This post was originally publishing over at Indie Hackers.
After what feels like (and is) months of hard graft, I finally launched something I'm proud of.
To set the scene, the project started just over six years ago when my first daughter, Elsie, was born. We quickly discovered that we were going to be taking a lot of photos and videos of her but didn’t specifically have anywhere to put them, let alone share them with family and friends. Social media wasn’t the place, as I was keen not spam anyone and everyone with baby photos.
I’ve been a web developer, and a senior one at that, for many years, building things since 1996 and it definitely felt like I could build something around it. Originally it started out as something for us, but eventually became what it is today.
Like all good projects when you’re a web developer, it had to start with a name and more specifically a domain! Thankfully I gave up pretty quickly on the brand “TrackTrackMe” which in light of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal I’m really glad I don’t have a brand that would be increasingly hard to promote!
Kemento was born, at least at an idea level to begin with and sat on a notepad in my drawer until late last year. I tried to start really small, seeing if I could hook a Google Sheet to a form submission, but inevitably it ended up as a full blown web app.
Kemento itself is consumer focussed, aimed at anyone who’s interested in looking to store their memories beyond social media or on a computer at home. It offers a level of redundancy those platforms can’t provide, in a safe, secure, ad-free application.
This isn’t an advert for the service, but you can create multiple timelines (think you, your partner, children, pets, houses, cars… anything) and categorise those moments any way you choose. You can tie the moment to a location, as well as adding a date and description.
There are no likes, comments, or social pressures but you can share that moment with anyone via email, where it appears in their inbox, and can be accepted or declined within the app.
Keeping a lid on the initial features, boiling it down to the bare essentials for a MVP, whilst still expecting people to pay for a service, was extremely hard.
Pricing was pulled out of thin air. I ran some numbers in various spreadsheets, looking at a goal of 1000, 10,000 or even 1% of Facebook users to gauge what I’d be looking at from a revenue point of view each year. It all looked (and looks) healthy assuming I can achieve the market reach.
What’s it built on? Laravel (so PHP and MySQL), Stripe, and hosted via DigitalOcean (but this could be AWS, Linode or Vultr) but built in a way to be infinitely scalable and entirely redundant. It’s sat across seven different servers currently with the ability to just add more resources to the platform when required. Each piece of media uploaded is stored in triplicate across multiple data centres in Europe and the US. Databases are backed up at a binary level, fully and incrementally every hour as well as daily server snapshots.
I’m about 50% of the way through building out the iOS and Android apps, something I’ve never done before, so I’m using React Native for this. It’s been an interesting learning curve but I’m really pleased with the results. Hopefully launched before the end of Q3.
It’s taken some while to build as a solo founder, just over six months. With a full-time job, and young family it’s meant 2am finishes, 4.30am starts to get the work done. I’m grateful to my wife for her support, and although I know Kemento isn’t finished, launching it at 3am on June 30th (I’d set myself a July 1st deadline) was a bit of a weight lifted.
Nearly two week later, I’ve not exactly seen the hockey-stick growth I was hoping for but the first Stripe deposit into the company’s account was quite a buzz. Only time will tell (and plenty of marketing) whether it’s a success or not. I’ve set some pretty hard targets and equally have a long roadmap but initially I need to validate the traction I was hoping for.