Inventing Rudeless, the anti-iPhone app

Carbon 5's Lean Startup Approach to developing The Next Big Thing

Rudeless, a new company dedicated to improving mobile phone behavior, is about to introduce its first application. Granted it’s still in the early phase of development. In fact today we go into A/B testing with our initial concepts.

One version, De-Rude, rewards and punishes you for good and bad behavior. It works on an opt-in basis. You begin by selecting a mode. For example, in date mode, you agree to avoid taking calls, sending texts or checking in while you’re on a date so that you can pay attention to the other person.

The application itself helps you comply. Let’s say you enter a restaurant, De-Rude prompts you to check in, tweet, post a quick photo to Instagram and get all of that over with. You then enter date mode, get a huge smile from your companion, and you’re ready to focus on her (or him.)

If you make it through the date without using your phone, your non-rude reputation goes up, you can add a badge to your profile and you will, no doubt, become more desirable to the opposite sex. Break your contract, however, and a few things happen. Your reputation diminishes and, ready for this? Your battery drains. That’s to keep you honest and make you think twice when itchy fingers want to reach for the on button.

Tentatively called wePhone for test purposes, version B asks both people on a date to opt-in. They simply download the app, bump phones and they’re un-connected to their digital worlds and connected to each other. When they re-bump they’re back online. What’s cool about this version is that the app keeps a record of how long you stay unconnected and lets you compare yourself to other couples to see where you stand on the willpower scale.

Will these apps appeal?  Be successful?  Get downloaded?  Who knows.  We’re iterating our way there at Boulder Digital Works’ Making Digital Work workshop.

The above is my team’s contribution to the Lean Start Up portion of the workshop.

Led by Made by Many’s Tim Malbon, we actually break the class of 80 into eight start-up companies and put them through a process developed by Carbon 5. In one hour, each team has to identify eight problems worthy of solving, home in on one, visualize solutions, clarify how their new product will change the world, then develop two different versions each defined by distinct features.  We give our ideas names, buy search keywords and post rough sites online to solicit feedback and see what works.

Want to get better at generating products, services, and software instead of ads? Try a different roadmap and approach to strategy. You can with this deck. It works pretty well.

Will update you later when we get some feedback on Rudeless, the company, and our new services — De-Rude and wePhone.

Carbon 5 Exercise



I love this, but not just the app. I love that agency's are thinking up their own ideas for products and services rather than merely taking someone else's and figuring out how to sell it without being able to change it. I've always thought ad agencies should be truly part of a creation loop, rather than an afterthought. My dream job, which did not materialize, was going to be to help Dell create such a loop. Sigh... would have been a lot of fun.

edwardboches moderator

@JeffShattuck I wish we could take what we do and learn at BDWCU and really really really put it into effect. But it takes a village, as they say. And if you see my deck and the reference to Kotter, you have to have all five ingredients. Pressure from top, buy-in from all, actionable steps, investment and measurement. Hoping we can all iterate our way there.