We are so close, we are so close. I cannot tell you how crazy this journey has been - it's been about two years since Mina and I started our adventure as MAG, LLC (Mina, Arry, Gifts January, 2009). Mina had just gotten married to her amazing husband, Mark and they had a hell of a time finding a registry that made sense for them. They were two full households merging together, and didn't need to blenders and towels and dining sets. They wanted awesome wine fridges and big plasma tv's! Mina and all her friends looked up and down and everywhere for the perfect, flexible, convenient registry... and so a couple months after their wedding, Mina and I got together to build the ULTIMATE wedding registry (which we hoped would become the ULTIMATE baby registry, and charity fundraising tool, and so forth later).
CHEAPER IS NOT BETTER. Our first attempt for cheaper was find an affordable, LOCAL, freelance guy or guys that can whip up our dream site in a month or so. A front end guy, and a backend guy - Arry would whip up all of the wire-frames, Mina would strategize, it was going to be awesome. We interviewed and interviewed and interviewed to find two freelance guys that seems awesome - a seemly savvy UI guy and a Harvard grad CS coding wiz. The schmucks were over their head and barely made a dent three months later despite our efforts to motivate and energize and push for progress.
Alright, alright, ... we hold and console each other. We meet with our friend, Phil, successful entrepreneur who has successfully launched at least two companies which have been bought by Microsoft and Amazon. (He recently launched CupidsPlay - and by the way, our very-soon-to-be launched startup will be co-partying with them. Watch out for party invites!). Phil recommends we check out eLance.
GOING OVERSEAS IS NO CAKE. So after putting our the request for proposals via eLance - we received 50-60 bids from contractors and companies all over the world: Russia, India, Brazil. We choose India. Now, this was going to be seemly awesome - now for a quarter of the price, we were going to have not just one, but a TEAM of developers working to build us our website. A TEAM! Couple of challenges: time zone differences, and cultural differences. Starting late in the fall of 2009, I played Project Manager and worked with our India guys late at night, woke up before dawn, ... not easy, but to us, worth it. Cultural differences ... let's say when they said "yes, no problem, we got it"... we quickly learned to dig deeper. Indian developer's vision of design and classy... does not equal our vision of design and classy. Picture your homepage with a picture of a buxom blonde in a wedding dress as she crawls on all fours towards you... ... we decided, let's get them to code it up, and then we'll fix the design once the India team is done.
A TECHNOLOGY|WEBSITE COMPANY NEEDS A CTO. There began our search for the perfect CTO. He had to be website savvy, kind, trustworthy, understand developer/technology stuff, really care about the company, be invested in making it happen, be able to think out of the box and add input to the creative process, be able to code and overwrite any of the code, understand architecture and servers and hardware, ... he had to be a SUPERMAN CTO! We met AJ through biznik.com ---> a super savvy Flash developer. Unfortunately, the timing was off and last summer, he announced that he was planning on moving to California. We put out more notices and ... eventually by the end of the summer/early fall, we found our super dreamy SUPER AWESOME CTO, Michael!!!!!!! He all of the qualities mentioned above and so so so much more. We found this amazing web designer, Keith of KeithRussellDesign, LLC, too. Michael has pretty much single-handedly rebuilt the entire website, the CMS, the database, everything from the ground up since joining us - and we've recreated the site as the all-purpose fundraising platform. We then started All Things Wishful, Inc - which had a merger with MAG, LLC late last year in the winter of 2010.
That's kind of the longer version of the short story... I'm sitting here while my partners, Mina and Michael pick up food for our meeting tonight and I am feeling so thankful. We've had a long journey to get where we are today, have had so many emotional ups and downs, been physically, mentally, financially strained, ... and working double time with day jobs and such to pay bills... We are so lucky because we have an awesome team. You know what - that's definitely the best thing about this whole adventure, the people. DO OR DIE!!