Votavi: Lessons learned.

Building Votavi and trying to make it a success has been a challenge. And although it hasn’t been the commercial success I hoped, the experience and knowledge it gave me by doing this undertaking has been a goal in itself. From idea to realisation has been a journey, not only a technical adventure but also a personal one.

Why did Votavi not become a success.

There are many things (news, entertainment, internet platforms and other media etc etc) fighting for peoples attention. Trying to get a place between all these things demand certain conditions, timing, actions and luck.

  • Momentum. Although Votavi had a solid business model there was a chicken/egg situation. In order for the business model to work there had to be users, in order to get users, there had to be businesses involved. There was interest from advertising and marketing companies, but gaining momentum needs full attention.
  • Diluted goals. For this project/undertaking I had diluted goals. On one side I wanted this to be a commercial succes as the idea was solid. But it was also founded on the idea of learning and growing. This lack of focus hurt the business goals.
  • The platform itself could have been more unique and memorable. Although I gave a lot of attention to these points, in hindsight it should have had a more impactful first impression.

Lessons learned.

Besides all the technical and coding knowledge I also got a lot clearer insight into how online platforms work.

The propositions of Google and Facebook on a deeper level and for example the differences with a platform like Twitter.

I also learned a lot about online advertising business models and learned that their value is really overrated. Loads of money is thrown into online advertising without any real return value at all. 

GDPR, the impact, what to think about and how to find solutions to conform to the GDPR.

On a technical level I learned all these new technologies and tools. 

  • Kubernetes, which is probably one of my favourite technologies I learned while building the platform. Having a server virtualisation background this technology really appealed to me. Having a horizontal scalability and still separating OS and processes. This actually gives the appearance of just one big scalable computer.
  • Coding, although I already could code. I needed for this platform to step up my game. In hindsight I would have written in Nodejs but as it was, I started with PHP/Laravel. Which in the end was fine but not on the same scalable level as Nodejs.
    From a development standpoint the things I could improve upon are devops, testing and documentation. I did get some decent performance out of it by implementing Redis caching.
  • MySQL Clustering, for this platform I build a mysql multi-master group replication cluster on Kubernetes with some custom scripts. From a high-availably standpoint this was great. I actually had a period where the server processes spontaneously rebooted once every couple of days. But due to Kubernetes in combination with mysql replication they came up and recovered themselves without any human interaction.
  • Swift, building the Votavi client in native iOS might have not been the right choice. But having already build applications in Objective-C it was an easy choice. Swift is great and is still evolving into an efficient and logically structured language.

So that was it, a great experience.