Monday, 3 March 2014

69 - Developers

Sitting at work.

What to do.

I get an email.

Every time Story crashes I get an automated email.

My friend Claire has tried to make a story. She's in Paris. I see all the pictures of Paris she's taken. But the app failed to publish them. They're lost now.

A developer could fix it. A few hours I bet.

"I tried." she texts.

Fucking hate those crash report emails. They break my heart.

I want to shout about Story. Get people using it. But these problems... I can't... Need it fixed.

Need a developer.

If you offered me a developer or a girlfriend, I'd pick the developer.


---


The guy who helped with the last update. Tom. He did so much. Didn't ask for a thing in return.

I wanted him to partner with us. A lot. But he's gone and we're back on our own.

I think back to the early days.

Meetings with Filippo. It was exciting. On the road, not looking back. Progress every day. It felt so great.

Like this is definitely what I should be filling my life with.

But we didn't plan enough. Didn't spec it enough. We left too many blind spots.


---


What to do.

Twitter.

I do a search. "iOS developer London"

About 40 people in the results. I google their names and find their websites. I email all of them.

Six replies, politely declining.

Two are interested.

Zero when they realise it's not paid.

Back to square one.


---


I'm called to a meeting at work.

There's about fifteen of us in the room. Two of the guys I'm introduced to are iOS developers. Two of them. Across the table from me.

My eyes widen. Pupils probably dilate. Just one of these guys is all I need.

What they can do is priceless. They can make what I need from thin air.

Developers are alchemists.

After the meeting I email one of them.

"Sorry mate, I really have no free time. It looks cool though."

I email the other one.

He wants to meet.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

68 - People

"Yeah, I've got an app."

That's it, right there. Two years, twenty grand, every emotion, it comes down to this; being in a pub and someone going 'oh you've got an app?'

"Yeah man, download it."

"What is it?"

"It's called Story, go on the App Store and search it."

"What's it do?"

"It's like this mini-blogging app... get it and see!"

"Is it free?"

Is it free. 

"Yeah, it's free. Give it a go. Try it..."

They don't.


---


"I can't even give my book away for free." Jamie the writer tells me.

Jamie's the best writer I've read. Written the funniest book I've read. Funnier than Catch-22.

"People just don't do anything unless a hundred other people do it first."

"Yeah." he replies, "Or if a celebrity tells them to."

"People, man. I've been trying to get my mate Gary, great photographer, to use Story for a year now. Never has. Just won't do it. Not even as a favour."

"Yeah? I've got people directly lying to my face about buying the book. They must think I've sold a load and I can't possibly tell! These are people I've told not to pay and download it from my dropbox for free. But they've been, 'hey, I bought it instead!' And they're lying!"

"People! I used to make T-Shirts. I'd write about it on a forum. If ten people on this forum bought one, and wrote that they bought one, EVERYONE would buy one. I'd sell out in a day. BUT, if I sold ten, and no one wrote about it, I would never sell more than that. It would stop dead."

People are a crowd. One indecisive shrugging mass staring at each other in the current.


---


A few days later I check Story. There's a new story by Gary. An album of pictures from his honeymoon. Holy shit. Took over a year but he did it!

"Pretty good isn't it?" He says when I next see him.

"What, Story?" I'm happily swiping through his pictures.

"Yeah, moving the pictures around into the order you want. Enjoyed it."

People. I guess I should stop worrying about people. In the beginning, it's about a person, one at a time.

Friday, 10 January 2014

67 - The 12-year-old me

"Simon, hi, we need to mock up something for the ad team. I'm going to send some ads over to you. If you could fit them into your designs..."

My brain's dying.

"... just so we have something to show them. I'll send you over a brief."

My eyelids are heavy. My brain is rejecting the words coming out of my boss's mouth. I'm 32. Ads? Is that where I'm at? Placing ads?

Suddenly, the 12-year-old Simon is standing next to me. The younger me. He looks at me, looks at the chair I'm sitting in, then at my screen, then back to me. His mouth opens.

"You fucking boring loser."

"Yeah, I know, it's not great but-"

"What have you done with our life?"

"Look. It's not about this. I have an app..."

"Mate, I'm so happy right now... I'm twelve years old and I know I'm gonna be crazy talented and successful. It's a certainty in my mind. But I stand here, looking at you... you're telling me, after 32 years, it's just this? You, sitting there, in an office chair for nine hours a day, every single day?"

I look down at my fingers.

"What the fuck have you been doing?"

"I got a good job. People would kill for the job I have!"

"I thought we swore never to work for anyone else?"

"Look, kid, life isn't really like that. You have to get a job and work."

"You sound like mum. That's all she says every day. And we both know it's bullshit. I mean... I can see it in your eyes. You never stopped believing it's bullshit either. Yet here you are- Why are you shifting about so much?"

"Back hurts."

"You've sat in that chair so long that your back hurts? Look. I'm gonna give you some advice. Fuck. Can't believe I'm giving you advice. I'm twelve. You're like, middle aged. How is it I'm smarter than you? You're gonna quit your job..."

"Bu-"

"Bu-bu-bu- SHHH. Everything good that's ever happened to you, it happened when you quit whatever job it was you had. Don't think about it. Live again. Challenge yourself. Be scared. Be excited. Just move again. Make me proud. Simon, I'm not proud of you right now."

"I know."

"Listen. Now you're old, has anything really changed for you? In your heart, I mean."

"No... when I think hard, deep down, everything is still the same. I'm still you."

"So stop ignoring our heart then."

"That's some corny shit."

"It's corny because it's simple. That's why I'm happy and you're not. You've let life overcomplicate things."

"Look, I got this thing I'm working on. Story. If I can get it going, this job doesn't matter... I'm just here so the thing..."

"Story?"

"Yeah, Story. Story's the thing that will make you proud."

"I like Story. Fight for it."

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

66 - Countdown

10

Story launched a year ago on Christmas Eve. After one year, it has zero users and we haven't pushed out a single update.

9

Our investor abandoned us making the planned development impossible. I spent the last of my money on an unproductive trip to San Francisco and outsourcing development to a woman in India.

8

My life crashed. I moved back in with my parents. It consumed me. Story was left static for months.

7

It feels as close to dead as it can get. I feel as close to dead as I can get.

6

But it's not dead.

5

I've moved back to London. I found a developer who showed me how to replace all the image files. So I went crazy and redesigned everything, I made it pixel perfect. Something I never had a chance to do the first time round.

4

So there's a new version of Story, sitting here. A total redesign coupled with some extra features. The next update of Story is exciting and...

3

... and I have a plan. It uses Story just as it is. It's a great platform, even right now. The plan won't cost us anything, and it will get people using it and loving it. I am so hopeful.

2

I still want it to exist so much. Still, one year later, no one has done anything this simple. It would be crazy to let it die. We've come so far. It takes so much work to turn an idea into a real thing and we've done that. Almost.

1

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

65 - There's always a way


I always say that to myself. I know it's a cliche but it's one I say to myself because there always is. A way. I say it out loud, it's probably as close to being religious as I get. Saying out loud there's always a way. I'm fucking good at finding a way too.

Was moving a sofa into a mate's basement the other day and it wouldn't go. It was a nice pre-made one so it came in one piece and just wouldn't go. PIVOT! All that shit. Mate was really stressed.

He was annoyed because I sat there, not stressed. We'd bought the thing back from London, drove it 40 miles and now couldn't get it down the stairs.

"Why aren't you stressed about this?"

"Because there's always a way." I said. If you just relax, the way always comes to you. Always. Never had the way not come to me.

So I sat, chilled out, and the way came to me. Flipped the thing over, stanley knived the hessian on its underside open, got him to pass me a spanner and found all the nuts and took the thing apart and remade it downstairs.

I mean, that's an obvious way. Only took about ten minutes to find that one. But it was a way.

Always a way.

We could spend another 4k getting a couple more features in Story and it would take another three months. At the end of it, we still wouldn't have any users.

That's not a way.

That hasn't been a way for almost a year now.

So I relaxed.

And found a new way.

Monday, 23 September 2013

64 - First, make an indie movie

So you're a young film director with no experience and no money and you have this brilliant idea for a film. In fact, it's gonna be a summer blockbuster.

Better get to work on it, right? 

No! Of course you don't make a summer blockbuster, you've got no money or experience, how can you? Instead, make an indie movie. Show off what you can do with little resources; get yourself on the map; let the little indie movie shine; attract producers who give you a budget to do something a bit more adventurous. Maybe then you make your summer blockbuster.

You don't just try and make a summer blockbuster with no money you stupid fucking twat!

METAPHOR

Monday, 5 August 2013

63 - In the tunnel

I open my eyes. My flat's empty and quiet. My girlfriend has moved out and everything I own is packed up in boxes. My cat stares at me, she looks depressed. I stretch out across the bed so I can see the side of her head, to see the curl of her mouth so it looks like she's smiling, but she still looks depressed.

I fill up a suit case with clothes. I'm staying at my parents for a while and moving the boxes into storage. The cat cries as I try and get her into her box which makes me cry.

On the Tube, I can sense a girl staring at my cat. I have my head turned in the opposite direction looking down at the floor of the carriage. I'm really making an effort to avoid all conversation. She bends over to look closer into the box. Don't.

"Is that a cat or a rabbit?"

Fuck off.

"Cat." I reply, still looking down and away.

"Awww, what's it's name?"

"Bo."

"Oh! Where are you taking her?"

Split up with my girlfriend didn't I. Empty. Moving out. Heart broken. Staying with my parents. 32. Fuck off. I don't say any of that.

"I'm going on holiday so she gets to stay at my parents." Having the suitcase with me makes this the perfect lie.

"That's nice. Where are you going?"

"I don't know."

"..."

That hangs there a bit. The silence is awkward.

"It's a road trip with a mate." I add. Fuck off?

I picture Paul... me and Paul going on a road trip.

"Lovely! Around Europe?"

Man, she's actually having a conversation with complete lies.

"No, just England." I reply.

"Oh England is lovely. You don't need to leave England to have a really great holiday."

You do.


---


I used to feel like Story was this big thing I was pushing through a tunnel. Sometimes it would be uphill, I'd have to push hard. Sometimes, great things would just happen and it felt like the thing had started rolling on its own. At the end of the tunnel was the light and I felt close to it.

Now, the light is a pin prick in the distance and Story is way way behind me. I want to go back and start pushing again but I'm not. I'm just slowly walking to the pin prick which is getting further away and so is Story.