The Final Product

Jake Carlson and I worked tirelessly on the details of what Snabbo should look like, how it should perform and what type of interactive features someone in the Baby Boomer demographic might like to have available for use.

We researched other Baby Boomer websites and other niche social networks. We tried to cull what we liked and didn’t like from them all. Jake is an extremely talented programmer and he was able to develop any new ideas we decided to implement for the site.

As I have mentioned before in my earlier blogs, all meetings with Jake were basically ”virtual”. Either we met on the phone while looking at the development site for Snabbo or we discussed points via email. For me, it was a very unusual way to start a business, conduct business or just discuss important business matters. I bring this point up again only because I find it relevant to Baby Boomers who are thinking of re-joining the workforce. You might want to take a course or two on how to conduct searches on the internet and how to most effectively use email and all forms of social media.

Anyway, back to Snabbo.

So, Jake and I would try to thoroughly talk through and refine each feature of Snabbo before we went on to the next level of development. I must say here that I was chomping at the bit to get the website finished and launched. But Jake was influential in persuading me to slow down and take the necessary time and thought to create a product that was sophisticated and elegant in its functionality. I feel we did that with Snabbo. It was very tempting to rush through the process and get a website publically launched as soon as possible. Other programmers had offered that “carrot” to me as part of their development quote. In the end, I believe I would have sacrificed a lot of design techniques and features that, by developing the website thoughtfully with Jake, I feel we now have on Snabbo.

The final product works like this. Members upload one photograph of themselves taken any time during the 1940’s through the 1980’s to serve as their identifying “Member Profile” picture. The concept is that Snabbo enables the Baby Boomer generation to behave as if we had both the internet and social networking sites when we were young. On Snabbo, we can have a ‘face book’ experience–only with the same ‘face’ we had in our heyday.

Finding friends on Snabbo is easier than on other social networking sites since members list all the names they have been known as during their lifetime. For example, you may have been known as Margaret Smith in elementary school, Maggie Smith in high school, Tootsie Smith in college and finally Meg Eldringhoff when you got married. Members are also able to list (with corresponding years) towns they grew up in, schools they attended, companies they have worked for and organizations they have joined, including the military. The more information members provide about their past, the more likely someone can reconnect with them. So, if a person only remembers that in 1959 they went to a party where they met a girl whose name was Jane and she lived in Toledo, Ohio where she went to Mercy College School of Nursing-if she is a member of Snabbo-It’s a BINGO!

As a bonus, and unique to Snabbo, the website automatically creates a move by move, place by place chronological personal history that the member invariably finds interesting and reflective. Ultimately, Snabbo members have the opportunity to become a community that builds an extensive, searchable database of their peers, thus opening abundant reconnection possibilities.

In addition, Snabbo features a slick and easy photo tool. Members can create, manage and share eye-catching albums. Snabbo also provides opportunities to form or join groups with shared interests and the freedom to document their thoughts, opinions and feelings on a blog. Private messages between members can also be exchanged within the site. All under the aegis of strict privacy controls….and it’s free.

Snabbo is as mature-user friendly as we could make it. We tried to keep in mind that our target demographic may or may not be Internet savvy. A significant number of baby boomers have not yet been exposed to social networking and we wanted Snabbo to be a successful first time user-experience for them.

Even Snabbo’s advertising model caters to the desire to reminisce. Throughout the site, members will encounter nostalgic-focused products that relate to this inimitable generation.

What do you need to start a website?

The indisputable answer to that question is- my programmer, Jake Carlson of the web development firm Dragon Eye Design. Jake started out as the person I hired to be the web programmer for Snabbo, but his job quickly morphed into becoming my official Consigliere. If you don’t know what that word means, either rent The Godfather or look it up on Wikipedia. Jake has advised me on everything from purchasing more domain names that were similar in spelling to Snabbo to how to write this blog!

Since there are so many items to attend to when you are a novice in starting a website, I have decided to neatly bullet point as many as I recall:

  • Write a business plan. It is boring and tedious, but the task itself helps you focus on what you want your business to look like. In the end, you may never need to show it to anyone, nevertheless, it will prove to be a useful exercise.
  • Register for a trademark as soon as possible. The process takes FOREVER and you want to have your logo secure when you launch if possible.You can either hire a trademark attorney. I recommend John Cone of Hitchcock Evert in Dallas Texas. You can also do it yourself, but it is very confusing and time consuming. There are a number of costs involved and in the end you don’t know if you did it correctly and may need a lawyer anyway to fix it!
  • Purchase all domains that you can think of with similar spellings to your website. Your programmer can then point the DNS to all those domains. Then, if anyone makes a mistake in the spelling of your web address they are correctly directed to your website.
  • Do research on web hosting services. Your programmer can probably help you make that decision. Make sure they will offer you a refund if you are unhappy with their performance.
  • Apply for accreditation with the Better Business Bureau. Look into obtaining a certified privacy seal confirmation from Both of these companies charge yearly fees, so you should weigh the options about user confidence in your website versus money out the wallet.
  • Incorporate your business. A good Certified Public Accountant can assist you. I recommend Dale H. Quenzer in Dallas, Texas. If you choose to incorporate you will need to keep up with your shareholder meeting notes.
  • Have a Non Disclosure Agreement available. You can cherry pick from templates on the internet and make your own. You just need to have people you tell about your idea sign this agreement. Hopefully, it keeps everyone honest.

Finding a Programmer for

By this time, it was April of 2008. I didn’t know where to begin. My web designer, Marianne Guillen of, put me in touch with a fellow she had worked with before on another project. On her recommendation, I called Jake Carlson of the web development firm Dragon Eye Design. I told him about the project and asked for a quote on the work. He got back to me with a price. In the meantime, a friend suggested that, since I had such limited funds (a.k.a. my personal savings account) I should call a university’s computer science graduate department to see if they had a grad student that could do it for less. I met with a professor at University of Texas at Dallas. He was interested in the project, but could not help me with any students due to their heavy work loads as doctoral candidates. I met with a professor at Southern Methodist University. She was interested in social networks and put me touch with a graduate student who was going to need a summer job anyway.

Even though I had gotten comfortable with working “virtually” with Marianne, I liked the idea that the grad student was located in Dallas. We met and settled on an agreeable price to both of us. He began work on the programming of the site. This was June. I got back to Jake Carlson and told him that I was going to be working with the grad student, but if that didn’t work out I would get back in touch.

As the summer went on, I thought our meetings were productive and that launch of the website would be by the end of the year. Then on Labor Day, I got a phone call from my programmer. He had just started his Fall Semester of school. He felt that his graduate studies work load would be too much for him to handle along with the programming of Snabbo. He was sincerely apologetic, but believed he should drop out of the project. I cried for two days.

I called Marianne who gave me a friend of hers name who might know someone. I also tried posting on and got a huge response from programmers who work in India. Their price was right, but I was too worried about quality control and I wanted someone that could be as emotionally-invested in this project as I was.

I called Jake Carlson, again. I had never met him personally since he lived in a different city. I was gun-shy about putting my entire trust in another programmer to finish the project. Jake’s idea was to build Snabbo from scratch instead of cobbling together social network applications that were already available. After a several phone conversations, I began to feel confident about Jake’s grasp of the Snabbo concept and his programming abilities. We signed a contract and he began work at the end of September, 2008.