The Idea Dude


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Our fate is in the Cards

Finally I can announce the first (hopefully many) Play Project from Play Dynamics. It's called Carddit. You can find it here in the Apple AppStore

Why Carddit? Play Dynamics has always been about Play. We wanted to pick something that would embody our vision, culture and ideas. We chose cards because everyone understands how cards, decks, deals, and trades work. We weren't teaching a new concept. We also thought that photos today should be more than just a post with a filter. It should be about wrapping the photo in a frame (in our case it's a card). Add the stuff the matters, the date, a title, a description. And then to treasure that card in your deck. Finally to share that treasure with others and of course, collect it from others too.

Too often our applications are developed to make us more efficient, make stuff faster but we lose the moment, we lose the play. Imagine that last loving kiss on your date was just a peck on your cheek. Imagine eating lobster and steak at your fast food joint. Imagine ice-cream came in a pill. It's all efficient but what happened to the experience?

With Carddit, we took so long (maybe too long) obsessing about the experience. It had to make you feel good before you even shared the photo. It had to make you feel good receiving one. I hope we succeeded. The best test is whether we would want to use it. My co-founder Sharleen made 1,500 cards during our testing. They weren't just the same picture of a coffee cup but while it was for testing, each had some personal relevance. Some were there because it made her laugh (like the memes), some made her cry (because they brought back poignant moments in her life) and some made her sigh (like albums, um decks, of her children as they grew up.

So if Carddit doesn't make you smile, sigh or cry (not because of the bugs), please drop us a line and let us know because then we failed in our intent. They laughed at me at the beginning when I said my measure of success would be that every user touched Carddit at least once a day. If you could see our feature list for the next 3 versions, you'll realize despite how audacious it may sound, it is plausible.

My parents are in the 80's. This is the very first software product, I feel I can explain and load on their iPad and get them to use. I can't wait to show them. Perhaps that sentiment is all I validation I need, "did I do the right thing?"

It's a long post, but I need to make a quick shoutout to all the people who participated in the dream. Many have taken huge drops in salary to make it happen. Along the journey, I've picked up some of the smartest people I know. We've given 15 students an incredible insight of what it means to be in a startup and learn to write for web and iphones.

So many thanks to all my friends/colleagues/advisers at Play Dynamics. Sharleen (my co-founder), Tony, John, Bert, Emily, Ke, Emily, Robert, Tim, Javier, Roy, Aaron, Lily, Abbas, Sinthu, Zac, Mubushir, Sanghoon, Rajan. And yes to my family (Karen, Nick, Courtney and Mozart-the Carddit Cat), I will finally be home for dinner.

Now that the cards have been dealt, it finally feels Play Dynamics is on its way.

This is my favorite card of the day

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pi after midnight

It isn't quite four score and twenty years but it has been a long time since I updated this blog. Elvis hadn't left the building. On the contrary, his lack of appearance was because he was building a skyscraper.

Frankly, I could have done with a 48 hour day but we make do with what we have. Since we launched our Play Dynamics website in March, we've been frantically building our first product. With a lot of help from my friends...

We grew from 2 to 13 during that time, put 13 co-op students through our company, did much consulting to pay the bills and still managed to finish our product. Finish may be the wrong word because it is just the end of the beginning.

Last night we did the obligatory all-nighter, finding last minute bugs and issues the defied our intelligence. There is some software law that says all software is shipped after 1am. We did it. Well after midnight, we submitted our first app under the Play Dynamics banner to Apple. I'm eager to share what we did but I guess I'll have to wait a little longer.

From the get-go, we built this company in the most unorthodox manner. We run it the same way that we write our code. Serious play. We play hard. For many it will feel like work. Funnily enough, despite the 16 days, 7 days a week, we rarely call it that.

It has something to do with the way we interact and support each other. The way we brainstorm ideas. Involve and mentor students. We're in constant play, challenging each other, living in the flow. It can be done, we did it.

If you go out to build your skyscraper or follow your dream, surround yourself with the right people. The wise men who have done it many times before. The partners who aren't afraid to challenge or be challenged. People who love ideas, who dream, who are curious. People with energy and tenacity. People who don't know what "can't" or "won't" means. People filled with possibility. I'm blessed to be surrounded by such people.

This is a milestone not only for Play Dynamics but for my life. I've shipped many products for many companies. This one is both special and personal. I did it my way. We did it our way.

More to come but for now, it's time to do all the stuff that piled up, ignored because shipping was the most important thing.

And why Pi after midnight?

It seems appropriate at least for the geek in me, that we shipped at 3.14am, ergo, pi after midnight.