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SoSa - Precursor

James Mahy
I’m James, a UK based developer and entreprenuer building SoSa! a fun, friendly and privacy first community.
Updated on ・3 min read

This is my story about SoSa, I wanted to share this in a few places so you can view the Original article there.

I've tweaked it a bit for Dev.to!

Failure is hard and when you're unhealthy, in a mountain of debt and worried about your "baby" it's really hard to just stop and start looking inwardly.

I disappointed a whole community in my breakdown, people lost their jobs and if I had taken some self care it would have never ended that way.

Who am i?

I’m James!

  • I’m a tech agnostic developer, with about 15 years commercially.
  • Although British, I’m awful at English! (poor grammar get out of free card)
  • I love food and caffeine.

I'm developing a online community called SoSa, which aims to be a fun, friendly and privacy first community making it easy to socialise online.

Me :)

What Was SoSa

Our 4th year banner

Originally called Social Savanna, it was a sub-community made specifically for the imgur community.

In 2013 the imgur community were crying out for somewhere they could engage beyond the 140 character limit.

During Christmas I was feeling lonely and so I posted to see if they really wanted it or was it just a meme / fad?

Hundreds of comments and thousands of upvotes later, I got a resounding yes!

At the time, I owned a development studio and until my team came back in the new year I started making mockups and playing about with some ideas then posting them to imgur for feedback!

Over 3 months we built essentially a chat platform that allowed people to connect, we launched Feb 2014 growing to 15,000 members inside 24 hours and In 2015 we opened it up beyond the imgur community.

What Went Wrong?

During my 20s I didn’t do much for self care, I started a business at 22 because I couldn’t get in the IT sector!

I had no idea how to run a business! So i did what everyone tells you to do — I grinded.

Me Aug 2018 vs Nov 2019

SoSa was never expected to grow so quickly, along with other pain points that contributed to our downfall:

  • We rushed the build, without proper testing.
  • We didn’t actually know what we were building (eg the point of it)
  • I had growing health concerns.
  • We had mounting debt!

September 2018 everything came to a head and I needed to bring things to a full stop before I did something I would have regretted. I said good night to SoSa.

New year new me

After shutting down SoSa, I sat down and started working out what I needed to do to get things where they should be.

My health was the most important, but I had to clear the debt and get the community back on track.

I shut down the business and started focusing heavily on my weight on my weight, debt and mental health.

Gym Christmas Day 2018

So far, i've lost about 60kg since 2017. Most days i'm exercising, eating right and using a variety of techniques to support my mental health.

The debt has been cleared and I’ve saved enough money to give me at-least 6 months working on SoSa.

I even made time in early 2019 to meet some members in Dublin, Visit Venice and relax in Barcelona! The first holidays i’ve had abroad since 2012!

Venice 2019

What now?

I'm spending the next 6 months developing 2 apps, a website and a desktop application along side the community that stuck around.

A few things I've done to make sure I don't fail again:

  • Made a sustainable daily routine,
  • Built healthy food and exercise habits,
  • Building in time for friends and family.
  • Using sprints to manage my work time, with personal retrospectives and posting updates to hold myself accountable to the community
  • a Gratitude journal
  • Seperated my living space from my working space
  • Working with the community, utilising people with specific skills instead of trying to do everything myself.
  • Saved enough money to survive comfortably for a year, but aim to go back to work in 6 months.

I'm just finishing my first 2 week sprint, I feel glorious and I have achieved SO much.

Hope this helps someone! being dedicated and diligent is important but self care is even more important. Don't burn out. Burn out fucking sucks.

~James

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