#The(Non)Committals Intros + Weekly Check In

@louisswiss, @daveroma, @helengriffinjr, @vimalin, @jpusateri, @Guidione_Machava, @natejcho, @DF_V, @davey, @VisionIsScary

Thus far, we're three and three for the hashtag. We'll see whether we've a tie-breaker by end of the weekend!

In the interim:

  1. Introduce yourself.
  2. Introduce what you're working on.
  3. [Optional] Introduce the expertise you're willing to lend to the group.
  4. Describe what you'd like to accomplish by end of this week.
  5. [Optional] Describe what you'd like to accomplish by end of 2020.
  1. 5
    1. Introduce myself.
    • Hey, everybody. I'm Helen, a front-end dev => noob founder => sales founder => full-stack founder.
    1. WIP
    • Jovial which matches software developers with clients to avoid crazy project proposals.
    • Me Leveling up my sales/full-stack dev skills.
    1. Introduce my expertise.
    • business development
    • sales
    • copy audit
    • design/UI/UX audit
    • hacker survival tips
    1. End of this week.
    • Talk to customers.
    • Draft copy for MVP.
    1. End of 2020.
    • Published Jovial case study as social proof for customer success.
    1. 3

      Great seeing that you're still going strong Helen!
      Keep that ball rolling and it will take you to your goals.

      1. 2

        Thanks @vimalin. It's good to see you on IH too! How've you been?

        1. 2

          Healthy and pretty busy, so I can't complain.
          Just not much time for the hustle.
          That's changing atm, so these standup's are right on time.

          Hope you are doing fine!

          1. 1

            Good to hear that life is treating you well. What's monopolizing your time now?

            1. 2

              Right now it is Vimalin again, but earlier on it was my normal consulting gig.

    2. 3

      You're the WIP :) Love it! Love that 2020 goal, implies some great milestones along the way

      1. 2

        Thanks @Davey. I'm trying to find the right motivator for myself that aligns with the customer.

    3. 2

      How did you come up with the idea for Jovial? And what's a example of a hacker survival tip?

      1. 1

        It came from those months of self reflections, customer interviews and SWOT analysis I did this time last year. A sista had to make something out of all those struggling dailystandups. LOL

        Re: hacker survival tips... I'm an empathetic resourceful warrior. So I always see ways to conquer battles.

  2. 5
    1. Introduce yourself.
      • Hi there. I’m Aaron. I’m a full stack dev turned sales guy. I have a few projects I’ve been using as ways to learn new skills.
    2. Introduce what you're working on.
      • I’ve started writing more content online, learning Vue and.... I
    3. Describe what you'd like to accomplish by end of this week.
      • hope to announce a side project by the end of the week. Cleaning it up so it’s in good shape for the general public.
    1. 2

      Very much looking forward to the announcement at the end of the week!

      And I too am keen to read about your journey from full stack to sales...

    2. 2

      Hi Aaron! Haven't seen that path before, love to hear more about it. Obviously your eng chops make you a super informed sales guy. Looking forward to hearing more!

      1. 2

        Hi Davey! I'm not sure where to start, but I'll give this a shot.

        I sorta fell into sales at the last recession. But then got really good at it.

        A couple of side effects:

        1. A day job in sales also meant that my dev skills got a bit rusty. To combat this, I started taking some Laravel and Vue courses just for kicks.
          P.S. My latest mvp is still plain 'ol JS/HTML/CSS and it's tough to split the time doing both sales and dev, esp. for your own product.
        2. In a corporate setting, you can disconnect from the feedback since the engineering teams are separate. Whereas at my startup, the product's my baby, it's a bit tougher.

        In hindsight, I would definitely have done the switchover to sales sooner if I could. Your earnings are directly tied to value ($) that is very visible and transparent. Of course, it helps if you have a good product and a well-rounded engineering team backing it up.

        Other learnings:
        You learn so much about people's intentions, how to get on the same page as them. My last employer brought in a sales coach to teach devs how to talk to customers. And perhaps every dev should take a 101 course in sales. At the minimum, it will help them in salary negotiations.

        I wish there was more to the story. The switch in careers wasn't as intentional as some others may have done. Perhaps an easier route would be to go into product management --> work in support / post-sales and then start doing demos of the software. P.S. Working in support is the trough of sorrow. Demos take a lot of work but can be very rewarding as that's where the commissions kick in.

        P.P.S. I was mostly in enterprise sales. We had some b2c products with network effects and that was a totally different ball game.

    3. 1

      What problem are you focusing on w/ your side project?

  3. 4

    1. Introduce Myself
    Dave. In Slacks I show up as "DaveY" so many people choose to call me "Davey". Incorrigible full stack product guy, leaning on engineering. Just left the Voice First space building large voice experiences for brands and am looking for something new. In the meantime, I am working full time on my new project. This is the 4th project I've had since joining IH a year and a half ago. I've built interactive cinema/audience measurement tech, advertising tech, an interactive podcasting platform, CX tech, tons of Game Tech.

    I also founded the FB Game Dev group, it's about 30k strong. Oh and I'm an Eagle Scout and father of 4 ;)

    2. Introduce My Inspiration
    Lift Academy. Designed to solve some of the major problems I experienced while homeschooling, a sector which I strongly expect will grow shortly.
    -Progress Measurement and Affirmation: Deliver assessments so kids/parents can understand how they're doing relative to national standards and to other kids
    -Emotional Well-being: Take the pulse on emotional well-being of students across geographies
    -Life Skills Classes: Delivered by experts, not academics, these will be things like combating online toxicity, healthy friendships, healthy relationships, anger management, basic financial readiness, etc.

    3. Introduce My Expertise
    Game Design and Development, Online Advertising, Web stuff, Data, Analytics, Backends, Server Admin. Javascript, C#, DB queries

    Weakness: UI/Visual Design

    4. End Of Week Accountability
    By the end of the week I would like to have completed the creation of a Grade 6 assessment.

    5. End Of Year Accountability
    Launch Phase 2 of Lift Academy and have live interactive classes for 250 recurring monthly users.

    1. 2


      With Lift Academy you might have found a booming business segment.

      It certainly has a lot of challenges.

      I'm curious if lessons learned from your earlier 2 projects are helping you to get this off the ground.

      1. 3

        Definitely, each new project seems to build on my life experiences and strengthen my technical chops. I had started to learn React this spring for a new project, and it’s made my development much faster. Business-side, I did some extensive surveying before I built anything, and engages both teachers and parents. I’ll be going for student engagement in this phase. I actually used to build assessment engines 20 years ago for the pharma sales and executive training industries, so I had a lot to draw upon there.

        Best of all, the problems I’m trying to solve were ones I had been experiencing all year as a first time homeschool parent BEFORE the lockdown started. There were so many discussions online and in the neighborhood about these kinds of problems once lockdown and distance learning started. So it felt like a no brainer and in the last days of June I set the course. Now as the news each day is showing a little of what the future may hold across the country, I’m increasingly hopeful that if I can reach the audience, the survey percentages will start to come out as customers.

    2. 1

      (Damn. Did I make the @davey mistake? Probably. Apologies!)

      LOVE this concept! So timely. And you've 4 beta testers at your beck and call! Genuinely dig the idea of Life Skills classes. Financial readiness is so key.

      Grade 6 assessment? For the Life Skills classes? Or the emotional well-being?

      1. 1

        Haha it's a fun excuse for me to reinvent myself, and I like it. Grade 6 assessment because I need to get one out the door, and I've got a beta tester in the house ;)
        This Phase 1 is to get assessments out quick, many kids didn't test out of the last school year, and don't know if they're ready for the next grade yet. Mostly thanks to distance learning and many states dropping end of the year standardized testing because they couldn't figure out how to do it fairly without cheating ;) But also for homeschoolers. There are about 70M kids in the US, spread through K-12. So even grade 6 is about 5.5M kids. My challenge will be to reach them at the right price.

        Phase 2 is to do interactive video classes ie mini Ted talks where I recruit awesome people to talk about something they're an expert in :)

  4. 4

    1. Introduce Myself

    Janice. Previously a FAANG software engineer. Now an engineer at a unicorn. I've a fetish for building thoughtful customer experiences.

    2. Introduce My Hustle

    I want to build something useful for me the way I want to build it.

    • Something Useful for Me: An app that feeds me a plan to speed up my running pace.
    • The Way: Flutter and Dart

    I'm calling the app Bolty.

    3. Introduce My Expertise

    • UX
    • JavaScript
    • Design (architecture, REST APIs and UI)
    • Landing page
    • Onboarding
    • Aesthetics
    • Financial modelling

    4. End of Week Accountability

    • Finish up Google's tutorial re building a first app;
    • Determine a Flutter learning strategy (any recommendations welcomed);
    • Build wires for an MVP (three routes max)

    5. End of Year Accountability

    • Learn a new framework and language.
    • Bolty is up for grabs in the App Store.
    1. 3

      Way cool! Your other expertise seems like leadership. You've got a knack for manifesting positive energy and people flock to you.

      1. 1

        I think that Janice would be a great project manager, she's an enabler.

    2. 2

      What's FAANG? Congrats on your new gig! To learn API fundamentals, what would you suggest for a noobie like me?

      1. 2

        Facebook/Amazon/Apple/Netflix (Really think this should be replaced with Microsoft)/Google.

        Honestly, I learned the most re fundamentals when building Happy Endings. I've a great tutorial I used. (But it's probably woefully outdated by now!) Let me know if interested!

        1. 2

          Oh, you a fancy engineer! So when you gonna launch your YouTube, Egghead or Pluralsight videos? 😉

          1. 1

            Sheeeeeeyut. Not a day goes by that I don't feel like a newb.

        2. 2

          Yeah, fwd it pls. I'm a reader. I like to familarize myself by consuming, evaluate use cases, and then code it.

  5. 3
    1. Introduce Myself
      Nathaniel. Worked at financial firms as a SWE. I'm interested in growing a business, providing value to society, and reducing my workload over time.

    2. Introduce My Hustle
      Current hustle is an online payment processor for churches and other donation based organizations

    3. Introduce My Expertise

    • Web developement
    • React
    • Javascript
    • Web Performance
    1. End of Week Accountability
    • Find a CPA and lawyer team for incorporation, and possible filing as a 501c3
    • send out first email campaign for Beta users/churches
    1. End of Year Accountability
      App is revenue generating
    1. 3

      Hi Nate! What gaps does something like Stripe have for non-profs?

      1. 1

        2.2% + .30cent
        it's the same discount as paypal

    2. 2

      And what's SWE?

      Have you launched your hustle? If no, what's your current stage? Client interviews, MVP, landing page...?

      1. 2

        SoftWare Engineer

        I built the payment processor which was most of the heavy lifting on the coding front. I have a form for churches to sign up and connect their accounts. then take a fee to pay for the processing charges and deposit it.

        the UI is naive. I was waiting on some legal opinions to see how viable it was for us to get the 501c3 status. A few experts weighed in and think its a no brainer. So now i'm focussing on the UX, landing page is on my to do list for next week and back to coding.

    3. 1

      What kind of feedback you’re getting from the churches/nonprofits?

  6. 3
    1. Introduce yourself.
    • Hello, my name is Luchini and I am a fledgling bootstrapped entrepreneur. Try to say that six times in row.
    1. Introduce what you're working on.
    • As of now I am working on some small python projects (mainly found on youtube) to strengthen my coding skills as I have given up on taken classes they take too much money and time from you, beware. As well as managing a small music group from my home city so that's a lot of fun.
    1. [Optional] Introduce the expertise you're willing to lend to the group.
    • I excel in being resourceful I work on anything and can always get something done.
      I'm mainly strong in marketing and sound engineering.
      I also do very well in networking if you can call that a skill.
      Creative directing is also something I'm good at, being a visionary hence
      Pretty decent at animation and getting there with FX rendering as well.
      I learn quickly and easy to work with I call that the chameleon effect. (Not being funny)
      Python coding...... I'm getting there.
    1. Describe what you'd like to accomplish by end of this week.
      Finishing mixing the vocals for some tracks my artists made ( 2 tracks and 4
      voices) and I started yesterday so yea.
      Also, finish cleaning my house.
      Start a new python project as I have finished my last project 2 weeks ago which was
      make a ping pong game. (No you cannot play, it's "Incomplete")

    2. [Optional] Describe what you'd like to accomplish by end of 2020.
      Be proficient in Python code as well as have a following for solving development
      problems across the web.
      Have my artists perform at some venues that I've been looking forward to seeing them
      perform at (Although, they still have no official group name so), help them finish at
      least two albums and have them start getting paid.
      Make enough money to survive then eventually by 2022 I can have enough money to
      actually live.
      Get out alive?
      Edit - Launch an organizational app. Task management sounds better?

    Thank you. This has been my TEDtalk.

    1. 2

      (Laughing!) I love the sly slide in re cleaning your house!

      Why the proficiency in Python? For capture a full-time gig or to build out your "organizational" app?

      1. 1

        Well I really just want to able to understand the language for easy and effective problem solving when developing whether it is building an app that organizes your life for you and sends reminders. Or just when I'm collaborating other people on their projects or startups I can actually be of some assistance in coding. It's mainly a skill I really wanna master and I wish you can insert gifs here but <insertgifhere>. I also appreciate you asking!

    2. 2

      VisionIsScary is a great Eminem phrase too! I've done a lot of audio engineering, more like "manhandling" to do stuff like automatic transcriptions, server-side conversions or... thousands of times: volume leveling, format conforms to get professional VO into a format Alexa/Google Home like ;) It's fun work sometimes!

      1. 1

        Omg Davey, you're my new favorite. A lot of people never get it. "I'm polluting the airways as a rebel." I think got into learning more about how music works and the technical side of it is because I listened to so much Eminem. I never realized how much work they put into the production every song and I gotta say I appreciate it way more than I ever did. Especially when recording and mixing vocals. LMAO Davey that's amazing I hope you don't stop because I wouldn't know where to begin in understanding conversions I'm still trying to figure out the bit rate difference between CD & Radio. <Insertgifhere>
        I appreciate you recognizing!

    3. 1

      What kind of music you make?

  7. 2
    1. Introduce yourself.

    Hi! I'm Diana. My background is in business development (for tech companies focused on partnerships with media companies). In February I changed gears and purchased a small SaaS focused on google ads called www.Fiuti.com

    1. Introduce what you're working on.

    I'm working on growing Fiuti out (SEO, SEM, new products) and finding another (larger) acquisition -- hopefully another SaaS business with MRR of $12k+

    1. Introduce the expertise you're willing to lend to the group.

    I can help with selling your project / business (where to sell, what to expect, etc) and how to navigate selling products into enterprise businesses

    1. Describe what you'd like to accomplish by end of this week.

    I'd like to hone in on a business that I'd like to acquire -- came close to one last week but did a tech stack review and the tech was "barely hanging on by a string" as per my devs

    1. Describe what you'd like to accomplish by end of 2020.

    I'd like to acquire a second business and put both that one and Fiuti on a path of long term growth -- ultimately adding value to my customers and allowing me to never have to do business development for a company ever again :)

    1. 1

      Welcome, Diana! You're a a great inclusion and bring a unique set of skill sets to our playground!

      What's your criteria (broad strokes) for the business you're seeking to purchase this week?

      1. 1

        Thanks! Happy to be here :)

        Ideal criteria is 2-3 year old SaaS business with $12k+ MRR & a virtual team in place -- market serviced is flexible but ideally in the finance or marketing space. Low monthly churn (7% or lower).

  8. 2

    1. Introduce myself

    Wil. In my daily life I run a consulting company where I spent most of my time contracting as a software developer for other software companies in a fairly unknown programming language called DataFlex. I tend to help out with the more low level things that these companies need to get done.

    Open Source is one of my passions and as a result I have been running the main DataFlex Open Source website for over 20 years now. Besides that I am a user moderator at the VMware forums where I try to help out and answer questions.

    2. Introduce the hustle

    Vimalin is a backup program for VMware Workstation and VMware Fusion to backup your virtual machines while they are running.
    This product is being sold already and has over a hundred users. Sales went close to zero earlier this year and is just picking up again.

    dfSplat Open Source DataFlex debugger. This is currently available and in alpha (not adding a link as it is only useful for DataFlex developers)

    Process Describer this is a small macOS application that describes each running process on your mac. Got close to publishing, but work got in the way and it never made it to the App Store.

    3. My expertise

    • DataFlex, C++, C#, Delphi, html, CSS, javascript
    • Windows, macOS, Linux, FreeBSD, VMware
    • Linux Hosting, WordPress, mediawiki, Prestashop, Magento,

    4. End of the week goal
    Was pointed to an open source VMware tool last week that partly runs as a system driver. It crashed a host so have now setup a kernel debugging tool chain and am trying to debug that. Currently stopped at troubles compiling that old legacy code as Windows has changed a lot since 2003. ;)
    By the end of the week that tool should either run or I have to discard spending time on it.

    dfSplat - investigate ways to add debugging for web applications.

    Figure out what to do for Vimalin development. Test how well it works on macOS Big Sur.

    5. End of 2020 goals

    • Learn Swift
    • Grow Vimalin business, improve the tool
    • Release Process Describer to the macOS App Store
    1. 2

      Hey Wil! Great to see your name again :)

      1. 1

        Thanks Dave!
        Good seeing your name as well.

        It's great to see all those familiar names again.

        I did miss you all, seems I need you all to help me focus on my hustle instead of burning time on writing open source debuggers and kernel drivers. 😂🤣

        However... I just managed to get a checked build for the driver (using an ancient VS and Windows 7 WDK plus a bunch of edits). Let's see if it still crashes... (yep, still playing with the driver, it is difficult to say no and let the machine win, even while I know better)

    2. 1

      Are sales for Vimalin typically cyclical? What's the game plan to widen or use?

      And curious why the focus on Swift versus say (smiling) Flutter. I'm still not 100% sold on my decision. But a decision is better than none, yes? That's what I keep telling myself anyway.

      1. 1

        Sales for Vimalin are not cyclical. Generally they are on a rising level, albeit very slowly. With the pandemic however I ended up going to the zero sales level. Somehow people were not worried about backups when they worry about their health and somehow I understand that.

        It's not easy to grow sales and I'm basically in for playing the long game with Vimalin.
        I tried a marketing campaign via duck duck go, that got some clicks. But the clicks are too expensive compared to the actual sales. A Vimalin license is a one time sale, not a recurring thing.
        There's reasons for that and while I'd be happy to explain I think my answer here will be long enough already with your next question.

        The reason for choosing Swift is several. I know that Swift has its drawbacks too. For example an app you write now, won't compile anymore next year, because apple keeps on changing things in a relatively fast pace. Another one is that there's things you can't do in Swift that you can do in Objective C. However it is the language that apple has its focus on, they are trying hard to move everyone to Swift.
        There's also the issue with native apps that using a cross platform language does mean that there will be some concessions making it always a little different from real native apps.

        For Vimalin I choose Delphi (that was back in 2013 - when I started to work on it) reasoning that I could then deploy it to both Windows as well as macOS.
        There wasn't a lot of alternatives back then for cross platform tools and I had used pascal wayyy back, so figured why not.

        It's not a bad thing perse, but the chain of suppliers does get longer. If apple ends up changing their platform, then your cross platform development tool has to move along as well.

        Is this a problem? Yes, very much so.

        A couple of examples. Compiling to 64 bit? It took Embarcadero (the company behind delphi) until the release of Catalina before that was even possible... Another one is that apple made a small change back in El Capitan with their API on how context menu's worked. As a result my context menu's broke. Right click on a option caused the context menu to popup and close down immediately... This was unfixable and I ended up having to write my own context menu's in order to keep them. Embarcadero fixed that eventually, but that was a) too slow and b) I would have to pay them for an update.
        Which is another drawback of Delphi, nowadays you have to be on a yearly subscription of about EUR 450/year.

        Apple is breaking things too fast to not do that. I would rewrite it into something else if that just wouldn't mean that it would stop progress for too long.

        So... for me.. I've figured that having multiple code bases might be less of a headache than having a slowly moving cross platform framework sitting inbetween me and the target platform. My guess is that flutter will move faster with google sitting behind it. OTOH google's "cancel product" history also makes me a bit wary. Luckily flutter is completely open source with a permissable license, so that should not be an issue.

        FWIW, Swift nowadays is cross platform, but not for the GUI toolkit, although there are some open source projects looking into that too.

  9. 1
    1. Hello, I'm Steven! I'm usually trying to control my urge to bounce around from idea to idea.
    2. I'm currently working on a physical product, Carme Desk. It is a line of designer desk accessories focused on Eco-conscious materials and manufacturing. Making a mad rush to have the initial 3-5 designs available in the next few weeks.
    3. My experience is a bit all over the place but I'm most knowledgeable with additive manufacturing, web dev (JS and Python), and business operations.
    4. Goals for the week:
      • Finish at least two design prototypes for starting product photos
      • Setup landing page
      • Make progress on setting up the ecommerce store
      • Identify influencers as possible affiliates
    5. Core 2020 goal: generate enough revenue to stay self-employed.
    1. 1

      How was July in regards to your EOY goal?

      1. 2

        Hi Helen, thanks for asking! July was spent preparing Carme Desk. Planning to have the first few items for sale this week which should help towards that goal. Then moving some focus back to consulting work for a bit.

        1. 1

          Carme, are you going hardware? Or are you referring to a digital workspace?

          1. 2

            It's hardware, a small line of desk accessories. Keyboard accessories, desk planters, laptop dock, desk organizer.

            1. 2

              Good stuff. 👍🏾 Good luck with your new venture!

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