Firsthand Perspective: Building our Startup from Scratch

Max Lynch is a Madison entrepreneur and co-founder of Codiqa. Codiqa provides rapid HTML5 mobile prototyping in the cloud. Max shares his journey taking an idea and turning it into a company with us now.

In 2012, my friend Ben Sperry and I launched our startup Codiqa, in Madison, Wisconsin. Since the year is almost over, I thought it would be fun to create a timeline of events that carried us through the year, as well as touch on what we are excited about in 2013.

In one year we went from just an idea to a three-person profitable software startup. Here’s how we did it:

Late 2011 – The Birth of an Idea

When we built Codiqa, we didn’t really have any plans to turn it into a business.

We built it because we were doing jQuery Mobile development through the standard mockup -> prototype -> end-product process, and we thought mockups were redundant when the end-product technology was known (in this case, jQuery Mobile). Why not have a simple interface builder for jQuery Mobile that could quickly build these kinds of apps?

There were a few visual builders for jQuery Mobile, but we largely put them out of our mind since we just wanted to build something that was ours. We started playing around with the idea late in 2011, but we hadn’t shown it to anyone yet.

Ben and I also had full time jobs at a local mobile game startup, PerBlue, so we were juggling our 9-5s and our side project.

Jan 1st – The Landing Page and Initial Users

Before we had a working product, we threw together a fun landing page that had an interactive demo and a viral share option upon entering your email for our beta mailing list. Through this landing page, we grew to about 1500 interested beta users, primarily through Twitter shares.

February 1st – Private Beta

When we felt like we had a product that worked well enough, we started inviting some of our initial users into the beta. The biggest feedback we received was that this was awesome… but way too buggy.

Ben and I had just read about the Lean Startup method, and we were trying to apply it to Codiqa by releasing early and often, testing our ideas with customers, and tweaking them when we had learned what worked and what didn’t.

Over the next few weeks we took what we learned and the bugs we found and tweaked and improved it, releasing many small updates in a short amount of time.

February 20th – Public Beta

By the end of February, we felt confident we had something that worked well enough that we could open the product up to the public. We sent an email out to our beta list inviting everyone to the new site, and we replaced our landing page with a real site.

A few weeks before our beta, we started showing the jQuery Mobile team what we had built. We thought it was be an awesome way to give back by making an embedded version of our tool that would make it easy for anyone coming to the jQuery Mobile site to build an app and try it out right away. They agreed, and we tried to figure out a way to make it happen.

At the end of February, we launched an embedded version of Codiqa directly on, and started to slowly grow our user base.

A few weeks later we blogged about growing our user base to 10k users in a month, which coincided nicely with a rejection from YC a few months earlier. The post was #1 on HN for a whole day and drew us a great deal of traffic and interest from around the world…

But wait, there’s more! Find out the rest of Codiqa’s journey of Building their Startup from Scratch – including Monetization, MVP, Marketing, and more! Read the full post here.