Lack of Progress

Week 2 of Founding Typogram

Greetings, friends! Welcome to my build-in-public newsletter, where I share weekly updates on my startup Typogram, what I learned along the way, and a founders’ besties list - tools, programs, content that I found helpful as a founder.

For the past week, life happened to me instead of the other way around. I faced a lot of unexpected challenges in life. The one that consumes the most emotional energy is a problem caused by a negligent and deceiving property manager. I will spare you the details; however, if you are a founder looking for a problem space, I welcome you to look into the property management space. There are huge pain points.

I didn’t have much progress on the Typogram and the Coding Font side hack. But through my lack of progress, I learned a critical lesson: it is important to give updates about the lack of progress. 


Many years ago, I went to the Maker Faire in NYC. A programmable 3D LED cube caught my attention; it was beautiful: 

At the time, I was shy and green; I wanted to talk to the teams showcased in Maker Faire but struggled to start meaningful conversations. I went through all the booths twice before I came up with a topic to converse with the Looking Glass Factory team who made the 3D LED cube: I happened to have made a 3D cube in three.js before, and I thought that was enough similarities between my project and theirs - 3D cube - to spike their interest. I pulled up my laptop, loaded my web app, and went talking to them. 

To my surprise, my conversation tactic worked. I had an in-depth conversation with the maker and got a freelance gig to work on their developer documentation site. It was a dream project for me. However, I was fired only after a week.

On a Friday morning, the team sent me an email to check up on my progress. I felt I didn’t have the progress I wanted to show them, so I made a big mistake by not replying to them right away. Instead, I worked on the weekend to nearly finish the project and sent them an update on Monday. I thought the progress I made over the weekend would exceed their expectation and make up for everything. Well, it didn’t work out. The project lead told me they were satisfied with the work, but the unresponsiveness made them worry and gave them the impression that I was not reliable. For that reason, they terminated my contract.

Fast forward to two weeks ago, A Twitter friend Pine offered their time and skill to collaborate with me on Coding Font. Pine sent me working code on the syntax highlight feature a week ago. The next step was for me to incorporate the code into the main app. However, I couldn’t get to it last week. I don’t want to be disrespectful to the work Pine put in, so I sent a Twitter message unprompted, explaining that I haven’t had any progress because of housing issues; I will get back to our collaborative project as soon as possible. Even though I didn’t have any progress, I managed to be more professional than I was many years ago. Updating collaborators that there is a lack of progress and why is more important than appearing to be productive and impressive.

Founders’ Besties List

- a weekly listicle of helpful links for startup founders!

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