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Gotta be Mobile


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This piece will be fun. This is where I was able to make all the necessary rookie mistakes that any viable programmer needs to go through. Sorry for the lack of images or reference material but everything in this project was destroyed on a whim; details to come. I do have a logo up above though!

So to start, whilst in college my brother from another David Westerhoff asked if I would be interested on working on this idea. Essentially it was a Linkedin for fitness freaks and personal trainers alike. Any silicon valley kid automatically says yes to these kind of things.

So us and two other developers, going to remain unnamed - am also going to keep the name of the company unnamed just in case, ventured on this task. I myself got programming A.D.H.D and wanted to learn it all. I jumped in on backend Django (Yes, we do not enjoy Django now that we've tried Django) development, MySQL database administrating, Google app engine + AWS exploration, Bootstrap web dev, Android and than eventually over to helping refactor iOS code. Lets say my T graph of expertise was a little too wide at this point. The mistakes were real, we even fell ill to MVC. Gotta love Ray Wenderlich. We missed out on any sort of process for deliverables, viable timelines, code standards and framework, or reasonable testing. A true hacked together startup.

The year long hackathon further blew up in our face when we realized we had different ideas of how to go to market. Only Dave and I were in agreement we stick to one key feature, make sure it has some place in the market, and get really good at serving that. We wanted to get the social aspect of connecting with trainers or workout buddies locked. However, employee number one (leaving it at that in terms of title) was set on having the ability to send workouts, manage progress, have instructional videos, track calorie intake, and I can't remember the never ending list of features. This is all good and well to aim high but our ability to execute on that was dismal at best. Thus began the bumps in the road in terms. Being synced up from the get go is one of the highest priorities, finding out after months of developing is inevitably very painful. Lets end this note there and save some gory details.

Around this time, Dave and myself were leaving sunny San Diego and moving back to the bay area due to the completion of college. This is where things really got out of hand. Employee number one had already been exhibiting totalitarian traits throughout the developing stages. The hardest part of any startup is the human aspect, I know, but this is where it went very south. His version of covering his ass was to have his cousin, acting as our lawyer, draw up employee contracts that to say the least were not in our favor. For example, if we missed a phone call and did not call back we got deducted equity. If we didn't log enough hours during the week, we got deducted equity. Don't sign the finalized contracts (we weren't even incorporated yet) with equity compensation subject to change, we lost all our equity. Keep in mind, we had already gone through the ringer to get a viable app to spark interest on our own time FOR FREE. The need to contractually lock us in since we were going remote was not the best move. After neither of us took to this well, we subsequently got blocked from any SVN, repo, or cloud service. Boom - how fast it can all fall apart. At this point, covering our own ass was all we could do and laugh at the fact we had local copies, git logs to prove out contributions, and last but not least unsigned contracts.

The practical experience in failing in all areas of development and business were priceless. I'd never say this was time wasted, it is almost a right of passage. And this is my version of just that. Hope you enjoyed.

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