Reflections on start-up life: Week 14

Well the first week with Alex back in China and us working remotely has passed remarkably smoothly. With Skype at hand, we can easily keep in touch and communicating which is great. We’ve also successfully split our work paths such that we can move on fairly independently from each other without any major delays. No doubt this may change as we get further along, but for now it’s been easy.

Progress remains slow. I like to think that this is because finally we’ve set on the right challenge. If what we are doing was too easy (i.e. we could knock it over inside a week or two), then we might be setting the bar too low. We ARE progressing however and expect the new engine to be mostly complete early this week, which then leads to data transition tasks.

Something I spent a few days on which I enjoyed was working with the Yahoo Geo Coding APIs to locate take data from Twitter and locate people, an important part of our value proposition. It proved to be an interesting challenge. The stats are very promising — generally speaking real people (as opposed to bots or corporate accounts) provide good data about where they are.

Twendly continues to gather interest — it’s great to see it still hanging in there without us really having done anything on it for several weeks now. Even this morning we picked up a mention in a German marketing blog. I think they like us — my German is almost non-existent and I don’t trust everything Google Translate says!

As has been hinted for a while, we formally “wound up” Hivemind and have now focused firmly on our new product, Tribalytic. The best summary I’ve come up with is that with HiveMind there was clearly a business model, but we were clearly going to struggle being able to reach the market, with Twendly, we had a market, but there really wasn’t a business model. Finally with Tribalytic, we think we are on the right track — a tool for which there is both a market and a business model!

I had a great meeting with Michael Sampson from New Zealand about our change in direction and talking about what Enterprise can learn from the Internet, then a lunch with someone (big secret for now) who we’ve invited to be our first formal advisor (and still hoping they say yes). So that was good progress in retrospect.

Having decided to switch directions I had to update our website and reflect our new direction. I also needed to email our list of beta users and update them on what we are up to. I chose to actually unsubscribe all these people from the list for a couple of reasons:

  1. We are clearly doing something different now than what they signed up for, so it seems most ethical to actually tell them that and stop tracking their email address.
  2. Early experiences showed that a “call to action” from a mailing list is a big challenge, so starting clean with people who at least WANT to be on the list is a useful thing.

A couple of people suggested I should of kept the mail addresses because they are an asset, but I also received a more positive response to that email than previous ones which makes me think I did the right thing.


  • Meeting new people.
  • Getting geocoding working.
  • Updating website and integrating the mail list management.


  • Just the slow grind of progress, nothing bad, just feel like we are moving through molasses at the moment.

Goal this week?

Same as last week — get that first prototype out the door ASAP.