“I thought of that”
Have you ever seen a product or service and thought to yourself, “I had that idea!”. Many of us have had the desire to move in a direction, but for a host of reasons never went for it. Whether it was for a pretty face across the bar, a new career, or trying a new sport. Taking something from idea to execution is full of unknowns which can sway us to stay in our comfort zone, talk ourselves out of a dream and settle for the routine. This is the story of me moving on an idea and developing an app.
The idea for the app was born on a chairlift. After a decade in Whistler, I have had numerous chairlift conversations, often leading to a few laps on the mountain with a new friend. It was an incredible opportunity for me to show someone ‘my mountain’ - taking someone down an area they would never have found on their own, and giving them the run of their vacation was an amazing feeling for me. This simple act of sharing my backyard with someone new was often repeated, and these encounters lead me to think of a new business concept which connected locals with high level riding tourists. These tourists didn’t need a lesson - they simply needed a riding partner to show them around the mountains and share a beer with.
After spending months refining the idea and lining up the necessities for the proposal to the resort, the meeting fell flat, and the concept was turned down I shredded for the rest of the season, then returned to New Brunswick to visit my family. After the hugs, I hoped in the car and started driving back to the mountains. Somewhere in Quebec the idea of developing an app hit me, by Saskatchewan the idea broadened further. Skiing is not the only activity with this problem, the issue is the same with most activities. How can I connect people to find others that share their passion,skill level and free time?
The Age of Caveman Drawings :
So what do you do when you have an idea for an app and a flip phone? You throw everything against the wall and see what sticks, literally. For over a year, I had a sheet of butchers paper on the wall, which I would scribble full of every thought and idea, draw lines, cross out concepts, add, delete and repeat. I would rip down a sheet and place a fresh canvas up and continue the process of thought, analysis, move in one direction and then scap it again and start over. The world of analog was working a digital concept. After a year of this, a solid idea of version 1 was formed.
The unknown unknowns
How to take the sketches and turn them into screenshots and wireframe? Self learning has never been an issue for me but learning a whole new set of skills, rediscovering old talents, and teaching myself basic understanding of a new industry was a whole amazing journey. Overcoming the doubt and fear, the long hours that lead nowhere, false starts and finishes, led me to understand that success is only a straight line if you stand far enough back from it. I realized that in reality,success is a daily struggle of motivation, a balance of time, and sheer determination. That straight line is in actuality, when you get close to it, a series of peaks and valleys, and being pushed upward by never giving up.
Connecting with the Right Partners
Taking it from MS paint to wireframe is where version 1 goes to version 3.6.14. After months of moving ideas around (and into the bin) the final mockups were ready for some learned hands to turn them into a functioning app. I thought this would be an easy task was a very wrong assumption. Dealing with coders on the other side of the world led to many dead ends. Language, time zones, expectations, false promises, and personalities are just a few of the challenges I faced on skype interviews. After four months of interviews, the right person finally answered the call.
Did you ever want a job tasting ice cream? Sounds like a dream job. But after awhile the repetition of something great can feel tedious and frustrating. This is beta testing a project you have spent a year working on. Finding the proverbial easter eggs of errors always leads to another week of coding, another round of whack-a-mole where each error seems to spawn two new ones and then the cycle repeats. Once the final cycle is done and the version counter has ticked its last tick, it was time to let my friends test and start the process again. This will teach you patience more than a screaming child on a plane.
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