Bulletin – A Google Reader Replacement

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Trying to do anything while raising an infant isn’t easy.  Trying to launch a new product, in your spare time, while raising an infant and holding down a full-time job is even tougher.  I say this because I hope it puts some further focus on how proud I am of what Michael and I have put together in the past 3+ months.

For a while now, I’ve been pretty unhappy with Google Reader and RSS readers like it.  There was a lack of dedication from their team to really push forward what keeping up with site feeds could be.  The entire concept of RSS readers has really stagnated since the mid 2000s, and the lack of innovation can be traced back to the ‘good enough’ Google Reader’s dominance keeping other developers and companies at bay.  Products like Fever have tried and done a pretty good job on some level but ultimately fell victim to infrequent updates, nagging bugs, or lack of clear vision.  

My partner in crime, Michael, felt similarly and we decided to give things a shot.  This was back in March, when my son was a month old.  At the time, Google Reader was not yet going away, so we thought we had (relatively) all the time in the world.  I distinctly remember, when we committed to take this on, saying that I’d not be much good to anyone until my son was a bit older but we should get started as much as we can now.  A few days later, Google announced they were shutting down Reader.  

Fight or flight time.

We dove in head first, building an infrastructure, API, and prototyping the front end while asking for feedback from friends, colleagues and family along the way.  I was stealing 30 minutes here and there, any way I could, but we started making really solid progress.  Within about 6 weeks, we had a viable beta ready for testing and continued to iterate as we got feedback and fleshed out a roadmap to 1.0.  We had to be live before July 1, so we tailored and refined our feature list as we went.  We said no a lot, keeping our eyes on the prize of shipping something.

So what is it?  Well, Bulletin is a modern, fast RSS reading service, backed by its users that allows readers to quickly skim, save and share the news they care about.  Further, we have built the service to work with app developers who so choose by making available our own API as well as a ‘Google Reader lookalike’ API endpoint as well.  We’re hoping that users will see the value in a service that relies on a simple, symbiotic relationship between them and the product – they pay us money and we listen to them and build the best service possible.  Novel, eh?

I’m really excited and proud of what we’ve built in a really short time, both juggling jobs and vacations and whatnot along the way.  It’s trite in this day and age of startup culture, but the fact that we built something and it’s out there is fulfilling regardless of the success of the product.  We’re going to continue to pour ourselves into making this the best RSS service we can, as we work with iOS and Android developers to integrate with their apps as well as build one of our own to showcase all the service has to offer.  1.0 really is, for us, an arbitrary deadline set by circumstance – we have a ton more to build, but are really excited about the possibilities.

So please sign up, give the 10 day trial a spin and let me know what you think.

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