From Idea To Startup

September 18, 2008

6:09 pm

Do you have a great idea? So what are you going to do about it?

Many of us that love technology always have those little ideas that pop into our head.  You know the ones that say “Man I wish there was something that did insert idea here”.  Did you ever stop and think that you could actually take that idea and make it a reality?  In today’s technology landscape, the barriers to entry are so low, you should seriously look at taking the next step.  Once you do, you never know what can happen.

About 18 months ago, Amazon had recently released their new cloud storage platform, S3 (Simple Storage Service).  I thought it was way cool, but seemed to be lacking something, an easy interface to manage your data in their cloud.  Around the same time I started using an app on the Mac called Yojimbo.  It is a really cool app that lets you aggregate data, web pages, documents, etc into folders and tag them with metadata.  This was great except for the fact that all that data resided on my laptop.  I could not get to it while at work, on travel, or just away from my computer.  Then one night I had THAT question pop into my head.  “I wish there was a app like Yojimbo but on the web.”  That was my spark.

I thought about it for a while, as many do.  I wondered if I should do anything, but in the end I decided I was going to do something, anything and at least I could say I tried.  I had read books like Founders at Work and gleaned a lot of great insight and saw a direction I wanted to go.  I decided from the beginning I was going to do as much as I could on my own and control as much of it as I could.  I began with small scribblings in a moleskin of design concepts and notes here and there on business plan stuff.  Eventually a purpose, direction, and design came out of all of this.

The next step was to figure out how to take those ideas on paper and make them into a functioning app.  I knew form the beginning that I was not the person to do this.  I could have noodled my way through, but the time it took for me to do that would have been counterproductive.  So I decided to place a posting on Elance and let developers bid on my project.  Eventually I chose a provider and the work began.  I think the most important advice I can give you about this part of the process is to maintain a strong communication channel to make sure your wants and being implemented how you want them to be.  You are paying the bills, so make sure it is done properly.

It was a long process but in the end I got an application called MyDropBin, which is a user front end to your very own Amazon storage space that allows to save and share content, static and dynamic, and pay only for the amount of storage space you use.  It has been a great feeling just taking the step.  I did not spend a lot of money, and any that I did, I considered in investment in myself.

What has been so great about the process is the journey it has put me on.  I have tried to use social media to leverage PR for the product with virtually no PR budget.  It has afforded me the opportunity to meet great people and do a lot of really cool things.  It seems doors open and other doors and opportunities present themselves, ones that never would have had I not taken the first step.  The product has been running along.  Sure it could use some tweaking here and there and I do what I can where I can.  I have a full time job and kids, so time is sometimes hard to come by, but I do my best.

Recently I was listed in the Amazon Web Services Solution catalog and got a lot of registrations every day of people stopping by to check out my product.  I try to interact with all of them and find out what they think about the application and what can be done to make it better.  Eventually I will be able to start another development iteration and take the product to the next level.

What have I learned?  You never know what can happen, so take a chance and see.

TECH cocktail Community Contributed Knowledge

Jimmy Gardner is the founder of MyDropBin and 2Plus11 Technology. He works in the technology field as a government contractor. He also blogs at East Cost Blogging. He can be reached at Or add Jimmy as a friend in the TECH cocktail COMMUNITY.

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