Welcome to Ultra Bikeshed Co. Please come in.

Here, we know it feels terrible when actual results get in the way of following processes. Instead of building a product and talking to customers, we spend time on the things that truly matter: Gantt charts, slide decks, and word documents.

We deeply believe that the only way to fail is to actually try. If you never ship something, no one will ever tell you that the product sucks. Therefore, we can’t fail.

Unfortunately, sometimes, you will have to ship something. In any case, you shouldn’t allow that pointless task to affect your morale. Shipping is part of the theatre necessary to demonstrate we deserve more capital.

Ah, did I mention what we do? I almost forgot that!

At Ultra Bikeshed Co., we build enterprise bike shed solutions for the carless societies of the future.

“So you help people store their bikes?”

No, no. We build enterprise bike shed solutions for the carless societies of the future.

“Ah, so you repurpose parking lots into bike sheds?”

Listen, it’s easy. We build enterprise bike shed solutions for the carless societies of the future.

“Can you tell me what an enterprise bike shed solution is?”

Well, I don’t know exactly what it is, but it helps us sell to larger companies at a higher price without getting into too much detail. That’s helpful because the people buying our enterprise bike shed solutions for the carless societies of the future are not the people using it anyway.

“That makes sense. But what about the ‘carless societies of the future’ bit?”

It’s all part of the vision. When we colonize mars, there will be no highways; therefore, everyone will cycle. That dramatically increases our total addressable market, which, in turn, allows us to demonstrate to investors that there’s still a lot of room for growth.

“Ah, so you’re profitable and growing?”

Not yet. We need to get to Mars first. Once we get there, growth will be exponential. It’s pretty obvious.

“And how did you come up with the idea for the bike sheds?”

I told you already: we call it an enterprise bike shed solution. If you want to succeed around here, you must adopt the lingo.

“Alright, sorry. How did you come up with the idea for your enterprise bike shed solution for the carless societies of the future?”

In 2008, one of our founders was walking down a hill in San Francisco and saw a couple store their bikes in a bike shed. They also had a Tesla parked in their garage. That Tesla reminded him of Elon Musk, and Elon Musk reminded him of SpaceX, and that we were going to colonize Mars. Then, he thought that if we could build enterprise bike shed solutions for the future’s carless society, we’d have a great business.

“But what about the ‘carful societies of the present’? Are you selling to them?”

That’s not innovative, you know. Do you remember when Steve Jobs came up with the iPhone? Do you think anyone was asking for touch screens at the time? Steve was a visionary. He was building enterprise mobile device solutions for the keyboardless societies of the future. What a great man!

“Makes sense. And what was the first prototype like? Did people store their bikes there?”

First prototype?

“Yeah, like a small bike shed or something. Maybe you could’ve just placed a few Sheffield Stands in a couple of places to see if people would pay to store their bikes there. How did the prototype go?”

Why would we build that? It makes no sense to build an enterprise bike shed solution for a single bike if we can build an enterprise bike shed solution for a thousand bikes.

I don’t know how familiar you are with arithmetics, but if you charge more people the same price, you’ll make more money.

“Doesn’t that depend on the assumption that people are willing to pay for the product?”

Ah, don’t worry about that. We know people do. We paid an expensive firm to conduct in-depth market research and ensure that people do need our enterprise bike shed solutions for the carless societies of the future. They handed us a detailed PDF outlining everything we needed to know about the market. It had plenty of numbers and hockey stick graphs in it.

“Ah, it’s great that you had the capital to invest in that. How did the conversations with customers go once you received the report? Did the software engineers feel confident about the product?”

Software engineers talking to customers? They wouldn’t know how to do that.

At Ultra Bikeshed Co., software engineers are responsible for writing code. As an engineer, you won’t need to worry about what the code does. That’s not what you were trained to do, was it?

To make things a bit less stressful for you, every week, we’ll have a product manager write a detailed spec and send it to engineers over email.

And when we say “detailed spec”, we really mean it. In this company, we judge specs by how long they are. Over time, we figured there’s a high correlation between a spec’s length and the number of changes requested.

The longer we made specs, the fewer people seemed unhappy about them. Some non-believers suggested it was because no one had the time to read, but that doesn’t matter. If you look at the numbers, it’s pretty clear: lengthier specs equal fewer changes.

“But if the product people can write such detailed specs, wouldn’t it be cheaper for you if they wrote the code themselves? Maybe they could use a no-code tool, and you could get it done without even having to hire people that can code.”

Product managers writing code? Their job title is “product manager”. It’s pretty straightforward. A product manager manages the product, and a software engineer engineers the software.

“But what if engineers discover an edge case that’s not in the spec as they implement it?”

If it’s not in the spec, they shouldn’t do it. However, if they feel really strongly about that, they can schedule a meeting with the product steering committee or submit an RFC with the proposed changes. Just don’t forget the RFC must be at least as long as the spec. That’s because the correlation between length and proposed changes also applies to RFCs: the longer it is, the less likely it is for people to suggest changes.

“Changing subjects a bit, can I ask you one question about that market research you mentioned?”

Sure, go ahead.

“Was it really long?”

Exactly! How did you know?

“Intuition”

Well, it’s great you’re able to jump to conclusions so fast. That’s a skill we highly value at Ultra Bikeshed Co.

“Thanks”

So, now that you know a bit about us, what do you think about the offer we’ve sent you?

“Hm, I’d like to go back home and talk to my family before I decide.”

Sure, but it’s still a bit early. Would you like to have lunch with the team before leaving?

“Ah, I can’t take too long. I had to park quite far. There were no spots left in the office’s parking lot”.

No matter how realistic this story may seem, it’s just fiction.


Wanna talk?

If you’d like to have a chat, you can book a slot with me here.

You can also send me a tweet or DM @thewizardlucas or an email at lucas@lucasfcosta.com.