For 3 years, I worked on a project. For the first year, I did a basic MVP to chase a girl, now my current girlfriend. I pitched around to many friends at every chance I got. Then, I met my co-founder Zachery. He felt there was potential and the UI could use his magic touches. We worked on it together between 2019-2020.
After launching, we struggled hard to get users. Zachery had to use the few $10 Starbucks cards he had to incentivise people to sign up. To stand a chance to win these cards, students had to review professors and courses on our platform.
The first semester, I spent hours seeding it with data. Much of these data were sprawled around dozens of Google sheets and documents. It was a terrible way to compile reviews of professors and courses. One could never be sure if it’s veracity or relevance (courses change curriculum and professors regularly)
Once there were enough seed data, the site looked livelier. It wasn’t so empty like a ghost town, which people would have naturally avoided. Together with the Starbucks card campaign, we managed to hustle our way to 200 cumulative reviews. 150 were from actual users. Not too bad for a one month long MVP.
As the weeks went by, we had classes. But in our spare time, we worked on it further. Zachery made improvements to the UI, and I did the same for the backend. We also explored opportunities to grow the team and increase our visibility. That would ensure our platform would eventually become self sustaining.
We had to experiment a lot to figure out what worked. It wasn’t easy and there’s many more stories to tell. But I’ll leave this for another post.
Today, we reaped the fruit of our labours unexpectedly. To most people, it wouldn’t mean much. Heck, my friends even wondered why I was doing charity. I accepted their chiding.
I only knew I wished this platform existed when I was a freshman. That it could also be a community of people I loved hanging out with. It wasn’t apparent straight away. But over time, I realised I enjoyed working with my team very much. There’s no politics. The only pure intentions we have is to grow the project and benefit the community. In addition, we wanted anyone who came aboard to help to grow together as well. And we made it happen.
Earlier, we had a meeting with our college’s student association. We talked about many things. Nearer to the end of the discussion, one of the committee members said something in a sincere tone. It’s something I don’t think I’ll easily forget now.
"It's heart warming to see students helping each other in another way – building an app to build the community"
I paraphrased it a little bit the idea is there. The payoffs for sticking to our passion came unexpectedly. It’s not in the forms you thought it was — money or prestige. It was gratitude and the impact we made.
At times I feel sad I couldn’t make some money from this — we are still running a loss from paying for servers. And it’s burdening my financial situation, but I’ll figure something out soon. Fingers crossed.