May 21 – One mountain's peak is another's base.


It’s been a weird few days, my exhiliration at releasing ServiceChat is tempered by a realisation that the mountains left to climb are even higher than that of getting software built (which is really just a molehill!)

Oh young whippersnapper founder, hear me well – software is the easy bit.  Finding customers and trying to get to have conversation with them (on a budget and with time pressures added for good measure) are the ‘real’ challenges.

  • Glad I am still working to my routine, despite a resurgence in laziness!
  • Glad I was emotionally reminded of my Dad from a picture taken in the early 60s. I wondered what me now, would say to him, then.
  • Excited that I am slowly generating leads. Just because it took me a weekend to read Lean Startup by Eric Ries doesn’t mean it takes a weekend to build a startup!
  • I’m grateful for the parents I had /have. Age my bend our knees but it won’t bow our heads.

I’m tired and  in.



Mostly today is about doing stuff planned in my marketing plan/strategy.  Today it’s shortlisting target companies and seeking introductions through my network.

Create my early adopter lead generation funnel and start approaching potential customers from the research I did a few months ago ( I have to check the findings again first).

Start using LinkedIn more deeply – especially now I signed up for a business account.  Will try it for a month and see what results I get.


The Trello board…



I built a solution to help people have conversations. I desperately need to have conversations myself with businesses.  Can you help?


May 17 – Been Focused on Making Art

The last three days

No, I haven’t been abducted by aliens. I apologise for not posting to this blog over the last 3 days. It’s been a tough few days, spent mostly making art and exercising my passions.

  • Glad I had invested 3 solid days in pushing to close off the outstanding tasks to get ServiceChat beta live.
  • Seriously Glad that ServiceChat beta is now live and I can now focus on
  • Sad I hurt my back and this stopped my main workouts
  • Glad I’m averaging 1.5 hours of Spanish lessons a day. Totally loving
  • Excited that some early users will begin using it today/tomorrow.
  • I’m grateful for having a pulse, this much fun without one would be a tad difficult.

I’m so in.



With the release of ServiceChat beta, the main push is to begin rapid execution of my marketing plan.

Reach out to my network and get as much exposure to the content I have created to inspire conversations with businesses to sign up.  Mostly through Linked In!

Also I need to resume, in earnest, the research of companies on Twitter to see living proof of the problem I am trying to solve and generate targets for my marketing reach out.

The Trello board…



I thought I might include the ‘Achieved’ column, to remind you and myself just how much big stuff I have actually achieved in a really short time.

Every life needs a lull in the proceedings to reflect and celebrate. Tonight it is curry and wine. Viva la Lull!

Stay foolish, stay hungry.

May 14 – All Set!


What a day!  So many little things that combine to be pretty big.  But a very fulfilling day, tiring, but fulfilling.

  • Glad I had a balanced day – language practice (i discovered duolingo and it is amazing. Still using Rosetta Stone as well.)
  • Glad  the site is ready to go and I decided to do it by verbal invitation – having too many users too soon can be as problematic as not having any!
  • Excited that some early users will begin using it today/tomorrow.
  • Glad I got some brilliant feedback from some trusted contacts on ServiceChat’s landing pages, some great direction on at least one explainer video.
  • I’m grateful for living in interesting times.

I’m In.



The early feedback on the site (not the app) is the message is clear, but would be significantly clearer with the some media showing a real scenario (basically I need to tell stories!).

This changed my appreciation of the need for the explainer video.  Even if some folk already know the problem, they need to understand how my solution addresses it. I need stories and I need to communicate them compellingly.

So I have 2 main goals today:

Get early adopter business – 2 or 3 signed up to the app and using it. With over 20 years of building stuff people use I know users in the wild will find new ways to make things break and I am excited to learn these!

Work on the 50/50 explainer – that does a decent job of describing the problem and the solution – well enough to answer most questions anyway.

The Trello board…


May 13 – Shipping is HARD!


Sunday, May 12th:  I struggled to get started.  I do want to work on Sundays, but my family and I are still clinging to conventional working week delusions and I find it difficult to get to my desk, let alone have the discipline to follow my routine. Nevertheless I did find some time and here is how it went.

  • Glad I navigated the devops maze to get the static site ( and the app site ( working again.
  • Mad that I decided to decommission an IP I thought was not used anywhere, only to discovered that my production chat publisher was deployed on it. Lesson learnt. Move on.
  • Excited that my tests are passing with minimum fuss.
  • Glad I can see the end of the current challenge – shipping the MVP.
  • I’m grateful for the huge amount of support from unexpected sources.

I’m In.



The app is working.
People can sign up, get email , request chats, have the chats.
That is the core of the app. It’s done.

So why is it so hard to get it out of the door!

I will open it to limited folks – those who already know what it does.

The main goal today is to ship it. Put it live, get my early adopters on it and start to learn how they want to use it. There are some niggling bits (like the explainer video) – which are not core to the experience, but I will work separately and seek feedback from a difference cohort of users (those who need to understand the problem first).  I suspect I am doing this in the less valuable order, but it will all be done – in a relatively short period of time (hours not days) – so I figure ‘what the hey!’

For now I need to get this out there.

The Trello board…


May 10 – My Keel Is Evening Out


Really challenging day, huge range of emotions but perhaps necessary.  Mostly I am:

  • Glad my routine is settling down and more that I am really enjoying it.
  • Glad I got feedback from my friend and ServiceChat early adopter on my landing page. It was awesome feedback and the mods really enhanced it.
  • Sad that I had a deep disappointment with a relationship that I thought was stronger than it actually is.
  • Glad that I was like a ninja on some tech challenges I got stuck on. I gave the solutions time to find me

I’m grateful for the ability to be irreverent.

I’m very In.



The main goal today is to get the chat working again since I broke something! The tests need to go green before I move on to the other big elephant in the room – my explainer video.

I also will put together a mind map of options for funding from October (or sooner!) that I can discuss with my advisers.

The Trello board…


May 9 – Too Far Down The Road Less Travelled


What an intense day – but pleasantly so.  Mostly I am:

  • Glad I successfully executed my new routine. I had a 17 hour fast, did 1.5 hours of language study (and it was huge fun) and 8 hours of work on the startup and over an hour of wellness throughout the day – YAY!
  • Glad I realised that my beta is not my MVP before I spent even more time on it.
  • Mad at how much time I had already spent on the beta vs the MVP
  • Sad that I don’t have a co-founder who was immediately accessible so we could decide what to do – keep doing the beta (it’s close) or stop and release the MVP now!
  • Glad I got over that and decided.

I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to experiment to take risks, fail and learn. I realise that many in the world of work do not readily claim this fundamental right.

I’m In.



The decision about the beta vs MVP is to get the MVP out today and then get back to get the beta ready for next week.  This is options gaming really – buying myself the option of more time on the beta whilst still having something out that folk can be using. Of course this means that once my MVP is out, I can also resume the validation of my marketing strategy, so maybe I won’t have all the time I thought I would have on the beta.

I need to get out of the building.

I want to have the idea validated ASAP not the app and the MVP should get me on that route.

So the big push is around the explainer video of some description and getting feedback on what I have in place for the landing the page (the wording mostly).

The Trello board…


May 7 (and 8th) – Plan : Replan, Replay


Revised Bigger, Bigger Picture


A Note on Yesterday

In lieu of a retro for yesterday (May 6th), which I did not write because it was late, I was tired and intended to do it this morning but unexpectedly had to make an airport run. That is my story and I shall be sticking with it.

The app is not in production yet, as I was walking through the MVP flow, I realised I had missed an important piece!  People can sign up, but they can’t sign in.

They need to sign in to manage the authorised chat hosts.  That single piece suddenly became both urgent and important!

I’m glad I have ‘sign in’ now in place and I can get back to what I was supposed to be doing.  I’m in, all the same.


I awoke feeling rather depressed.  Whilst I had my Startup and Wellness working well , the third element of my focus – Learning Spanish – was being neglected.

This called for a revision of the bigger, bigger picture. I thought long and hard about what my focus elements I have and what outcomes I want. Planning is fun, the plan less important.

Voila! I have a revised plan that leverages what has been working for me over the last weeks and helps me do all the things I want to focus on. Namely, building Spanish into my iterations (which previously only hard startup work and then a 10 minute HIIT workout).

So…my main goal is to start this new routine, follow the plan and adapt. 

The tasks for the startup are still the same – get the app into production, explore an early draft of my explainer video and talk to early beta users.

The Trello board…

Trello board for 8th May 2013

Trello board for 8th May 2013

Another Change

On reflection, two blogs on the same day is proving a little cumbersome and the result is neither is done well nor timely.  I have thought about this and will experiment with a single post again, this time in the morning.

I seem to do my main retro in the morning anyway and this impacts my planning too. So it makes sense that I just do the morning post with a concise retrospective (complete with the benefits of a night’s rest) and my daily plan. Let see how consistently that will happen. I’m excited!

May 3 – Retro: Traction.

Check In

  • I’m sad I didn’t write my plan on friday (May 3rd and a retro for that day). Slow progress meant not much had changed at the level I was tracking on my board.
  • I’m glad that on Sunday , May 5th I worked deeply and intelligently and achieved a huge amount.
  • Glad that I should be able to get early adopters using ServiceChat around the middle (Wednesday/Thursday) this week
  • Excited to be trying Intermittent Fasting as part of my wellness focus.
  • Glad to be have created my startup storymaps, felt I was losing sight of the big picture!
  • Glad that this last weekend was one of the best we have had as a family – sheer bliss.

I’m excited. I’m In. 

Achievements Since Last Retro

  • Approved hosts working lovely
  • Autoresponder for non-signed up usage and non-active usage in place.
  • Email on signup complete – need to work on the text of emails – will test with early adopters
  • Updated my Startup Storymaps – this, with my marketing maps and business model canvas gives a great overview of what I intend to do, when and towards what outcomes. (might blog about it)

How The Trello Board Now Looks


ServiceChatTrello Board – 6/May

…and the The Story Map


ServiceChat Storymap

I Learned…

I Loved…

Catching up on some reading last night, having a late snooze and then coding till 4AM!

I’m Grateful For…

Reality. It is often less scary than the delusions I sometimes conjure.

May 2 – Retro: Ongoing…

Check In

  • I’m glad I’m making progress, it’s slow and with plenty of emergence, but it’s progress.
  • Glad that I’m learning and having fun doing this.
  • Mad that every 10 steps forward I discover 100 more miles to go!
  • Glad that I will have the approved chat hosts functionality in place, it’s so close I can smell its perfume.

I’m anxious. I’m In. 

Achievements Since Last Retro

  • Incorporated plans and accounts
  • Explored Hootsuite apps as a possible partner channel. They have 6 million users, I have 367 (from ChittyChat!).
  • I updated my fiddle with some revised pricing. It is still unvalidated with a customer (hoping that happens next week).

How The Trello Board Now Looks

It is fundamentally unchanged.

I Learned…

  • Messing with CSS and style takes time. Thankfully I work in 59/10 which means I review my work every hour to see if I should still be doing it.
  • That we can regrow lost forests with a commendable attempt at preserving diversity!

I Loved…

Sitting in the sunshine for a whole hour – with coffee, code and music. Even the wasps were friendly.

I’m Grateful For…

All the options for marketing, partnership and support that have emerged and are emerging.

May 2 – Plan: Stitch 'er up, I'm done!


Yesterday was surgery, I took the codebase around the chat room requesting apart and cut out a lot of crappy code.  In the last week I have replaced lots of old tech and upgraded many of the gems that are the foundation of ServiceChat (especially mongoid, Rails and Tweetstream) and refactored all the supporting apps (Tron and Blabby).

That is a lot to happen to a codebase and now it is time to heal and get some feedback.  Healing for me is  about taking out spurious code, some minor refactoring etc.  With tests passing and all good functionally, I need to tidy up, remove debug comments and the like.

The main goal today is to get the end to end with pre-approved hosts being able to request chats. All the pieces are there and the tie up should not be too cumbersome.

Looking forward to releasing this beast into the wild.

I will also continue my marketing exploration  (in my in-between time) of paid advertising on Linked (I have a voucher that expires tomorrow, I don’t want that option to expire!).