I wanted to take you down memory lane. I absolutely love what I am doing today. Building user experiences, interfaces, conceptualising product ideas and shipping them. But if you asked the 20 year old me if I knew this is where I am going to end up - not even close.
Here is a quick timeline of events that unfolded across the last 12 years
- I loved sketching - charcoal on paper. One day, a friend gave access to a pirated copy of Photoshop (yes we all have that friend)
- Started playing around with Photoshop and making posters for the college and events
- Started working as a business analyst researching industry verticals. I was doing primary stakeholder interviews and secondary research (aka googling)
- Joined a Presales team. Was listening to a lot of people/clients and their ideas. Helping the sales team with simple/clean presentations to pitch our solutions.
- Clients always liked to see visual sneak-peeks of the things we can build. Started making simple wireframes and putting them into presentations. This is where I got interested in user journeys and design.
- The bigger realisation was people loved the visual style of my presentations. Started making complex interlinked slides and weaving the story together. Everyone asked my boss which agency made these presentations :)
- Quit my job and ran a business which made custom presentations. Didn't tell my parents I quit my comfortable Presales job.
- Our presentations started getting featured on SlideShare. Which was big on presentations at that time and getting featured on the front page was a big deal for us. We ended up working with some of the biggest organisations, startups and one person companies. Helping them pitch their ideas visually and beautifully.
- Then Instagram launched and spread like wildfire. I would say I became an Insta addict. So much so that I wanted access to it all the time while I worked on my laptop. Instagram on the web didn't exist then - so I came up with a side project idea called 'Extragram'. A web interface to view, like and comment on your Insta photos. The app went viral and we got featured in 'The Hindu' with the whole team. The internet called it the slickest web viewer for Instagram. Finally told my parents "Hey we are building some amazing stuff, I quit my job and started this new company - check out todays newspaper". They were still pissed :)
- People started asking us - hey do you design products? No points for guessing what we said - "Yes we do". Started designing simple websites, mobile apps, and complex web apps. Word spread and we started getting a lot of design work. Our work got featured in most top international and Indian websites
- Now the awesome people who we worked with said - hey your designs are good. But when we give it to a different development team there is a loss of translation. It's not pixel perfect anymore. Why don't you start developing what you design as well? By now you know the trend - we said OK we will.
- Mobile solutions and apps were hot at that time, we built a tiny team of mobile developers. But why would anyone come to a tiny team to build their dreams? So we started building our own tiny apps (starting with a flashlight app which got rejected in the App Store). We wanted to prove to ourselves that we can design and develop world class products before taking up any client work. Then Screeny happened.
- We kept solving pain-points, shipping these simple ideas and putting it out in the world. Today people come to us with an idea and we help them build and ship it. From large organisations to startups. From iOS, Android, Web, Apple Watch , Apple TV, FireStick, Roku, Chromecast, to Admin interfaces & APIs, we do it all.
The point I am trying to make is - if you love doing something and an opportunity arises - grab it. All the different things I did at different points, lead to what I do today. I feel fortunate to do the things I am doing today. And humbled by all the amazing people I work with. We work 4 days in a week and enjoy rest of the time exploring new things - that new dot. You will always find like minded people to work together. Keep shipping (even if it's tiny iterations). Learn from users. Optimise. Ship again. Not that everything fell on the red carpet for us. We failed many times too - but that's a separate post.
Today it's so damn easy to visualise your idea and partner with someone who believes in your idea to build it. Of course, execution is more crucial than the idea itself but hey, it has to start somewhere.
I am sharing 3 tools which are really good to get you going!
1. Moqups - They have a stencil for everything (I mean everything). Drag & drop them into the canvas and build concepts for your idea
2. Miro - Build and develop ideas with your friends as if you were in the same room, anywhere, anytime. Nothing can stop you, not even the current situation.
3. Whimsical - If you need more structure thinking you can use the mind maps and flowcharts as well
I hope you liked this post. I am going to share more stuff related to side projects, teams, products, design, gadgets and things that I find interesting and stumble upon during the week.
I would love to know your backstory as well. You can reply back to this email or drop it below in the comments and we all can learn something new together. Did you have a clear idea always? How did you get started? How do your dots connect looking backward?
Have a great week. Stay safe. Keep shipping.