This past weekend I was going through some old projects and got a bit nostalgic. Some were my first foray into web programming and startups while others were just me messing around and trying to learn a new framework or language. Each of them have taught me valuable lesson and I thought it would be fun to go through each one and jot down a quick background as well as the lessons learned. I’m doing a high level pass so if any of these are interesting definitely let me know and I’ll do a deeper dive.
- scenepeek.com: I started this with a close friend back during my finance days when I really didn’t know what I was doing. The goal was scrape the web and identify various events that could then be easily surfaced and discovered. This was right before smartphones became popular so it does make one think of what could have been. This was my first real time doing “devops” and working with various instances and configuring Apache. The other big lesson learned was that we probably should have started with some framework to get our project out sooner. Instead we ended up writing raw PHP and building everything from the ground up.
- getpressi.com: Applying the lessons learned from Scenepeek I left a a full time job at Yodle to cofound a startup (initially called Glossi) that would create social media mashup pages. We were accepted into an accelerator and ended up making significant progress but were never able to figure out whether our core customers were consumers or larger companies. We couldn’t commit as a team and ended up floundering until selling to a small advertising agency. At the peak we had a dozen customers and most likely could have turned it into a lifestyle business had we had the maturity and focus.
- makersalley.com: After breaking up with Pressi went in the opposite direction and built decided to build something with a concrete business model rather than waiting for one to fall into our laps. We both liked Etsy and wanted to do something with a community element as well as having to do with physical goods. This was a two sided market play and we were never able to get people to buy expensive furniture online. We got so enamored with our vision of how awesome the furniture and designers were that we focused on getting them rather than on getting customers.
- better404.com: This was a small side project I started to help websites improve their 404 pages. I wanted something that was more passive than building a marketplace and catered to my strengths which were more on the tech side. I don’t have too much time dedicated to this but every once in a while I’ll make some updates with the idea of making it a small passive income generating product.
- jsonify.me: Scratching an itch here but I love the idea of every person having a JSON page that’s a representation of what they are and what they care about. It’s also my “go to” project when learning a new language. It’s a proof of concept more than anything else right now but I’d love to see where it goes. I’m passionate about people owning their data and lending it to third parties as needed and view this is a way to achieve it using existing methods.
On one hand I want to polish some of them off and see what I can do but on the other I’m curious about trying new things. People glorify this idea of a purely passive income but I suspect nothing is that easy and every project will require some ongoing maintenance and improvement to stay relevant.