Monthly Archives: February 2014

Taking a breather for week 9

It was an intense week for me, a bunch of events and commitments. It wasn’t very busy for Moonpuch, though. Many times it’s this Monday evening that makes things clearer and moves things forward. This means that Horrible Clarity is achieving its goal. Also, have found that there’s a name for such things as the original Horrible Clarity group I wanted to set up, and it’s mastermind groups.

Laptop and external monitor showing engineering design.
Casing design for a project in FreeCAD

Last week

Spent more time with alternate, short term projects. Besides giving some talks, organizing events, I’ve been working on some hardware designs. That made me realize, that FreeCAD that I wanted to dive in deeper for a long time, is a really sensitive beast. A lot of bugs and difficulties, but also very interesting features (especially like sketches with automatic constraints for drawing a part). Also realized that there are other options too, e.g. OpenSCAD and LibreCAD (if I’m staying in open source, which is my aim) – need to check them too.

The FPGA consulting project was updated, and the goals have changed along the way. The main problem kinda solved itself by me not doing anything, which is not good, but the new direction is very interesting, which is better. Got lucky this time, can’t rely on that.

Made new contacts, and new good leads to find relevant partners in this endeavour. Require good, meaningful follow up.

This week

The theme is stepping back.

Take a thoughtful rest. It’s no good if I burn myself out prematurely (or rather: at all) in the process of pulling everything together. It feels I need to pull the figurative plug for at least a day or two, otherwise I’ll be just wasting my time.

Do at least one iteration of the business model canvas, probably more than one, to see what models I have thought of along the way, what do I think now, and whether there’s any learning opportunity that I have not finished with? What contacts I should get back to and missed to do that; what leads I had that I haven’t followed up on; what crossroads I haven’t made a decision on yet. Clear out the cognitive backlog.

Make progress on studying the skills I’m likely to need (and definitely want) CAD, FPGAs, community management. Have a good idea what I want to achieve with them.

Don’t go missing week 8

As I can tell from self-reflection, some of the things I’m doing are getting better, even if slowly. I’m hacking my system, and getting a more favorable outcome day by day. The important part is though that this process cannot be as slow as it is now, as slow that I run out of steam/resources before getting anywhere.

Little things that I have found to make a difference:

  • Have breakfast before getting to my “office” (whether it is a coffee shop, or the Taipei Hackerspace, as it is these days). This focuses better the start of the day, makes me feel different. Also, it feels better that the breakfast is spent with eating, not semi-working or news reading or entertainment.
  • Have a list of things I want to do at any particular sitting, and start any effort with writing such a list, even if I know at that time what I want. Again much better focus, closer to the “eyes on the prize” attitude. Procrastination and getting off-topic is much less likely.

Yeah, life hacking, but have to start somewhere.

Electroluminescent wire horse from a hackerspace build night
Electroluminescent wire horse from a hackerspace build night

Last week

This was a fundamentally unproductive week. If I try to think of a reason why it was like that, probably because I decided I need to have some alternative funding source (freelancing, part-time, full-time job, other short term project) to keep things afloat. This caused the re-prioritization of all things Moonpunch. It’s probably acceptable (and/or necessary) in the short term, but whatever happens, will keep the ball rolling – as long as there’s any progress, the patient can recover.

From an experience on another project I finally realized first hand how does it feel things moving forward much quicker if there’s more than one person on a team. Being so closely accountable does wonders, especially if the aims are aligned (not as employer-employee, but on the same level). Made me think that indeed there might be a pretty good reason to have a co-founder, if I find a match. Of course I know this, but there’s difference between knowing and knowing. Good to learn from different experiences and apply the lessons across the board, including here.

Found, the Single Founder Support Network, which has a pitch very similar to this Horrible Clarity. Signed up for kicks, nothing seem to have started yet. The FounderDating messages are going largely unread from my mailbox to the bin, but there are a few interesting ones. Keeping all this to the minimum, though, not priority.

This week

It’s getting old, but electronic circuit design is still high up on my list. Pretty much as I described it last week, just with actual actions taken…

High time to re-do the business model canvas. Need the insights given by that tool to achieve the desired focus. I think I especially have blind spots at finding the right partners to move this forward (left side of the canvas),  and customer relationship (middle right).  Once those parts are clearer, get back on networking (with the right people), developing, and learning from it.

Crashing into week 7

There are some things that are easy to do, and others that are good to do. If anything, these days I am more distracted by the easy stuff, the shiny new things, that most of my efforts are lost – not absolutely, just from the point of view of this project. Fortunately this cannot go on much longer: in short order either it will all crash, or I learn how to get over all this. In the meanwhile it feels like a mad dash of bumper cars.

Bumper cars in action
A big hot mess

Last week

I have had the chance to have not one but two in depth discussions with people I respect very much and apparently went down on similar path as I am trying – just they are much further ahead. One of them quite pessimistic about the premise of this project because of their experience, the other one is quite optimistic with reservation, and both foreshadow a lot of competition and difficulties ahead. If I think about it, I don’t think I have a better idea than either of them, but the way I want to solve the problems is somewhat different. Everyone brings in their own biases into a project, and so far I haven’t learned any lessons to discard mine. At the very least, they inspire me to take a much harder look at my premises – something I know of course, but there’s difference between knowing and knowing….

… and that was a week passed. How?

This week

The electronic circuit design hasn’t happened yet, because I keep reconsidering what I should be doing. This is not how it should be. At this stage any design (from the previously selected ones) is better than no design, and researching it. Have something to illustrate my proposition.

Most important: keep the eyes on the prize. Never too late to start, and definitely never too early to start either. Find some (limited) amount of time do dig deeper, come up with strategies to try at this stage, stakeholders to engage. Focus.

… other things, let’s just try to evaluate them in retrospect in one week.

How’s it going, week 6

With the Chinese New Year welcoming the year of the Horse going on last weekend (and actually still going on right now for most people), time flies and stands still in the same time. Lots of things to take care of according to the traditions, and barely anything can be arranged outside that because of the holiday. Not sure how much of an excuse it is, but it is a good time to reflect, learn, readjust, figure out which way to go when getting “back to business” in the next few days.

Also, I need to catch up with this weekly review, since shamefully week 5 is missing.

The winning hand of mahjong
Winning at mahjong – playing with handicap as an outsider. Now here’s an analogy for doing a startup.

Last two weeks

Been continuing the online courses I’ve started. Finished with Content Strategy for Professionals. It wasn’t bad, and got a few interesting pointers, though feels too “professional”: repetitive, shallow, feels a lot rota learning instead of understanding. The host professor appears to be capable of much more than this. I took things away from it though, let’s see what stays on the long run. The Critical Perspectives on Management is still going on, and I think it’s a really good find. Not necessarily for this project directly, but improving on me as a person, and that’s something. The Embedded Systems course started too, but haven’t checked it out yet – should because it would tie in very well in what I’m trying to do here, as well as my work with the Taipei Hackerspace.

Restarted reading The Art of Community (can get the PDF of the book from the website), as pretty much everything I do somehow ties in with community building. Have some really good ideas and good pointers (about 1/5th in), will have to apply what I find especially to the community I’m trying to set up, since I think it should be the core of the project.

Been following (loosely) some conversations on Founder Dating, and it looks refreshing that there are real startup founders discussing real issues, which I can relate to even if it does not directly apply to my line of business. After reading one of the conversation people had there, I set up a company presence on AngelList, besides being on LinkedIn. This should look like a pure vanity thing, but looking around there I have already found a few other  interesting local startups that seem to share ideas and philosophy, and could  be partners in some of my activities, eg. the scientific instruments conference I am trying to set up. It’s not just the right side of the Business Model Canvas (the customers) one has to take care of, but the left side (key partners) as well.

Indeed, a lot of discussion and learning in this last two weeks, that I feel have advanced my understanding and put me on a better course, but with a delay – taking action however is way overdue.

This week

Narrow down first line potential partners, and reach out to them as soon as possible: other companies and people within companies, universities, researchers. Draw up a list of what do I need from each of them, how does it fit into the bigger picture, and how would it benefit them as well – so I can engage them more effectively.

Rethink the hardware design I was working on. If I really want to build things on continuous improvement (as opposed to some single big-bang product), then maybe I can do a couple of steps back, and use a design that is more approachable, both for me and the potential target audience, even if there is better design already. (Unless I can score some serious help to jump this step).

… and this time keep the list short, see if I can get further along with them, if I try to grab less.