I’ve been working on tinypapers for a little over a month, if you count the time I spent mentally designing it and the time I spent on learning the basics of Kivy. I still feel kind of nervous about things, because I feel like I’m not much of a competent programmer. I could hope this is Dunning-Kruger effect, and not that I’m actually incompetent, but I’d be deluding myself. There’s a lot to programming, and while I know a lot more about it than the newbie geeks running around the college right now, trying to get signed up, I also know there’s a ton I haven’t gotten to.
I’m staking a lot on my learning ability, here. I know I can pick up the basics of a new programming language in a few weeks. Certainly I can learn the things a class on a programming language teaches in half the time they teach it. But there are things that aren’t taught in those classes, things that aren’t really taught in books… things you have to pick up on your own. I haven’t learned those skills from programming side projects. I came across this profitable little idea before I started on a side project of my own… which is mainly because I was waiting for a way to learn something that can only be taught by doing.
So I guess I’m doing. I’m investing a lot of my time and energy in a really inexperienced fledgling hacker, though.
I am used to making stuff, though. I wrote novels for years, and while I had a bunch that never got beyond two pages because I didn’t like the idea after trying it out, I also managed to turn out about a novel per year (of varying quality) for years–and I started at age ten. RPi Signage counts as a sort of side project, but it’s not very programming-intensive either. I have a fish tank that can go for months without water changes, because it’s as close as you can get to an ecosystem in a box. And of course there’s this blog. I’m good at making things. But I think this is the most complicated thing I’ve tried to make yet.
I’m also not going fast enough for my liking. I work on tinypapers nearly every day for at least a few hours, if you don’t count the time I spend thinking about it… but that’s not startup speed. That’s just the learning speed I’m accustomed to from self-teaching things. I’m still learning, and that takes more energy than building when you know better what you’re doing, so my mental stamina is kind of ehhh there. But my competitors aren’t going to care about that. This project can’t just truck along. It needs to fly.
I have a new goal: I’m going to aim for having a working prototype in two weeks. Just something that has really basic features and probably not a very pretty UI. If I could get a prototype out when tinypapers is only six weeks old, I’d have an easier time convincing myself that I can handle managing a startup.
My gut says three weeks is a more reasonable timeline, considering I’m only halfway through the Kivy book and I may soon be pitching the RPi Project to the Honors Committee at school in order to get credits for working on it (which I think my advisor cares about more than I do; I just want to do it), but I’d rather stretch a bit. Two weeks it is.
School starts three weeks from now. Hopefully I’ll be able to make some new friends and see if there’s maybe a cofounder out there. There are 8,000 students at my community college. I’d say only 600 of them are in techie majors, half of them are programmers, half of those are mostly just interested in game design, and a third of what’s left are adults with ~responsibilities~. The question is, out of the remaining 100, is there someone who’d be willing to run off to San Francisco with an 18-year-old girl and write software and try to convince people it’ll be worth millions of dollars when it’s done?
Then, of course, there’s the thing about whether they’re the sort who won’t take a girl seriously in tech. It happens. Less than 5% of the group I described are like that, though.
I do have someone in mind. Actually, two people I might ask about it. But I don’t know either of them terribly well. One of them is someone I’ll be working with quite a bit more because he wants in on RPi Signage, and I’m angling to be in charge of that. My current friends… well, either their skill set and circumstances are incompatible with what I’m doing, or they’re really not people I’d choose as cofounders.
Wish me luck.