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12 Startups Update/Thoughts

I began a journey in March to stop planning to do things and start actually doing them. In my search to find what I wanted to do, I watched a video by Pieter Levels about shipping projects and the challenge of twelve startups in twelve months. That seemed like a great idea to start out, so I prepped for a month and started April 1st.

Project Status

If you have followed along, you know I have not put out six projects in the past six months. I have only finished three, but I am still very happy with the result.

I chose twelve startups in twelve months because I didn’t know what I wanted to create. I had told myself and others all my life that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Then I became a software developer in 2017, so I had the tools to become one, but I still wasn’t doing anything. I got fed up with myself, so I started twelve projects in twelve months to find what I want to do.

Despite making three projects in the first six months, the challenge was a success for me because it pushed me in the direction I needed to go. I don’t think I have read a story of someone actually achieving this goal for themselves, either— but it would be a mistake for me to do so. The power of the challenge was to get me to create something, generate ideas and push me to discover my passions.

Here’s an update about the projects I have created.

Project 2- Routine

I posted an update about the first project I completed, GoClimbTo, but I never posted about my second project, which I worked on in May. It was called Routine, and the idea was to make a smartphone/smartwatch app that helps you learn new routines.

When you start a new routine, it is difficult to remember all the tasks in the correct order— so you write it down somewhere. But every time you complete a task, you have to consult the list or carry it around with you. The Routine app would allow you to input the routines you want to learn, then automatically start them at a given time. The screen of your device would be black, with only the text of the first task to complete on the screen. When you complete the task, you tap it and the next task appears. I think this would be especially powerful as a smartwatch app.

I started building Routine in React Native so it would work for all device types. I learned React for the last project, so I figured it wouldn’t be that hard— but it was! React Native is a completely different beast. The medium of a smartphone is just different from the web. I ended up only getting as far as implementing the list of tasks for a routine, with the ability to add new ones and mark them as completed, or delete them. I still needed to implement the addition of multiple routines, routine start time, and the black screen single task UI.

Halfway through May, I had the idea for my next project and was already super jazzed about it! It was something my wife and I both wanted to use, and I wanted to build it— so I left Routine in the state it was for the time being at the end of May, and dove into the next project:

Open Life

My wife Anna and I began the process of organizing our lives back in March, which is the main reason this whole project started! I am so grateful for her influence— I don’t think I would be here without her.

We started this process by following “The X Effect”: A habit-building process where you draw a seven by seven grid of boxes with dates and choose one habit to do every day, for 49 days. If you successfully complete the habit, you mark an “x” on that day. If you are unsuccessful, you draw an “o”. It is a powerful visual representation of your progress, and the length of 49 days cements the new habit into your life.

The X Effect paved the way for amazing positive changes in our lives. I have a morning and night routine. We get up early together, which may not work for everyone, but is perfect for us. I’m up by five every day, which gives me time and space to get ready to interact with others when I get to work. We have more energy, exercise, and overall our lives are more planned and in sync than ever before— something that has been wonderful for our relationship.

All of this to say: We both are big fans of goal setting and tracking. I have my own tools for reaching my goals, one of which being the amazing Focusmate, an app in which you work with another person through a video call. But the idea for my project, OpenLife, came when I saw Steph Smith’s open page while I was working on my second project. I showed it to Anna, and we knew we needed one ourselves. I could have built us each a custom page, but I realized there must be other people out there who want something like this, too. I started an email list, and people immediately began signing up! I was so excited— I had hit upon something people were truly interested in. I couldn’t finish an MVP(minimum viable product) in a month, but loved the project so much I decided to keep going anyway!

I recently finished that MVP, and am so excited to be able to share it with you today. It is rough, somewhat like a first draft, but I wanted to release something: As Startup School says, it’s best to launch whatever you can as soon as possible so you can iterate. It also provides accountability— now that I have something people are using, it’s motivation to keep going and deliver a better product to those users.

I have launched a rough MVP and am excited to get initial user feedback. If you want to take a look click here. There is a link to provide feedback, and you can always email me directly. I really appreciate all input!

I want to build OpenLife into a full accountability platform: A community of people who push each other to be the best they can be in life. I have some great ideas for expansion and features that will encourage that community aspect, but for now, I will continue to build out the goal setting and tracking profile for the MVP.

What’s next?

The beta/MVP is finished, in a rough form. So what’s next?

I have a few things planned out before I want to jump back into coding. First is finishing this blog post. Then, I need to write an email letting my subscribers know that the rough MVP is live, so that they can play with it and provide feedback. Additionally, I need to update my welcome email to the mailing list so I can let new subscribers know that they can check out the beta. But something I’m looking forward to most is the user interviews, where I’ll sit down with willing subscribers in a video call and talk about why they joined the list in the first place. I want to know what problems they’re working to solve, as well as get some real time feedback on what I have built so far.

After that, it’ll be time to work on the next iteration of the platform! My current goal is to fix any bugs that are found in the MVP, make existing features work better, and make it cleaner and more customizable.

I will also be writing more. I am dedicating a certain number of morning Focusmate sessions to writing, so you will definitely be hearing more from me!

It has been a wild ride these past seven months— I don’t think the person I was would recognize the person I am today, and I am very happy about that. I want to continue that process while building things that help others do the same.

I hope you enjoyed reading! If you have any questions, or if you just want to talk, hit me up on Twitter or Telegram.

Have a wonderful day!