Memiary + Lessons of a Weekend Entrepreneur

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Editor’s note: this post is 100% biased. Please take it for what it is.

Hello folks! I haven’t moved to Mars. Or at least, yet. I’ve just been busy, as I’m sure you’re used to hearing by now. So before I inform you about my latest launch, Memiary, I guess I should give you a quick lowdown of what’s been happening with Nincha: we are close to completion, really excited about the economic downturn, and have lots and lots of bug/beta testing to do (passionate testers welcome) — we will be likely launching publicly at the end end of this year, or maybe start of next.

So with that, it’s time to talk about my latest launch, Memiary (pronounced ‘memory.’) What is it? As the homepage explains: “Don’t you wish you could remember five interesting things you did last Friday? Meet Memiary. Record up to five memories of your day and make them memorable forever. Memiary is the weightless pocket diary.”

I guess I could review it, but I think what you are looking for in these biased situations are insights, not opinions, so I’ll cover the problem, the story, the idea, and then tell you about what I’ve learned in the process. But before I do that, feel free to go to it, sign up, and try it out. (Biased: Easiest. Sign up. Process. Ever. Believe me, I’ve been through a thousand.) If you’ve tried it out and want to skip directly to what I’ve learned, click here.

The Problem

So here’s my problem: I have a bad memory. A really bad one. If you asked me what happened five hours ago, I couldn’t tell you to save my wallet, let alone day, week, month, year. I forget fast, and the pictures I take on occasional trips and my daily tweets are not enough for me to catalog my life. I can feel the ten-year-later Sid hating himself for not preserving the events, moments, and actions which surrounded his life in 2008.

The Story

Last weekend on a really really rainy Saturday night, I was sipping a cup of hot chocolate and staring at the latest copy of Fast Company magazine. And then I had this idea. But it didn’t just come to me in an instant — it was the result of constant subconcious pondering of the problem I stated in the above paragraph. I really had been thinking about this for months. I just didn’t know it.

As soon as I got the idea, I sent out a e-mail to a couple close friends of mine and asked for feedback. In this time, I got the chance to put it on ‘paper’ for the first time, and boy did it look promising. After getting some quick feedback, I started to work on it, spent all of Sunday drinking Coke Zero and writing code, and I had a pretty simple product built within 25 hours of conceiving the idea. On Monday, I launched it, let my friends and family know, gained a ton of feedback, have been perfecting it for the last week, and I am finally getting the chance to talk about it to the world here at Rev2. In other words: I became an entrepreneur over the weekend. And what was supposed to be a weekend project ended up occupying my whole week.

The Idea

Before I get to the idea, and before you tell me how bad it is, let me just debunk all the alternative solutions to my problem I mentioned above. I will lift this with great pride from the Memiary about page:

  • Diaries are for 10 year-old girls and those with ample time and commitment.
  • Twitter is too broad, current, and you can’t sort through timeframes or jump to a date.
  • Text documents are too messy, insecure, and lack usefulness.
  • Todo lists and calendars are there to plan your future, not remember your past.
  • Blogging has evolved into journalism, demands commitment, and doesn’t feel personal.

So now with that settled, here’s my attempt to sum it up without copying the homepage pitch and trying to sound stylishly terse:

A minimal/simple/easy/quick way to catolog/remember/preserve/record five interesting/important/notable/memorable moments/thoughts/events/experiences that take place in your day-to-date life. Like a diary, but much, much better.

How it works: you enter an e-mail, choose a password, and list up to five interesting moments of your day that you would like to remember forever. You’re answering this question: What did you do today?. Your canvas: a 1 – 5 list with textboxes. These are saved, and you can come back and edit/delete them anytime today. But chances are, you are doing this at 11am, so you probably won’t need to. Tomorrow, you’ll have a fresh blank list, and you can do the same to things which happened to you or you did tomorrow. And the day after, and the day after. These will take two minutes to do each day, and a year later when you look back, you’ll be glad you did.

What I’ve Learned

Typically, like last year, I would be writing about a tool like Memiary. But this time, I created it. And it’s been out for about a week, in which time I have tried to get every family member/friend/colleague of mine to try it out (as I said, I am talking about it for the first time to the public.) So obviously, there are things I’ve learned.

First Lesson: You Are Your Bestest User.

I created Memiary for me. Only for me. I wanted this to exist, and since it didn’t, I made it happen. I believe a lot of entrepreneurs work this way, and for the ‘quick and scrappy’ kind of a project it was, it only seems appropriate that I did it just for myself. I don’t think this is selfish, I think it’s natural. Who else would you be able to better judge the wants, needs, desires of than yourself?

In your life, the only person you get to know best is yourself, and if you want something, chances are, so do many others in the world. But if they don’t, that’s more than okay. You spent a weekend creating something you want. What could be more productive than that?

Second Lesson: Quick + Scrappy != Year’s Work + Perfect

The process of building Memiary was extremely different, and in many ways opposite, of the way we have been working at Nincha. Nincha is something I have been working on for the past year and a half, and other than my co-founder and myself, nobody in the world has seen it yet. We purposely chose to work this way as we’ve believed from the start that our duty is to deploy to the world a perfect product, not something half-baked. Having written about 1,000 startups at Rev2, I have seen a lot of half-baked products fail, and my goal with Nincha from the start has been not to make it one of those.

I still believe in the philosophy I have been following with Nincha, but Memiary was different. Unlike Nincha, it is not a grande idea, it is a personal tool; a weekend project, and I intentially kept it as simple as possible. So in this case, I wanted to be a weekend entrepreneur, and this is the only way I could have best done it. And I did it. And I can tell you, no one way I described is better than the other. Infact, they don’t even compete. It all depends on the scale of the idea and the amount of time you are willing to spend on it. If it’s big, you want to do it right, if it’s personal or something you thought of over the weekend, you might as well deploy it to the world, start collecting feedback, and reiterate like crazy over the following weekends.

Third Lesson: Define Success

For Nincha, I am not going to lie and tell you that my definition of success is to be a bootique service used by mother. My definition of success for it is high, and probably higher than what is humanly achievable. But for Memiary, I have no shame in telling you that my definition of success was strictly restricted, from the start, to two things: make a service that I use everyday and love, love, love, and make a service that my mother uses everyday without me having to remind her about it.

And I am delighted to say this: I have succeeded. I love the service, have used it for the past six days, and so has my mother. What happens to it from this point on is purely unintentional and beyond my wildest imagination. My only focus is for me and my mother to keep using it for the next ten months, and I have no benchmark to reach on Alexa or Google Analytics. By seeing even 10 pageviews per day, I have surpassed it. Bottom-line: different ideas, different scales, different amounts of effort, different definitions of success.

Conclusion

I recommend each and every developer to become a weekend entrepreneur. If you’re not one, learn PHP or Ruby on Rails and become one! It will teach you most things entrepreneurs spend their lives discovering, and it will do so in a week. Additionally, you will have intellectual property that you yourself created, own, and are extremely proud of, and something to tell and show your friends, family, and anyone you meet with great pride. When you wake up in the mornings, you will get a tingly feeling as you check your Google Analytics account and see whether anyone new has signed up to try it out, or if a blogger has covered it. It will make your life better in ways unimaginable, and more importantly, lives of people you never intended to ever affect. And your mom will be proud. Go for it.


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