The journey from FileThrust to The Ambassador App


Let’s take it back to 2013. Two years seems so far away when I think about it in terms of our journey to arrive at the Ambassador App. Early 2013 I began discussions with a workmate about getting into some trouble on a blogger application that would allow for files to be shared via a sidebar widget and accept payments. This was before GumRoad exploded onto the scene. From our walks around the block at our local design shop, FileThrust was born over lunch breaks and after-work get togethers. It didn’t take long before my co-worker, barry, and I were elbows deep in scope creep, looking into several features we thought were being done poorly by other services. As we continued down a DropBox-esque plugin, Google Drive finally launched and GumRoad erupted during the same month, effectively crushing our tiny, unpolished sidebar widget.

With several months of web hosting left to our account and half the work on a file sharing database sitting on a server, we killed FileThrust and began to brainstorm a pivot. Barry had several other web ventures out at the time that he had worked on with another designer and I was just entering the growth hacker/bootstrapping community, so we looked for a niche that was removed from Barry’s current web companies and a market we were both familiar with.

The Birth of Ambassador

They say startups are born out of problems that need solving and Ambassador was no exception. As Barry was the sound booth man for his local church, he was spending five hours every Sunday recording, editing and sharing his pastor’s Sunday sermon. Somewhere between splicing in fife music and cutting out coughing fits, he struck upon the idea of a simple sermon sharing for small churches and church-planters. After about a month of stagnant lunches, we were both happy to finally have a direction to work in. The next day we began researching companies and writing up a wish list for the application. With our own version of what we wanted the app to accomplish, Barry sat down with his pastor to discuss online ministry pain points and areas of friction. His pastor, a fantastic orator and church leader, suggested several great ideas that we added to our MVP feature list. We implemented a rough version of the sermon sharing and analytics web app after several months and immediately sold our respective pastors on the product.

Barry ran his church’s Ambassador account and I ran my churches. With our pastor’s input we grew the app from basic functionality to church visitor on-boarding, new member reporting, social media sharing and we began to enhance our native mobile app for at-the-pulpit sharing. During this time, we made instructional YouTube videos, reached out to interested pastors via a beta list signup on our website and guest-posted on any church tech blog that would take us.

This month we exited beta, implementing an automated sign-up process to handle on-boarding and adopting Kissmetrics free month, no credit card required signup. Ambassador has officially launched! There are still some rough edges, but if you launch a product you love you’ve waited too long to launch. We’re continuously pursuing and building tools that will help pastors grow their online ministries. If your own pastor is looking for an online ministry tool, consider Ambassador.

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