How we built v1 of SnipSnap

When we prototyped the first version of SnipSnap, we barely had an inkling of how to power the magical process of turning a photo of a printed coupon into a digital, mobile-ready offer. It took some trial, and an awful lot of error to get it right. In the end, we launched with what some call a Wizard of Oz solution — leaning heavily on a service called Mechanical Turk.

Since then, our backend system has become somewhat more sophisticated, leveraging additional technologies like OCR and image recognition. But we thought it might be helpful for any other entrepreneurs out there looking to build their MVP (Minimum Viable Product), so we wrote up this story for Fast Company, detailing how we got SnipSnap 1.0 to market.

When my iOS app SnipSnap was accepted to DreamIt Venturestwo years ago, it was little more than a screencast and a high-fidelity prototype built on Keynote templates. Vaporwear. We were planning to build a fairly sophisticated OCR app for coupons and had zero technology. But we learned you can overpromise like this with early features–if you know your way around Amazon’sMechanical Turk service.

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