Where have I got to?

So this time last year I stepped away from my full time job developing primarily web and desktop applications. I wanted to taste the red pill or at least suck the pill and see. I had reached a point where I needed to take this step. People on the outside, might view this move as somewhat irresponsible and in a way yes it could be, but I had to make the leap, the direction I was heading was not a good one on so many levels.

So along with a co-founder we worked on an offers system called 59Offers. The idea of the service was to provide daily deals and offers in a location and time dependent nature.

We developed the online back end services and a smart phone based app for consumer to use. We put all the required effort for the systems and website, but we started to realise it was going to be a massive challenge to get any kind of traction.

We were faced with the age old catch 22 problem of getting consumers to download our app and retailers to sign-up and use the service. It is almost impossible to convince retailers that it’s a good idea if there is no audience poised with the app already and no consumer will download an app when there are no offers to be found due to low retailer buy-in.

We did try a number of strategies to get the ball rolling, but then Barclay’s Bespoke Offers entered the arena. At this point we knew it was probably going to be a waste of time us trying to compete. It was already quite a crowded market, but when a big company such as Barclays with all their muscle and more importantly data availability moved into the same space we put our sensible caps on and decided to park our idea.

With the suspension of our original idea, my business partner and I decided we would separate up for a bit and see what else we could come up with.

I then decided to re-visit a project I had been working on for some time. This was an online application to help organise large groups of people (in this instance a choir). The system was also designed for any groups which regularly get together and need to be organised. The version I developed primarily focused on managing a choir as I was, and still am on occasion, a member of a Gospel choir. Basically the system enabled the choir director to see at a glance who was available for an event and more importantly whether there was enough of each musical section of the choir to make the event a success.

I decided to develop the new version in something called AngularJS. This is a very new technology and facilitates a more modern approach to web application development. My thoughts being that even if I didn’t ship this system, I would at least have learnt a lot in the process.

Well as it turns out I didn’t ship this version, mainly because other similar systems had appeared on the scene since my original development which I had started 5 years ago. Foolishly on my part I hadn’t thoroughly researched the offering before deciding on embark on the redevelopment. I think there is still a need for such a system, however a viable commercial offering of it just seems to be a little beyond reach right now.

Moving on, I decided to develop another idea this one is called Happy Hero App. The idea of HHA is that you can express your current mood state, i.e. whether you’re happy or sad. When you publish your mood via HHA there is a chance a potential hero could notice your sadness and attempt to make you happy. If someone makes you happy then they get to be a happy hero.

OK so what’s the point? Well let’s say your central heating boiler has just blown up! So you express the fact your unhappy on HHA and if you’re lucky a super hero in the form of a heating engineer contacts you, fixes your boiler and makes you happy again. Another example might be you wanted desperately to go to a concert on Friday, but the tickets are all sold out. Whoosh! Another super hero fly’s in and offers you their spare ticket.

Anyway again I have stalled on the final stage of this idea. I have basically shipped it, just haven’t promoted it. I think I just have a couple of reservations holding me back with it, or is it simply the fear of failure and therefore if I don’t display my “art” no one can criticise it!

More recently I have been working on a course for people to take. I have stepped into the world of online training. Training is something I have dipped into in an informal nature from time to time during my career. I thought I would give it a try after a friend had done similar and was making good headway. So I am currently in the process of shipping my first course, Javascript The Beginners Guide.

The last 10-11 months have been a very mixed ride and by no means a smooth one. There have been many times where the so called easy option to revert to template has been tempting, but after some consideration I know I am making some progress and if there’s one thing I have almost learnt and that is you got to ship it! This story isn’t over by any means yet.

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