Missing Opportunities, Life and a Little Hackathon

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It’s been a while since my last post and many things happened since we first encounter our local competition.

What’s the point of managing a personal journey blog if I’m not going to be honest? In spite of all the motivation, working and watching your competition is kind of depressing and definitely takes away your focus. At first, it’s scary – when we first noticed them, they had 140 likes (I know it’s nothing, but from my perspective it is 140 more likes than we currently had). Then every day they had 5 to 10 more likes and then something happened – ‘Too many connections exceptions’ appeared for a couple of days. Then something even more amazing happened – their site went down and not a very attractive image showed up saying, “We are doing important maintenance and will be back soon.” Now that’s what I call motivational boost.

Working on your own thing is a surprisingly moody thing – you wake up in the morning asking yourself – “What the hell did I do?! I had a career!! We will never finish building it!” Then you finish your morning coffee, meet your partners, and start kicking some code, creating one more page, closing one more integration with a backend and you say – “This is becoming real, this flow is complete, and I can already do this and that, and soon MVP will be ready…” Then you go to sleep and repeat it all over again.

 Missing opportunities

As I already mentioned before – having an Idea and even executing it is pretty useless unless you can sell it. To me, selling means insolence. Life (God / universe / whatever you wanna call it) has funny ways of testing you. Three weeks ago, one of my partners and I were sitting in our usual coffee spot writing some code. Then I noticed someone very familiar – after scratching my head, I realized he looked like Walt Mossberg also known as “The guy who interviewed Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Zuckerberg.”

Walt Mossberg twin?!

Walt Mossberg twin?!

So the question is what to do? Should I go over and say, “Hi,” and show him our product (which is still not in the showing-off-readiness state)? And what if it’s not him?

So what did we do? What every unconfined nerd would do – we tweeted him “Bon Appetite” to check if he would respond. He didn’t – to this very day. He didn’t even check our notification (which is probably fine, he can’t read every tweet that mentions him). Was it Walt? – Well, that’s one of the mysteries of the universe. I guess I’ll never know, but it’s another lesson that ‘insolence is bliss’ and a little chutzpah can help in any situation.


Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. An accumulator in my new car, which was less than a year old, died. For the last eight years, I’ve had four different cars while working at my 9-5 job. I have never had a dead accumulator. So I had to waste ~1.5 days to get this fixed.

Then one of my partners had to take some time off after his wife injured her back during a workout. So my partner had to take care of his wife, spend more time at home, give more attention to his kids – Luckily, she recovered within a couple of days.

Little Hackathon

My friend called me a week ago and told me that he had an idea. He went to a store and wanted to print some pictures that he took with his camera. So he wondered why not create an app for that and offer this app to a store. You just select a couple of images, fill out some form and have it printed for you.

While there are plenty of apps like those, there is a download barrier. Also, there are generic solutions (but not local stores), so I suggested doing it as a website. This way any local store can have its own “white label” service. So we decided to make a weekend hackathon for it.

I was responsible for the front-end and my friend took the PHP backend side. The goal was a simple 2.5 pages web app. You upload your images. Select a format, whether or not you want a frame, fill out your name and phone number. Photo store will get a zip file with images and your details to its inbox.

I really wanted to use flow.js – with chunked uploads and image preview but the integration to backend took too long, so we switched to dropzone.js. Dropzonejs is easy to implement, has great documentation, and works exactly as you would expect – simple file upload. You include the script in the head, create a form with dropzone CSS class and that’s enough if you don’t want anything complex.

So it took us ~6 hours , 700ml of coffee, 1 pizza and one salad to have a working prototype. I already sent an email to one of the stores in my town offering them this service. For a revenue share (which is very improbable) or a monthly fee it can be a nice passive income with easy scale out.

me and my friend building prototype

I told you – I will publish it 🙂

So what would you do with a guy that might or might not be Walt Mossberg?



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