As the title says, it has been a long day. In fact, it has been a very long week. A good one, but still – it doesn’t change the fact that I am exhausted. Both physically and mentally.
I think I have only had dinner at home once. On Monday. And now that I think about it, we actually went out – it’s just that it was the only night that I spent at home, laying on the sofa, watching silly TV shows.
It feels so long ago, but at the same time, I just can’t believe is Friday night! Going through Techstars is like being trapped in a time warp.
It was a great week though. We finished a few big pieces of work and we had tons of fun at the mentor’s appreciation drinks on Wednesday and last night at Facebook’s Summer Garden party.
So I think I am gonna leave it for today now, because like I said, it has been a long week, and I am exhausted.
Today was a special day. Thursdays tend to be at Techstars anyway, but today was extra special for us. Today we got out of the building again – Steve Blank would be proud!
We were in the office all morning. While Stan was on the mentor madness meetings Maria and I carried on with our tasks for the week. After lunch, we went into our deep dive. And right after, we left the office and headed down to Hampton Court Palace to attend the Facebook Summer Party. The reason for us being there is that they use Headliner.io to book their entertainment of course!
We have encountered people that find it difficult to understand what value do we bring. And sometimes it is hard to explain with words. And since pictures and videos speak louder than words, I am gonna leave you with a nice collection of the ones we took this evening, so you get a feel of what we do 🙂
And that’s all folks! We are essentially facilitators of fun! By having live music, you make your event a trillion times better. So go to our site (we are working hard on improving the UX) and book yours! If you can’t find what you are looking for, you can always contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Summary of the day:
Time I went to sleep last night: 00.10 Total hours of sleep: 6.20 Mood: Tired, but man, we had fun today! I absolutely love my job. Soundtrack of the day: Signed, sealed, delivered performed by the amazing P.Y.T’s!
Quick post today cause it is late and I am dead tired.
Just arrived home from Mentor Drinks this evening. Basically an opportunity to chat to mentors in a more relaxed way (over a few beers, which it always helps) and as a thank you for taking their precious time to help us all.
It was a very nice evening. We had some food (delicious sushi), plenty of beer and very nice music, curated by Ben from Ambie. Later on in the night we had some performance by the Terrible Twins in a Sound Clash, and even yours truly, dared to play a few tunes (and by the reactions, they seemed to go down pretty well).
It seems like we party a lot, but like I said in previous posts, #WorkHardPlayHard – there’s not *that* much partying, but there is a lot of socialising; and that is great. Life and business is about human connections and getting along with people, and as startup founders, it is part of the job.
People often get surprised when they find out I am the CTO. I am not the average developer or geek. I do love geeking around and from time to time I love hiding behind the computer. And, trust me, for me, the whole networking thing is a real challenge. And Techstars is being a great playground to face it; and so far so good.
Parties aside, today was an incredibly productive day. It’s quite unbelievable how from one day to another you can see things in a different light and problems that you saw yesterday as impossible, get resolved in less than 10 minutes the following day. It’s all a question of attitude; and it seems to get reset after a good night sleep.
So next time you are having a shitty day, when everything goes completely opposite as it should be, take a deep breath and a good break, focus on something else and relax; or do some exercise – it always helps! The next day everything will be better. That’s what a proper night sleep does. Take it from some who’s sleeping an average of 5 hours a day, has constant ups and downs but it’s still keeping her chin up no matter what.
And thank everyone who’s supporting you in any way (no matter what you do in life, there’s always people around you to support you and love you) and giving their precious time for you.
So with that in mind, thank you all mentors, all of you people reading the blog, and especially Jesper, who keeps coping with my crazy schedules and natural madness (accentuated by everything we have just been talking about).
I am truly a lucky (and hard worker) girl, who’s grateful for life.
Hope you all have a good night. Tomorrow is a big day, so I am hitting the hay. Night night.
If there’s anything that really kills productivity is context switching.
I saw this happening over and over again while working at previous companies. Leading a team is hard. As a hands on engineer, all you want to do is code and get things done; last thing you want to do is being buried in meetings all day. As a team leader, you don’t have a choice; you probably will be buried in meetings all day.
This was so bad back then (for most of the engineering team), there was a meme going around the meeting rooms in the office:
I don’t necessarily agree with this 100%, but it certainly made me laugh; especially in meetings where we would go around in circles getting nowhere.
Some meetings are incredibly good and helpful; and this has certainly been the case at Techstars so far – all the deep dives and mentor madness have been absolute gold. For other meetings, when you have nailed down the content then it becomes a question of when these meetings happen.
Allow me to elaborate.
It is not the same having 3 one-hour meetings in a row with 5 minutes in between them, than having them across your day with 20 to 30 minutes in between them. Those 20-30 minutes are of very little use. At most you can get to send a couple of emails.
So for me, it is important to pack most of them as much as possible in the shortest period of time, so I have a good chunk of the rest of day where I can really focus on solving engineering problems. This unfortunately it is most of the times not completely up to us alone. People tend to be busy, so you end up with meetings badly sprinkled throughout your day; aka constant context switching, aka productivity killer.
If you add to the mix, emergency contingency, then you have a day like I did today /o\
Looking on the bright side of things, I got to help a friend in need (who got me a nice surprise little breakfast ;)), caught up with my friend Nick for lunch (of Osper fame), had a nice chat with Maria about life, got to see my friend James who delivered some nice stickers, and got a start on the next piece of work on my list (which is parked now giving way to a few other things that have higher priority).
And now I am off to dinner to celebrate 4 wonderful years together with this man.
Hey there! Another week starts. But this is not an ordinary week. We are back to Mentor Madness!
This last weekend there were no posts because I essentially spent the weekend taking it easy and recharging the batteries for this week. So I decided to spare you all a blog post of how much I slept and how much pampering I got(*).
The truth is, I’ve had a chesty cough for the last week and a half. And it is very annoying. I can’t stop coughing and can barely sleep properly.
So back to Monday. And back to Mentor Madness. Though I am not. The first week of Mentor Madness we refined our story and got pretty good feedback, so Stan is happy to go to the meetings on his own while Maria and I focus on building the community and coding, respectively.
After mentor madness we grabbed a quick lunch before meeting with Monique Maley of Articulate Persuasion, who visited last week for a mini-MBA(**). It was absolutely brilliant! She was helping us refine the pitch when it comes to talk to investors. She also gave me a few pieces of advice about speaking in public or important meetings.
You see, there are times (like always) when I have to do these things; I don’t like it much and I get a bit anxious; this is when red rash starts spreading from my chest up. It doesn’t hurt nor itch, however the temperature of my body rises and I can feel it crawling to my face. And it is totally uncomfortable, mainly because it is so bloody obvious. And it doesn’t help when people point it out either. So she was sharing some tips on how to prevent this. Will let you know how those go!
It’s funny because many years ago I used to do theatre and I didn’t have this problem. But today Monique explained (and rightly so!) that it is so much easier to memorise someone else’s script and have an “alter ego” than expose ourselves and our thoughts.
I spent the afternoon coding some more and crossing a few things off my ever-growing TODO list. Only annoying thing is I finished a bit late and couldn’t make it to my yoga class! But tomorrow will have to go to the 7am class; I am just getting used to wake up at insane hours and I am liking it(***).
And that’s all today. Tomorrow some more. But before, the summary of the day:
Nothing particularly especial today. Awesome week overall though 🙂
I arrived a bit later than usual to the office following, you know, a Thursday night full of G&Ts (just a couple, but combined with little sleep it feels like lots of them!). Also mind you, “later” is 9.30am. I try to be at the office around 8am every day.
I am exhausted though. The morning was relatively ok, but by lunch time I started to get a bit tired and especially now (9.40pm) I am about to pass out.
I left the office early after a couple of Ping Pong games. One lost (against Alex from SpotTech – will totally get back to him on that) and one won (against Nakkeeran, yay!).
I have been cooking tonight for a few friends and they are waiting for me to finish the post to get back to eating!
So, today was just another day in the office after a great Thursday night full of laughter and little bit of craziness with some special people. And that is another great thing of the Techstars family.
I feel like I am 17 again; this will make sense in a minute.
Today was an OK day. Not on the coding front since I didn’t have much time to code, but in every other aspect it was good.
Started the day by having a nice coffee catch up with Maria (and Charlie feathers, our lovely dog), followed by a mini-MBA focused on explaining the types of investors you can go for. It narrows down to Angel Investors vs VCs. Quite an educative session – and the guys, Greg (Angel) and Rob (VC), wonderfully nice.
Afterwards, team Headliner sat down with the lovely Elsa to touch down on the issues she’s found through the user journey on our site so she can find better ways to improve the UX. We really love the way that she explained it and visualised it and we are all on board. More progress!
After lunch we went straight into our deep dive. Remember how I thought the guys (Jon, Max & Ben) were gonna destroy our dreams? They actually seemed to like what we came out with, so pretty happy with that.
The highlight of the day though I must say were the All hands meeting followed by the Founder Stories.
Let’s go one by one.
Remember the game “Spin the bottle”? Maybe younger people these days don’t (with Tinder and the likes, am I right?), but when i was (much much) younger I played “Spin the bottle”. I remember the anticipation, the fear, the embarrassment. Today, I felt like that.
“Spin the bottle startup edition” consist in 2 spins. The first spin to determine which company must be pitched. The second one to determine who pitches. Aka, someone ends up pitching someone else’s company! Fuuuuuuuuuuuuudge! I can barely pitch my own business (*), how am I gonna be able to pitch someone else’s??!?!?!
Luckily, I didn’t have to pitch, but I regretted it a bit later. And the exact moment was right after the Founder Story of this week.
I can honestly say, Oussama‘s story was the most entertaining, most inspiring and most incredible story I have ever heard in my entire life. And what a story teller! Absolutely hooked me for the entire time for real! The thing that resonated with me the most was when he started talking about courage. Courage is something that I have always thought people are born with. And some people might, but like mostly everything in life, courage can be learned and it is a question of just f*cking trying things. Pushing yourself to do things that scare you. It was so inspiring.
One of my biggest fears is public speaking – and yes, I know it is a question of practising. I also suck massively at networking events, but the whole Techstars experience really is pushing me out of my comfort zone, and you know what, it’s absolutely fantastic.
Finished the night with a few drinks down at the Exmouth Arms (all time favourite!) to socialise a little bit.
Great day all around, but now it’s time to go to bed.
Started with the CTO meeting, which I have to say I am liking more and more. It’s a great forum for discussing ideas, asking for help and just basically share the pain that such a responsibility role entitles.
When you have a small team like ours, it’s good to be able to bounce ideas off people outside your business. The feedback you get is much more objective and you can see things much more clearly; even if they don’t give you the solution you are after, they serve as rubber ducking 🙂
So I continued my quest to push the tracking into analytics dashboards. And let me tell you, Mixpanel is the way to go. Easy to set up, easy to understand. I will be looking at segment.com to perhaps push more data onto other services, but for now this will do. And then plug that into Geckoboard and boom! Sorted.
After lunch I met with the lovely people that run Microsoft Ventures. Full disclosure, I have met them before, since Jesper’s company was in the last cohort – truly nice people. The best about the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator is that you get tons support, mentorship, free office space and other perks for 0% equity of your company. Pretty sweet deal eh?
Spent the rest of the evening working with Google Spreadsheets API – again, not impressed with documentation (examples of clients only in Java and .NET, waaat?). But found a pretty straight forward library for python that works wonderfully, so tomorrow I will finish the second part of my reporting. And then I can forget about analytics for a few days.
We have also made good advances in terms of where to focus our efforts next when it comes to product; and we believe that the next feature we’ll work on will be a good drive for growth. So can’t wait to get my hands dirty on that! I could totally feel the high spirits in all of us!
Oh yes I love productive days! Wohoo! Enjoying this feeling…
Too bad it won’t last long since tomorrow is deep dive and our dreams will probably be crashed. But until then, yeah yeah yeah!
I felt great this morning. I had 7:23 hours sleep! Yay!
Arrive nice and early to the office. And not only I was well rested, but Charlie Feathers was there! Yay! Fluffy cuddles!
And believe me, I needed them. I am still dealing with analytics, and they are not my forté. But, there has been progress in that front. Following the great advice from Sofia at NomNom, I started looking at Mixpanel.
I am aware that Google Analytics is a great tool and very complete, but really, for the kind of numbers we are trying to pull at the moment, it is too convoluted. I am sure further down the line it will be good for us – but it takes a whole lot of time to get it right, time I am lacking. Mixpanel is simple, yet powerful and it is progress. And that’s what you want when you are running a startup, progress and keep moving forward as fast as you can.
One of the best things about being in Techstars is having office space. I spent the past year working from home, bootstrapping and coding away. Heck, there were days where I didn’t even go out and felt completely isolated from society.
One of the things I missed the most from my job at Mendeley was the people. I spent 5 years of my life working there; from the very first year of its conception to the time it got acquired. Many came and many went, but most of my friends in London are from my years at Mendeley (including my boyfriend 😜).
And I am lucky enough that the Techstars office is literally round the corner from my old office. I’ve had a few déja vu moments since starting in the new office, especially since the way to work is exactly the same. But today was a bit more special, since I met with a few ex-colleagues for lunch; it almost felt like I had never left, that I was still working there (even though I went into their office and literally just knew a handful of people!). It was great to catch up!
After lunch I met with Elsa, the hacksociate designer! She’s great and has been doing some user testing on our platform and pointing out areas we should focus on improving the UX; some of them things that we have discussed before and they are already on my ever-growing TODO list.
Having said that, certain degree of frustration invades me when people point out things that you know needs to be fixed and are already in your ever-growing list of doom. Not because you don’t welcome the feedback (which I do!), but because it just reminds you the amount of things you want to fix and the very little time you have to do everything. But equally, I enjoy when people point out things you haven’t thought of and are crucial; so I just need to find a way to make my days longer for a few extra hours and the frustration due to lack of time will go away. Or just keep prioritising 🙂
I wish days were 30 hours long or that I didn’t need more than 6 hours of sleep a day. But it doesn’t work like that. And the little sleep I had last week took its toll. I have this very annoying chesty cough that just doesn’t want to go away. I am losing my voice…
This evening, the Techstars crew went down to Regent’s Park for a nice after-work international food picnic. A shame I had something else on my diary, cause I am sure it was all delicious!
Instead of the picnic I went down to the Moo offices to a talk by Sam Philips, Head of Technology at Shutl, where he shared his story on scaling engineering teams in pre & post acquisition. A lot resonated with me from my Mendeley days. It was a nice reminder on how you just need to use common sense when it comes to managing people and hiring. The main takeaways from the talk in my opinion were: interview for empathy (you really want to work with nice people that can relate to others) and communication, leave the code nicer than when you found it, and don’t sweat the process (referring to being ‘Agile’). Like I said, use your common sense.
And that’s all for today. From reading this, you probably have noticed I am feeling a little bit all over the place. Hopefully tomorrow I can write a more coherent piece. Until then… peace out!
Summary of the day:
Time I went to sleep last night: 23:48 Total hours of sleep: 7:23 Mood: meh, all over the place – but in a positive way Soundtrack of the day (because it represents well the mood):
No posts this last weekend. After the Mentor Madness last week and the party on Thursday I was pretty much dead all weekend. Mentally and physically exhausted, so I decided to take the weekend off and spend some time sleeping. It totally worked!
Today was what I consider a good day. Started it early, Maria and I were meeting Jules Coleman from Hassle.com for breakfast, to learn more about her experience as the co-founder of a marketplace. Pretty successful you see? They just got acquired! And she’s like the nicest person!
Then head to the office. Today was good in terms of meetings – only 2. One with Stan and Maria (our standup) and another one for technical office hours with Rackspace. Nice to meet these chaps.
This week is all about getting analytics. And Google is making my head spin a bit. The documentation for the old analytics was much more clear than the current Universal Analytics. The documentation is a bit all over the place and it took me a while to get my head around custom dimensions vs custom metrics. But I think I finally got it. The most annoying thing about this though, I won’t be able to see any data until tomorrow…So maybe tomorrow I figure I have been sending the wrong data all along. Hopefully not 🙂
And talking about 💩, today there was a problem with the toilets in the building and there was a lovely smell all around the office. Yes, that is written sarcasm. It was disgusting. But it got resolved quickly!
So apart from that, pretty uneventful day when it comes to super exciting stuff, but I am writing things off my list, and that feels productive. Getting things done feels good.
And now it’s time to head home and spend some time with my wonderful boyfriend. Not seeing him as much anymore is by far the hardest thing in this program.
And the clock keeps ticking:
Summary of the day:
Total hours of sleep during the last weekend: ~20h (I had an epic siesta of 3hours on Saturday) Time I went to sleep last night: 00:40 Total hours of sleep: 6:07 Mood: concentrated, happy and productive Soundtrack of the day: https://open.spotify.com/track/4YUzw8WPyRqNLdt22MFTbC