Reflections on start-up life: Week Five

Round, like a circle in a spiral, in a wheel within a wheel…

After the aborted launch of our demo site the week before, come Monday we felt remarkably positive and picked up the pieces and moved forwards. We felt it was important to get something up regardless so we chunked things down and pushed to get a site up with the HiveMind engine indexing “stuff”.

After the experiences the week before, we were better placed to move into production and the deployment scripts are maturing to the point that they actually seem to save time rather than cost us time, so it was a lot smoother to get our new demo up and running. Although largely we had it finished on Tuesday, we still took a couple of days before we were happy to push the button and say go.

Well, what a difference it feels like now having something to show. It’s strange as the demo is somewhat “underwhelming” in the sense that when you look at it, you might wonder what we’ve been up to for five weeks, but we know that the problem isn’t an easy one to solve. What has been really pleasing is the very positive support from people now that we have something to actually demonstrate.

It’s such a worth-while exercise, demo early and demo often is a great motto. Once people see and experience what we’ve been doing, a few things happen. Sometimes people who “got it” now don’t. Sometimes people who didn’t “get it” now do! Best of all, people now have lots of different ideas and use cases for us to explore.

Now we have a live server, we can index lots more content which means we can begin to properly test and tune the engine. Things also come to a close better (and new beginnings in support too) — once we push something live, we have an “end” to the cycle we were in which is a positive thing.

Why I say it’s a bit like the windmills in your mind is that we’ve ended up a hairs breadth away from what we intended to launch the previous Friday and backed off from. In my mind this shows we are pretty focussed on the core “root” problem of expertise location and that the use cases are similar in many regards.

This “live customer test bed” is just so crucial — we’ve made a major step forwards in our lifecycle as we are no longer listening to the windmills inside our own minds, instead we are being blown by the breeze of feedback which is an altogether more beneficial thing to do.


  • Christmas lunch with our wives — a nice break and nice to share some time out with them.
  • Getting the website up and sending the first few closed invites out to a very few people.
  • Some great meetings discussing and demoing the site and doing lots of listening to the things people have to say.
  • Discovery that the site works quite well on the iPhone — it took a beating as a demo machine.
  • Setting some big challenges late on a Friday and *almost* getting there — only some test iterations to go Monday and we are done.


  • Paper work — even when we aren’t making money it just never seems to quite end.
  • Inevitable reality, things starting to slow up — it’s harder to talk to people at the moment because of break coming up and many of them will be off for a while now.

Goal this week?

  • An open launch on Monday then holidays for a week.

We are taking a break next week due to Christmas, so we’ll be back in the New Year with our continued adventures with BinaryPlex. It may only be five weeks but as I said to Karina (my wife) last week — I’ve not had this much fun in a long time.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.