Commit acf258c9 authored by Jaisen Mathai's avatar Jaisen Mathai
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Adding external link icon for external links

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share: true
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It was February 6, 2011 when [I posted to HackerNews](https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2184603) about an idea I had. The idea was a way store and share your photos while ensuring their permanence for decades into the future. This wasn't the first idea I've had nor was it the first idea I'd end up leaving my job to pursue. In fact, this ended up being the third photo service I'd launch.
It was February 6, 2011 when [I posted to HackerNews](https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2184603) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small> about an idea I had. The idea was a way store and share your photos while ensuring their permanence for decades into the future. This wasn't the first idea I've had nor was it the first idea I'd end up leaving my job to pursue. In fact, this ended up being the third photo service I'd launch.
8 years prior I had started working on something named Photagious. It was 2003 and the Internet looked much different then than it does today.
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......@@ -17,9 +17,9 @@ Startups don't come with maps; there's no clear path from idea to a successful p
We launched OpenPhoto with the hopes of helping regular folks like you or me better organize, archive and share photos. Our approach was different; we wanted to do so in a way that could guarantee your photo library would outlive our company.
We enjoyed success that most startups never do. We did a [successful Kickstarter](https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jmathai/openphoto-a-photo-service-for-your-s3-or-dropbox-a), had people all around the world [installing our open source software](https://github.com/photo/frontend), signed up tens of thousands of users at Trovebox and [raised funding](../fundraising/).
We enjoyed success that most startups never do. We did a [successful Kickstarter](https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jmathai/openphoto-a-photo-service-for-your-s3-or-dropbox-a) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small>, had people all around the world [installing our open source software](https://github.com/photo/frontend) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small>, signed up tens of thousands of users at Trovebox and [raised funding](../fundraising/).
Still we didn't do enough to build a sustainable business by offering our service to consumers. I wrote in more detail about [our transition away from consumers on Medium](https://medium.com/@jmathai/hello-2014-goodbye-consumer-photo-internet-service-b1234eaf75b).
Still we didn't do enough to build a sustainable business by offering our service to consumers. I wrote in more detail about [our transition away from consumers on Medium](https://medium.com/@jmathai/hello-2014-goodbye-consumer-photo-internet-service-b1234eaf75b) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small>.
## The Decision
......@@ -31,7 +31,7 @@ The consumer photo space is crowded. You'll be hard pressed to find another mark
## The Plunge
It took us a few months to make the transition but we finally relaunched Trovebox as a business product in November. Coincidentally a competitor [released business metrics outlining their struggles](https://github.com/everpix/Everpix-Intelligence) building a subscription based consumer photo service. It was further validation that we had made the right decision 6 months earlier.
It took us a few months to make the transition but we finally relaunched Trovebox as a business product in November. Coincidentally a competitor [released business metrics outlining their struggles](https://github.com/everpix/Everpix-Intelligence) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small> building a subscription based consumer photo service. It was further validation that we had made the right decision 6 months earlier.
We immediately focused on growing our business customer base. We had similar internal charts on our dashboard along with a 6 month target growth line we needed to track.
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Curveballs.
> [It's the part that makes startups hard: managing your own psychology when it looks like everything is falling apart.](http://brandonb.cc/what-happened-when-my-co-founder-quit-the-night-before-our-yc-interview)
> [It's the part that makes startups hard: managing your own psychology when it looks like everything is falling apart.](http://brandonb.cc/what-happened-when-my-co-founder-quit-the-night-before-our-yc-interview) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small>
So many times it felt like everything was falling in around us. I can recall the 3 times Patrick and I talked about how there's no light at the end of the tunnel. Twice on Castro St. in Mountain View where we worked when Patrick was in town we planned how we'd shut Trovebox down.
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Speaking of family; my parents think I'm crazy. That gets reinforced each time I chase a startup idea. This is the second time I left a job to start something. They want nothing more than for me to get a job at a big stable company and be a loyal employee until I retire. Nonetheless they supported me as they have in the past despite thinking I was being foolish.
Then there's the [Shuttleworth Foundation](https://shuttleworthfoundation.org/). I wrote in more detail about [my experience as a Shuttleworth fellow](../../articles/shuttleworth/) if you wanted to read it. But to make a long post short they've been the best partner I could ask for. Not only did they provide nearly $1M in funding but they provided a network of the brightest and most ambitious people I've met. All working on something that makes the world a better place. There's nothing else quite like it.
Then there's the [Shuttleworth Foundation](https://shuttleworthfoundation.org/) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small>. I wrote in more detail about [my experience as a Shuttleworth fellow](../../articles/shuttleworth/) if you wanted to read it. But to make a long post short they've been the best partner I could ask for. Not only did they provide nearly $1M in funding but they provided a network of the brightest and most ambitious people I've met. All working on something that makes the world a better place. There's nothing else quite like it.
There were countless friends who believed in me as well. They helped me keep my sanity when I questioned if I had made a terrible mistake.
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There were many days and even weeks where I was convinced all this was a huge mistake.
Ben Horrowitz, a well known venture capitalist, blogged on this topic in 2012 in blog post also called [The Struggle](http://www.bhorowitz.com/the_struggle).
Ben Horrowitz, a well known venture capitalist, blogged on this topic in 2012 in blog post also called [The Struggle](http://www.bhorowitz.com/the_struggle) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small>.
## It's complicated
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I believed something needed to be changed. Looking around at how everyone dealt with, or didn't deal with, archiving photos I knew something had to change.
I believed we could build a successful busines. I've always been driven to create businesses. In middle school I would buy [Zotz](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZotZ_%28candy%29) candy for $.03 and sell it for $.05. A hefty 66% margin.
I believed we could build a successful busines. I've always been driven to create businesses. In middle school I would buy [Zotz](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZotZ_%28candy%29) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small> candy for $.03 and sell it for $.05. A hefty 66% margin.
As with any strong belief it's difficult to come to terms with the idea that things won't pan out the way you believed.
......@@ -71,7 +71,7 @@ I imagine it drives more entrepreneurs than you'd imagine.
## The effect of having no money
Louis C.K., a comedian, has a great bit titled *[Being Broke](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0rSXjVuJVg)*.
Louis C.K., a comedian, has a great bit titled *[Being Broke](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0rSXjVuJVg)* <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small>.
Besides being hilarious I felt like I could relate<sup>1</sup>.
> You ever have negative money? You look at your bank account and you have negative $10. [...] I wish I didn't have anything but I have less than that. If it's free I can't f*****g afford it.
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> [We are the Shuttleworth Foundation and we fund people who are unafraid to re-imagine the world
and the way we live in it.](https://shuttleworthfoundation.org/)
and the way we live in it.](https://shuttleworthfoundation.org/) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small>
There exists in Cape Town, South Africa a small group of people taking bold risks by investing in people ambitious enough to change the world through openness. I only came to know about the [Shuttleworth Foundation](https://shuttleworthfoundation.org/) in 2012 while we were looking for [funding sources](../fundraising/). It's founded and funded by entrepreneur [Mark Shuttleworth](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Shuttleworth).
There exists in Cape Town, South Africa a small group of people taking bold risks by investing in people ambitious enough to change the world through openness. I only came to know about the [Shuttleworth Foundation](https://shuttleworthfoundation.org/) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small> in 2012 while we were looking for [funding sources](../fundraising/). It's founded and funded by entrepreneur [Mark Shuttleworth](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Shuttleworth) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small>.
<iframe src="//player.vimeo.com/video/54762523" width="500" height="281" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
On the surface the Foundation looks like part venture capitalist and part foundational grant institution. It's an accurate description but to say that's *all* the Foundation is would be a gross understatement.
Bi-annually the Foundation gives up to 3 years of fellowship to individuals working on something [in an open manner](https://shuttleworthfoundation.org/thinking/thinking-openness/). That includes openness in education, science, data, government, software and more. The Foundation measures success not in dollars but in positive social change.
Bi-annually the Foundation gives up to 3 years of fellowship to individuals working on something [in an open manner](https://shuttleworthfoundation.org/thinking/thinking-openness/) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small>. That includes openness in education, science, data, government, software and more. The Foundation measures success not in dollars but in positive social change.
## My fellowship for Trovebox
[My fellowship](https://shuttleworthfoundation.org/fellows/jaisen-mathai/) was for [Trovebox](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trovebox) (originally OpenPhoto). We set out to make possible the preservation of digital photo archives for posterity. Openness is innate to solving that problem. Ideas like data ownership and portability need to be cornerstones; not an afterthought. Our approach of [open sourcing our software](https://github.com/photo) and experimenting with distributed storage for digital media are what made it a good fit to receive a fellowship.
[My fellowship](https://shuttleworthfoundation.org/fellows/jaisen-mathai/) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small> was for [Trovebox](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trovebox) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small> (originally OpenPhoto). We set out to make possible the preservation of digital photo archives for posterity. Openness is innate to solving that problem. Ideas like data ownership and portability need to be cornerstones; not an afterthought. Our approach of [open sourcing our software](https://github.com/photo) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small> and experimenting with distributed storage for digital media are what made it a good fit to receive a fellowship.
<figure class="half">
<img src="/images/photos/2014-04-17-wd-mycloud-bricked.jpg" alt="Restoring the image on a bricked Western Digital MyCloud device">
......@@ -40,7 +40,7 @@ The Foundation provides over $1,000,000 in funding over 3 years. It takes a lot
> I came for the money and stayed for the community. -- Me
It's impossible to know how the community plays into a fellowship until you arrive at your first Gathering. The Foundation has bi-annual Gatherings where every fellow, current and alumni, converge in a single location. It's a week crammed together in a room talking about everyone's projects or around a dinner table discussing everything from the [lack of transparency at large corporations](https://shuttleworthfoundation.org/fellows/johnny-west/) to [putting educational materials into the hands of the poor in South Africa](https://shuttleworthfoundation.org/fellows/arthur-atwell/).
It's impossible to know how the community plays into a fellowship until you arrive at your first Gathering. The Foundation has bi-annual Gatherings where every fellow, current and alumni, converge in a single location. It's a week crammed together in a room talking about everyone's projects or around a dinner table discussing everything from the [lack of transparency at large corporations](https://shuttleworthfoundation.org/fellows/johnny-west/) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small> to [putting educational materials into the hands of the poor in South Africa](https://shuttleworthfoundation.org/fellows/arthur-atwell/) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small>.
<figure>
<img src="/images/photos/2013-11-12-gathering-edinburgh.jpg" alt="image" /></a>
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## Becoming an alumni
By now I've been an alumni for just over a week. The Foundation published [Arthur and my exit from the fellowship program](https://shuttleworthfoundation.org/thinking/thinking-fellowship-exit-2014/) on their site today. Reading that page and watching the video made the transition from my fellowship and the next chapter quite concrete.
By now I've been an alumni for just over a week. The Foundation published [Arthur and my exit from the fellowship program](https://shuttleworthfoundation.org/thinking/thinking-fellowship-exit-2014/) <small><i class="icon-external-link"></i></small> on their site today. Reading that page and watching the video made the transition from my fellowship and the next chapter quite concrete.
<iframe src="//player.vimeo.com/video/103912044" width="500" height="281" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
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