Thursday, 30 August 2012

9 - The competition

"Giving people an easier way to communicate 
is the most powerful thing you could ever do..."

[pause for effect]

"... Story does that."


Me and Paul had a discussion (argument) about this blog. He thinks it's written like we're a couple of arseholes doing a thing.

The reality is, for the last five months, our days have been planning Story's every detail. With breaks of absolute excitement. Followed by fits of anxiety as it still feels so far away. 

We both want to use Story so bad. Everyone we show wants to use it. And we all want to use it in real different ways. That's what I love most. It's going to be such a rich and dynamic thing.

We haven't seen anything out there that does what we do. The ones kiiinda similar are complex. They're like overloaded swiss army knives made of candy. Story is a hammer. Its simplicity is obvious. We barely need sell for this thing (despite all this talk).

We're so proud of it. Not only are we creating something but we're creating something amazing and for everyone. It's a blinder.

Finally, this is Paul's iPhone. And this guy's worried about me.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

8 - Meet the money guy

Jamie is one of Paul's old bosses. He started a company while he was at university selling glasses online. It became big. Not sure but I think he sold most of what he owned but is still a chairman.

Paul had emailed him explaining our app. He loved it and hinted at getting on board helping with the start-up costs. So we met up in a pub to discuss further.

He's very well spoken but also laid back. I raised my eyebrows when he pulled his phone from his jacket and it was a Blackberry. The bit covering the battery was missing off the back of it too.

We told him that the development costs were going to be 15k. He said he would love to go thirds with each of us putting in 5k and then splitting the equity of the company three ways. We said cool, we'll be in touch soon.

Me and Paul went to another pub where I had a freak out about someone who will contribute nothing (what's 5k really?) yet will own a third of our idea. And that I'd rather get a bank loan. And that it wasn't fair. Paul explained that this is how business works and that he'd be contributing a lot more than just five grand (Jamie had said he'd top the money up when the development needed it). Paul explained that ideas (basically all we have right now) are cheap and that Jamie knew a lot about actually starting and running companies and knew a lot of people (lawyers/tech people etc.)

I realised I was being an amateur and accepted that this guy would be a great guy to partner up with. It also helped when he confirmed he didn't want to get in our way in the day to day running of the app. He'd leave that all to us. A silent partner.

So that was £5000 sorted. The other ten was easy. Paul borrowed five from his wife. I borrowed five from my parents. My dad said something about owning 10% of my 33.3% but I think he was joking.

Everything is becoming very real. We are talking to one of Jamie's expensive lawyers to write up a simple contract splitting the equity between me, Paul and Jamie and we are deciding on a company name.

We probably won't be able to get just 'Story' so may try for 'Story Board', geddit? Yeah you get it!

Monday, 27 August 2012

7 - Meet the coder

We met Filippo at a pub and showed him the video. Paul used to work with him making websites but when he saw the whole iOS thing coming he quit his job, learnt how to make apps and set up on his own. Paul says he's a good guy.

"So how much do you think an app like this will cost? Like, if you made it for us..."

Filippo thinks for a couple of minutes, "Maybe around 15 thousand." ($23,720)

This is a discounted price as he really wants to work on this thing. Like 40% cheaper than what he'd quote a regular client. Me and Paul go to the toilet. Whilst pissing, Paul says, "Soooo I don't have any money. You?"


"What are we gonna do?" as he does up his flies.

I'm still going. "Don't know." I say, "All I know is that we'll get the money. Bank loan... borrow it off people... whatever, this thing is getting built."

"It is." Paul exits. I finish up and feel really excited. Having a number slapped onto our idea brings it one step closer to becoming real.

A few days later Paul sends Filippo over the wireframe (basically a blueprint of the app, what all the buttons do etc.) Here's a couple of pages from that:

Filippo sends us a more specific cost sheet with the amount of hours each part of the app will take to build. It comes to 16K. Yeesh. We'd pay half at the start and the other half at the end.

8K each. Neither of us have ever had that much money. We tell him we'll get him the money.

Friday, 24 August 2012

6 - Ashton Kutcher

Let's do a recap.

It's been four months since we had the idea. We have the whole thing mapped out and designed and a video with a really catchy song (Afternoon by Youth Lagoon).

But we don't have anything real, you know? No real product, just an idea. I felt kinda guilty about that as Paul didn't want to fuck around picking colours for four months, he wanted to get on with it.

At this point I go on holiday to America.

While I'm there, I decide it's time to find some investors. Piece of piss! Ashton Kutcher, I'm thinking. He loves investing in apps and this app is the shit. I know, if he just saw the video, we'd be partying in LA that night, him shoving money into my pockets and he'd also really love me.

Hmm, how to get in contact with Ashton Kutcher... I check his twitter and he has 12 million followers. Forget that. I keep thinking. There's always a way.

Then it hit me.

I know this guy whose job is booking magazine cover stories (A lot of my career has been working in magazines). This guy has booked every famous person for the last twenty years.

I facebook him saying I need Ashton Kutcher's contact details.

He sends me back Ashton Kutcher's manager's contact details. Wow. Always a way.

So I send this woman an email like... hang on... I'll dig it out.

Hi Stephanie, 
I'm making an app that Ashton Kutcher would be interested in.
Me and my business partner are after funding so we thought we'd start at the top. Kutcher invests in social apps. I know if he saw this he'd want a piece.  
The app is for sharing stories. It's insanely simple and it's crazy no one's thought of it yet. But they haven't. It might even change the entire publishing industry. It's called Story.  
Watch the video here, it has a really catchy song: 
This is the real deal.  
Hope you're well,

This is the real deal? Can't believe I wrote that. Whatever, there's always a way. 

Meanwhile, Paul, back in the UK, had coded the website and had set up a meeting with an old work colleague called Filippo who had started his own company making iOS apps. He also contacted an old boss who's really successful in the tech world and knows loads of tech people and really loves our idea. And has money.

We never heard back from Ashton Kutcher.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

5 - The movie

We needed a demo video.

Paul was like, "We do?" Totally. We show a video to investors and they'll be falling over themselves to throw money at us.

I didn't know how to do video. One of my best mates does video so I asked him. He was like, "Sure." So I tell Paul, "It's cool, Matt will do the video. Probably take like three days tops."

So I'm getting the screen shots ready for Matt to animate and I phone him and he's like, "Huh? I don't do animation." I'm like, "Matt? But you do video, that's your thing." And he's like, "Yeah but I don't do motion graphics." I'm like, "You doing video but not motion graphics is like me designing text but not pictures." He's like, "not really" or something. So I'm like, okay I'll fucking learn it myself and I did and here's the video:

(Here's Matt's site if you wanna use him for any editing work - he's good)

4 - Books are dead

The book icons. They never sat well with me. They looked old and dusty and, I dunno, restrictive:

I had to come up with something a little less obvious. A bit more abstract. So this is what we're using right now:

These icons still look 'bookish' so you know there's gonna be content behind them. But more abstracted. They glow from the inside. I said "like the suitcase in Pulp Fiction" and Paul liked it.

NERDOUT: Both these icons are transparent overlays that can be applied over any image.

3 - Designing the thing

Take a look at this:

White screen with some booky looking icons on it. Real simple. Barely even designed. Like a Mondrian. Like the original iPod. Like some Deiter Rams thing.

It started like this, this is the first rough:

Paul was like "Looks like shit mate." It really does. Whatever, it was the rough. The next major design stage was this:

Then this, it was this for weeks. Note the nav bar at the top and bottom:

Before finally looking like this (lost the bottom nav but none of the function - total simplicity):

So yeah, this to this... :

... took three months and this much work:

Sunday, 19 August 2012

2 - Day two

Yeah that was it. Paul wanted to make a cooking app where you share pictures of your cooking journey. I was like no, this app will let people share everything. Paul muttered something about only wanting to share the meals he cooks. But I wanted to upload all the pictures I take of weird people on the Tube and write something extremely funny about each one. I said to Paul that this app should share text as well as pictures. Paul muttered something about allowing photo captioning but he wasn't up for full on text.

Paul hates text but he was an adult about it and backed down.

And Story hasn't really changed since day two.

Next up, time to design the thing!

1 - Beginning

We were slagging off Path, that Facebook clone, and Paul says something like, "I thought Path was gonna be this cool app for sharing photo stories. Like, sharing a journey with your friends..."

That was the seed, as soon as he said that the idea exploded. I instantly saw an app that was so simple; book icons that open up into blog-style posts. So simple, you post and follow people like on twitter.

That's the start of Story's story.

People are always searching for an idea; something to grow. Mostly, ideas are forced into existence. But all the greatest ideas are so simple. They appear so easily that we wonder how they haven't always existed.

CORRECTION: Scrub that, Paul says the idea started from a cooking app he wanted to make.