Reflections on start-up life: Week 8

Where do we stand?

Eight weeks completed and I can safely say we are now starting to gain traction — we might not be moving forwards, but the tires are starting to bite. We have several conversations starting with different businesses — and more business returning from holidays, so I expect (hope) to see more contacts this week. This week we turn to starting to address the requirements from these conversations and target delivering the first real beta that companies can implement.

Twendly is going well too — it’s not yet set the world on fire, but it’s fulfilling everything I’d hoped for it at the moment and is demonstrating value. People that use it are recommending it to others and seem to be regularly coming back to use it again. There is also some initial interest and conversations with others on how they might use the data we are beginning to aggregate — there are promising signs in this direction as well.

With the beginnings of traction however becomes what I see as our next biggest challenge — we are trying to play two hands at once and not yet fully focussed. It’s counter to all the advice we’ve received but I don’t think either Alex or I are ready to commit to just one direction just yet. Most of the robust discussions between us are really dealing with this core issue — how do we balance the effort on both sides of these initiatives.

The problem is that while the core engine is the same between the consumer and enterprise sides of the HiveMind application, the implementations are increasingly looking to be quite different. For example, on the consumer side, Alex has already invested significant time into an anti-spam engine to deal with Twitter spammers, while I’ve spent much of my effort on the loading portion dealing with the difficulties of talking to an Internet application that won’t always respond and needs a lot of error handling and checking.

On the enterprise, some of these problems just don’t exist, but of course there are other different ones — for example, the range of sources is a lot more diverse inside the Enterprise as opposed to on the consumer side where we largely define them ourselves.

As Alex and I develop our relationship I think we are getting better at having good discussions about what we are doing. One of the hardest things to do early on was to actually have the challenging discussion, I think initially we spent more time worrying about “is the other person happy” than actually having a robust discussion about some of the difficult decisions we seem to increasingly face about where we spend our time. Now that we are getting into this it isn’t always comfortable, but I think it is much healthier. It’s interesting that even with all the experience both of us have, the basic laws of group dynamics don’t change much — Forming, Norming, Storming and then Performing. I know that between the two of us we are bringing a lot to the table and that if we commit together, we’ve got a great chance of success.

This last weekend is the first one that I’ve not really done anything for BinaryPlex due to family commitments, while I face today feeling that I’m not “caught up” it is nice to come at things feeling refreshed and having had a good break.


  • Growing Twendly to 140+ sign-ups, 120K+ users indexed and over 115M tweets indexed.
  • A new interface design up
  • Lots of great feedback
  • Good conversations with people — always easier to have a conversation when there is something to show.


  • Again, not much — we’ve kept reasonably well focussed and I think achieved largely what we set out to do last week.

Goal this week?

  • Put Twendly into a largely “automated” mode — there is a fair bit of regular maintenance we currently do that we want to run by itself to free us time to focus on other things.
  • Get the first round of Enterprise beta ready to ship to a few customers and start engaging the Enterprise clients.