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COVID, Skiing & why your customers aren't responsible for your system

COVID, Skiing & why your customers aren't responsible for your system
By Aron Korenblit • Issue #46 • View online
Today 1PM EST on the stream I’m excited to welcome Halle Kaplan-Allen and Jeremy Diamond from the Automatter to show off how to use Airtable as a VC backend. We’ll show how to create a quick look between slack/airtable to never miss deals. I think you’ll find value in this session whether you’re a VC or not!
You can add the stream (and all future streams) to your calendar by clicking here (it auto updates!) or follow on twitch to get notified every time I’m live.
Full stream calendar here.
Onto the update…

My “real” life sometimes overlaps with my 9 to 5 life in weird ways. Story time, stick with me I promise there’s a purpose here.
Last week, as the good Canadian that I am, I took a few days off to go skiing. My partner and I wanted to do some alpine skiing the first day and skinning the following day.
Given that, you know, it’s 2021 and Covid is still happening, there were limited tickets to avoid crowding (something I hope we continue doing after covid!), which you can purchase online before arriving. As instructed, I went ahead and purchased two tickets for the first day of skiing. One ticket for me and one for my partner, using my card (we have a robust expense splitting process).
Upon arrival, we received 2 plastic cards that had our tickets for the day pre-loaded at the ticket booth. Akin to having a bus pass with preloaded tickets, we could now have access to any lift by scanning our plastic cards.
I was impressed! Ski hills are not synonymous with technology. As with many things, covid forced them to review their ways and greatly improve their customer experience.
The next day, however, things went awry (and this is where I get to the point). Skinning tickets were not available online so we had to purchase them old school at the ticket booth. I gave the clerk my name after voicing what I wanted. She said:
“You have two profiles here, which is the right one?” to which I answered “ok, I’m not sure?”. I had previously visited the mountain in person and given my information which was not deduped with my (new) online profile. After validating my address, she instructed me that I had “created two profiles in their system”. I didn’t know anything about their system!
After I wrapped up, my girlfriend asked for the same sort of ticket to which the clerk chastised her saying “your profile is tied to Aron, it has to be his credit card!”. According to this mountain, my partner is not (and cannot be) independent of me.
This is my understanding of their system:
What’s interesting to me is not that the system is poorly designed. It’s how poorly prepared they were for probable use cases. For instance, what happens when you go from your parent’s card (a profile attached to them) to your own (a full-fledged user with their own card)? What if you want to switch between the two? Do you carry around a bunch of non-descript cards guessing which one to use? Unless this mountain decides that online sales are the only way to purchase tickets, the majority of riders will eventually find themselves in this situation. From my (albeit brief) discussion with the clerk, the mountain seems wholly unprepared for this eventuality and that their customer’s fault (and problem)!
More broadly, this type of patched-together system felt (and I’m sorry to say this) like a lot of no-code systems I interact with! The multiple logins, inability to update information, inconsistency among different CMS’. This includes the ones I’ve built (have you been to
Yes, covid has been a forcing function for many businesses to digitize their processes. And those processes still have kinks to iron out—I’m okay with that. But no matter how shoddy our systems, let’s not blame our shortcomings on our customers! Instead, let’s talk to our customers to keep improving our systems/solutions (they’re in this with us!). We can all do better!
Airtable tip: find the latest
Pssst: I made a video for this tip which you can watch here (let me know if I should keep doing these in video format)
Relational databases are fantastic. They have many benefits that I will not get into here. They do have some downsides. One of those downsides is what I call the difficulty of finding the “latest”.
Let’s say you have customers that purchase things and you want to pull up a customer’s latest invoice quickly. A relational database (in Airtable at least) has no concept of “latest”. In a spreadsheet you would say “go to the last row that has information in it”. In Airtable, there’s no hierarchy amongst your linked records.
A workaround for trying to find the “latest” (the last conversation tied to a customer, the latest invoice, the last price change etc.) is to dictate a hierarchy. It works in 5 steps (Let’s assume I want to see the latest invoice amount for a particular client)
Step 1: Add a created time field to the invoice table
Step 2: Rollup the latest invoice time by using MAX(values) where the field is your newly created field. This tells you for that customer when the latest. We’ll call this Latest invoice time.
Step 3: Lookup “Latest invoice time” back to the invoice table. Now at the invoice table you know for all invoices when the latest one was created for each client.
Step 4: Create a formula field that checks whether the created time for that invoice matches the Latest invoice time for that client. This should be true for only one invoice per client.
Step 5: Rollup or lookup the invoice where that new formula field is true! There should only be one and you’ll now have the latest invoice available at the client level!
Pssst: I made a video for this tip which you can watch here (let me know if I should keep doing these in video format)
From the interwebs
No-Code and the Ikea Effect: How software lock-in evolved and made us never want to churn. | Capiche
The Part Time Creator Manifesto ∊
Decoding the no-code / low-code startup universe and its players | by Pietro Invernizzi | Mar, 2021 | Medium
Thanks to Stephen O'Grady (@orishnal) for reviewing this newsletter every week before it reaches your inbox!
PS Taking the week off next week, see y'all in two weeks!
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Aron Korenblit

Weekly thoughts on the working smarter not harder using no-code tools + a weekly Airtable tip. Written by Aron Korenblit

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