR, feedback on the product, our pitch, and lots of help navigating a variety process.
Most importantly, the LMS is through the ServiceNow certification process for both Helsinki and Istanbul versions and it is available from the ServiceNow store today! We went from company creation, through product development, to product launch with an enterprise class LMS on the ServiceNow Platform in five months. That qualifies as working at lightspeed!
Did We Learn Anything from CreatorCon?
A few things I took away and now hope the next entrants can learn from…
Know why you’re doing this before you start
Really think about why you’re entering the contest. Do you need the prize money for seed? Will product feedback help you? Do you have nothing better to do? If you’re honest, these questions start to guide your choices as a company.
It will take WAY more time than you think
The CreatorCon Challenge is HARD! ServiceNow really does have a platform to help you build applications at lightspeed, but there’s more to the challenge than application development. To create a “packaged” entry that displays your capabilities as a company takes work and skills that may not be readily available. This was exciting for us as we got to show off our graphic design, video production, page layout, documentation, web design, and yes, flex our development chops. Speaking of application development, all semifinalists applications address enterprise problems and weren’t built in a weekend. (If they were, I’m really impressed!) It will take more time than you think, be harder than you think, but will DEFINITELY be more rewarding than you think.
Success isn’t just about making a great app but making a great company
A fantastic application gets you in the door and noticed as a contender for the CreatorCon Challenge. What can put you over the top is how well you’re doing as a company and do you have the ability not just develop something cool, but to bring a product to market. What type of market traction are you getting? Is your product already in market? Do you have customers that have validated the usefulness? These things do matter. So what should you do? If you have an app idea, start right now and make it great. Get feedback. Show customers. Engage in the developer community. Knowledge17 is May 7-11, 2017. Go attend that, but then start on your idea for next year May 12th.
Regardless of why you enter a future CreatorCon or the outcome, you will have accelerated your product and time to market greatly! Isn’t that a win no matter what?