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Hot Rods Home car hobbyist/enthusiast software idea

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by donsz, Apr 15, 2021.

  1. donsz
    Joined: Nov 23, 2010
    Posts: 215

    donsz
    Member

    I'm considering writing an app for the home car hobbyist/enthusiast. I'm not sure it is a worthwhile idea, but here are my initial thoughts and assumptions. I would be interested in feedback basically if the idea has some merit, and any additional suggestions.
    Assumptions
    1. Price: approximately $50
    2. Platform: Windows 10: laptop or desktop (Apple can run Windows apps – or make an apple version)
    - The assumption is that a phone app would be awkward in the garage
    - Needs to be able to simultaneously have multiple browser/app windows open
    - Easily view photos/diagrams, etc.
    - Easily access websites that may not be mobile friendly
    Data/graphics could be transferred between phone and the W10 app

    Features
    1. Inventory of existing parts (in use or stored) or former parts (sold, given away or lost). This includes pricing, date acquired, where acquired, etc.). For those with a stout heart, totals by date range of expenditures

    2. Inventory of tools, similar attributes as item 1
    3. Database of repairs, performances, etc.
    4. Database of saved procedures, installs, etc. unique to your vehicle
    5. Database of oft used and specialty vendors/services
    6. Repository of pictures

    Software
    1. I would like to write this in VBA (visual basic for applications), but the user would need Microsoft Access to make any self –customizations (costs about $140). If the user wants to use it as is, there is a runtime .exe that lets the app run on a system without the Access program.
    2. It can be written in Visual Basic or VB.net making it self-contained, but little or no customization can be done by the user.

    In any case, I would much appreciate any input, especially if this is in principle a good idea or not, and if yes, what features would make it a compelling purchase for the home car hobbyist/enthusiast.

    Thanks
    don
     
    Just Gary likes this.
  2. Pretty sure Microsoft "Project" does all that, plus it coordinates budget & schedule (very useful for those of us on a "dad's monthly $ allowance":rolleyes:)
     
    XXL__ and Tman like this.
  3. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 7,802

    Bandit Billy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Did you even watch Terminator, Rise of the Machines? The less we tell computers about our hobby the better, man!
    Cyberdyne! Not traditional! Where's my foil hat?
     
  4. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 5,995

    jnaki





    1. I would like to write this in VBA (visual basic for applications), but the user would need Microsoft Access to make any self –customizations (costs about $140). (PLUS $50) If the user wants to use it as is, there is a runtime .exe that lets the app run on a system without the Access program.
    2. It can be written in Visual Basic or VB.net making it self-contained, but little or no customization can be done by the user.


    Hello,
    Any automotive program app is fine, if it can be used by anyone with some form of understanding of what it is they are looking for from their build. But, no one is going to download a costly app if it is not applicable to their own build or questions. Or even pretend to see if it fits their needs. Yes, you want to be compensated for your time. That is fine. But, it has to be proven to be user friendly. (self-contained, but little or no customization can be done by the user. It does not sound user friendly...)

    So, for almost $200.00, it is a read-only application that may or may not answer or give samples according to the question the hot rod guy/girl has about their build. If we had a question about the facts that you provide, what is the answer that will fit our particular need? Or, will the answer be only what it on the input side from your gathering of notes and photos? Not all hot rod questions can apply as "one size only," even if there is a bunch of stuff uploaded in your files.

    Jnaki

    For most, a place like the HAMB is easier to use with questions for a lot of people that had originally built a hot rod or two with the same set up and difficulties. So, in essence, that original question from a beginner can be asked on the HAMB and get plenty of answers. The problem is that logic and real life applications will have to be adjusted for each build. Plus, the cost is nil, except for the trial and error portion from the answers given on the HAMB. YRMV



     

  5. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 49,308

    squirrel
    Member

    being a data entry clerk isn't nearly as fun as building a hot rod.....
     
  6. hotrodjack33
    Joined: Aug 19, 2019
    Posts: 2,570

    hotrodjack33
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Not a bad idea, but probably would be better marketed towards commercial shops, rather than individual hobbiests.
     
    Lloyd's paint & glass and fauj like this.
  7. HotRodTractor
    Joined: Jan 3, 2009
    Posts: 67

    HotRodTractor
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I think you need to revisit your business model and figure out how it fits into today's environment. Anyone can download for free, or a for a few bucks, or pay for features for really nice and slick mobile apps by the tens of thousands. In fact if you just search the Apple or Android app stores for an inventory management app you'll find lots of free options (not sure if any of them are any good as I have not used them). I'm not sure what your current business background looks like - but look up some techniques like the Business Model Canvas and start filling out all the boxes - then ask a tough question - like "How do I give away my product for free and still get paid?" - you might be surprised at where you will end up - even if its not a free give it away thing.

    If you want to look at a couple of good books - Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design are great places to start.

    I do think your general idea has some merit and the features seem intriguing. I would add some inventory location feature (In use on 28 Ford RPU, Stored on shelf 3, in toolbox drawer 4, under workbench, outside in the fence row, whatever).
     
    fauj and Just Gary like this.
  8. Last edited: Apr 15, 2021
    clem likes this.
  9. oldolds
    Joined: Oct 18, 2010
    Posts: 3,170

    oldolds
    Member

    You do know most of the guys and doll on here are still running points and generators. How do you think they are going to enter things in a computer. They are still using parts catalogs with pictures!
     
    leon bee, loudbang and fauj like this.
  10. Writing the code is probably the easiest part... figuring out what you want it to look like is harder in my opinion. Worse yet, based on experience, you will encounter the dreaded idea fairy known as scope-creep. Their mating call can be heard as 'Wouldn't it be nice if it also did this and this and...'.
     
  11. jetnow1
    Joined: Jan 30, 2008
    Posts: 1,833

    jetnow1
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from CT
    1. A-D Truckers

    Be sure to include a password so the better half cannot see the total.
     
  12. If I really knew how much I spent that would be the end of my hobby.
     
    bill gruendeman and safetythird like this.
  13. donsz
    Joined: Nov 23, 2010
    Posts: 215

    donsz
    Member

    Thanks for all the input so far. Some points I should elaborate on:
    - Data Entry would be minimized with "drop-down" selections. Also more visual in appearance and execution (lots of "point and click)
    - This is not just an inventory app (idea), looking to make it specific to home hobbyists with associated pertinent features
    - Customization means modifying basic program structures, e.g., adding additional databases, additional analysis tools, etc.
    - The basic application would allow changes to names, labels, categories, etc., so as to be amenable to any vehicle/type

    Again, appreciate the input, it provides focus on what would make this a useful app.
    don
     
  14. safetythird
    Joined: Feb 26, 2014
    Posts: 135

    safetythird
    Member

    What problems do you foresee this software solving?
     
  15. OH NO! not another password.:eek:
     
  16. Redrodguy
    Joined: Nov 18, 2016
    Posts: 108

    Redrodguy
    Member

    Big Chief tablet and #2 pencil...
    :p
     
    Lloyd's paint & glass likes this.
  17. 325w
    Joined: Feb 18, 2008
    Posts: 5,609

    325w
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Grease proof.
     
  18. Lloyd's paint & glass
    Joined: Nov 16, 2019
    Posts: 4,900

    Lloyd's paint & glass
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Walked into a buddy's barn one day looking for something, noticed that everything in the barn had a tag on it with a bunch of writing. I looked at one of them and it had a description on one side and a price on the other. I asked Chuck if he was gonna sell all of his stash, he said "no, but when i die i don't want people ripping Judy off, now she knows what it is and what it's worth"
     
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  19. GearheadsQCE
    Joined: Mar 23, 2011
    Posts: 2,762

    GearheadsQCE
    Alliance Vendor

    I keep track of my stuff via excel spread sheets.

    I am also doing as Lloyd suggested, mark stuff with a price. I haven't decided whether to use my cost or my perceived value.
    We had an discount appliance store in town when I was a teen. They marked their goods with part numbers that were actually the price backwards. #5992 would be $29.95. I think the idea was to keep the competition from undercutting them.

    As far as the software proposed by the OP, I think it's a great concept. But, I would be surprised if it would be financially rewarding. I've been involved in writing several programs and being a BETA Tester for some others. Fascinating work, but untold hours of development. If you love what your doing, it's great. If you need others to finance your time investment, it's a much bigger nut to crack.

    My $ .02
     
  20. SR100
    Joined: Nov 26, 2013
    Posts: 940

    SR100
    Member

    I've done software sales, support and IT administration and I'm not sure your assumptions are correct.
    The vast majority of car enthusiasts are not computer enthusiasts. Downloading runtimes and customizing software are not anything 99+% of potential users want anything to do with. Plug and play is the default users assume. A significant percentage of users will give up and want a refund if any troubleshooting is needed.
    The assumption that a desktop app is the solution should be checked. Many users have difficulty importing photos. The user can take the photo directly in a phone app, which we are used to doing when texting. Since documenting for insurance is a likely use, you should expect lots of photos. Receipt tracking is another likely use of a camera. The on-screen keyboard of modern smartphones is not perfect, but again, users are familiar with them. Is your choice of development platform driving the choice of user platform (i.e. desktop vs. phone)?
    For hobby or lifestyle desktop software, the market at $50 is tiny. For phone or tablet, it is virtually nonexistent. You also need to ask yourself how you are going to sell it. Retail for software is long gone. This is where the Android/iOS stores shine. The downside is that phone/tablet stores 'sell' most apps for $0-4.99 (plus in-app purchases). I took a quick look at Google to see what the competition was like. Every desktop restoration software package that was released since 2012 was for restoration businesses, not the hobbyist.
    You also need to figure out who will do the support. The higher the price, the greater expectation of support.
    The long and short of it is: build it if you want the experience, but breaking even is not likely, let alone a profit.
    Brent
    P.S. HotRodTractor and Fauj have very good advice. Take it.
     
  21. HotRodTractor
    Joined: Jan 3, 2009
    Posts: 67

    HotRodTractor
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Don - I understand that you are targeting this to hobbyist - but I fail to see how this isn't simply a tailored and targeted inventory app with how you have it described in your first post. I only state this to help clarify your vision to yourself. If I'm wrong, that is fine.

    1. Inventory of existing parts (in use or stored) or former parts (sold, given away or lost). This includes pricing, date acquired, where acquired, etc.). For those with a stout heart, totals by date range of expenditures.

    Inventory by your own description (along with inventory history)

    2. Inventory of tools, similar attributes as item 1

    Inventory by your own description

    3. Database of repairs, performances, etc.

    This can be treated as inventory of information. granted this is a bit more of a stretch, but the reality is its a list of things done, times and dates, costs, etc... this is a type of inventory

    4. Database of saved procedures, installs, etc. unique to your vehicle

    Digital inventory, perhaps stored directly in the app (cleanest for most technical illiterate people), or links to your existing digital filing system.

    5. Database of oft used and specialty vendors/services

    Supplier/vendor master - can also be treated as digital inventory - it just has different storage and search criteria, but the end of the day its the same idea.

    6. Repository of pictures

    I assume these pictures will be stored with all of the inventory items, so when you look something up like your 1/2" torque wrench, you also have a picture of it right there. Great idea. I've done similar on other inventory projects. The best example was a road sign database for the local county - it included pictures, descriptions, and locations of every road sign on county and township roads within the county (state road signs were handled by the state). A quick search would tell you things like how many stop signs there were and all of their locations. If I was doing it again today, it would also map out all of those locations on a Google map.


    EDITED. I accidentally submitted it before I was done.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2021
  22. RJP
    Joined: Oct 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,884

    RJP
    Member
    from PNW

    It better be pre 65, or it ain't gonna fly at this place. There's rules here. The HAMB's a bit like an HOA of the hotrodding neighborhood...
     

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