Why explaining ConvertKit to kids is easy and hard — part 3

Nathan Barry, ConvertKit’s founder, can’t explain what his business does to his kids.

But he almost can now. The last post covered all the steps in UEAR: Unhide requirements, Expose assumptions, Add limitations, and Respect constraints. Nathan’s hidden requirement was that he wanted to explain how ConvertKit worked, not just what it did.

And he assumed he needed to explain the technicalities to his kids.

No wonder he had a problem! But exposing this assumption meant we can work around it — after all, you don’t need to know binary to use a computer. Then we identified his kids’ constraints — they have few reference points — and added a limitation to make it easy for Nathan and them — the explanation needs to be fun!

We’re going to use multi-player online games as a fun concept his kids understand.

Here’s the explanation so far. ConvertKit helps creators grow an audience and sell digital products through email. And it does this by providing software as a service, or SaaS, that let’s the same virtual action happen forever, replicated endlessly.

But that’s still not enough — we need to connect that explanation to his kids’ constraints and our limitation.

How can we use online games to explain SaaS? His kids know about online multi-player games. Log-on, choose an avatar and play with your friends.

All of which happens inside a computer somewhere.

In each game there are potentially an infinite number of players because each avatar is a copy — a template. And the avatar’s actions are limited by the game’s parameters. The same virtual action can happen over and over — forever, replicated endlessly.

Sound familiar?

An online game is a SaaS! It’s software that provides the service of gaming. We just don’t usually think of it that way.

Nathan’s company is also a SaaS — but it uses templates to send emails.

Why? Because while one person can send a dozen emails, it’s hard to send a hundred. Especially when each email needs personalisation.

ConvertKit lets half a million people personalise and send a quarter of a billion emails.

It’s software that provides the service of sending emails — and more besides. Now we just need to pull all the parts together. And we’ll do that in the next post.



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