Monday, September 24, 2007

Catalog of Mistakes

8 hours later, I've got both JavaScript and Flash versions compiling from a single source, and am working on installing MogileFS for the full architecture. Never did get to the YC app, though.

Time for a quick catalog of mistakes we've made since we started. I'll add to these as we make more, and then perhaps publish the whole thing once we've overcome them all and actually have an audience. [edit: didn't actually add more, that's what the postmortem is for, but I've added little edits with commentary]

  • Founder on a student visa. Xin had to leave because his visa wouldn't let him work on a startup.
  • Too many uncommitted founders. We started with 5 founders, with a wide degree of commitment between them. It doesn't work - communication overhead eats up any added manpower they provide.
  • Quitting the day job too late. Now that I know the difference in productivity, I definitely would not have stuck with the day job this long. Then again, my opinion may change if we fail or come close to running out of money. [edit: nope, still feel the same way.]
  • It's just too poorly-supported and unpolished at this point, with some design decisions that are just dumb. Will replace with Pylons, probably, but it's a low priority. [edit: and then Django]
  • Cheetah. Mako is better. [edit: and Django is...I dunno about better, but I like the Django + Django package more than Pylons + Mako]
  • Prototype/YUI/Mootools. Ditched all of them in favor of JQuery.
  • Writing too much from scratch. If I had to do it over again, I'd probably use Pylons or Django. Then again, writing from scratch probably gave me new perspectives on how to use the framework features, so it may be unavoidable.
  • Too many side projects. A couple times, I suggested doing a side project "on the off chance" it succeeds. Problem is, if the passion isn't there for the idea, you won't be able to follow-up enough to see whether it'll really succeed. We'd be better off pushing through on our main idea and doing our best to make it succeed. If it fails, *then* is the time for side projects. [edit: OTOH, many of the other opportunities that I'm pursuing came from side projects I did instead of GameClay.]
  • Yeah, we found out that putting "rejected by" in the name of anything isn't a good way to get users. And the replacement "Bootstrapacitor" was too vague.
  • Diffle the Flash games site - if there are hundreds of competitors already, nobody is going to pay attention to the hundred-and-1st.
  • Not explaining what the site is about - it's not always obvious to other people.
  • The attempt to get an IP release and protect us from claims that we developed software while employed by someone else failed. Employer wouldn't sign it. It may be moot anyway, since it looks like we'll end up rewriting nearly everything by the time we actually re-launch.

Will add to these as more come up. Time for the Heroes season premiere now...


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