For a while now, whenever I’ve been asked what I’m working on, I have usually been answering with the vague “oh, my own projects.” I can now officially state with slightly less self-doubt what it is that I’ve been working on the past few months. That thing is MemberNest.
While I gave it a teaser launch about a month back (after I finally secured the abandoned domain name), I’m now running an alpha version on the server and am ramping up the testing. I believe it’s at that stage now where all of the key features of version 1 have been built, which always takes longer than expected. There were quite a few realisations along the lines of “Oh, now that I’ve built feature A, it won’t work unless I built features B and C.” But here we are.
So what is MemberNest? MemberNest is an online membership and contact management database designed for small to medium organisations. It stores information about contacts and members (both individuals and other organisations), and handles online payments for renewal fees and new signups (AUD only, at the moment).
There are other products on the market aimed at this purpose. Those targeted to membership-based organisations tend to be ugly, overly complicated and cumbersome. Some are rebadged open source products that lack commonsense. They may be feature rich but often require dedicated staff or expensive consultants to customise and bring value. These products often exist in a world where you can’t see the product without “requesting a demo”. No thanks. I’ve seen organisations quickly embrace more transparent webapps such as MailChimp and EventBrite without the need for sales people and annual commitments.
MemberNest was built differently. It was designed for small to medium sized organisations (not-for-profit, charities, arts, community sector etc.) who don’t have the resources to take control of a complex membership database tool. I built MemberNest with three or four specific organisations in mind. They exists in different industries, even different sectors. Every line of code was written whilst I was asking “How can I reduce the burden to these organisations?”. MemberNest has been built to do the administrative work for you (as much as possible), and leave you to do the core business of the organisation. And of course, there are no setup fees, no “customisation fees” (as there are no customisations) and only a monthly commitment.
One of the biggest difficulties was knowing where to draw the line in the sand for version 1. There’s plenty of startup talk about “minimum viable product”, suggesting that you should be embarrassed about your anaemic initial product but I wanted to be able to have something I could take to organisations and know it would be useful. Even so, the future roadmap is extremely full. I have loads unique features which will reduce the administrational burden on organisations even further, and I’m very excited to get to work on them once this version is patted down.
I don’t have a definite release date yet as I want to give myself time to iron out the bugs and let some beta users loose in it. If you want to know when it goes live to the public, join the mailing list on the MemberNest site. If you are interested in helping with the beta testing, send me an email.