Lessons from my first foray with a startup

About one and a half years ago, a mate that I know from my previous job gotten in touch with me. He told me that he was working on an app and he needed help. He is of a designer background and he has a co-founder working with him, who is an iOS developer.

Together they’ve built the beta version of their app (iOS app) - which has been in production used by one of their early clients. Now to take their app to the next level, they need someone with a backend expertise to help them build a backend for the app (that’s where I came in).

Actually up to this point, there were a couple of friends asking for help with their ideas. Normally I would turned them down, usually for one reason: that they haven’t worked out the market yet. In my opinion, building things is easy, but getting people to actually want to use it (and eventually pay for it) is the hardest bit.

With these guys at least I saw something different, someone is actually using their app already and “committed” to pay once the final product is launched. They also already have contacted a several prospective clients too - another big plus in my book .And so I accepted the invitation as I have been itching to flex my technical chops in a startup context.

So for the next 2.5 months, while still holding my day job, I was dev-ing and ops-ing the start up.

My first task was to find a hosting for the backend, because I know I needed to test few hosting providers, I decided to give Ansible a try. I liked Ansible very much, made the whole process easy.

The next step was coding the backend for the iOS app. It’s a vanilla Rails app, nothing too fancy here - it provided REST API for the iOS app. Later on we decided to provide some sort of analytics as part of our offerings. I setup a single page app using AngularJS and LinemanJS.

Fast forward 2.5 months later, I decided that it wasn’t working for me, there were too many factors (as always). But I have no regret doing it as it gave me a confidence in my technical abilities and background.

But the best lessons that I learned are the non technical lessons - if you want to know about them, let’s have a chat over coffee :)

I think it’s pretty hard to work with people that you don’t know well, that’s why I never understand the founder - developers “dating” events - how could you build business together with total strangers?

I got bitten by building things bug - looking forward to my next venture.