Share with Oscar
Share with Oscar is a start-up business commercially launched in December 2016. I am the shadow founder (hold significantly less company shares) working on software implementations.
In short, I am the only engineer responsible for handling all technical related tasks. In details, my duty includes developing hybrid app for web, iOS and Android, developing backends such as handling bookings, payments, 3rd party data exchanging and synchronization, in-app instant messaging and maintaining our cloud-based infrastructures.
The hybrid app was developed using progressive web app methodology in native ECMAScript (6th edition) with Polymer, a web component framework, and wrapped in iOS and Android in Swift and Java accordingly. The backends were developed in Python 2.7 using mariaDB for long-term database and redis for short-term database cache. All components are deployed on AWS.
Share with Oscar is the true sum of my skills and experiences as a programmer. Check it out at https://www.sharewithoscar.com.
Back during the product development and early production stages March 2016 – February 2017, our team, a composition of two Deloitte consultants and me as the software developer, was constantly facing early start-up issues. Here are the reflections of my past experiences.
Recount – As a software developer, I am certain on the difficulties (safety, flexibility and speed) of the e-commerce platform functionalities. However, this does not apply to my start-up co-founders. They demand complex and unrealistic functionalities under the name innovation in very short given development time which is not possible to delivery on time and quality.
React – Although I believed if I say I cannot my colleagues will challenge my authority on software development, I gave my co-founders the honest estimation of actual development time and realistic functionalities that can be delivery on time and quality. Through my past experiences as a software developer, this is the ethic way (Giving false promises will not resolve the conflicts but degrade the trust between the developer and its client) to handle the overwhelming demands from a client that does not have any technical backgrounds in e-commerce or software development. However, this does not stop them to pressure me to fulfill their demands. I was really frustrating on explain the reasons of my objections. At the end, I was not patient and I gave up on arguing how this is not good for the app we were developing at the moment.
Improve – After few system incidents and one complete system panic caused by the unpractical implementations I made to fulfill the demands, I started to realize that I should not give up my ground. I should continue to consult with them on how to make the innovative features into reality on a technical aspect. Although it takes time to address the issues and understand each others, it is the correct way to do it and it will benefit the long-term team relations and efficiency.
Recount – To grow our start-up business, we have to delivery an excellent app experience to our customers. Our competitor Parallel Parking (now, Parallel Parking is closed. All its assets are merged into Spacer, another competitor of ours.) was using MBaaS (Mobile Backend as a Service) which is costly.
React – Due to the lack of initial funds, I did not have the chance to use MBaaS like what Parallel Parking did. I decided to develop our own app backend system which will be deployed on AWS ec2 instances. I was expecting that it would costs significant less than MBaaS. The drawback is we have to scale the system in a traditional way (manually add new server instance, install servlet softwares and add it to the load balancer).
Improve – Now, Parallel Parking is dead due to funding issue. We, on another hand, is still constantly growing toward our monthly goals with low fixed server costs. The passive system scalability did give us performance hiccup when high volume of request occurred. Currently, I am working on a supervisor program as a solution, that can automatically execute the add or remove server instance procedure depending on app request volume, to mitigate the scalability limitations. Furthermore, I will continue to polish our in-house developed app backend system for a better overall cost efficiency. I believe this will improve our financial sustainability and our business scalability.
Recount – Share with Oscar is my first start-up business. As part of our plan, we have to seek and secure potential investors and business partners. I have never been in any start-up investment meeting or start-up pitch in Australia before. It is truly a exotic experience for me.
React – To be honest, I do not know how to act in these business events in Australia. Although my co-founders gave me a lot helpful suggestions, I was still disoriented and doing poorly comparing to them. I felt I did not represent my confidence and capability in my role as part of the core team in the spotlight which canceled out my colleagues’ effort in such business event.
Improve – I need to know more about the start-up and venture capital business culture in Australia. For our start-up, I have to be more proactive in the upcoming events. Furthermore, I should frequently do reflections on my performance related to the past event with my co-founders and use their suggestions to improve myself for upcoming challenges.