What it’s like in the early stages of starting a tech company

I’ve been in full blow obsessive mode for a couple weeks now diving deep into a startup idea.  Forgetting where I parked the car … driving 5 minutes towards downtown before realizing I was supposed to going southside … waking up at 5AM unable to fall back to sleep … without sounding too much like a blow hard … that’s been life.

So I thought I’d take the chance to articulate what the last 48 hours have been like.  I think they’re typical of anyone starting a new tech company.

Sunday 4AM – Wake up, second guessing the domain we have registered.  I’ve received mostly positive feedback … but a few negatives from people I have a lot of respect for.  Also received mixed responses for the logo we had done on 99 designs.  Damn.

6AM – Still laying in bed.  I now have a list of 8 potential names written on the notes app of my glowing iPhone.

7AM – Lucy (my super awesome 2 year old) wakes up.  Spend the next 2 hours acting like I’m her age.

9AM – Go for a workout with lucy.  They have babysitting there.  Fully intend on running.  But I’m still obsessing about the name.  Crack open my lap top and start looking for domain variants.

11AM – Have registered 10 different domains.  Have grown a very unhealthy hatred for domain squatters and over priced international domain registars.  Suddenly godaddy doesn’t look so evil.

11:30AM -> 2PM – Acting like a 2 year old again with Lucy.

2PM-4PM – Lucy’s napping.  I’m emailing friends asking for feedback on domain names.

4PM – 8PM – More acting like a 2 year old.  We go over to a friends house for dinner.  I can’t help pitching them on the idea and getting feedback.  A huge part of me always feels like a duche doing this.  They say they love it, but I can tell they don’t really get it.  Damn, I need to work on how I communicate the idea, and just listen to them express their problems instead of just “pitching” the idea.

8PM – 1:30AM – On my computer.  Emails, catching up on hackernews and techcrunch for the day.  More emails to Yen Lee, we’re planning a CTO follow on event  to the one we had already. Have a 15 minute online chat with Dwayne about the importance of design.  He’s dropping knowledge bombs again.  Watching a Ng video about machine learning.  His lectures are pretty awesome.  Feeling pretty pumped about the new domain names I registered.  Spend an hour looking at muulabo’s api documentation for natural language processing.  Joined dribble,com.  I read somewhere it’s where designers hang out.  I want to learn more but after 30 minutes I’m sorta confused about it’s purpose.  Damn.  I didn’t write any code today.  Bed time.

Monday 8AM – Wake up, playtime with Lucy

9:30 – Drive Lucy to daycare, pull up a chair at a coffeeshop.  Start getting a bunch of responses about names.   Most of which are ironically favoring the original name.  Along with a lot of feedback, Josh Kerr points out that there might be a copyright concern.  Damn.  Spend about 30 minutes trying to figure out how the hell to figure that out.  Stumble upon the US Patent and Trademark database.  There’s nothing obviously conflicting with the name I’m happy with … but I still have a knot in my stomach thinking about evil Microsoft henchman.

11AM – an hour chat with Steve Wandler.  Love that guy.  General feedback on the idea.  Talk a lot about SR&ED, IRAP, mitacs, incorporating in Canada vs. the US.  He tells me I’d be crazy to not keep things simple and only incorporate in Canada.  That’s what Kevin Swan told me too … I’m starting to believe it now.

12AM – Go for a 45 minute run.

1PM – 4PM – Respond to a request for legal advice re: immigrating to the US from Canada for your startup.  My advice … talk to a lawyer.  Responding to people that have been kind enough to respond to my “Which domains do you like best” email.  I convince myself that I’m not harassing them … but rather giving the opportunity to shape a new company … even though I know I’m just harassing them.  20 minute call with a rep from IRAP.  Looks promising.  But damn, they need a business plan as a first step.  This is going to be annoying.  Spend 10 minutes writing an email to Rod summarizing my day so far.  End up responding about 5 times to my own email … keep forgetting to mention things.  Jennifer Turliuk points me out to a competitor in this space.  I’m feeling embarrassed cause I haven’t heard of them.  In the process of reading their techcrunch article I uncover 2 other competitors.  Damn.  But I convince myself that they’re not really going after the same pain.  So we’re cool.  If anything, this confirms the market.  Although that’s one of the things I love telling myself whenever I see a competitor.  I get that pit in my stomach again thinking about how hard it is to get distribution for consumer apps.  The competitors I stumble upon have decent value props, but essentially 0 distribution.

4PM – 8PM – Pick up Lucy, her Wendy and I hang out all evening.  Save for checking my email a couple times I’m completely offline.  As a side note … I seriously recommend that anyone having a problem with “work / life balance” should have a kid.  Wait … I don’t mean they should have a kid for the sake of establishing balance … I more mean that I don’t see how you can’t be balanced when you have a kid.  I have 0 problems completely detaching myself from work when I have a 2 year old tugging on my coat sleeve.

8:30PM – now – A 15 minute call with Ethan Anderson turns into an hour call.  Awesome to hear what he’s up to.  This is the first time we’ve connected.  Great feedback from him about the whole service provider space and some of the inherent challenges.  Brainstorm a bit about our respective ideas.  Awesome dude.  Feeling a bit overwhelmed about the idea.  Feels like there’s 3 very different types of products / pains we’re looking at.  Is that a sign of a good idea or bad idea, or an early sign I lack focus?  Damn.  Think I’ll spend the rest of the night thinking about where the real pain is.  Notice my square reader came in the mail.  Reminds me I really need to start coding again tomorrow.  Think about looking into a business plan for the sake of IRAP … but decide I need to blog about my day.  Voila.

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