Month: August 2014

Unemployed but Busy


Ei-Nyung and I have decided to start a new company.

This feels like a really bizarre thing to say. Let’s put the obvious thing up front. It’s risky. Starting up a company has a very high likelihood of putting a lot of stress on our relationship. The plus side is that we’ve worked with each other for five years already, so hopefully this won’t be too different than how that went, except for the intensity of it. Which is obviously a thing.

Still, I’m excited.

We both have really strong ideas about how a team should be run – I think that, more than anything else, is the big drive here. Neither of us feels like we’re likely to find a “real” job that is going to be a place where we’re as happy with how the team is run than if we do it ourselves. Which is odd, maybe a little egotistical to say, but after the experience of running Self Aware for the last few years, and seeing how other people do this kind of thing, I’m just not interested in working for someone who does this worse than I do.

Which means that now we’re in an interesting situation. We’ve got enough to self-fund a minimal team if we have to, and we’re definitely starting the process spending a whopping $0 (or as close as we can get) until we’re confident we’re heading in the right direction and need to hire someone else. But at the same time, given Self Aware’s success, I’m hoping I can find someone willing to invest in the potential and help us ramp things up a bit quicker, and provide a sufficient marketing budget to get whatever we’re doing off the ground. So far, I’ve had the chance to meet with a handful of folks, and some things are still in process. We’ll see how all that shakes out in the next few weeks.

But in that time, one of the interesting things is that it’s become pretty clear what initial direction we want to take. We started with two concepts, and while one is familiar, and likely to get to revenue quickly, the problem is that it’s an incredibly crowded market, and if we can’t get that off the ground, there’s no useful “Plan B”. On the other hand, the second concept is much more out there, and full of more unknowns, but at the same time, it’s a bigger idea, so it’s got a lot more ways to approach it while still adhering to the big idea. That’s the direction we’re leaning at this point, but all that really means is that it’s the first thing we’re trying to test the concept for.

At Self Aware, we’d almost accidentally ended up implementing a really raggedy version of the Lean Startup – Ei-Nyung had seen Eric Ries talk way back when at GDC about his experience at IMVU, and we took that talk and ran with it, not realizing that there was a whole movement starting up around it. But last year, Ei-Nyung found out about Lean, and we’ve jumped in to learning what else was going on while we were trying to derive the process from first principles. Funnily enough, we’re both now signed up to be mentors at a conference in October, and I’ll be giving a talk in December at the Lean Conference. :O That’ll be exciting. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to try to get some sort of speaking gig somewhere, to see if I could give a compelling talk to someone other than a captive audience. So I’ll get that chance, it seems. Pumped up for it, but the catch is that you can’t use anything you haven’t properly licensed, which puts a weird spin on my process, because I tend to use a lot of pop-culture imagery in my presentations because they work well to reinforce ideas in a (hopefully) memorable way. Something recognizable also is a shorthand, because you bring a lot of context with a single image. So trying to structure a presentation without that will be new for me. Still. Psyched.

Also been working on a handful of other projects, most of which have (thankfully) wrapped up (or wrapped up to the point where my time is minimal on them). Lots of fun stuff – diverse, for sure. Just wish any of it had paid reasonably, but I suppose the problem is that I tend to get excited about doing stuff, and I hate negotiating compensation. So whatever – either it’ll work out in the end, and the people I’ll have done this for will square up eventually, or I’ll learn a lesson about stuff. I’d much rather trust people & believe they have good intentions & get screwed than be paranoid all the time. Of course, I recently managed to learn both sides of that lesson the hard way. *shrugs*

The end of the year’s gonna be interesting. Potentially lots of stuff happening between here & 2015. Scratch that – lots of stuff is happening between now and 2015. The interesting thing will be to see exactly how it happens, because I think we’ve got a good idea of what we’re intending to do.