Tag Archives: passion

Patchworthy

This blog is turning out to be about a lot about ‘firsts’ — first launch, first project to get X users, etc. To continue this fine tradition, here is another first.

Remember LinkPeelr, a weekend project that grew to 3,000 users when it was featured on lifehacker.com? The code for LinkPeelr has been on github from the very beginning, and just when I thought the interest in this tool was subsiding someone submitted a patch that fixed the way tooltip rendering conflicted with native tooltips on Twitter.

How cool is that? Someone actually took the time make the changes and create a pull request in github. Considering that the  project is tiny it would far easier to clone, modify the local copy to your heart’s content, and move on without me noticing anything (other than a fork).

Except that it wouldn’t work because it wouldn’t have the LinkPeelr presence online, another Chrome extension would have to be registered, and so on. In short, someone would need to be really determined to go off and “deep copy” it.

And I suppose there isn’t enough commercial value in LinkPeelr (there isn’t any, in fact) to want to copy it. This being said, there are clearly people for whom this project represents enough value to be improved further through contribution rather than cloning. I feel that’s a fundamental and important distinction because contribution expresses a commitment to public good whereas cloning does not, at least not necessarily.

So what does that leave us with? There isn’t enough value to invite malicious intent, and just enough value to invite the good will of collaboration. A wondrous amount of value indeed, and if you are in this range, you are what I would call patchworthy.

This tiny speck of a contribution also disproves the opinion (not that we don’t have sufficient evidence to disprove it already) that putting your work in public domain will necessarily invite plagiarism or that sharing your startup ideas is akin to writing someone a check for the sum of your unborn company’s valuation.

In the end I am definitely happy that someone else cares this much about LinkPeelr. I see it as a good omen, and I will be releasing an update with the contributed changes soon. :)

Advertisements

Free time with guilt

If you’ve ever been a graduate student you’ve probably heard this refrain (and understood immediately what it meant):

Grad school is free time with guilt.

For those of us trying to bootstrap a business, this phrase should ring a very special, personal bell. Our free time can either be spent working on the startup that we love or idling. If you are passionate about the journey you’ve chosen, you should be familiar with the feeling of guilt you experience when you are not making the optimal use of your free time. I know this feeling very well.

When bootstrapping, you are at once painfully aware of the fact that you have very little time to waste and painfully at the mercy of your own motivation. Having no one to bear down on you, no one to impose the deadlines, and no one to assign you performance targets can give you a false sense of security that can prove deadly to the very business you are trying to bootstrap. There are no external motivators. Everything we do in our spare time is self-imposed.

Truth be told, I just wasn’t passionate enough about Computer Science PhD at Berkeley. When the time came to choose between sticking around for another 3-4 years or entering the job force with Masters, I had little reservations about moving on. I couldn’t feel more differently about LinkPeelr, just❤liked, and all other bubbling ideas that keep me up at night. These are the things that no one is forcing (or even motivating) me to do, and yet I invest a large portion of my free time doing them.

At the end of the day, true passion is not a form of motivation. It’s a whole other category that renders the art of (self-)motivation irrelevant. It’s what gets you out of bed on an early Saturday morning to work on things that barely let you go to bed on Friday night.

Free time with guilt? Yes, please.

Thinking about user experience is exhilirating

[tweetmeme]

After 3+ years of doing technical marketing for an embedded software B2B product I am only now realizing how much I’ve missed all things connected to consumers, user interfaces and user experience.

Thinking about all the great things we can do with our JustLiked app gets me really excited about the future, so is learning JQuery and Django and brushing up on HTML. But that’s just the boring part of learning, the really cool part is putting our humble assumptions in front of real people and iterating like mad. Alas, I know have the opportunity to do so.

The whole lean startup movement (which I’ve been thinking a lot about lately), its product and customer development cycles, its learn and iterate fast mantra are a natural fit for web/mobile/consumer apps where we don’t ship boxes, manufacture anything or have complicated IP licensing terms for legal to review over the course of 2 months. I know the grass is always greener on the other side, I am just hopeful that everyone on the other side appreciates how good they have it there. I do too now.

To say that consumer play is an entirely different ballgame from B2B is to say nothing at all. It’s two different universes, and I am about to find out how well I fare in this new one.