Techstars London day 35: Keep your head up

New week. By this point I’ve lost count of actual weeks. But if I didn’t screw up the counting, which is pretty plausible because I tend to write these posts late at night after long work days, today should be day 35 (but it’s not, oops).

As soon as I arrived to the office, I dropped my bag and went onto my one on one meeting with Stan. We took Charlie (our CFO) for a walk. Even though we are a small and very close team, these chats are cathartic. And after last week it was very welcomed.

Rosario by the end of last week
Rosario by the end of last week

I gotta say, for being a Monday, today was amazing. I am feeling on top of the rollercoaster now. Today I only have good news.

Not only I finished off a couple of projects that were dragging for a bit longer than I would have liked, but one of the developers I was hoping to hire has decided he wants to join us!

This is fantastic news in so many levels. For one, he’s a great developer and I feel I can trust him without having to do any hand-holding. What this means: I will not be spread as thin; I will have more time to really focus on one of our biggest projects and we can hopefully achieve all we have planned for the Techstars period. Plus, there will be someone else other than me to be able to respond to emergencies if anything were to happen to me. It’s all win-win.

Productive days, I have noticed, come with attitude and the right music in your earphones. Today I was not gonna let my previous week get on the way and I enjoyed it. So much, I was dancing on my chair; I laughed, I had fun. I love my job.

Get out of the way, I am coming!
This week, get out of the way, I am coming!

But now I am tired and it’s time to call it a night. Tomorrow as (almost) always, more.

Head up, heart strong
Head up, heart strong

Summary of the day:

Time I fell sleep the night before: 00:42
Total hours of sleep: 6:07
Mood: Couldn’t have been better! Productive = Happy
Coffees: 3
Soundtrack of the day: Dreams

PS: Thanks Dom for your email again – you must be one of the nicest guys I’ve met during the Techstars adventure.
PS2: Thanks Stan and Maria for your support. You guys rock and I love you both. And Charlie too (obvs!).

Techstars London days 31 & 32: Emotional rollercoaster

Shout out: to all of you who have shown some love about my last post, #ILookLikeAnEngineer; it has been the most read and shared so far! You guys rock! Also, I am chuffed that people are noticing when I am not posting – I can tell you guys like the blog, so thanks! And now…it’s time to make some explanations…

so-fucking-tired

This post is the one I was supposed to write on Thursday, but I couldn’t bear writing anything; I was planning on an explanation on Friday, but then the same thing happened then – I just had a couple of days that I couldn’t cope with it.

I was a bit emotional this week – especially Thursday; and as you know, Thursdays are drinking nights; and we all know what happens when you are feeling so so and you have one too many G&Ts.

The reasons are a combination of work and personal stuff (the latter too private to disclose on the Internet).

The Techstars process is incredibly intense; I know I have been pretty positive throughout my posts (and genuinely so). The last couple of days have been tough though. And don’t get me wrong, I am having the time of my life, I love everyone at the cohort, I get to see and work with my co-founders every day(*), but it still doesn’t change the fact that is so hard. Fun, but hard.

It’s long hours working, very little time to chill and even less time to sleep (on weekdays it has been an average of 5h/day – while I try to catch up on the weekends, it’s never enough).

We are constantly reminded of the challenges that we are facing as a company and we always need to move faster. Our roadmap is ambitious but we have a solid plan. My estimations for the 5 projects we have to work on puts the delivery date of the last project a bit later than Demo Day – aka the culmination of the program; I need to bring this delivery date before demo day, but with such a small team is going to be complicated.

Luckily we will be hiring a couple of fantastic people to join us. But then again, there’s a risk that Brooks’ Law kicks in(**). The projects have not started yet, still, the new hires will need some time to get up to speed with my codebases; the time to get familiar and productive depends from person to person but it will require some of my time to help them out. I have total faith we will deliver on time, but it’s not going to be easy.

Friday I thought I’d be feeling better, and during the day I was. Despite having 6 meetings which literally took all of my day, they were good. But I find meetings the most tiring thing on my pile of 100s of things to do. So by the end of it I was beyond knackered.

On Friday evening, Maria and I went to meet other wonderful women in tech for a karaoke session – It was fun, but I was not feeling physically well and there was more drinking involved. We finished early though and headed back to the office to rendezvous with Stan and some others that were still there emptying the beer fridge. I basically went back cause I needed to pick up my laptop, but ended up joining the gathering. It was a good laugh! Arrived home pretty late and not feeling at my best, to be honest.

So that’s it really, my friends, as much as I am a positive and energetic person, I need to allow myself to feel shit from time to time. And that’s ok, we are human after all.

I am sorry if I disappointed you a little bit with the posts coming a couple of days later. I hope this heartfelt post makes up for it 🙂 And I promise I will try to keep up writing on time. If anything, to keep Jon at bay (***)!

Good thing now though, you get double summaries! With double tunes (****)! Isn’t that exciting?

Summary for Thursday:

Time I fell sleep the night before: 00:39
Total hours of sleep: 6:20
Mood: Ok during the day, good during the drinks, not so good right after…
Soundtrack of the day: https://open.spotify.com/track/2n3JZ0r4oIQaDQDW4yjVpq

Summary for Friday:

Time I fell sleep the night before: 1:49
Total hours of sleep: 3:39 (yes, this is how a shitty night sleep looks like on paper)
Mood: Good during the day – after that, no comment
Soundtrack of the day: https://open.spotify.com/track/04Hd3SxnL6b41B4ClPtmtq

Summary for Saturday: I took the day off to spend it with my beloved boyfriend, who i am missing deeply throughout the process. Feeling much better now.

(*) We spent a year working remotely, with some of us working part-time and others full time. We really needed to come together as a team, and Techstars arrived just at the perfect time for us.

(**) I recommend reading the Mythical Man-Month by Fred Brooks. Essential for anyone managing software projects. 

(***) Much love to you Jon; you are better than my buffer.com schedule. But Saturday at 8.30am. Seriously?! 😉

(****) I have created a playlist where I am putting all the songs from the posts and a few extra ones. Plenty of cool tunes there, so go ahead and follow it! https://open.spotify.com/user/leitmotiv/playlist/2dbQ3xBWlFtiiccFCQKx1T 

Techstars London day 30: #ILookLikeAnEngineer

I just got home from the office (~22:35). Today was a long loooooong day. But it was soooooo good! Tons of things achieved. But tonight, let me go off topic for a bit…

Look at me, looking like an engineer... Wonder why... Maybe cause I am!
Look at me, looking like an engineer… Wonder why… Maybe cause I am!

Today it was brought to my attention the new trending hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer. I saw it yesterday coming up on my feed but I must admit I didn’t pay much attention to it – I had no idea what it was all about. But after Danny Ghilea pointed it out I decided to read on it.

My reaction when I read the news about Isis Wenger not being believed an engineer because she is too pretty!
My reaction when I read the news about Isis Wenger not being believed an engineer because she is too pretty!

I tend not to get publicly involved in controversial/political issues on the Internet. It can come and bite you in the butt if you are not careful. However, this one is too close to home to let it go.

It saddened me to no end that in this day and age, there are still people out there that cannot see beyond their own stupidity. That we keep falling trap of stereotypes.

When I was studying Computer Engineering at the University of Seville I was at times the only woman in a classroom of 100 people. That is intimidating. And while some people would feel weirded out that there was a woman among them, most of the people were cool with it. I was another peer, like the rest.

We were very few, but we were there standing – working hard and getting shit done. I was lucky enough to meet other women in engineering during my time at Uni. One of my best friends, Patricia, is currently leading a SAP team in Seville in one of the biggest multinational telecom corporations from Spain. And Laura, another good friend of mine is the CEO of a super cool and successful company in SF.

Another thing to note, I finished my degree in 3 years, which was rare at the time, since it is a very hard degree (this was almost 10 years ago, not sure how hard it is now, but I am guessing is similar). #JustSaying.

We need to break the stereotypes people – it is 2015. A well prepared and experienced person is and will keep being so regardless of their sex, their race, their religion, their appearance, [insert here any other stupid reason unsuccessful people use to make themselves feel better by bringing successful people down]. We need to recognise effort and hard work.

I am not gonna lie about not having been a victim of sexism at the workplace. Unfortunately I have; though it only made me stronger. However, I can honestly say that it has been a rare thing. I have always been respected and my ideas taken on board. It took years to build my confidence up; not because I was not good, but because of these stupid stereotypes.

To this day, after a lot of hard work and effort, I am very proud of all I have achieved. Of having had the courage to start my own company with two wonderful people(*). Proud of being the first female CTO in Techstars London (and I really hope, not the last one!). Of being asked for advice. Of being able to help in technical matter. Of having an opinion.

I decided to take part in the campaign because we need to raise awareness and challenge these stereotypes. Because I want a fair world where, again, people are taken seriously for their effort and not their background or past. Because I want to make the community better.

Thanks Isis Wenger for starting this.

Kudos to all other women engineers and all those men that support us and make us feel welcome in a still male dominated world. Together we can change this!

And to all haters out there: please get over yourselves and deal with it.

Haters, get over yourselves, and deal with it!

And finally, just because I know you all love it, here’s the summary of the day:

Time I went to bed last night: 00:39
Total hours of sleep: 6:20
Mood: Motivated, empowered, proud. Happy. Also tired.
Soundtrack of the day: Respect

(*) And our company is majority women! How many tech companies can say that?!

PS: A retweet of this is highly encouraged 🙂

Rosario-Looking-Like-An-Engineer

Techstars London day 29: At full speed now

Special shout out today to two people: Dom for his encouraging tweets – thank you! Tak, because I truly forgot to mention in yesterday’s post how excited I am he’s back from Korea! And without further ado…

Today was one of those days that went by pretty quickly but at the same time it felt like it was never gonna end. Weird sensation. Must be the time-warping striking again.

Started the day with a little bit of coding. At 10am, we went onto a mini-MBA about dealing with board meetings. Very interesting and helpful, though I found out that CTOs are usually the first ones to drop from those meetings; at least when the company grows.

The rest of the day was spent coding some more, looking through CVs of potential developers and hunting down an annoying bug in Chrome beta with the Google Maps API. By the time I got some info that would help me fix the stupid bug I had to dash off for a hiring event where I got to talk to a bunch of lovely developers hungry for work. It was great to see their enthusiasm and interest with Headliner; so hopefully something good comes out of that – we all know how hard it is to hire good the best people!

And before you know it, we are down to 69 days to go. Since i had to rush I forgot to take a photo of the countdown, so I made this instead (still want to point out we’re down to the 60s now…):

Countdown to Demo day, countdown to party day!
Countdown to Demo day, countdown to party day!

Night night!

Summary of the day:

Time I went to sleep last night: 00:19
Total hours of sleep: 6.11
Mood: Positive, productive and motivated!
Soundtrack of the day: Running your own company sometimes feel crazier than the video for the soundtrack of the day (don’t judge!).

Techstars London day 28: Things happen

Another week begins! Also, the beginning of the second month. Demo day approaching. Panic mode enabled.

Today we had our strategy session in the morning. 2 hours of a good discussion. Objectives, key metrics, alignment of strands: sales, product, marketing, development, etc. Prioritisation. Focus.

The past month was incredibly hard. We were getting bombarded with so much information and advice; hard to process at once – felt like being punched and not knowing where the punch is coming from. Completely exposed. Weaknesses and strengths. Today was about processing all that and coming up with a plan; and then from here, it’s all about execution. About working as a team to get sh*t done.

Today was a good day – a day to regain focus and start getting extra serious about things. Without stopping having fun. Chin up.

I foresee the blog posts becoming shorter. This is mainly because I will spend more time coding from now on and as much as my coding is incredibly interesting, I reckon most people care very little about it. But don’t you worry, I will keep reporting every day, even if it is just to swear and curse about how little sleep I am getting (which is improving: I got nearly 10 hours of sleep on Saturday… hell yes!).

Catch you later!

Summary of the day:

Time I went to sleep last night: 23:30
Total hours of sleep: 7.23 (record on a week night!)
Mood: I was up and then down, and now I am up again. Cool story eh?
Soundtrack of the day: https://open.spotify.com/track/3zf7uD8ClQ2TXGMZlXISup

 

Techstars London day 25: I’ve been time warped

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.

Enjoy the weekend folks!

Summary of the day:
Time I went to sleep last night: 00:55
Total hours of sleep: 6.04
Mood: Meh – exhausted
Soundtrack of the day: https://open.spotify.com/track/5w1utvVKKJAyqoeQsm8W2j

 

 

 

Techstars London day 24: What we do at Headliner

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 🙂

Cafe Manouche, gypsy beats:

Book them on Headliner! https://www.headliner.io/acts/cafe-manouche

Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer:

Book him on Headliner! https://www.headliner.io/acts/mr-b-the-gentleman-rhymer

The amazing PYTs:

You can also book them on Headliner! https://www.headliner.io/acts/the-p-y-ts

SONY DSC
Cafe Manouche – Book them on headliner: https://www.headliner.io/acts/cafe-manouche
SONY DSC
The Spanish sass
SONY DSC
Maria and her piercing blue eyes
SONY DSC
The Headliner ladies
SONY DSC
Do a little dance
SONY DSC
The PYTs
SONY DSC
Headliner’s Dream Team

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 support@headliner.io!

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!

Techstars London day 23: Thanks mentors!

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.

Thanks mentors!
Thanks mentors!

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.

Summary of the day:

Time I went to sleep at night: 00:10
Total hours of sleep: 6:20
Mood: Dead tired – Grateful – Enjoying every moment: just like this cat.
Soundtrack of the day: https://open.spotify.com/track/2xiuLdATFe8xoSFBwvegkA

Techstars London day 22: The dangers of context switching

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:

ducreux

 

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.

Dog treats
Context switching in a gif. With a dog. Because dogs are awesome.

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.

Tomorrow more and hopefully better!

PS: Tak! I miss you!
PS2: Waaaat…

DSC_0058 (1)
Errr, this thing must be broken or something! Marko, fix it!! Quick!

Stay tuned.

Summary of the day:

Time I went to sleep at night: 1:25
Total hours of sleep: 5:09
Mood: Tired, but I remain positive – life is wonderful 🙂
Soundtrack of the day:  https://open.spotify.com/track/3lPr8ghNDBLc2uZovNyLs9 (tune!)

Techstars London day 21: Welcome back, madness

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:

Time I went to sleep at night: 23:45
Total hours of sleep: 6:38
Mood: Happy! Productive!
Soundtrack of the day:  https://open.spotify.com/track/134KWDWvckZcxlRLGq0IYi
(probably more suitable for a Friday night, but who cares! #LoveMondays)

Who  said programmers cannot have pretty nails? #codercuticles #pampering
Who said programmers cannot have pretty nails? #codercuticles #pampering

(*) Who said programmers cannot have pretty nails?

(**) Which unfortunately I did not attend, since it is mainly for CEOs; and I was, well, coding. But thanks to Maria who managed to get us an extra meeting with Monique! 🙂

(***) Not.

 

 

And here’s a video of animals for Maria, who wasn’t feeling well today and we missed her much in the office! Get well soon my lovely!