With 2018 over, there are several experiences to reflect on, both positive and negative.
What went well this year?
The community is amazing
I am so happy to see the Budgetwise community be made up of friendly, supportive people from all walks of life. The level of enthusiasm is unreal, and one of the major things that keeps me motivated even when some days get tough. It's not just users who are supportive of the Budgetwise project, but of each other as they discuss feature ideas, bugs, implementation details, and reasons for trying it out.
To you, I say a big thank you!!
Early-Access launch was (relatively) smooth
My wife and I prepared as much as possible days before launch in order to have a smooth experience, knowing that over 3,000 users signed up to be notified of when early access opened up.
I did a test run the day before launch, when I ran into a critical issue with how the virtual containers were structured. Luckily, a good friend and colleague of mine, Josh Manders, came to the rescue by modifying and greatly improving the Docker deployments, which were finally completed around 3 AM.
The launch was scheduled for July 26th, a Thursday, so that signups would be spaced apart as people got out of work, settled down, etc. It was early morning, and the notification email was sent. My wife and I were logged into Intercom on both computers, ready to answer any questions, address any issues, and make a list of bugs found.
We were quite wrong with our predictions, as within the first hour and a half, we already had almost 1,400 users registered, and we spent almost every minute of that day talking to users and doing administrative tasks. Even though there were a ton of bugs pouring in, the general response was very positive, and it's been a steady upward trend ever since :)
What didn't go so well this year?
Feature timelines were way off
I thought by the end of the year I would have the entire debt management and goal system complete - was I ever more wrong! With so many people using the software, some problems that I expected to run into later on actually showed up almost right away.
For example, entering budgets and transactions were extremely painful because each and every action would make an API request. This was a terrible decision on my part, and the budget area has since been revamped. The account area is my current project, and it's taking a bit longer than I'd hoped but the end result will definitely be worth the extra effort.
Time management could be improved
In addition to a full-time development job, every day I also try to spend quality time with my wife and 20-month old daughter, answer any questions or emails from users, browse the Budgetwise subreddit to reply to posts, and of course continue developing Budgetwise.
So far it's been working pretty well, but there is definitely some room for improvement. I plan on carving out more time during the weekends and some nights to make progress faster.
What did I learn?
Software development can be difficult
Even before starting work on Budgetwise I had an idea of how difficult making software was by watching my close friend Vael Victus build his browser-based game engine from the ground up.
There are countless things to consider, and taking the time to set up the right underlying processes will pay off many times over.
Many people share the same vision for Budgetwise
Going into this, I expected some people to have a need for software like what Budgetwise plans to be, but not this many. It feels great to have the plans and ideas validated by so many users that want the same exact thing - a flexible budgeting system that doesn't leave debt management as an afterthought. By the time the full version of Budgetwise is out and the debt management system is in, I think the benefits will be even clearer.
Outlook for 2019
As revenue continues to grow, I can continue to hire more developers to help build out features and bounce ideas back and forth. The existing team is small but solid, and it's been great having someone to work alongside, sharing tips and feedback as we build.
This coming year is going to be a busy one for sure. I intend to launch the rest of the biggest features this year along with the full mobile apps.
I also plan on getting better about responding to inquiries and bug reports quicker. There are so many requests coming in each day that it's getting hard to find as much time developing as before, but there are a few things I can do to streamline and improve this process and make sure no one goes unanswered.
Here's to a great New Year :)