It’s ok to quit if you believe you’re doing it for the right reasons, at least that’s my opinion.
In the upcoming “couple” of sentences I will write about my project’s journey, and why I decided to join and later drop out of an accelerator.
I was always a guy with a bunch of ideas but in most cases they were out of my knowledge area, so they just sadly sat in my notebook until infinity. Most of the ideas were perhaps silly but then there were a couple which actually made it to the market, e.g. Earplugs that don’t go into your ear. One day when I saw another one of my ideas being realised so I quickly reviewed all my notes and figured that some of them were silly but with a twist they made it to the market.
That’s when I got one big idea, a website where everybody can post their ideas.
Two years ago I was sitting in a dorm room with a couple of friends, some playing League of Legends (was so hyped then) other played a guitar and the rest just doing, well, nothing. I spend unusual amount of time in that room, actually in the whole dorm, the funny thing was that I wasn’t even living in that dorm. As a matter of fact I did that because I went through a breakup, and actually made a mistake to neglect my friends for a girl, sorry bro code.
So I made some new friends, getting back into the game, everything is nice again, but then it struck me, we were finishing the uni and I had no idea what to expect or do. Let’s say experience and self-esteem were quite low. I guess that’s how it goes for most of us. With that thought, I suggested to the guys in the room to try to make our own project to gain some skills and then later on if it becomes super popular we make a startup out of it and get a bunch of cash and we don’t need to work for big companies and all…
We were sitting in the dorm room, that’s how everything begins, right?
Nonetheless we had a hot discussions about a bunch of different topics regarding the project, but nobody could say for sure if it was going to make sense. Then I remembered my long wished idea, a website for all ideas. I mean we were finishing IT studies, if we can’t make it now we never will.
Couple agreed, others were sceptic, there were a lot of questions like, why would somebody post their ideas online, what’s the value in that and the question that came up tens of thousands of times, what if somebody steals my idea and makes millions with it?
That was the question that I was also most afraid of because there was no right answer to it. I had a simple solution regarding that, I was to invent a lot of ideas and keep a couple of the best for me to pursue. My goal was to give guys without an idea a possible project to work on. Unfortunately since there was no answer to close this question we dropped the whole discussion and went back to default state of playing games and chilling.
A couple of months later I got an opportunity to go to Germany to work in a startup. Just before I left I was sitting in the previously mentioned dorm room №210 with two friends from university. We were discussing again about our possibilities after the studies and how we might create our own startup one day. Unfortunately I am not a fan of “some day” stories so I suggested that we start building right away and see how it ends up. We decided to pursue “the platform for all ideas”.
There was only thing left, the name. After a long discussion we decided upon it, 64idea.
Our thinking was if your keyboard is in another language, the numbers will be the same, and the number itself was meant to represented the percentage in the final project when a person with an idea finds a person who can help build it, so regarding the skills and engagement, could be 60–40. Probably a silly reason but we liked the number nonetheless.
Setting up the project
After I moved we started setting up the project, GIT repo, management tools and all. Our initial way of communicating was through just discovered Appear.in and Telegram. For git we used Visual Studio Teams. The initial vibe was really good, we started brainstorming on how could it look like, what are the features necessary and what technology could we use for development. At a time none of us had much experience in web development (we were better at Java) and we were searching for suitable framework. I stumbled upon Angular (at a time version 2). It was developed with a language called TypeScript which has aspects of object-oriented programming, perfect for us. That was also the time we found about Visual Studio Code.
Finally we set up everything and we were ready to roll 💪
Since none of us was a designer, well I wasn’t at a time, we were thinking how the logo could look like, there were many suggestions.
I had a friend who was studying architecture so I asked her to help us make it, in hope that she had some awesome ideas as well.
We were looking for something simpler. So I drew some more monochrome style and came up with this.
Later we realised it might not be appropriate because it resembles some other things, among them grammar nazi (too much 9gag), so we decided to postpone the search for final logo.
After six months we came up with the first proper version of the logo.
Now you’re probably thinking, so this guy is writing about his project what does it have to do with the title, well I’m coming to that really soon 🙂
So we finally had a logo, all the tools and motivation, now was the time for implementation. Of course before first proper version of the logo we were implementing the website but it was taking quite some time taking into account that we were noobs in Angular, had daily jobs, oh, and one of us was not even a programmer. We finished the same university but he took different study program, Quality Control. In other words even greater noob. But it didn’t matter because he was willing to learn. He is a quick learner, but man did he do it. After a year of developing on our project he applied for a programmers position and got it.
We divided the tasks, I took the frontend and they took the backend. Since we wanted to be fast we wanted a quick database. That’s when we found out about Firebase. What a nifty tool. It helped us quickly set up the whole server and we were left to mainly focus on fronted. Perfect.
As the time passed by we made progress but one of our teammates was lagging a bit. He still had one exam until before finishing studies, so he was mainly focusing on that. Two of us continued hard into the nights. After a while we felt that we were way ahead and that we could manage the website ourselves.
We also wanted a mobile app at a time so we agreed to make one and place him in charge of it. For technology we would use NativeScript. Man, there are a lot of incredible tools out there.
We planned to make an app dead simple, it was meant to be used only to catch notes for ideas, nothing more. We divided the tasks into four steps before the alpha version, then we realised the images can be done afterwards. Three it is.
The deadline suggested was 30 days, he said it will be done within a week. After deadline we had listing of the notes but no authentication with Firebase. Days passed by and nothing happened.
The final exam was still open, so we suggested to change the exam (there was an option) so he can finish it faster and join the development. He didn’t, and it took him additional two months to finish it. That’s how we saw “Pivot or Persevere” in action. Not long after we decided to separate ways with him because there was no real engagement from his side.
It took us a bit to settle with the feelings but there was still much to be done. That’s why they say it’s hard to start a project with friends.
We regrouped and moved on. We had the first alpha version that we already tested with some people but we had bigger problem breathing against our neck, refactoring.
As I mentioned we were still new to Angular and web development so there was a lot of spaghetti code, stupid class names and a lot of unnecessary code. At that time we were happy because it was working… well most of it. In the end the code was so bad that we decided the best way to refactor was actually to drop the whole project and start from scratch. So that’s what we did.
I was using Adobe XD for a while and I became skilled at designing and mockups and since we were starting the project clean I decided to take a couple of days to think about the new design because I wasn’t so thrilled with the current one. Also I had prolonged weekend so I had three days at my disposal.
I started adding pictures, creating circles, squares, moving up and down, I didn’t sleep in those three days more that 16 hours in total. I was feeling like I was on drugs or something, my heart was beating like crazy out of the thrill that with each day I had something nicer and more modular. Yep you guessed, my favourite toy is Legos’.
After three days of non stop work I got it modular, simple and beautiful.
The new website navigation is in one button which is accessible from every screen and opens the Toolbox, where you can see your notes and write your idea explanation, again not disrupting your browsing.
So not to bother you with my excitement, I might write about how I redesigned the website some other time if you guys are interested.
With the new project set up and design in mind we were ready to rumble more than ever before. With all the experience and skills we managed to create the whole project for just three months.
We were so thrilled when we did it and put it to another round of testing. This time we introduced it to more people. They were fascinated with the new design, of course there were a bunch of bugs still, but that’s why testing is for.
After we gathered the feedback we put it in our Trello board and said to fix them ASAP. Of course that’s not how it went. There was a guy offering us a side project for some cash and we decided to take it because we were planning to join the Accelerator program.
THERE IT IS, FINALLY! 🎉
That project was some management system for parking, nothing special really and we thought it would take a month, two at most… It took us, 5 months.
Our rule from then on is, when you give yourself a timespan for something multiply it by 4
Initially we started the project in October 2016, when we decided to refactor it was December 2017 and first testing after the redesign commenced in the middle of February 2018. We haven’t made any big progress until middle of May.
If you scrolled just to read part, welcome, all before was the journey of our project, ups and downs and how we made thousand of dollars on the way. I’m joking, wouldn’t need an accelerator if we managed that, or would we?
To get into this accelerator you need to take an ability test, a mixture of intelligence and person skills so that they can evaluate if you’re up for the task. Both of us passed that exam and were so happy to be accepted.
Expectations were high, the curriculum was nice and they said that we will meet a lot of capable mentors and CEO’s.
After postponing the initial date for a month it finally started.
28. May – Orientation
There was 24 of us enrolled and everybody was super enthusiastic. When one of the directors asked how many of us want to go till the end, everybody rose their hands. I guess everybody was aware that was a big fat lie. The first meeting went fine, I met my working group and we discussed about further steps.
Feeling , Happiness 😄
29. May – Vision and Validation
In this session there were 5 mentors attending and the goal was to you pitch your idea and they give you feedback. I did the pitching before so I knew the drill, most of the others didn’t and pitches turned into stories so it quickly consumed a lot of time.
Since mentors gave a speech as well they postponed some pitches. Their presentations were mostly on how to validate if your idea makes sense and see if there’s a market for it. That is one of the aspects that we want to solve so the presentations were useful because the problem still exists.
I didn’t get the chance to pitch our project. Felt a slight disappointment but generally satisfied because I evaluated our project even without pitching.
Feeling, Generally happy 🙂
7. June – Customer Development
When I joined the meeting there was only 12 of us. Most dropped out, some because there were demanding assignments and others I guess because there was a possibility of a refund if you dropped before that session.
The session was about how to find your customers and provide them a value to keep them interested in your project. Was quite useful but not something that I didn’t already know. In the last two years I read many books regarding entrepreneurship, startups and trust. One of my favourite books is Start with Why by Simon Sinek.
Finally I had a chance to pitch my project. I introduced it like this
I, as most of the people in their lives, was scared to share my idea because of the other peoples’ opinion or even worse if somebody might steal it. To overcome that fear I invented many more ideas so I could test on them first, the outcome was that some of them were pretty useful but I could never pursue them because as a human I lack time as well as skills if the idea is out of my knowledge area. Finally if I decide to pursue one I encounter a couple of issues.
First thing that most of us encounter when starting a project is to validate their idea and test if there is necessity for their product or solution. One answer to this question is to make a survey or place ads leading to your landing page, other way is as I am doing right now in front of you. From our perspective the first solution involves a lot of unqualified people for proper validation. That’s why we are creating a place with proper people where you can validate your ideas and get suggestions.
The platform is named 64idea and is meant for early adopters, why and how people. We believe there is a lot of, as we call them why people, with ideas, but can’t find people, that we call how, to help them implement it. Early adopters are crucial in the first stages of ideation and validation because they can help orient to the market. Ultimately the place that we are creating should help ideate, validate, test and publish finished projects.
In the end many of my ideas were destined to die because nobody would pick them up, that’s why I am hoping that our project can make a difference regarding that.
Of course this was a draft and didn’t say it word by word, but most of it was there. Then the judges should, well, judge the idea and the pitching.
The grades were going from 1, worst, to 5, best, without 3 because it doesn’t help in feedback.
Two of the judges gave me a 2 and the last one gave me a 1, because he said he didn’t understand what we were building.
To be honest that wasn’t even remotely good pitching that I did, but still, I took the feedback with dignity, and sat to think it through.
Feeling, Somewhat disappointed 😐
After that session we had two weeks to do our assignments regarding Customer Development. That’s when I realised that we already did most of those things before and that we knew how to focus on the things necessary for the project.
With that thought I went to see the curriculum and saw the thing that dismantled me in the second. In the URL of the accelerator there was my password, plainly written with an access token. I couldn’t believe it, that big accelerator with that kind of webpage management. That’s when I started again reading about feedback and reviews on the sole accelerator and found that some people were not so thrilled.
I looked again through the curriculum and saw that the next session was regarding the Branding and Design. There was no way they could help me or suggest me something because I invested so much time in making it as best as possible and tested meanwhile. The only thing left interesting was Legal session, but then I realised, it might be better if we found some professional and he give us advice directly.
That’s when I decided to drop out.
I went on a website and clicked the “Drop out” button, needed to fill in reasons of my dropping and submitted. Then I waited for one day so they approve my drop out.
For a moment it was an unpleasant feeling because it took us an effort to join as well as the fact that we were loosing 749€. Then I sat down and realised, maybe we didn’t finish the program but we’ve learned much more than I expected.
Maybe dropping out of the accelerator was a bad decision but we decided and we’re gonna bare with possible losses. I believed that it was consuming much more time for us with no additional value so we decided to focus solely on implementation and do it as fast as possible, for real now.
And we did.
We gave our best to fix all the bugs and polish the rest so we are proud to announce our first Beta version! 🎉
After exactly 6 years from written idea, directly from Evernote’s trash can (I rearranged some stuff at a time) to a real living website.