It’s with pride if I answer questions about what I do. I’m a developer running a web startup. There are 2 things in the previous sentence that makes me smile every time I think about it. Let’s dive in.
I AM A DEVELOPER
I’m lucky enough to be one of the few to work in something that I have loved ever since I laid my eyes on. I fell in love initially with a 8088XT running Digger. I basically wrecked a couple of PCs while learning about it. Anyways, because of the profound impact of computers in such an early age, I was very up to date about technologies back then. In fact I was one of Internet’s early adopters here in Indonesia. The first thing I did when I knew about WWW, I signed up for a free website at Geocities, that was in 1996.
From the paragraph above I hope you can feel what kind of relationship I have with computers especially the Internet. I studied and practiced web based technologies since I was in college. Enough to have my own money but I didn’t really know how to manage the money. Well as I said, it was college and everything was just so pressure-less lol.
I went to college 2 times in 2 different colleges and countries, yet I didn’t graduate from any of them. It’s not because I didn’t want to, I want to but life expected a different outcome from me. I decided to hack my way into life’s challenges. I had the skills technically, I just need to manage it.
During this part of life I felt a little bit discouraged looking into the reality everywhere that developers are often thought as a handyman/woman only. This is also encouraged by developers' own mentality so for someone unique, the ecosystem is threatening to say the least.
I did office jobs, freelancing and both at the same time. The only freedom was by being a freelancer. I did it mostly when I was still having an office job. For me, I got lucky that most of the company I worked for didn’t care too much about my freelance activities as long as I got their work done. But I believe others have different experiences.
The one thing that hinders me as a developer is my designing skills. As much as I want to be able to do it on my own, I can’t. This is a fact I’ve learned to accept and manage. But this opened me up to a new lesson, I have to understand others in my team which are designers. Developers and designers are both unique in mentality but dependent on one another lol. Understand others so that others understand us.
I’M RUNNING A WEB STARTUP
The second point is written boldly above. I never thought of having one on my own when I started out Mediafusion. The objective was to legalize my freelance jobs and expand the market by teaming up with my partners. As time goes by, we needed more exposure but we were cautious about the amount of money needed to get more exposure. So I thought, promotional activities will cost big time, in the end it can be as big as the cost of starting up a web startup. So we choose to start a web startup.
An important point about partnering is noted by Rama of DailySocial.net in one of his articles here. I learned and knew by experience anything I needed to about running a web startup but my partners didn’t. I choose partners that are NOT in the web scene. Why? Because I needed their experience and the diversities. If we are to create something that the average people will use, I will need average people to create it with. My ideas and views are biased by my experiences. Synergy is the key.
I have to admit that the so called web startup is still in the making and I haven’t published anything yet. We are now working round the clock to do so. Again I’m lucky and grateful that in the course of starting this web startup, I met with the brilliant men and women of StartupLokal. I was enlightened that this climate of bootstrapping is experienced by others alike. We shared our experiences and opened up new business ventures with one another.
The big bang was yesterday when Yahoo acquired Koprol. It opened up a whole new opportunity for startups like mine to be acknowledge from far away. Indonesia is now a blip on the radar and I’m sure Indonesia have a lot to offer, just have to know where to look.
This article is actually NOT about me. It’s about you developers! I just want to show you that you as a developer can sit at the driver’s seat. You are the most creative and knowledgeable person when it comes to the actual product/startup itself. You can find your way around code dead-ends and still prevail. Most importantly the life of the product/startup is in your gracious hands.
Before actually making your jump, please make sure that you understand yourselves. When you start a business, the biggest enemy is not your competitor, it’s you and your ego. People doesn’t wanna know the technology behind the whole experience, they just want to use it however they like. It’s not about the technology. Technology is a key ingredient but there are other ingredients that are also important like Marketing. If your product is really cool, futuristic and worthy to be presented to the average people, make it your marketing gimmick. Without marketing, no one will ever know you exist. Nowadays social network is playing a big role on how people decide. Use this as your advantage.
Secondly, code if you have to but don’t do it if you don’t have to. Let your mind be focused in something else and delegate to others. When you start initially, you damn sure have to code a large chunk of the product but when you’re in a position to be able to hire others, let them do it. Teach the wisdom of your ways and let them develop the right mentality. With it, the codes will inherit the positivity of the developer. You on the other hand have to take care the business side of the product/startup and it will make you have one of those days when your dreams looked so far away. If you do feel your dream is far, then it is, so don’t!
The last piece of advise will be to network yourself and do your own branding among the community. The product/startup is actually all about yourselves. Make others see that, that with your vision, it will go a long long long long long long way. Be open for critics and understand that perspective is everything.
So there you go developers, from now own, you’re your own startup!