Monday, 28 October 2013

Read More

I started to read more entrepreneur related books. Two weeks ago, I finished reading a book named "Hackers and Painters" written by Paul Graham. Now I'm reading another very interesting book named "The Lean Startup". I finished half of the book and found the concepts helpful in building a small&beautiful tech startup. However, practise is somewhat more important. Shamefully, the readpeer project didn't really follow the lean startup approach, but more of a traditional way. We didn't plan for the MVP(minimum variable product) the users' need. Instead, we focused too much on completing features we thought the users might love. We really need to test on the ideas before driving too deep to the development. We've tried to use Scrum for project meeting. However, the fact that most other teammates are part-time undergraduate students made it very difficult to build a real startup. The productivity is also quite low. In the past one month, the PHD and I are the two major contributors, however, I didn't find self-motivated developing Drupal in the old system. The only moment I found exciting in the past one month is when I used angular.js to polish the reader. One entrepreneur once told me that "To focus on building the team, not the exact product". I think that's a fair suggestion. However, the fact that the current company didn't spend enough energy strengthening the team made the so-called startup vulnerable. I may spend some extra money and energy on the human resource development of the company. Otherwise, it's very unlikely to become a dynamic&healthy growing startup.

Yesterday, a hacker from Beijing introduced three ruby books which can help me better understand the language and the framework. Thanks to his recommendations, I will read the books to better understand the fundamentals.

Other good things:
I started to play keyboards on sunday worships.
I bought a nexus 7 from Amazon. Android is cool.

End with a note from "Hackers and Painters". There is no ending for a paint, it's just that you no longer draw it.


Thursday, 10 October 2013

Seeking

"Let me think that there is one among those stars that guides my life through the dark unknown."--Tagore



It is undoubtably the most fruitful summer of my student life, especially the two months' experience in Beijing.  I planned to go for the entrepreneurial path instead of the normal office life. Gratefully, I received more blesses than what I should get. I'm not a devout Christian, but there do seem to be sort of supernatural power which directs the steps.

My final year project received an initial funding of 50k SGD which draws me to explore the project further. However, I know that my future career (at least the market) would be in China, thus I went for the entrepreneurial trip in Beijing with my own savings and determinations. Thankfully, I got accepted by Google Summer of Code again and can use the funding to cover the expenses in Beijing. More importantly, I've got to meet a lot of young entrepreneurs in meetups, coffee shops, incubators, hackathons, etc. I also worked with a very dedicated team in a meaningful online education startup. That could be a lifelong career to pursue even it might not become a profitable commercial organization. During the two months period in Beijing, I support myself with previous savings which is just enough. After coming back to SG, I started to work with the social annotation project as committed to Prof. Anthony. However, I realize that the project is very unlikely to become successful without professional involvement. Thus I went to Beijing again with GSOC's midterm payment + professional designer's pay from Prof. Anthony + a one-way ticket to seek for professional partnerships in Beijing. Thankfully, I knew a very good designer who is very talented to take the role. After 4 weeks in Beijing, I finally ran out of money. Prof.Anthony sent 2k SGD to me, 0.5k of which is for the designer's half pay.

I'm thankful that I did make good use of the funding. Among the first month' formal work(Mid August-Mid September), I received 2,863 SGD funding, 1,000 of which is for the professional design payment, 363 of which for the one way ticket to Beijing, 600 of which for saving a friend's life. 900 of which for my personal living expenses. All other extra expenses( like the return ticket to Singapore + the Mid-Autumn Day trip to home) are from either my previous savings or my GSOC account.

The new month's funding(Mid September - Mid October) of 1200 SGD is for my personal expenses in Singapore + EP settlement, etc. 149+37.45= 186.45 SGD of which is used for signing mobile broadband plan. 65 SGD of which is used for EP medical checkup+6 SGD for photographing+23 SGD phone billing. The others are used for my daily expenses. Other non-survival expenses(treating people meals + a music speaker + nexus 7) come from my GSOC account.  This month's house rental fee(500 SGD)+mobile broadband rental fee(35+ SGD) will be counted in the next month's bill.

It is not meaningful to list the accounting here, just to show that entrepreneurial life is hard. However, money should not be the most important thing to worry, but how to build a strong team. Team building is somewhat more important. But it seems that I'm not taking the most important role as a leader, but more of a software engineer. Thankfully, I did make some right moves. For instance, out-souring the design, modulating the project, etc.

Before committing to Prof.Anthony's project, I actually have got a better job offer from a technical startup. The startup is one of the very few real technical companies in Singapore. All the employees(4-6) are PHDs except my friend whom I introduced to the founder after I committed to Prof. Anthony's project. Their customers includes Rakuten, Japan's largest e-commerce site. Honestly, I don't feel confident to make Prof's project a popular product. However, Prof.Anthony insists that the project has a strong potential. It is actually his determination and persistance that drives me to work the project further. Personally,I'm not sure how long I'll be sticking to this project. But my entrepreneurial life has just got started.

Keep seeking, don't settle.