Here I am 8 days later with another update on my Project V venture.
The nasty cold/flu I caught is still lingering and I’d say I’m still about 30% sick, but I’ve been better enough for a while that I’ve been able to put in some decent hours into work lately.
My focus over these past 8 days has been about 70% focused towards Project V. I started to get frustrated with how long it was taking to tend to all of these boring tasks and so I decided to try to focus on it until it was done so that I could move onto more interesting things.
3 More Days
The investor should have wired over the investment money a few days ago, so it is expected to arrive in my account by October 7th.
I have enough funds to proceed without having to wait for the money to arrive, but I just want it in my account so that I have one less thing to worry or think about.
I completed the 3 wireframes for the project. They ended up being far closer to actual mock-ups than wireframes though.
The investor had a lot of strong comments about them, and after a nearly 2-hour Skype call, I made more adjustments to them.
Specification Document Finished!
In my last blog post from just over a week ago, I wrote:
"I suspect that it will take me 2-3 weeks to complete the development specification, along with all the other work I’m doing on the side."
"In my next update on Project V, I hope to have received the investment funds and be at least 50% done the development specifications, hopefully a bit further."
Fortunately, due to strapping down and focusing on the task at hand as I previously mentioned, I was able to complete the specification document a couple days ago.
I was really dreading having to create the spec sheet as I tend to have a problem with being too verbose and being a perfectionist I often spend way too long on the tiniest of details.
I’ve created my fair number of spec sheets in the past, but this project has the largest launch development budget I’ve worked with on a website before.
I spoke to one of the project managers at Toptal and shared my apprehension about how long my spec sheet might end up being, and he told me that it didn’t need to be super detailed and something along the lines of "Developers don’t typically enjoy reading super long spec sheets".
So with that in mind, I decided to limit the spec sheet to only include the essential information while leaving out the minutia that I am hoping the developers will include on their own.
It ended up being 29 pages (size 13 font). I think it ended up being a pretty good length – not too long and definitely not too short. It covers all the important aspects and anything that I may have missed out I can discuss it with the developers later.
Meeting with the Developers Tomorrow
I am using the development agency Toptal to work on this project, and the next step of the procedure is for me to have a call with one of their engineers to discuss the overall needs of the project.
He will then assemble a team of full-time developers that he feels will make a good match with what this project entails and I am then to interview them one by one. I signed a contract/agreement that says if I do not make a decision on a developer in 3 days that I am given a $100 fine.
If I decide I don’t like a developer, they will then pair me up with another to interview.
I set the project up so that I will be hiring the talent on a full-time basis, so that they are working only on my project and not on anything else.
Originally, Toptal set me up with to arrange a call with an engineer who was in a time zone literally 12 hours away. So, I was forced to choose to arrange a call meeting with him for 1am last Thursday. I couldn’t stay up that late (I’m still sick remember) so I had to cancel at around 11pm.
I complained to Toptal that this was just silly to try to arrange such a call with somebody in the opposite time zone, and so they set me up with somebody just an hour or two apart from my local time zone.
My meeting with him is set for tomorrow at noon. I can’t wait to get that over with, hire some developers, and finally get this show on the road!
While working on the wireframe/mock-ups and discussing them with the investor on Skype, we decided that we were unsure as to if we liked the logo or not.
When I purchased the domain, it came with a custom designed logo. It’s not the best logo in the world but it’s definitely not the worst. It’s pretty good, but we’re just second guessing ourselves now on whether we should keep it, modify it slightly, or scrap it entirely and get a new logo crowdsourced out.
I’m really torn on what to do; the design of the site cannot start until the logo is finalized as the site’s palette and style will all be derived from the logo.
I did make a few changes via Photoshop to it and think it might look better, but am worried that it may look over-simplified now. I am waiting to hear back what the investor thinks.
The Boring Work is Done!
I am so glad that all the boring work is done.
Here’s a list of the boring stuff that is now taken care of:
- Presentation/pitch (slideshow and MP3 creation)
- Finding investors
- Domain search (this proved real difficult, even with a $5,000 domain budget)
- Domain/server set up
- Feasibility study (required by the investor’s accountant/lawyer – boring as hell)
- Contract creation
- Lawyer / notary for signature witness
- Finding developers
- Specification sheet creation
In my next update, I hope to be able to write that I have hired/chosen a development team and that work has commenced!
Once work actually starts, I will begin to slowly reveal what "Project V" is all about.
Here I am again with another series of updates on what’s happened with Project V over the past 2 weeks.
I wanted to post sooner, but I caught a really bad cold a week ago which took me out of commission for nearly a week. I’m still about 65% sick but am able to put in about half the amount of work hours I usually do, so I thought I’d get this post up while I can.
Please excuse me while I cough up some dark yellow phlegm. Ah, much better. Okay. Here’s what happened over the past 2 weeks:
Investment Period Finished
The final investor finally got back to me (he was on vacation for a while) with a lot of questions which I promptly answered, but also told him that I needed an answer ASAP as to whether he was going to invest or not as I wanted to get the show on the road.
He replied by stating that he wouldn’t be able to make a decision that quickly and so opted to decline any investing, although he did wish me luck and thought that I had a good idea here. That’s a good sign anyway, since most of the other investors weren’t very impressed by the idea.
With the investment period finished, I proceeded to get the contract signed with the one investor that eagerly came on board.
After problem solving how we would move money around, the contract signing went smoothly since all of the major contract details were already covered in detail in my original presentation and feasibility study report.
Investment Payment On Its Way
Due to bank holidays and international wiring delays, the investment package should arrive by Oct. 7th (will be sent out on Oct. 1st).
Hopefully there are no issues here, as I’m actually missing a wire payment from a company currently which is a bit of a mess.
Development Specification Started
I’ve created development specification documents in the past for the various web projects I’ve launched before, but I wanted to get a bit of up-to-date training and tips in how to prepare one so I did a quick bit of research first.
The main piece of information that I learned which I never included in my development plans before was the benefits of providing wireframes, so I also did some quick research on that and created my first wireframe for the project.
I plan on creating 3 wireframes: the splash/lock page, the main page, and the main inner page.
Overall, I’m only about 1% done the development specification. I already knew from the beginning that this would be the biggest undertaking on this project. Once this is done, everything else will be pretty easy and fun since I can finally start paying others to do the work.
I suspect that it will take me 2-3 weeks to complete the development specification, along with all the other work I’m doing on the side.
When I first thought of the idea for this project just over a year ago, I did what seemed like 50-60 Google queries and could not find a single running website that was doing anything closely related.
After pitching my idea to over half a dozen interested investors though, I’ve learned that there are indeed other websites out there with similar ideas in mind.
Just yesterday another past investor who turned down investing sent me an e-mail notifying me of another competitor he found.
The thing is, while there are a few other websites and apps out there with a similar idea in mind, they are hardly what you could call competition. Each of them could be cloned 100% for probably $300 – $500.
In addition, they are only doing a very small fraction of what my project will encompass. I guess you could compare it to having the idea for Microsoft Word and then finding out that there are a few Microsoft Notepad’s out there (although that may not be the best example since I use Notepad all the time, hah).
In My Next Update…
In my next update on Project V, I hope to have received the investment funds and be at least 50% done the development specifications, hopefully a bit further.
At that point, I may also start to slowly reveal what the project and idea is all about… maybe. I’m still on the fence about revealing any information about it before it actually launches
Keep posted for more updates – I should hopefully not take another 2 weeks before another blog post as long as I continue to recover from my bad cold.
It’s been nearly 2 weeks since my last blog post, and I think I’ve been moderately productive during that time. At least, as productive as I can be with this stupid disease.
I’ve been continuing to plug away at my corporate taxes and am making progress on that. One of the many reasons why it takes so long is because I often run into the situation where a company shuts down or gets acquired by another company and then I am left trying to get in contact with the appropriate people to get my accounting records for the past fiscal year back.
One way to avoid this would be to actually file away insertion orders and payment info as I receive them, but this really isn’t possible in many cases. For example, most networks that use the Cake platform don’t offer any accounting information.
Anyhow, apart from tending to my taxes and plugging away at e-mail, my focus has again been on Project V. Here’s what’s happened over the past couple of weeks:
Investment Period Ending
Since my last post, I had another 3 interested investors, 2 of which actually bothered responding to my reply e-mail. Both signed the NDA and were given the presentation, but only one of them has watched it so far (the other should be watching it any time now).
Unfortunately, the investor that watched it wasn’t interested, basically citing the fact that he didn’t think it was quite worth the risk. I do agree that this is a high-risk venture (as is most things I undertake); an investor will likely either walk away with a huge return or else will struggle to even make his original investment back.
The other investor who I’m still waiting on to watch the presentation is the last possible investor candidate; if he doesn’t want in, then it will just be me and the original investor who is still 100% hyped about the project.
Our plan is to get the site developed and then possibly look into getting a 2nd round of investing done at that point. It will be clear to investors what they would be getting into at that point, and much more of a numbers game as compared to a concept and numbers game as it currently is.
It would be nice to have more investors on board as it would mean a larger budget and therefore a larger chance of this project blowing up and going big, but at the same time if it’s just me and the one other investor, it’s more profit share for us and the site could still blow up just as big.
The other investor who is on board contacted his accountant and lawyer and they requested that I send them a feasibility study on the project. I didn’t know what this was at the time, but have since learned and created one for it.
I’m pretty proud of it… it’s 5 full pages (small font) and is professional and detailed while still getting to the point.
In addition, I created the actual contract papers for the other investor and I to sign. This was simpler to do and once again is very professional while to the point.
I contacted several local lawyers and notaries and asked them how much it would cost for them to sign the contract as a signing witness as well as mark it was their official seal and/or stamp.
I was happy to learn that it seems that the general cost for this is only around $30-$35 plus tax, for those of you curious. This of course doesn’t include having the lawyer actually look over and review the contract – I’m not sure how much that would cost. My guess is around $200 but that’s pure speculation. It likely depends on the length and scope of the contract.
So right now I’m waiting on the last potential investor to get back to me. Once I hear back from him, the other investor and I will agree to the contract terms and then sign them and get them officially witnessed, then the other investor will transfer his investment funds to my account.
After that comes the most arduous task yet – creating the development plan for the programmers and developers. This will take an INSANE amount of time because while the idea is simple in nature, there are a lot of factors and features to consider. I’ll probably be at least 30 pages long.
Hopefully in my next update about this project I will have started both of them next steps.
So my focus over the past week has continued to be working on my corporate taxes (about 50% done now) and Project V.
In fact, there was some good progress made on Project V. The main investor has continued to be really pumped about the project. I can always expect to wake up, check my phone, and literally see 4-5 new e-mails from him every morning. In addition, we speak on the phone (Skype) nearly every day for around an hour discussing the vision and other elements of the project.
It’s a bit odd for me, as I’ve been working online for a living for around 12 years or so and have never collaborated on a project before. I’m still the primary owner of the project, but it’s still weird to discuss it with somebody else. I’m a bit of a control freak so it’s definitely a different feeling, but it’s nice to hear somebody else’s opinion of things.
Since my last blog post, where I briefly mentioned that I was still open to accepting investors on the project, I received a few new inquiries. One of them never replied back to my response. Another was sent the NDA and non-compete from me but I haven’t heard from him since then, and the other sent me the signed NDA and non-compete and skimmed through the slideshow (but didn’t listen to the MP3) but wasn’t interested.
Since there have been a number of developments made in the project lately, I decided that I would update the slideshow presentation as well as add a new slide. In addition, I actually went ahead and re-recorded an entire new MP3 presentation for the 2 new possible investors as well. I was hoping to make it a bit shorter in length, but it ended up being exactly an hour (just like the previous one) so I guess that’s just how long it takes to present it.
Anyhow, I’m not liking the lack of response from the people who have contacted me about investing… but that’s okay. If it ends up just being me and the existing investor, that’s a bigger share of the pie for us.
Not too long after I first thought of this idea a year ago, I went ahead and searched for a domain that I thought would make a good fit.
I came up with a list of names that I thought could work, and my favourite on that list was a domain that was listed for $5,000.
Recently, when I decided to go ahead with this project, I found that the domain had dropped to $3,500. I spent a lot of additional time looking for alternative domains (the other investor did as well), including any domains up to $10,000 but there was nothing that beat this domain.
I wanted a domain that was very brandable and related to the project idea, so it was not easy.
So I went back to my favourite domain and ended up negotiating the price down to $3,000. In addition, I bought the .net and .org variant of the domain as well as a typo variation of the domain (which I’m actually surprised was available!).
I had the other investor register appropriate names on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
The domain is up and running on one of my servers with a splash page. And for the first time ever, I set up rDNS (reverse DNS) on the domain (which was pretty confusing due to the lack of documentation available).
In addition to the domain, I received a logo with it as well. I am not sure if we will end up keeping the logo or not – it’s pretty good, but we may be able to do better.
World Class Programmers
With progress being made on the project, I started to look for a development company.
As cringe-worthy as it may sound, I did take a gander at Upwork and Freelancer and browsed through the top providers there with the highest feedback and a solid number of past clients. It has been a while since I last developed a website from the ground up, so I was curious how the quality of providers was today.
Unfortunately, looking through the portfolios, I was not too impressed. They simply won’t do for this project. I want this website to have a top-notch development team behind it, and there simply aren’t any top notch providers on these freelance websites.
But then I found Toptal. I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of this place before – it must be pretty new.
The best way for you to learn about Toptal is to visit the link above, but basically they’re a cream-of-the-crop freelance agency. Essentially they’re like Upwork and Freelance but have incredibly high standards to who they let in.
Doing some research from actual programmers, I found out that it’s very difficult to get accepted as a provider there. You have to go through multiple long phone interviews and undertake many tests over a period of a couple of months.
There are world-class programmers there… ones from Microsoft, Java, IBM, Zynga, etc. It’s kind of insane really.
Clients of Toptal include Entrepreneur, CNBC, Fox, and a lot of startups.
The main downside that I can see so far is simply the price. You get what you pay for, and from a very preliminary research into prices, I think they range from around $75-$125/hour.
At $125/hour, 120 hours would cost $15,000. That’s a 3-week 40-hour/per week programmer.
The upside is that you’d be getting a seriously talented developer with proper code.
I started the process of signing up as a client, and found that I myself have to go through some phone interviews. It just shows how serious they are about the standards of their agency.
Anyhow, that’s what has been going on this past week.