Appvember!

This November is not just Movember, but Appvember!

Often times one has ideas – cool, innovative, iterative, or just plain simple. Not often they get baked. Barrier to enter has been lower than ever; tools, services, support has been more than ever. Heard of GenerationApp: Your Idea. Your App. 30 days? With all the buzz around Surface/ Windows 8, ample help is available for a Windows App developer to make that idea happen. I am going to make use of that, challenge myself to materialize one of my ideas in to a Windows 8 app  in the next 30 days.

Ground Rules

1) Be consistent

I want this to be a learning experience, rather than a week end hack. Appears that GenerationApp program is designed to assist that. Daily tips are being sent; 1 hr in depth consultation is available; I may have to check on the community, but would expect so. Also, it is designed to help one ship a complete app, not a sample code/ prototype. I want to go through the entire stretch of polishing the app and submitting it.

2) Be open

While I haven’t decided yet to open source the code or not, I want this effort to be a open experiment. Log highs/ lows. Share the lessons. Seek help. And I don’t believe in keeping the idea itself a secret. I will be updating my progress regularly- feedback/ comments welcome.

3) Be serious (in a fun way)

I want this to be a real, shippable app.  While all the learning is fun, shipping a product is not just fun. I want to treat this to be so.  I am no way close to full time on this, but I want to be consistently putting hours in this. At least couple of hours a day, for the next 30 days.

It’s going to be fun…

Going Live and 1st year anniversary @ ComputeNext – some reflections

I completed one year at ComputNext on 05/31/2012 – yeah I survived the startup duel! Since we were heads down on V1, didn’t have much time to reflect or blog about it. Most of this week I was down with back ache, and had a lot of time to reflect upon. Following the pattern of an earlier post, here are my top 3 I love(d) and top 3 I rue(d). Again, this is all about my feelings and what I gained/ lost in the past year. Reflections on what we did correct/ wrong together as a team is out of scope here.

Things I love(d)

1) Startup Craziness

Yeah, we are crazy! We aim for the impossible, and over-achieve it. We squeeze 29 hours in a day. We are Dev/ Test/ PM/ Ops all in one. Call us whatever, we are crazy. I don’t know how to define it, or point to what exactly make some of us love startups – may be it’s the kick of getting a product out, or may be solving hard problems, or being creative or resourceful. May be all, may be none of the above. All I know is we are driven by a single vision, try to make something happen, and we make it happen. We might iterate, pivot, change or redo, but we DO something – something meaningful, something that someone wants, something that solves someone’s problem (hmm, lot of somethings here, something’s going on in my head :))

2) Learning Opportunities

Being resource crunched also opens up a whole lot of avenues to learn, take different roles and be creative. Combine this with the hot problem you are solving – you get an exponential learning curve. In my case, I have picked up Javascript/ Ajax, Node.js (programming), MongoDB (database) and most importantly a slew of cloud technologies/ platforms (openstack, vmware, aws, azure) and scalable architectures, business expertise – what customer wants, strategy, running  startup (granted not an expert!) in the past year. I am pretty sure I am missing something, but you get the idea. I won’t call myself an expert in all of those, but in some. I also am confident enough to implement a working solution for a given problem in all of these.

3) Cool factor

I haven’t met  a single person in the last year who didn’t say ‘wow’ when I introduce myself as a ‘Lead Developer @ ComputeNext, a cloud startup’. Granted cloud is ‘cool’ these days, but startups are always cooler. May be everybody thinks all the startups will end up as Instagram, but 90% startups fail. May be that risk factor makes it cooler. I don’t want to dig up why they are cool, but just want to enjoy being cool!

Things I rue(d)

1) Stress

As much as I enjoyed the craziness, my body kept reacting to the increased stress levels – I lost a lot of hair, greying accelerated, and I am almost addicted to caffeine. I had to do ‘body work’  every week to keep my back in shape, but it collapsed past week end. I had to stay away from work/ laptop for 3 days to be able to walk normally, but I am still at pain. My physician cannot attribute to any other reason than stress. Not injury, not physical labor. Hmmm.

2) Work/ Life Imbalance

OK, this is obvious. This is not specific to startups, but more so in startups. 6+ hours of sleep had become luxury; being around the family w/o responding to emails/ issues felt so new that kids got surprised I am even doing that. I chose this, we expected this. But visualizing something is not the same as going through it. One has to accept the reality that W/L balance sucks at startups. You are in or out. No grey area.

3) Personal Hobbies/ Projects

In a startup, one lives, breathes by it. Distractions cannot be afforded. I had at least one project I wanted to contribute to, but couldn’t do more. I was little disappointed with myself for that, but in retrospect, it is not that bad. I am already working 120%, so there is no time for an extra 20% project.

Now time to stretch my back! In the mean time, read this on why/ why not to join a startup!