Monthly Archives: February 2011

What I learned from 32hourstartup

I had been to 32hourstartup recently where we had to build a MVP in 32 hours. My team couldn’t produce something substantial largely due to my inexperience on making MVPs.

Things I learned:

  • Pick the right idea – I have had this idea about a Location Based Social Network (a la Foursquare) for sometime now, and I couldn’t get to work on it because I had been busy. And once I got a chance to do something fun, I jumped at building it without really thinking about the complexities involved.Even when I pitched the idea, there were older and experienced people who suggested that I implement only a part of the idea (a placelog where one could upload images, videos or reviews of the places they visited) instead of going for the bigger location based service. It made sense to heed to that idea, but I was simply too excited that I got to work on my idea and wanted to get the whole app done.
  • Plan it well – I had pitched the idea and someone was interested in working with me too! (Karthik Jayapal) I thought that was all that was needed – Great right? Wrong! LBSes are complex because of the type of data involved (places of interest) and the need to determine user’s location in real time. And both of us had zero knowledge on mapping so even when we got our hands on the Open Street Maps mapping data, it took us nearly 8 hours to just extract the info from the formats available into MySQL.When I was meddling with the data, my partner was working on the application. By the time I was ready with the data, 12 hours were over. When I started on my part of the code, I realized we could not work on it locally as there were proxies in place and were preventing us from fetching data via code. So I started setting up the environment on an Amazon AWS micro instance which took more time. One thing lead to the other and almost 16 hours were over when I started to code and I was starting to feel sleepy by then!
  • Keep it lean and mean – The whole idea of a MVP is to get a lean and working product out there that someone could use. Instead of focusing on that, I ended up digressing and doing the other unimportant things like setting up a development environment. If we had focussed on getting the app ready with what we had before working on the niceties, we could have got a better product at the end of the 32 hours. And Sufiyan Ansari‘s amazing and hard work with the UI would have meant something.
  • Get some sleep – I MEAN IT! I hadn’t slept well the whole week, and without sleep it was really tough to focus and code. It was a really bad idea to have not slept all the 32 hours.

Even though the product that we tried to come up with at the end of 32 hours was unsuccessful, the amount of experience I gained in such a short time was amazing. We look forward to getting this product done and releasing it ASAP.