2016 Year in Review: My Turning Point
I started my startup journey about 3 years ago. I hesitated. I researched. I told myself I don’t know what I am doing but I’ll figure it out. Then I jumped right in 😁
I made a lot of mistakes along the way
- If you build it, they will come, right? No. No, they don’t. I learned that lesson many times over the years. 😂
- I over analyzed things. I let indecision and my fear of failure kill my momentum.
- I didn’t ask for help. I tried to do everything on my own.
- I tried to imitate other startups without realizing that each startup is unique.
- I didn’t take care of myself which led to burn-out several times.
2016 was different
I focused more on my mental health by asking for support
In the first year of my startup journey, I had a miscarriage. Another one in my second year. They left me devastated. I questioned my purpose in life. I felt like a failure. I went into depression, on and off a few times.
This year I reached out to friends who’ve experienced something similar. In addition to emotional support, they gave us great advice. Just talking to couples who went through a similar journey helped. It gave us hope.
I did things despite my fear of failure
Every time, I click the send button for my newsletter or a launch a new project, I get so nervous. So many thoughts go through my mind. What if people think it’s terrible? What if I am helping no one and I am just wasting time?
I changed my mindset this year. Every time I try something new, I see it as an experiment. Even though the fear of failing is scary, it’s a risk worth taking to see if I can help someone.
I focused on what I know, on my passion and on what people want
I made the mistake of starting with an idea before. This year I focused on what I love and what I am good at which is building things. This led me to start Ionic Kits. I help developers kickstart their mobile apps with pre-built app templates.
Also, as a woman, I am passionate about getting more women into tech. I held office hours and volunteered at Women Who Code DC last year. This year I focused even more on getting more women into tech through Code with Veni, Code Better Together and United Women of Tech.
I followed my own path
Every startup is different and every founder is different. I used to go to a lot of meetups where founders shared their stories. It was inspirational. But following their advice didn’t always work because my audience is different. Also, what another founder is good at may not be what I am good at.
This year I stopped stressing about what I should be doing based on other people’s advice. I focused on my strengths and on what my audience needed.
Community played a huge role for me this year
It is the community I go to whenever life gets tough. They have helped so much especially with giving support whenever I’ve had a setback.
I am also member of Justin Jackson’s Megamaker community. It’s a group of solopreneurs. A lot of the members happen to be developers like me. We do a simple ritual every week where we share what we worked on last week and what we are going to work on this week. It keeps me accountable.
Justin’s podcast and blog are awesome. His stories are one of the few that I can relate to. Also, his Marketing for Developers book (now a course) helped me see marketing as a way to reach out to people who you want to help.
Women Who Code DC is another amazing community that played a role in my journey this year. I formed a lot of meaningful connections through them. They also helped me whenever I needed feedback on my various projects.
A glimpse into my work in 2016
Code with Veni
- I launched my passion project Code with Veni, a newsletter to give women a starting point for a career in tech. I published nine issues this year. It grew from 0 to 700 members since April.
- I held 30 one-on-one mentoring sessions with aspiring women developers. This gave me more insight into the issues and struggles women have as they are starting out.
- The newsletter was featured on Technical.ly DC by Tajha Lanier. It also made it on the list of 19 Newsletters that you should slide into your inbox by Chasity S. Cooper.
Women in Tech Community Map (now United Women of Tech)
- I built a map of women in tech communities to connect women to tech communities around the world. This was one of my most fun projects of the year.
- Initially, I added communities manually. Later on, I crowd-sourced it and about a 100 communities signed up for it.
- The map was featured in IEEE Spectrum!
Code Better Together
- As I have been getting so much support through the various communities that I am part of, I wanted to do give something similar for women developers. I started Code Better Together, an accountability group for women developers in November.
- We now have 100 members and it’s slowly growing.
- As a developer who loves to keep building new things, Ionic Kits has been a great outlet for me. I launched Ionic Kits and sold around 30 mobile app templates.
- One of my clients used it to build a conference app for the International Space Development Conference.
Personal and Professional Growth
- I gave my first talk at a Meetup. This was a big deal for me as I am super introverted. I also have a huge fear of public speaking (losing my voice, shaking, etc.).
- I usually like to remain behind the scenes. This year I put myself out there. I was recognized as one of 52 Powerful Women Programmers by DCFemTech. I was also among the 150 finalists for 50 on Fire DC.
- I also made it on the list of tech folks of color to follow. I tweet about learning to code and about women in tech. You can follow me here.
Looking ahead to 2017
I want to keep the momentum up and use what worked for me in 2016.
I was able to do a lot more this year as I am in a better state of mind. I want to continue to focus on my health (mental + physical). This is my biggest challenge. Here are a few things I am going to try:
- Write morning pages at 750words.com and take a few minutes to meditate right after. The idea is to clear my mind and get the ideas flowing for the rest of the day.
- I registered for a half-marathon this year. I enjoyed training for it. It was meditative. But, I pushed too hard and ended up with a muscle spasm in my lower back. This year, I’ll start slow. Walk at least 3 times a week and go on hikes when the weather gets better.
- I also want to travel more this year to give myself a chance to recharge. I want to go on at least one international trip and three or four local trips.
- Release an Ionic & Firebase e-commerce template in January. Get feedback and study the best way to market it. Repeat the process for more templates.
- Create and launch five more Ionic and Firebase templates by the end of 2017.
Women in Tech
- Continue to help more women consider and thrive in careers in tech through Code with Veni and Code Better Together.
- Interview more women in tech for my inspiration series. I already have five women lined up for the upcoming months.
- Grow United Women of Tech by adding more communities. I also want to highlight the women who are running the organizations by sharing their stories.
- Launch the second phase of United Women of Tech to connect women developers to jobs. This will be my big project of the year. If all goes well, companies can stop saying women never respond to their job ads. I’ll make it easier for them to reach out to women candidates.
I learned a lot in 2016. My goal for 2017 is to keep reaching out to more people that I can help and earn a living while doing it.
Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or suggestions, please reach out!