John Omar Serial Builder

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Powwow Progress Report - Week 2

Mar 28, 2017

I'm starting an internet company and detailing the entire process: cost of development, time invested, people involved, features added, marketing strategy, revenue, and more.
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See the week 1 update.

This week I’ll write about vulnerability, my routine, show screenshots of the app, and tell you what’s on the agenda this week.

Week 2 Overview

I’m still trying to figure out the best way to structure these posts. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

On being vulnerable

Sharing information about starting a business is hard. Adding in personal details like how many hours I work and how much money I am making is even harder. Although the response from my email last week was extremely positive, there were some negative comments that hurt at first. One person asked why he should consider me an expert on starting businesses since my last company failed.

It took me 10 minutes to remember that I never claimed expertise in starting businesses, and that even though my last company didn’t IPO, I did manage to travel the world for five years with the money I made. I actually appreciate the response from this person. His perspective on success made me remember why last week I decided to introduce this weekly post by saying “I am starting an internet company” rather than “I am starting a startup.”

Side note: my feelings aren’t hurt. Feedback, positive and negative, helps me grow. That’s why I am detailing this journey.

Startup or Internet Company

According to Paul Graham: Startup = Growth.

A company that grows at 1% a week will grow 1.7x a year, whereas a company that grows at 5% a week will grow 12.6x. A company making $1000 a month (a typical number early in YC) and growing at 1% a week will 4 years later be making $7900 a month, which is less than a good programmer makes in salary in Silicon Valley. A startup that grows at 5% a week will in 4 years be making $25 million a month.

If Powwow grows at rates mentioned in the article, which we most certainly want it to, then it is by Graham’s definition a startup. The contradiction is that growth isn’t the only thing we want. We want to build a company that promotes remote work. We want to try new ways to motivate employees that don’t revolve around stock options with unknown value. And we want the ability to not grow when circumstances call for it.

We’re an internet company that aims for sustainability and flexibility.

My routine

Several of you emailed me last week asking about my routine. This is very detailed.

I wake up naturally some time between 6:00am and 7:30am. I immediately get dressed, brush my teeth, drink a glass of freshly squeezed lemon water, and leave the house. Within 15 minutes of waking I am sitting at a cafe drinking espresso and coding.

I code upon waking up because I am sharpest at that time. After about 4 hours in the cafe I walk to a supermarket to buy ingredients for lunch and dinner. This is also the time I’d go to the gym if it’s Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday.

That’s 4 hours of deep work before lunch. No social media or emails.

By 11:30am I am home cooking lunch. I watch a TV series while cooking or talk to my wife if she’s home. We eat, and then I nap and/or read and/or watch another series until around 3pm. The suspense is over - 3pm is the time when I finally shower.

That’s a 3-4 hour lunch break. How would my future venture capitalists feel about that?

I’m back at my computer at 3:15 doing things that are less intense than coding: back and forth on design mockups with Khari, emails, writing posts like this, getting up to date on industry news, checking up on analytics. These one-off tasks could take several hours, or not much time at all. I usually don’t code in the afternoon, but I will if I feel inspired. Like in the last 14 days since I started Powwow, I’ve felt inspired to code a lot more than usual in the afternoon/evening.

3 hours and 45 minutes of work.

We eat dinner at 7. Most nights I cook for my wife. Otherwise we go to a restaurant. After dinner we might watch a movie or do some other activity. Some nights we stay home. If inspired, I’ll keep coding. We’re in bed by 10:30. I read spy novels until I fall asleep.

Some days I don’t feel like working so I don’t. Sometimes I have family obligations. No problem. But mostly I happily repeat this routine 7 days a week.

Total work count: 8 - 11 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Powwow screenshots

Now that you know how I work, let me show you what we’ve accomplished in 14 days.

You can see threads on the left pane, and all messages on the right side. Threads were auto generated based on Lorem Ipsum. The colors for each thread were also auto generated.

You can narrow into a thread to view only its messages.

And you can further narrow into a topic to view only those messages.

When you write a new message, you are always adding it to a thread and topic. That way, several conversations happening in big chat communities are kept nice and neat, and easy to navigate.

That’s the compact view for mobile or smaller container divs.

What’s next

My todo list is in the README file of the app. It’s not Basecamp or Trello, but it works for us right now. Copy and pasted here:

What do you want to know?

What do you think of this format for the weekly progress reports? Did I skip anything that you’d like to be updated on each week? What else do you want to know about how I work? I respond to all emails from my mailing list, and am active on twitter.


Get on the mailing list for future progress reports.

Until next week.