A Pledge: Building a new start-up every 30 days

April 4, 2012 | In: Business, General

I started working on Bondeebo.com in September 2011, the first code commit was at the beginning of October 2011 and I launched in open-beta on January 1st, 2012. Those were three months at full speed, working from 8:00pm every night till 4:00am in the morning. I learned a shit load of stuff. It was my first time to learn and to use a number, well, actually all the technolgoies that I have used in building Bondeebo and these were Python, couchDB and then mongoDB, django, redisIO, memchached and have everything deployed on Amazon Web Services using EC2, S3, SES and SimpleDB. It was my first time also to deal with APIs and platforms of social networks and I have dealt with a lot; facebook, twitter, google (Buzz, Picasa, Contacts, YouTube) and linkedin.

Well, it was too much work but the thrill was amazing seeing the pieces getting all together forming one product and hiding all the gears and levers behind seamless AJAX calls that do all the backend magic. In this 3-months sprint, I had a number of setbacks, I switched (overhauled) the design three times and I was turned down by a number of designers and developers for exchange of equity. I was working all alone trying to build this gigantic product over nights after a full day of work on my full-time job.

Was it worth? I met with a number of VCs in the USA and an angel network in Egypt and they all turned me down for funding. They all thought its not a fundable idea given its just a nice product that many would like to use but not pay for, imagine twitter being based on subscription or if you have to pay to use TweetDeck or Seesmic. No one would do that. So, they all advised me to switch to corporate customers instead of consumers and I fully agree with them. Bondeebo.com has now around 650 users (no Ads just word of mouth) and its running off a micro EC2 instance over AWS. Getting this feedback, I had to overhaul Bondeebo and pivot to corporate instead of consumers. Instead of doing so right away, I came up with an insane idea/challenge, creating a new startup every 30 days!

With what I’ve learned in developing Bondeebo, I figured out that my speed should be higher by now. I have coded around 10,000 lines in Python, 2000 lines in Javascript (jQuery) and I have dealt with all sort of APIs. I have even built a complete REST API for Bondeebo as well to make it accessible through Javascript (for web, mobile and desktop). So, I set up a challenge for myself of getting up to a speed of building complete applications from the *ground* up to a minimum viable product that is accessible and usable by end users in just 30 days.

With that pledge, I had a friend, Mohamed Saleh, who had this idea of creating a polling website (and later to be an app) targeted to the Arab market place. Merging ideas from the iPhone App ShowOfHands, the web site HeyCrowd and others, I decided to take over the idea to be my first 30-day startup. On the 1st of March I made my first code commit, again using all my new toolbox and working on the same insane hours, 8:00pm till 4:00am everyday, I was able to build Nastafty again solely coding about 2500 lines in Python and around 800 lines in Javascript. Mohamed Saleh, my co-founder was thankfully responsible for product management, thinking of how the voting process should go, how the results should be displayed and for translating the PO files which were generated off the English interface. He was also responsible for collecting and creating interesting polls under a number of categories to entice early adopters and get the ball rolling.

In 30 days, we launched Nastafty.com in open beta. Thank god, sticking to my pledge of going from an idea to a complete functional website in just one month. Nastafty is an Arabic word that means asking for people’s opinion. The website launch party was at our place and we had our dear friends with us celebrating the launch with pizza, cake and even a movie — mission impossible 🙂

With nothing more than us sharing on Facebook only, Nastafty.com got more than 1600 page views in the first 24 hours and an average time spent on site to be a staggering 10 minutes (according to Google Analytics). That’s really promising, at least we like to think so.

Given April is already rolling, I’m sill sticking to my pledge, I’m building a new startup called Pikita its in the domain of pictures and photos but I won’t be saying more. Well, so soon it’ll be launching. For Pikita, I will still be sticking to my cutting edge toolbox, even better, a number of those awesome tools got new releases that I’m looking forward to putting them in good use.

There is a catch to the story though that makes it even more challenging. Every month, I’m having a new born product that needs attention and care to flourish. So, I’m still keeping my 30 day pledge but I dedicate a day of my week for each of the previous products. So, this means my week is shrinking by a day with every product release! Well, would that still be possible? Sure, why not, there is no other way to know if its possible or not other than trying.. so I will be trying.


  • http://husseinahmed.com/ Hussein Ahmed

    That relates to the amazing blog post of Derek Sivers, There’s NO speed limit. http://sivers.org/kimo

  • http://www.twitter.com/ebellity Emmanuel Bellity

    Hi there. I just stumbled upon your post after searching for HeyCrowd in a search engine. Interesting pledge ! I’m the co-founder & ceo of HeyCrowd, I’d love to see what you guys have built with Nastafty – is it live still ? it doesn’t seem so.