Wednesday, December 16, 2009

iPhone Development - Year One

In December of 2008, our little software venture Driven Tree, LLC had it's first application accepted by Apple and became available for purchase on the AppStore. Our first application Flipper, a MySQL client for the iPhone and Touch, kicked off what would be a year full of hope, excitement, disappointment, frustration and friendship. Notice I did not say financial prosperity but prosperity nevertheless.
Much like the gold rush of 1849, the riches of the AppStore seemed to be laying around on the ground waiting for the first fellow with the sense to bend over to simply pick it up. Today we have seven applications for sale on the AppStore and have yet to cover the cost of the coffee we drank at Starbucks over that same period. I suspect Apple has a secret pact with Starbucks.
Our hopes for new Apple hardware, job independence, self employment and debit relief have since faded as the reality of the situation slowly set in. We were 49'ers with all the right equipment, but like so many others, the claim we staked did not yield the mother load. But we continued to find just enough to keep us on the claim panning our hearts out never the less.
In early 2008 we started talking about coming together and by September we had formed our LLC. This was during the most difficult economic times our country had seen in decades. Our full time employers were struggling mightily to stay afloat creating tension, uncertainty and fear in their work force and with us specifically with regarding the longevity of our primary cash flow, our real 9-5 jobs. So our hobby became a second job worked after hours, and on the weekends.
My concern was that having this new and exciting opportunity would distract us from our 9-5 jobs and interfere with our performance of those duties. But it did something more important that I could not have foreseen. It benefitted our struggling employers. By having hope in something we were doing, by having a creative outlet we were able to better manage our morale challenges that layoffs and downsizing were having on us. By not sitting around feelings sorry for ourselves, we were taking charge of our destinies. We were not helpless victims but captains of our own ship. While others around us seem to despair we flourished.
I don't want to paint too rosy a picture of course, as we were not making enough money to effect our financial well being. But what I want to convey is that we each benefited greatly by having a common shared goal, and the control over our decisions and directions. Something to focus on other than just the challenges we faced 9-5. There was occasional talk about the 9-5 but for the most part our join focus was on the new venture. We worked as a team and created things and expressed ourselves collaboratively over the year, and this made a huge difference. We were then able to bring that mental health, satisfaction and happiness back into our work place and remain upbeat and positive even under difficult circumstances. And that was a benefit to those around us as well. It also allowed us to improve our personal performance and accomplish more things within our 9-5 jobs as well. So while it was the most difficult year of the past 15 I've spent at my company, it was also my best performing year yet, according to my management.
And like a few 49'ers, perhaps lack of gold found was not a failure, but the land, location, relationships and camaraderie are the better value, and who knows we may still strike it rich the old fashion way, with continued hard work and creative innovation.

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