Techstars London day 38: Keep that bottle spinning

In case you haven’t been following the entire experience so far (which you should, from the beginning!), Techstars is a very intense program. From the very beginning we were told to warn and thank our loved ones about the little time that we would have to do anything other than the company and the program.

I did this repeatedly, but, I guess is inevitable you need to keep reminding them of the situation. It’s been a while since I spoke to my parents (it also doesn’t help they live in a different country; specially a country with very different schedules!) and, inevitably as well, when you live with someone that stops seeing much of you, the pressure rises. So this morning started with a mini-fight and uncomfortable conversation with my other half.  Not a great start of the day – though we resolved it quickly. We find it hard to be mad at each other for more than 5 minutes.

The super-secret-project is coming along nicely and I am happy with the progress I am making in that front.

For lunch we met with one of our mentors at The Eagle pub in Farringdon. He was absolutely fantastic and also very generous. Not only he gave us great advice, he also paid for our meal – rock on!

#FreeFood
#FreeFood

After lunch, back to the office to continue coding, when all of the sudden I get a text from Jesper to come out of the office for 5 minutes. Puzzled (he doesn’t work in the area), I went downstairs and got outside, but there was nobody there.  I looked around and then I saw him standing there, round the corner, with a bouquet of beautiful flowers, a Kinder Bueno and a Frapuccino!! This man clearly knows me well! Definitely a keeper 😉 For a second there I even felt a bit shy. My reaction:

IMG_20150813_151911

 

I would be lying if I said it didn’t cheer me up.

After the nice surprise, more coding on the super-secret-project until it was time for the All Hands meeting.

Remember a couple of weeks ago we played spin the bottle? Well, today we did it again! Though this time it was a bit different. This time we didn’t have to pitch someone else’s business. Instead, we did two variants today.

The first one was about reflecting on the last 6 weeks we have been in the program. Whoever the bottle landed on had to either say what was their best day or their worst day so far and why. This time it didn’t land on me, but if it did I would just have sent people to read the blog  😜 #AlwaysBeClosing.

The second variant was a bit more difficult. Whoever the bottle landed on had to pick someone in their team (ideally a co-founder) and this person then needs to say something good that they like about them or something bad that really annoys them. And you couldn’t choose, a coin would. Heads = good, tails = bad.

And there it went the bottle spinning and landing on Stan. With Maria in a meeting outside the office it was pretty clear that I would have to go for it. Fuuuuuuudge! Thankfully the coin decided on heads. I was dreading tails, just because I truly cannot think of anything bad that annoys me that’s even worth mentioning.

I struggled with the good things as well. But just because I was tired and I totally suck at quick thinking in these situations – especially when I am tired. So my reaction was to mention how good of a CEO he is, having a very good idea of where are going as a company, what our goals are: our mission and vision. And all that is very good, but he’s much more than that. As soon as we moved on I thought of plenty of ways how Stan amazes me and why I think he’s so great.

Like I said, he’s incredibly talented when it comes to the business side of things. He’s very good with numbers and very well articulated when he speaks. But Stan has also demonstrated to be a true friend. Supportive in the difficult times. He also happens to have a great sense of humour and makes me laugh a lot. And above all, he knows how to remain calm in situations of crisis – usually where both Maria and I bring out the fire within us (we are both very passionate people), he just knows how to handle the situation and tends to always find a positive outcome and moves on quickly onto the next thing. We also happen to work really well together when it comes to the product.

And I know Maria wasn’t there, but I’d like to also say a few words about her. Because I absolutely adore her. She’s passionate, she’s funny and understanding. Caring and loving. She also happens to be a kickass sales guru. And to top it off, she’s my partner in crime.

In a nutshell, we are the fucking dream team, people. We work well together, we care for one another, we respect each other, we are supportive and we know how to have fun.

New Doc_1

And with this remark, it’s time to say good night. I have to pack because we are going on a Techstars trip tomorrow…

I will be reporting this weekend, until then… Peace out ☮

Summary of the day:

Time I fell asleep last night: 1:00
Total hours of sleep: 5.16
Mood: In the same day, at least 2 or 3 ups and downs. That’s just how crazy this process is…
Coffees: At least 3…
Soundtrack of the day: Here’s Todd again! (Insanely good tune) Also, don’t forget to follow the Spotify playlist with the compilation of all the tunes that are part of the Techstars Experience Soundtrack!

Techstars London day 37: 🙈🙉🙊

Quite packed day today. For the first time in this program I was a bit late to the CTO meeting. Or so I thought. I actually arrived at the same time as the rest! I totally blame Tak for that 😉

Today we had a special guest, Robbie from Pivotal Labs – who was also very generous paying for our breakfast. I have to say, I quite love these meetings. It’s a good way to start the day. It’s a shame though since the last few ones there have been a few people missing – I guess everyone is starting to feel the pressure of demo day upon us.

Spent the rest of the day in a few meetings and with the project I started yesterday, which we’ll call super-secret-project for easy reference. I am pretty happy with it today cause I managed to find a solution to something that was bugging me pretty badly. The solution is also pretty simple. And simplicity in code is beautiful.

In the afternoon we had a talk on fundraising by David Cohen. It was pretty entertaining and educative. There was role playing between him and a few CEOs. I thought Stan did a pretty solid job and we all got to learn the rules of the game – which are pretty much the same as dating. Always a funny subject that one. I am a pretty upfront person, so I tend to hate all the silly dating rules, but I can see how it could play well with investors.

interesting

After the fabulous talk, it was time for a bit of Paddle Battle (ping pong)! I got to play a couple of games before we had to shoot off for our team outing – the first of many! It was my turn to organise it and we ended up going bowling at All Star Lanes in Brick Lane. It was good fun! Though, it was pretty obvious how terrible I am at it. I think I got lucky once… Can you guess who’s who by our game names? 😉

DSC_0055 (1)

And now I am going to bed, cause I need to sleep more. To sleep, full stop.

Good night!   (◡ ‿ ◡ ✿)

Summary of the day:

Time I fell asleep last night: 00:56
Total hours of sleep: 6:03
Mood: Happy but oh god I am tired
Soundtrack of the day: The great Paul ladies and gentlemen (it has a pretty solid bass, so I would suggest a good pair of speakers or headphones :))

Techstars London day 36: Avoid frustration with communication

Today was one of those weird days. I wouldn’t say it was good, but I wouldn’t say it was bad either. It was the definition of “meh” day.

On the one hand, I am pretty excited about the project I just started (which is super secret and I cannot talk about it just yet), but at the same time, today was the first time I sat down to really research how the hell I am gonna implement the thing. Way long after my original estimation. Alarm bells!

Run away from people estimating projects without doing any preliminary research...
Run away from people estimating projects without doing any preliminary research…

Planning software projects is a complicated task. Estimation is incredibly hard, almost to the point that I consider it an art (and I am pretty shit at it, quite frankly(*)). There are so many uncertainties it is difficult to account for everything needed at the beginning of the project.

I am not the only one out there with estimations issues though. During my work years I have seen everything, but projects delivered exactly on estimation, very few times. You either underestimate, or you overestimate.

Developers tend to underestimate under pressure to deliver something fast, when they haven’t had enough time to think about the problem they are trying to solve. Underestimating is pretty dangerous, for obvious reasons. At best you end up with someone in your team pretty frustrated. But at worst, it could cost you a bunch of paying customers (and that could mean whether you make it or break it as a company).

Better to overestimate and finish early. Though that never happens. Ever. People will tend to use as much time as they estimated, even if they finish early. Try to reach balance <– Like I said, an art.

You know that sensation at the beginning of a project where you are like “I think I can do this or that to solve X”, but then you start doing some research and you end up like the I have no idea what I am doing dog? That was me this morning.

Me after the first coffee and early research for the project, but just after my second coffee.
Me after the first coffee and early research for the project, but just before my second coffee.

During our roadmap meeting not long ago, I estimated I could finish this project in a couple of weeks at full speed. I knew this estimation was (potentially totally) wrong: it was solely based on the idea of what we want to achieve and what we already have in place; my knowledge of the codebase. However, it didn’t include things like design, UX review, testing, etc. It’s practically impossible to foresee all the risks and uncertainties. It was an optimistic estimation: I should have known better and waited until I knew more. Not all, but more.

Luckily, with perseverance and another cup of coffee it all started to make sense. I still have to do some more research and start prototyping tomorrow, but we are onto a good start. The trick is to break down the project into small enough chunks that you can complete in a day or max two. Ah yes, and constant communication to avoid frustration. And definitely a good pair of headphones you can hide behind and submerge in the wonderful world that is coding. I remain optimistic – will report if this changes.

After second coffee
After second coffee

The best thing is that the project has started and I am sure we’ll see good (some kind of) progress.

And now, I am gonna hit the hay because I am dead tired and I am almost losing the plot myself. Good night peeps!

Summary of the day:

Time I fell asleep last night: 1:42
Total hours of sleep: 5:17
Mood: Ok. Not good, not bad. Meh. Best thing about today was catching up with my good friend Nick from Osper!
Soundtrack of the day: latest music obsession (Major Lazer, who knew?!)

(*) And by shit I don’t mean I don’t deliver projects on time. But it depends on the project! It’s all a question of practice really.. like all in life.

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!).