Big week. After years of planning, collaboration, and work, my company—my first company, cofounded with Anil Dash—launched with a crowdfunding campaign last Tuesday. In our first week, we’re 80% of the way to reaching our goal of 1,000 subscribers to ThinkUp-as-a-service.
I’m grateful. And terrified.
We’ve been building ThinkUp, the open source app, since 2009, but adoption was slow because installing a LAMP app on your own web server is too much of a pain. Now, with ThinkUp LLC, we’re making the app a consumer product that anyone can use by simply filling out a web page and clicking on “Sign Up.”
Taking on the burden of running a hosted web service that (hopefully tens of thousands of) customers will pay for scares the crap out of me. But until there’s something as simple as an app store for hosted web applications, it’s the only way to create a good user experience around deploying webapps to users.
I won’t repeat ThinkUp’s consumer pitch here; you can see it on our homepage. Computer nerds will understand what I mean when I say that ThinkUp is personal data mining, quantified online self, the idea that we can (and should!) have the tools to better understand ourselves, our connections, our content, and our personal history using the data we’ve been publishing on social networks like Twitter and Facebook for years now.
In short, Twitter and Facebook and Google’s advertisers aren’t the only ones who should be able to learn about me given my online activity. My social data is mine. Not only should I have a living, breathing, constantly-updating copy of it, it should live in my own database so that I can query it for my own purposes. That’s why we’re going all-in on ThinkUp.
I don’t know if this is going to work. I’m terrified that it won’t, and I’m terrified that it will. I do believe that when it comes to significant undertakings, if you’re not at least a little bit scared, then you’re not trying hard enough. By that measure, I’m on the right track.
Wish us luck.