(devlog index incase I can’t edit after x days: http://linkshow.com/devlog)
So last year I tried to build a project called Stemlet (a “modern wikipedia”), which I devlogged about here. That project was a total floparoo because I was basically trying to force a sideproject into a startup instead of trying to build a startup around a problem.
I’ve since immersed myself in the startup scene spending a year at an incubator and trying to start a few of my own. I’ve learned a lot. And now that I’ve built a little confidence and have a cofounder I’d like to give it another go!
Project Name: Linkshow
Problem: During presentations, audiences just sit there unable to interact with the presenter or each other.
Solution: Interactive slideshows that allows the audience and presenters to interact with each other without disrupting the presentation.
Team: My best friend Courtney and I. We also get a lot of support our friends at Running Start in Worcester, MA.
Mission: Help people share experiences.
Vision: Let anyone experience anything.
Linkshows are basically slideshows where the slides are made up of embedables - things like Google Street Views, 3D models from Sketchfab, and Google Sheets…pretty much anything you find online with a “share” or “embed” link. You collect a bunch of these links and either embed the linkshow on your blog or “stream” it to your audience’s mobile device during a presentation.
It’s pretty simple. A friend calls it “guided browsing”.
The format for this devlog will be:
- What we did and how
- Lessons learned
- What we’ll do next
They’ll probably be lengthy so I’ll likely stick to once a week. I’m not sure if I can edit posts after a certain amount of time, if so then I’ll put an index to the posts so I can answer questions, otherwise you can find it here: http://linkshow.com/devlog
What & How
We’re using WordPress since it handles all the annoying bits of a webapp out of the box: security, user authentication, and user management. It’s also got a badass repository of plugins we can tap into, one of which is the insanely powerful Advanced Custom Fields:
We were grandfathered into their pro plan, but it’s totally worth it. This plugin itself has 100+ user contributed “sub-plugins” and an active community. The main draw for us was that we can create clean user interfaces for the front end with automatic data validation. You can very quickly prototype a web app with this thing, it’s seriously amazing.
For project management we went through a number of tools including WordPress itself and Google Drive before settling on Trello.
Trello is a Kanban board where you basically move tasks from the left most column (the backlog) to the right most column (done). Courtney and I basically split the work into code/non-code relating things, so we each have our own boards with our own tasks and then one shared “master” board that we both dig into.
You can read more about agile methodologies from M. David Green here on SitePoint. I highly recommend Kanban even if it’s just you as it helps you get things done.
Other key WordPress plugins:
- wpDiscuz - Extends WordPress’ comment system. We decided to go with this system so that we can better integrate the two (we have plans to build interfaces for students to chat with teachers etc)
- WP-Mail-SMTP - We’re using a custom registration system (using ACF) that requires activation. We also built a custom notification system for a custom admin bar. This plugin helps with sending out customized emails.
Example of the userbar and the notification system. We’ll cover how we built it in a later post.
- Growl - OSX “growl”-like notifications
- Tooltipster - Tooltips and “popup cards” (if you view that first GIF, the speech bubble over the characters is really a tooltip)
- RRSSB - Rediculously Responsive Social Sharing Buttons
- URIJS - The app does a lot of URI work to figure out embeds and such, this library is invaluable for that
It’s actually really hard to start something by yourself. Trying to build a startup is a roller coaster ride and the thing about going solo is that you don’t have anyone to ground you on your euphoric days and no one to lift you up on your low days. Both extremes can be harmful.
Having someone else also helps you maintain discipline, especially when it comes to feature creep. You don’t even need an actual cofounder. Having a mentor or friend you meet with regularly would probably work just as well (at least early on)!
Another thing we’ve learned is that we skipped a bunch of “steps”. In hindsight having done some validation would have saved us a week or two in building features no one wanted.
If you’re looking to start a startup or large project, I can’t recommend StartupStash enough (basically start at the top left square and work your way across):
UP NEXT : LAUNCH
Our goal is to launch by next Sunday (Aug 7th). We still have a boatload of content to fill in and people to reach out to, but the app itself is in stable condition!
Since we’re not launched we don’t have any real metrics. Here’s what we have:
- Weeks in : 4
- Members: 2
- Twitter Followers : 43
- Analytics graph: