Let's define that...

Published on 2018-08-05

So a few days behind my usual two-week post...and no real excuse other than I just didn't get to it until now (sorry).

The good news is that, now that you already are thinking I'm lame, I can go ahead and let you in on the secret that I also don't have a ton of interesting "my art" things to share or dig into from the past two weeks.

Summer has caught up with me...so between running around with the kid's schedule/needs, Veritonic moving into new offices in NYC, and having other friend and family events mostly eating up my weekends...I just haven't had a ton of personal time to work on any overly interesting side things.

That being said, the non-side thing, Veritonic has had some really cool things going on over the past few weeks:

1. We officially got an office in NYC (on E. 41st street to be exact).  I hate the location and don't love the building...but I LOVE being able spend more time with and around the team (so it's TOTALLY worth it).  I'll still be spending some time in Newark, and eventually do some days from home, but for now I'm in the city every day and so excited to see the team really mesh, the company culture start to take shape, and the speed that we are operating on as a whole really start to pick up.

2. Speaking of speeding up...we officially announced that we recently raised a round of funding!

Probably my favorite place to have picked up the news was the Machine Learning Tribune -> http://www.machinelearningtribune.com/category/machine-learning/ (our mention may be pushed off the page by the time you read this, but trust me it *was* there and I think that's kind of cool). :-)

This is technically my 4th startup as a founder or co-founder, but really the first one where we've raised money (PubGears did a small money thing towards the end, but it wasn't traditional investment and was more like a fire sale).

It's had me thinking a lot about my body of work lately...and more specifically the difference between what I consider a startup, a side business, a side project, or "my art".

I think, I think of a startup as something specifically started to grow into a (very profitable) business.  It should also be started by more than one person (or quickly involve more than one person) and be designed to require/support at least a small staff (eventually).  Obviously it has to be pretty sales and customer focused.  Veritonic, PubGears, Know About It, and Statsfeed are the four things I've started that I think fall into this category so far.

I think, I think of a side business as something interesting that provides a small bit of value to someone (but prob. not massive value).  It should be something fairly small to build and maintain, and shouldn't really need a ton of love or attention.  I think if timing is perfect and luck is with you, though it's rare, you can turn a side business into a startup (that's how I backed into Statsfeed really).  A large part of my projects over the years have been started with the intent of being side businesses, but most have not really made any money (Draftwizard was probably the most successful of this bunch, but in attempting to move it to the 'startup' category too hard, I made many wrong moves and ended up way upside down on it).  My current coachwizard.com and sharegametape.com projects are meant to be side businesses.

I think, I think of a side project as something I'm doing either for fun or more often, to learn or understand something.  When I brainstorm about these things, I almost always try to have a "side business" thing in mind that maybe can be turned on or worked towards over time...but usually, it's more about understanding some new technology or playing with some concept that I find really interesting.  CryptoGameObjects has a plan for being a side business, but really it's still just a side project for me (as was TokenTogether; both for learning-by-doing in the crypto space).

I think, I think of "my art" as all the other things that I do simply because I can, because someone has mentioned (usually casually) that they think it would be neat, or because I think it's just fun or interesting.  For the most part, from the outside, I think these things are also the things that people are most likley to think I'm "wasting my time" on...but *these* are the things I can't help myself from messing around with because it's what keeps my brain engaged.  These are sometimes smaller things like most of the Alexa stuff I've built this past year, but sometimes they are a bit more ambitious too, like the games I'm working on with both of my kids (which are not really being built with commercial or educational intent).

The reality is that there's a lot of fuzziness between each of these distinctions...and on any given day, I'm likely to think of something I'm doing as a side project, then five minutes later think it's more in the "art" category...then five minutes later, when I realize it completely stinks, think it's a complete waste of time...then five minutes more and it's back to side project or all the way up to side business status.

In the end, I don't think it really matters that much what category stuff gets put into (though it's *really* hard to even get into that 'startup' status)...all that *really* matters to me is that stuff gets built, questions get answered, and hopefully people get at least a little joy out of something I build.

Anyway...that's what's been on my mind a bit these past two weeks as I've been slacking off around here...and thinking about how to better add value for each of you that back me...so, would LOVE to hear your thoughts on the topic in the comments below...you know, when you have time...