Newsletter November 7, 2019

Let’s Talk About:

Side Project Success: Launching Spots You

Doug Avery

By Doug Avery, Senior Developer

Side projects are a difficult subject. The tech industry is full of success stories like Google and 37Signals, who turned employee-driven side projects into valuable business — but anyone who's tried to replicate this success knows the truth: side projects are very likely to drain resources, fail before launching, or linger on long after their value has evaporated.

Rebuilding our Spots You program as a mobile app was an attempt to do the unlikely: Plan, design, and launch an app in the narrow window between client projects. Getting it done required starting small and aligning on some key principles:

  • Identify the real value of the project — does it increase revenue? Save time? Build a skillset? Create a portfolio piece?
  • Align tasks to the project's value. Don't overthink aspects that aren't directly tied to the desired result.
  • Keep the dream alive by reducing costs/overhead wherever possible.
  • Make visible progress every day, and regularly test with real users.

See the Case Study

Articles We Love

  1. 1. The 4 Secrets to Successful Side Projects Make sure you’re building skills that easily translate to other areas regardless of how the project turns out.
  2. 2. Managing internal projects like a pro Write down what decisions were made and why. This will be useful not only when you’re 2 months down the road, or explaining decisions to someone new, but also when you’re deciding. If we can’t figure out our reasoning when we choose, maybe it’s about personal preference, not the objective.
  3. 3. 5 Things I Learned from Managing an Internal Project ...internal projects are a bramble patch, and you don’t know the best way to pick the ripest fruit without getting pricked until you try a few methods.

What We’re Up To

Team shot

We just had our Fall TTT! Vigets from all our offices and remote locations came together to discuss progress, address trends, and of course, have a bit of fun.

Mentorship Plant

As part of our #HealthyViget program, we're focusing on gratitude in November, learning about the health benefits of regularly expressing gratitude.

Icon finding your rhythm 1080p

Diamond Alexander wrote about finding her rhythm as an apprentice. We're now recruiting for our next apprenticeship cohort. Link below!

Fall Fete

Every year, we have a Fall Fête celebration in Durham and DC. This is open to our community of staff, family, friends, and alums.

Related Articles From Us

  1. Implementing Custom UITableViewCell Separators in iOS

    How we built the tricky "snake" list animation on Spots You.

  2. From Idea to App: Building Spots You

    The technical and planning details that made our Spots You launch a success.

  3. SpotsYou: Gym Reimbursements Through Mutual Commitment

    The original Spots You launch post from 2014.


We believe the best work happens when talented people trust each other enough to be real and take risks — and we’re looking to grow our team!

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