So I finally reached to my first Startup Weekend (SW). Six years after signing up for either the first or second SW in Atlanta, which I didn’t get to go, due to cost of accommodations and plane fare.

So I didn’t go planning to pitch, however the atmosphere spoke to me so I bite the bullet. I decided to pitch an idea that’s been bubbling in my head for a few months; Bliss.

I thought my pitch was great! my Toastmasters crew would be very proud of me. Stayed within the time limit and I thought I made an impression and got a great reaction. I felt good.

A few other pitches/idea really stood out to me.

  1. Buy Jamaica - A Mobile App; that allows you to go and scan products in the Supermarket and it shows you local alternatives. 
  2. Project GrapeVine - Some form of local commerce- don’t quite remember the idea, but the presenter did an excellent job of selling it.
  3. AudioPi (More on this later)

After the pitches, each attendee votes on the three ideas that they like the most. Well after (in my head) a great pitch. See the amount of votes that I got.

I got a chance to talk to Aisha (who tweeted me before) about AudioPi and even though I have little hardware experience. The project seems quite interesting, plus it takes me out of my comfort zone. So I “should” be joining the AudioPi team and trying to implement this project.

Tomorrow should be great, jumping into C and working to get up the prelaunch web page. 

Let’s do this!

The first two months has been very interesting to say the least.

My first reaction after joining the Fellowship, was “damn, it feels great to be learning again” 

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My first introduction to Design Thinking. Before this I thought Design was only visual and making things “look pretty”. Session by David Soutar. We also did the Stanford D School - Crash Course to Design Thinking.

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Sprint was a word used a lot during the first month. A bit over-used in my opinion. Varun Baker gave us the initial Design Sprint Intro. 

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The process broken down.

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Panthea Lee of Reboot. Came and gave us a week long work-shop on Design Research.

This has changed the way I conduct research, I have started applying this method during my Market Validation of Bliss (A HR Solution that improve the morale of your employees). It’s been going great.

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Me on the Board - Working with my other Fellows to decide who we should be interviewing in the months to come.

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The first of many Post-It Notes. (We use a lot of Post-It Notes.)

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First day in the Field (Coronation Market) speaking with potential Users. You don’t build great solutions but staying in the office and only speaking with your colleagues. 

The CftC Team visiting Denbigh (Largest Agricultural Show in the Caribbean )

The CftC (Varun, Staysean and Afifa) testing Rohan Smith’s Praedial Larceny Prevention Implementation

My censored version of our banner and More Post Its

Learning Python and Django. 

It’s been going great so far, contrasting the difference in the Language and Framework to Ruby/Rails) is very interesting.

Going back to the RADA Office. We got a Step By Step Walkthrough of ABIS (Agricultural Business Information System).

* Notice the BearShare icon. It must still be 2007 :)

Meeting with Tayon C. - Research Officer at Ministry of Agriculture. He currently overseeing JAMIS (Jamaica Agricultural Marketing Information System)

kraasimages displaying her mockups. Tayon was very impressed.

On to Month 3…. 

I haven’t posted a Ruby/Rails Tip in a little over 2 years.

I’m currently wrapping up project for a client. I was stuck on a bug that I couldn’t quite figure out. I’ve already been using better_errors to assist in error discovery, Marc then recommended that I use the binding_of_caller (BOC )gem. I did and it’s great.

BOC does two things that I love

  1. It displays all local and instance variables at that point in the code. 
  2. The Interactive Prompt in Browser

#2 is the kicker in my opinion. The ability to debug by quickly calling variables and running functions has reduced my debugging time tremendously.

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How to install 

group :development do
  gem 'better_errors'
  gem 'binding_of_caller'
end 

BOC works in conjunction with the better_errors gem.
Simply install and re-start your server and you’re good to go.

Ryan Bates - Give a great Railscasts explaining same. Check it out.

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I currently make web apps for Startups and small businesses.

More info here

Since it’s clear that I’m only in a 6 month fellowship no longer am I complacent about the following:

  1. Finding freelance clients
  2. Validating Bliss
  3. Networking

I’ve always enjoyed going to Tech and Business events. Whether Kingston Beta (before I moved to Montego Bay) or Corporate U. At these events, I’m not sure how much networking I did. ie.) I love talking to folks, so I would be just talking for being social sake.

Now it’s actively going out to meet and greet with persons who’s relationships I believe will be mutually beneficial.

I went to Your Money eZine Business Summit last week, and Mark Croskery from SSL was the headliner. I rarely ever “lay-weight” the headliner to exchange a few words with them. However now I did, not to boost my ego. But because I’m on a time line and I need to validate and (if validated) launch Bliss in 3 months. If I was still comfortable, I doubt I would of have this desire. The exchange was good and I’m most definitely going to follow up with him.

Similarly

I reached out to an old Church friend who’s feedback I thought would be beneficial for Bliss. Figured I would gain practice in pitching and speaking confidently about it, the meeting went much better than expected. We’re exploring opportunities for collaboration and also she’s putting me in contact with someone with vast experience in the industry I’m tackling. This all came from just reaching out. 

I’m also marketing myself more in terms of remote web application development. I’m currently open and accepting new and interesting projects. 

I’m sure persons could of accomplished everything I mentioned above while at a comfy job, but in terms of myself. I NOW have an extra drive to get stuff done!