+ About

Apurva Mehta

I'm a programmer and entrepreneur, currently bootstrapping RecordBox. I use this space to write about entrepreneurship and technology.

More about me.

Into Marketing Mode

I have realized that I desperately need to pay attention to marketing. As it stands, RecordBox gets no organic search traffic. And the referral traffic is mainly through this blog. This is quite a sad state of affairs no matter how you look at it.

In this post I will talk about why I think it is high time to start marketing RecordBox. I will also touch on my immediate marketing strategy.

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Co-opting Users to Help With Product Design

RecordBox reached an important milestone this week: our iPhone app was released. Finally people could enjoy the end-to-end RecordBox experience.

The feedback so far has been pretty positive. The engagement with the website and the product shot up as it became easier to create and upload recordings.

Another thing has happened: feature requests and suggestions are pouring in thanks to the real world use the product is getting. This is a bit overwhelming, and requires me to prioritize my focus because one man can only do so much.

I have reached a few decisions about how I am going to go about this prioritization process and what the next steps for RecordBox are. In this post I will share these decisions and the rationale behind them.

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Getting Started With iOS Development

I have been working on the iPhone app for RecordBox for the past few weeks. It is coming along well and I have the skeleton of an app which can record audio and upload it to a RecordBox account.

I had no experience with IOS development before this app, and did not know anything about the Objective-C language either. (Objective-C is the de-facto programming language for iPhone apps). Given that I started a little over a month ago, I think the progress has been rather brisk: I hope to have a first version of the app out in a week from now.

I am going to share how I got started developing an IOS app to interface with my Rails web-application. I think everyone charts their own course through this maze, and if sharing mine helps fellow programmers down the line, it will be very satisfying. So here goes!

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Drawing a Line in the Sand

I have been maintaining this blog for around six months now. I started it just before I quit my job and after I had decided to start my own company. It was a place for me to record my entrepreneurial journey. That is basically all I had in mind at the time. That's a rather open charter, and I think I can do better now.

Truth be told, my journey has gotten a whole lot more concrete in the past six months. I now have a concrete product (RecordBox) that I am working on, I have a more concrete idea of 'success', and I am more familiar with most of the aspects of building a business.

So I think that this is a good time to draw a line in the sand and publicly state what I hope to accomplish with RecordBox and what I want to do with this blog. This will add accountability as well as lend structure to my professional activities and blogging.

I will begin with where I am at present, state where I want to be in October 2012, share the raison d'etre for this blog, and then summarize the kinds of posts you are likely to see here going forward. Thanks in advance for reading!

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Entering RecordBox, Phase II

One week ago I released the first version of my product, RecordBox. Having got that under my belt I turned my attention to making sense of the feedback and formulating my plans going forward.

In this blog post I would like share my experience of getting RecordBox into the hands of users and my reflections on the lessons learnt.

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How to Build a Castle on Moving Foundations

That is how it feels to be doing a startup: it's like building a castle on foundations which move at a hundred miles per hour. I have been working really hard at getting a first version of RecordBox out of the door in early September. The release will be made to a few musician friends who are known to me. It is quite a aggressive target, and it has really taken the best of me to meet it. Here's why:

In my hobby projects, I had no care for revenue and no care for users. There were essentially no constraints and no feedback on my performance.

In my professional projects for a large company I was insulated from everything but the technical aspects of product development. All I had to do was produce quality technical work, and someone else took care of the rest.

By contrast, in this startup, I have to care about who the users are, what their problem is, and how much they are willing to pay to solve it. And I have to figure out how to balance that equation in a way that makes financial sense for me.

The equation has far more variables than doing hobby projects (which had no expectation of users or revenue), or professional projects (where one focuses only on the product development). That makes it orders of magnitude more complex.

So life has been really interesting. I would like to share my experiences in getting a first version of RecordBox into the hands of actual users. It will be fun for me to read this account some time later when the dust has settled.

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There is no Substitute for Love

One major trend which I have noticed is that modern startup methodologies like Lean Startup have made it look like building a successful business is a scientific endeavor with a deterministic outcome. The underlying refrain is 'follow this method, and your startup is likelier to succeed'.

Further, the barrier to entry for technology companies is extremely low. This is something I have found out first hand as I started building my product, RecordBox, this week.

All this has led to an explosion of new startups attacking nearly every niche.

However, I don't think anyone believes that the odds of success of today's startups are going to change much. The success-to-failure ratio of this new generation of startups will be the same as ever.

In this post I would like to talk about something that is not commonly spoken about in the blogosphere, and that is the importance of passion and love of founders for their product. Simply put, nothing can be a substitute for love. And we forget that to our own peril.

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Ruby on Rails and Startup Chile

There is not much to report this week. Since I decided to get a working first version of RecordBox out by the first week of September, I have basically had my head down learning the technology I need to make that happen.

In particular, I have been running through Agile Web Development with Rails, and I must say that I really love the way the book is written. Having the reader build an actual application while introducing the relevant concepts and techniques as needed along the way is a really good approach to take for a book of this kind. Most other books which introduce technologies use extremely small-scale examples. That means that one cannot get one's hands adequately dirty, and hence one is deprived of the opportunity to learn meaningful lessons. This book does not suffer from that problem. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn Rails.

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