could somebody please help me get off my high horse?

this week I learned that getting published is hard.

I took over the PR side of things in the beginning of June, and set out to get Linute featured in three publications by the end of June. I had already emailed about 15 writers when I made this goal, boasting to the group that it “ain’t no thang.” turns out, it’s a thang.

I might have hit up 25 people by the 29th, four of whom were fellow Syracuse Alumni. psh, fellow Orange will definitely help me, right? by June 30, I got one bite. ONE. and she’s not even a writer, she just graciously told me she’d tweet about us. (shout out Kim Brown for being awesome)

I now stand with two options looking me hard in the face:

1) continue to live with an inflated ego and its accompanying belief that my writing is in fact magic that everybody wants to read and probably even write about.

2) admit that I still have a lot to work on, and my high horse probably has somewhere to be.

I’m taking the latter route, only because I don’t want Linute to suffer on behalf of my ego. back to the drawing board, folks. three publications by July. check up on me.

fear the stand-still

there was a lot of learning going on during these past two weeks, but not a lot of movement. we hit a rut.

we set out to build version 2.0, creating 40-60 new screens and adding countless new features. we bit off way more than we could chew–a group of impatient perfectionists, which is very much a gift and a curse.

Nabeel pulled us out, reined us in. he put his foot down. “screw 2.0, we’re making 1.1.”

there were some protests. arguments. he kept his stance. a small update for our users now, rather than a huge update in what could be two months from now. progress that can be seen.

it might sound small, but the lesson will be a reference for us for the remainder of this project. it is hugely valuable to have learned early on, and our two-week stand-still will be a reminder that constant, swift evolution is crucial for any start-up. especially in the tech world.

we have received recent criticisms online from people who have tried to implement very similar ideas, saying that we are “unoriginal”, “copycats”, etc.

of course people are going to have similar ideas. it is a race to the finish. whoever gets there first, whoever gets there best, wins. that’s life. we are aware of our competition, and are extremely diligent about being better and faster than them all. one critic’s website hasn’t been updated since 2012. without evolution, there is only death. a stagnant idea is a dead idea.

so we snapped out of it. version 1.1 is already live. functionality is being improved, but for now, Linute is prettier. more user-friendly. positions of buttons make more sense. little things, small improvements, tiny victories. evolution.

we will succeed. after this, I am sure of it. we are underdogs, and we will learn many things the hard way. we will be kicking and screaming every step of the way, but we will make it.

inside the app: part one

let’s see what happens when a creative writer tries to focus an entire post on technology. this will be a once-a-month update on the development of Linute– the aesthetics, the functions, the problems, the evolution. unless i find a tangent and forget about the tech part. i guess we’re about to find out.

I learned very quickly that “first versions of an app” directly translates to “so many bugs, you’ll never stop finding bugs.”  we went with a soft launch because of this, inviting only our Kickstarter backers, the Baruch test group, family and friends. we have, as of this moment, been live on the app store for 11 days. one week and four days of finding mistakes. the most glorious week and a half of our careers. each bug reported to our development team was a little pang of satisfaction. each improvement listed for the most recent update was a checkmark off a never-ending list, and although such a list is daunting in the fact that it lacks an up-front transparency, each checkmark symbolizes the wrap-up of a small job well done.

the app crashed a lot in the beginning. it loads really slowly. sometimes actions wouldn’t perform in the way they were intended. but it is such a beautiful beginning.

Linute cannot ever be perfect. it may someday appear as such, but we will never be satisfied. as version 1.0.4 is being approved for the app store, version 2.0 is in the works. new screens, better screens, more user-friendly screens. screens, screens, screens. Sabina, Nabeel and Andi draw up each window on an index card. Nabeel creates a graphic. Sabina tells him to make it better, and he does. I Lin-ify each word. Hadi continues to work on the present version, keeping our current users happy while the others work to make sure our future users are ecstatic. Juan started on Android development last week. Max makes sure we are on the right track with development. Mahmoud keeps our number one fans (social media followers, @getlinute, get at us) entertained and informed. Naasik keeps us somewhere near our budget. Mohammad is giving our website a huge makeover. Fahim brings me lettuce when I am dieting. (Fahim does more for us than that, but that is honestly a very important contribution to the group). I will welcome David to the group next week. first we need to make sure he survives us. stay tuned.

I want to thank our first batch of users for sticking with us. there is no obligation here, you are all doing it because you believe in us, and you believe our creation has some sort of revolutionary potential. you guys are the real MVPs, rap game Steph Curry. keep doing what you’re doing, I promise you will not be disappointed. version 2.0 is coming soon, and it will have been well worth the wait.

hi Mom

forget Linute for a second. this is for your mom.

my mom is a seasoned veteran of the not-having-her-daughters-around-for-Mother’s-Day gig. I still feel a little pang of guilt when I wake up 500 miles from the woman on the day she is most celebrated. I miss making her bagels with cream cheese, smoked salmon (before I came to New York and started calling it Lox), sliced tomatoes from the backyard and fresh black pepper. my sister and I would trim daisies and violets from the garden and stick them in the little glass vase and put them across from her ‘most pulp’ orange juice on the little breakfast-in-bed tray that always reminded me of chicken noodle soup and staying home from school. my dad would carry the tray and Jackie and I would hop into my mom’s bed, one on each side of her, and she would pretend to be surprised. after breakfast we would help her with whatever flower deliveries she needed to do (she’s the number one florist in our town, after all, and sometimes even moms have to work on mom’s day), and then we would spend the day together, usually outside.

Mother’s Day is now reduced to phone calls and late greeting cards, all of us busier than the year before.

I love Mother’s Day in the city. families together, smiles abundant, appreciation hanging thick in the air. everybody’s just a little bit more polite, in a little less of a rush. flower buckets color the street corners and subway stations, making sure nobody forgets. giving everyone a last-minute chance (kind of like that app, what’s it called again?). we all got Andi’s mom flowers on the way to the Cave today, an uncoordinated gesture. further indication that this team is totally in sync. I love that about us.

I love you, Mom. your constant cheering from the sidelines, your ability to fix all of my problems, your spunk and sparkle that now runs through my blood, too. thank you for everything, I promise to one day express my gratitude in a much more tangible way than words and promised hugs.

nucleus

it still doesn’t feel real. I’ve been testing this thing for two weeks, I hold it in my hand, and it’s still not real. app store launch happens within the week– tomorrow, if we are satisfied (we are never satisfied). I don’t know that it will ever feel real.

we elected Nabeel to be CEO of Linute on Sunday. needless to say, it was unanimous. he is our glue. Linute is Hadi’s brain child, and the Linute Crew is Nabeel’s masterpiece. each one of us is a concentrated, tunnel-visioned talent. we all excel in one thing, and Nabeel recognized (and celebrates) that. he went around and pitched to each of us the earliest vision of Linute. he had rough (though beautiful) prototypes to show us, and then he waited. he knew what we would do, because he is a fantastic leader. he is able to anticipate and predict. he plays both defense and offense. he is a problem solver, but he also is able to eliminate potential problems before they arise.

Nabeel hand-chose the talent, and he glued us together. we were all on board; there was no reason not to be. we all trust Nabeel–we respect him, but above all else he pitched Hadi’s idea to us in a way that allowed us to believe in it. it was not a shallow connection, and that is the reason we are all willing to forgo such things as sleep and socializing to work on making this idea a reality. we are all exhausted, and we all have full time jobs on top of this full time job. there is no guarantee that this will work. we’ve got a lot stacked against us.

Nabeel writes projections and reads them after we reach certain milestones. they serve as a sort of checkpoint, a reset button. a water break, a breath. a reminder of why we are here and how far we have come. when we launched the Kickstarter, he wrote a projection that reached to the next month. he anticipated our success specific to the campaign and detailed it beautifully. his belief in our work inspires us to keep going, faster and stronger. he is the stand-in for the light at the end of the tunnel that is not yet there. we want to succeed for Linute, but we also want to succeed for Nabeel.

it is not real yet, I don’t know when it will be real. but our talent is real, our team is real, our friendship is real. we have all gained so much from this experiment, and even if it fails, we have already succeeded.

the beauty and the beatboxer

last week, Juan came aboard as our true tech guy. he’s helped find and address the bugs during our BETA testing phase, and is getting us ready for our app store launch tomorrow. woah… tomorrow. he’s a quiet guy, mostly, but he has these one-liners that you’re not ever sure if you actually heard correctly, because Juan isn’t supposed to join us in troll-dom, at least not yet. but alas, we managed to find juan more. (HAHA the juan/one jokes have not stopped since we found him).

on Saturday, Juan mentioned that his wife would be coming over. he didn’t give much background information, just that she is a pop sensation in Kazakhstan, and her name is Altynay. we didn’t know what to expect, I guess, but when the bubbly, beautiful little thang walked in, all eyebrows shot straight up. 25 years old, she came to American on vacation, and Juan swept her off her feet. that’s the short version. they tease each other and she laughs, a melodic, infectious tune. she spoke to us about how much she loves the idea of Linute, and cannot wait for the download. we got to talking about her singing career, and she suggested to me that we collaborate on a song for Linute– I write, she sings. I’ve written raps about my friends before, and parodies of pop songs, so yeah why not give this a shot.

I think Naasik was most excited about all of this, having such a love for music himself. the first time I met Naas, we were at the Cave and he made this crazy claim about being a phenomenal beatboxer. listen, everyone has that friend who claims beatboxing skills that are barely there, just like everyone from suburbia has that rapper friend back home, who never actually left home. we all tend to treat such claims with skepticism. then he threw down a beat. long story short, Naas is a phenomenal beatboxer. swagger on a hunnit, with a clean fade to match.

Altynay announced that she was hungry for burgers, I was beyond ready for bed, and Naas had finals to prep (he’s just a wee lad, 19 years young!), so we all piled into Andi’s two-door Honda something. Andi and Juan took the front. Naas, Altynay and I shoved ourselves in the back. what happened next is the quickest, shortest living example of the beauty of collaboration that I have witnessed to date. Naasik began beatboxing, some fancy stuff to start us off, falling seamlessly into a smooth rhythm. Altynay listened for a few seconds and jumped in with a Nicki Minaj verse from Super Bass. the rest of us fell silent, I was in complete awe. I have only an excerpt, because I had just enough time to open Snapchat, but it’s a long enough clip to a) hear my gasp at the end when I couldn’t figure out if Nicki had in fact gotten in the car with us and b) become as mesmerized by the pleasure of sound yourself, despite the horrendous quality of said video.

when the verse ended, Altnay’s laughter bounced around the car’s interior and I couldn’t help but scream. it was too much for me to iron out my emotions, so I just shrieked until I no longer felt overwhelmed.

as I waited for the train, I couldn’t stop smiling. it’s not just the sound that amazed me, it’s the collaboration between two people who had not known the other existed until a mere two hours ago. I have always valued the concept of creating with others, mainly because it opens your mind to things you might have missed if solo. working on Linute has holistically strengthened my appreciation for collaboration, and moments like these touch me to my core. the meshing of talent to make singly attractive things exponentially more beautiful as one– that’s what it’s all about. I have never been more excited to see where this adventure takes us.

a balancing act

I went upstate this weekend to visit friends at Syracuse, my alma mater, before the final round of my favorites graduated. I had a plan to wake up early each day to do Linute work and then be worry-free for party time. how very naive of me. there was a miscommunication between Sabina and I that happened before I even left, and it resulted in no quality social media content for the entire weekend. I stressed about it the entire weekend, worried because it was a big weekend for Linute development having just started BETA testing and coming up on an app store release. I anticipated a brutal team meeting upon my return. I came straight to the Cave from Penn Station, bags and all, and got a sweet little talking-to with Sabina from Nabeel. there was the whole disappointment-instead-of-anger factor that made me a little nauseous. Sabina and I located the root of the miscommunication, which helped the understanding but certainly didn’t fix the problem. Nabeel asked me what I needed for this to never happen again. I said, “I need help. one extra body, working on whatever, whenever.” “so you need an intern.” Nabeel and I made eye contact, mine wide as hell. who do I think I am asking for an intern? Mahmoud came through the door exactly 90 minutes following this conversation. 19 years old, taking a year off of from college because of some passport mishap that held him in Egypt past admission deadlines, the kid has the voice of and a slight resemblance to Jerry Seinfeld. with an accent. the Egyptian Jerry Seinfeld. Nabeel asked me to come to the conference room, so I stood up from my table, walked two steps to the couch, and sat next to Mahmoud. “ok, now I will leave the conference room, and let you interview him,” Nabeel walked the same two steps, pretended to open and close a door, and sat at the table I had just vacated. start-up jokes, am I right? I asked Mahmoud what he knows about social media, what his availability is, what his strengths are. he runs the social media for his current employer, and has great availability, especially since most of this work can be efficiently fulfilled remotely (in theory). 15 minutes later, I had my own intern. no, he’s not getting paid, I’M not even getting paid yet. he picked up on our social media strategy and process immediately, and offered advice from his own expertise. super smart, super willing to impress us and be an important part of Linute. he also has already successfully mediated a squabble between Nabeel and I, which is incredible and important. I have my own INTERN. hahahaha, I have MY own INTERN. feels good. I’m going to make him quote Seinfeld on the hour every hour he is with me, because he is MYY intern and I am allowed to assign whichever important tasks I see fit. I shouldn’t be trusted, but I am. stay tuned.