From Idea to MVP To Version 1.0 with The Snowball Project

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The team behind the newly-formed non-profit The Snowball Project came to us with an idea. They wanted to build a web application that used peer-to-peer influence to encourage the unregistered to register, and the non-voting to vote. They knew what they wanted, but they needed a “virtual CTO” to help them make decisions and an engineering team to make those decisions happen. That’s where Alpha Particle came in.

The Alpha Particle Approach

Since this was a brand new idea and nothing had been built yet, the first step was to define what could be considered as an MVP (minimum viable product). In this case, that was a responsive web application that allowed users to both participate in a group of voters, as well as mentor another group. In addition, users needed to be able to track their progress as they prepared for the upcoming election and invite others users to join them in participating in the electoral process.

Even this is a relatively involved project if you have to support the specifics and intricacies of every election in the country, so for the MVP, we decided to only support Chicago voters as they were participating in the Chicago election. This let us focus on the application logic and getting the basic user experience of the web app right without having to make it infinitely flexible from the very start.

Working with Alpha Particle has been a collaborative, efficient, and above and beyond satisfactory experience…They have guided us and continue to help us scale our organization moving forward while supporting our operations with clarity and direction. We’re excited to continue our relationship with this wonderful team.

David Chung, Founder, The Snowball Project

The next version of the application expanded on the idea of My3 Groups, allowing users to be part of more than just those initial 2 groups. This allowed users to expand their reach and their impact through The Snowball Project.

Getting to Version 1.0

Now that we had a working MVP, we needed to scale up. With the 2020 Presidential Elections coming up, The Snowball Project wanted to be able to support all the different variations of the presidential election nationwide, in addition to all the primaries. We created an Election Data Model that allowed them to do just that. Now users could receive targeted information based on which election they were participating in, which made the application even more useful.

We also completely redesigned the application to look much more polished and professional, as well as to ensure that the user experience was still cohesive and made sense after adding all these new features.

The AP team are excellent collaborators, not only able to execute with precision, but also to help us with tech thought leadership around how we were going to accomplish our mission…We trust and rely on their exceptional feedback, advice, and executional capabilities, and they’ve truly become an indispensable partner as we continue to improve and extend the organization.

Esteban Gonzalez, Founder, Snowball Project

Goals and Badges

Instead of just a single checklist per election, we now allowed users to pursue many different goals, some based around elections and others based around the experience of the application. This gamification helped users be more engaged and encouraged them to continue using to app to help their peers become more engaged as well.

In addition to goals, we added the ability for users to earn badges that showed their participation and progress. A user’s goal and badge accomplishments could be shared on social media to encourage more users to sign up and get involved.

Content Management System

Now that users could be participating in different elections based on where they lived, The Snowball Project needed a way to manage all the election data and make sure it was accurate for their user base. To help with this, we leveraged a Content Management System (Laravel Nova) that allows the team to ensure all the latest information is delivered to users and targeted properly.

Information Dashboard

We had come a long way from the initial MVP we had built, and now that there was so much data in the application and so many different things to manage, the team needed a dashboard where they could get an “at a glance” view of what was going on with users, elections, goals, badges and everything else involved in the application. We added this as part of the CMS and now The Snowball Project team can know just what’s going on inside their application at all times.

Next Steps

We continue to work with The Snowball Project on a month-by-month basis to grow the application. With the new features and enhancements that we’re adding, the team is able to grow as well as fundraise to support future development. The ongoing partnership between Alpha Particle and The Snowball Project continues to grow stronger as we continue to motivate and encourage the unregistered to register, and the non-voting to vote.

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