Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Back, thank you, and moving on

Hello, blog. It's been a while since I last wrote here. I was spending some time in a (figurative) cave, trying to understand a couple of things. Last time we spoke, I was working on Polychart, a data visualization startup that was taking the flexibility of tools like Tableau and bringing it to the web. It’s a neat idea, really, and we built an awesome team behind the idea. It was also a great learning experience, being a first-time entrepreneur.

Judging by the past tense used in the last paragraph, you probably realize that this is not what I will be doing in the future. You’re right. We turned down the investment we were about to get, knowing that it wasn’t going to be the right path for us. We’ve just open sourced Polychart to share what we’ve built, to make it more useful as an easy way to visually explore databases. You should check it out if you haven’t already.

We hear many discussions about "finding oneself", especially from young people. We sometimes take to travelling, long periods of solitude, recklessness, or drugs to achieve that purpose. Ancient greeks, too, thought that “know thyself” is worthy enough of an aphorism to be carved in front of temples. Their interpretation of the aphorism might be slightly different, and involve fewer psychedelics. While Polychart was no psychedelic (for the most part), running a startup turned out to be a great way to find oneself.

What does it mean to know oneself? I interpret it as an understanding of one’s goals, likes, and dislikes. Knowing what you like is easy -- for me, I loved running the engineering organization and building the technical team. The hard part is drawing the line between bettering oneself, and attempting to be someone one is not. I thought that learning to sell and pitch would be things I could do to develop myself. Would I be able to eventually learn to be great at it? Maybe? Eventually I have to admit that, well, perhaps not. Perhaps I won't enjoy it. Perhaps my talents should be focused elsewhere.

So, I'm moving on.

Before saying anything else, I want to thank everyone who had supported Polychart, and had come along for the ride. I hope you got as much out of it as I did. Thank you --

Jeeyoung Kim: for starting this amazing journey with me and putting up with me for as long as you did
Samsons Hu: for believing in Polychart when few others did, and taking it to the next level
Fravic Fernando: for being a part of Polychart, the whole way through
Tina Lorentz: for seeing and teaching us what we didn't know (seriously, I learned so much from you)
Anjida, Sina, Alex: for teaching us the importance of team building
Zach Kocher: for supporting us when few others did
Raymond Cheng: for understanding and being passionate about what we stood for
Tim McLean: for quickly picking up whatever expertise we lacked
Luc Ritchie: for adapting to new roles when we needed it
Kevin Mendoza: for supporting us in one of the most interesting times
Christoph & Ronuk: for helping us with engineering expertise we did not have
Mike Kirkup: for helping us in many, many different ways, for over two years
Brett Shellhammer: for being our moral support, all the way through
Ted Livingston: for getting us started on this journey, and teaching us to pursue our passions
David Crow: for believing in us, and guiding us to choose Polychart
Ali Asaria: for funding us indirectly, in at least three different ways now?
Jesse Rodgers: for teaching us the importance of credibility and namedropping :)
Andy Yang: for believing in us, funding us, and understanding us when we moved on
William, AK, Dale: for providing guidance, assistance, and friendship
Darren, Danny, Peter: for providing many introductions
Lin Fan: for the many questions you answered
Cameron Marlow: for inspiring me, supporting us, giving us confidence, and for being so kind
...and everyone else who has helped us in this journey. Thank you.

I will be continuing to support Polychart whenever I can. I'd also like to introduce you to my new home, another startup in Toronto called Rubikloud. I'm really excited to tell you that I'll be joining Rubikloud as the VP of Engineering. The best part about Polychart was running its engineering operations, and so I'm really excited about this new role. You should check out Rubikloud, especially if you run an e-commerce shop or if you're a data scientist looking for your next step!

Once again, to everyone who helped me on this journey, thank you.

End of Entry