Shawn Dahlen

Periodic updates on my software startup endeavor

Prepare Business Operations

| Comments

With my attention now focused on the startup, I spent this week bootstrapping the business. The objective was to establish a project plan achievable within thirty weeks while preparing technical and financial operations. Before I dive into the particulars of the schedule, let me provide a look into what I will be working on.

The Product

Before I made the leap, I had several ideas worth pursuing. Most were mid to large in size. I would have had to create a working prototype over the thirty week time period and raise venture capital to take it to the next step. Instead, I decided to focus on a niche and implement a full solution within the same timeframe with the mid-term objective of generating semi-passive income that could seed bigger ideas.

The niche I will be targeting is a task management app that provides first-class support for the Pomodoro Technique. Why you ask? First and foremost, it scratches my own itch. As Paul Graham penned in How To Get Startup Ideas, the best ideas are ones in which the founders themselves want and can build. While there exists many first-class task management solutions, none provide rich support for arguably one of the most popular productivity methods. I will initially launch with a web-based interface and follow with iOS and Android versions pending traction of the product. More information will follow regarding the product, its features, and user experience in several weeks.

The Plan

The plan is simple. I have divided the thirty weeks into five sprints each with a specific work package (objective). The work package is further decomposed into six tasks that are approximately one week of effort each. This approach afforded me a clear weekly focus that I could subsequently share with you.

I opted to tackle the product architecture first versus the typical approach of defining product requirements. I felt that more risk existed with the product architecture since I had not operated systems on the Internet before while the base requirements are already well-defined within the Pomodoro Technique book.

With the current plan, I intend to launch the product in early October (accounting for some vacation time with my family).


  1. Define and prototype the product architecture
    • Week 1: Automate provisioning of secure servers
    • Week 2: Setup Node.js servers within a load-balanced configuration
    • Week 3: Setup a MongoDb database cluster
    • Week 4: Setup an automated functional testing framework
    • Week 5: Setup a performance testing framework
    • Week 6: Setup a monitoring and backup strategy
  2. Define product user experience
    • Week 7: Draft personas, goals, and feature requirements
    • Week 8: Draft paper storyboards
    • Week 9: Establish a visual design
    • Week 10: Draft design compositions for time and inventory features
    • Week 11: Draft design compositions for reporting and gameplay features
    • Week 12: Draft design compositions for registration and payment features
  3. Implement registration, time, and inventory features
  4. Implement reporting, gameplay, and payment features
  5. Conduct testing and draft marketing plan

Other Activities

Beyond defining the schedule and the associated research required to scope it, I tackled a few other activities in preparation for week one kickoff:

  • I incorporated my business, tenatively named Whimsical Bits, Ltd., through Rocket Lawyer and drafted my LLC Operating Agreement.
  • I implemented a script to bootstrap my mac for software development that includes setup of homebrew, vim, irssi, rbenv, and a few ruby gems (which I will discuss next week). Additionally, I refined my personal dotfiles that intend to push to all servers I work on.