55 – Ramping up

Three things:

1. So long, Filippo

We can no longer afford Filippo’s rates. I’m gutted. He just did it good, you know?

We were hesitant but decided to out-source some work to a girl in India called Jasmeet. Set her a little job and she was great.

We don’t have much money so we’re gonna get Jasmeet to code one other big feature to keep things moving. But if we want anything else done, we’re gonna need money and, for money, we’re gonna need…

2. The Business Plan

“So what’s your company valued at?”

“Well, like, Instagram got bought for a billion dollars, so who can say what we’ll be worth? You know, it could be priceless… You know, this is gonna be huge…” is what not to say to a guy who might have invested in us.
We need a business plan. No matter how fabricated they seem. We want serious money so we have to be serious about other people’s money.

I’ve been working on a business plan for the last month. I now have an answer if you ask me how much our company is valued at. I can tell you which month is the first we’ll make money in or how many users we’ll have. I’ve stopped seeing it as made up guesswork and am confident I have tight estimates built on a lot of research.

And you know what I’m gonna do with the Story business plan?

3. San Francisco

I’m going to San Francisco.

54 – The continuing adventures of me and Ashton Kutcher


My brain hurts and my eyes sting and that’s when I see it. I’m staring at twitter and see the tweet by a guy called Shak. It’s Friday afternoon and I’m hungover. I’m at work, not working and my boss is mad at me.

Shak is heavily involved with Spotify and Path and a load of other stuff. I also heard he helps manage Ashton Kutcher’s business in the UK. He’s a big player. You know he’s a big player because all the people he talks with on twitter have names like ‘@joe’ or ‘@mike’. You know, the people that were there from the start. I’ve tried to contact Shak before with no luck.

“A friend needs a professional headshot picture by Monday in London, lands in London Sun eve, anyone available to help Monday am ?”

I sit up. My brain does a jolt. I email Gary, my photographer mate who works downstairs. He doesn’t reply within two minutes so I text him. He doesn’t reply to that so I phone him.

“See my email? Can we do it? This guy’s the real deal.”

“Yeah. Who’s it for?”

“Dunno probably Ashton Kutcher.” I hang up.

I reply to Shak’s tweet. “We can help. www.garydidsbury.com

A few minutes later Shak replies, “What’s the best email for you guys?”

“Fucking GOTCHA!” I send him Gary’s email address.

“What’s that?” My boss goes.

“Nothing mate.”

I leave work and, on the way home, get a text off Gary, “He emailed asking for his mate Jimmy but then Jimmy emailed back saying he’s found someone. Bad news.”

I don’t care about photographing his mate. I just wanted his email address and the excuse to email him. I start writing as I walk up to my flat.

“Hi Shak,

Since I put you onto a great photographer could you do me a favour and check out the app I’m developing?

I know I know, but this is worth it, I promise.

Concept video: http://vimeo.com/44785545
Beta on the app store: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/story/id588372979?mt=82

We’re after seed round investment and advice and help and allll that.

Hope you’re good,

This is crazy. This guy could offer investment right now. He could introduce me to Ashton Kutcher. He could link me up with a bunch of other people who- DING! I got an email.

It begins, “Love the video…” Holy shit he loves the video. I mean, everyone loves the video, but HE loves the video. I wonder if Ashton Kutcher is going to love the video. I wonder if- “Not really the type of thing I invest in. Sorry. Best of luck. And thanks for the intro. S”


That was a slap in the face.

I read it a couple of times.

“Love the video

Not really the type of thing I invest in. Sorry

Best of luck

And thanks for the intro


That’s how it was formatted.

Oof is all I can think of. I email him back “Oof” and stare into space.

Ding! Another email.


Oh God. What have I done. He doesn’t get what oof means. It means it’s a kick in the balls mate.

“Sorry. Just felt like running into a brick wall!” I reply like a weasel.

Ding! Another one.

“I could have lied and wasted your time otherwise

I look at over 100 things a week, and this is simply an area which is not for me



I am heavily cringing now. I tell Gary what happened.

He goes, “I just got this off him; ‘Love your work. Deffo connect in the future. S.’” he pauses, “I’m in.”

53 – A great lead


My phone rings. It’s Paul. Good. I’ve been waiting for him to call all day. We had a great lead earlier but so far he’s been too busy to discuss it. Lead? Sorry, Dexter’s on in the background so I’m writing like a cop. I’m excited. I know Paul is too. It’s a great lead.

“Why are you excited?” Paul asks in a not excited voice.

“What? Why. Why d’you think?! What?” Why would he even ask why.

“Okay, okay, just checking you’re not on drugs.”

“No mate? What?”

“… Because drugs are bad.” Great, he’s doing his thing where he’s funny. “No, it’s good news.” he continues.

“Good? It’s fucking great! You’re coming right?”

“Yeah totally. We need to go over stuff this weekend before we meet him.”

“Totally. We need hair cuts. Fuck it, might buy some new clothes.”

“I liked how he actually watched the video.”

“I know right. He actually agreed Story could be the future of publishing.”

“Yeah, this is good. At Soho House, too. That’s good.”

“Yeah, I like that. I mean, I said we should meet for lunch, but, you know lunch meetings, trying to talk to someone, haven’t met them before, food in your mouth, all busy and you’ve only got an hour. Fuck that. Soho House. 9am. That’s nice. That’s what you want.”

“A guy like this wouldn’t waste his time unless he actually saw something in it.”

At worst this meeting is going to be very useful. At best it’s going to be life changing.

To be continued.

52 – Half of something great


“We’ve all got to work!”

That’s something my mum used to say when I’d sit at home not working.

“No one enjoys working!”

That’s what she used to say when I bitched about working.

“I never want to work for anyone other than myself!”

That’s what I used to say when I thought working for myself would invent itself from thin air. Unfortunately my career happened and here I am, ten years later, making someone else rich panicking about money.

Me and Paul, we’ve been charging ahead for so many months. It felt like we picked up so much momentum that we didn’t really need to try, just had to steer. But now we’re at a standstill. We have a half built product and no money. We’re frustrated.

I met with this guy called Tom. Tom’s the boyfriend of a girl I work with. He’s the CEO a web-based company (get this, they’ve even pitched to Ashton Kutcher, apparently Kutcher was real sharp and pulled apart their proposal – what a guy)

He shared a lot of his experiences which was amazing for me. He said how, for start-ups like us, the culture in London is way different to San Francisco. It would be so much easier if we were over there. And he mentioned this festival in San Francisco where you pitch at a bunch of investors. The deadline was a week ago – I entered anyway.

This is what we need to do now; we have a great idea, we have the talent to turn it into a real thing, like, it almost is a real thing, we just need to step into that world and show those people that we’re here and have something great. Well, half of something great.

51 – Chapter two


Here’s where we’re at.

Story was approved by Apple on Christmas Eve. We knew it wasn’t ready to start shouting about. It’s missing huge features that people expect but we ran out of time. We paid Filippo his invoice but ran short on the VAT which we’re paying off whenever we get spare money. Filippo’s being really cool about it.

Because of the missing features we’re only telling our friends about it. We have a feature list to get Story good enough for everyone to use. We’re looking into contracting the work overseas to finish it off. We’ve been in touch with about forty candidates. Although we’re still unsure where the money for this will come from.

We’ve worked so hard on this that it stings to see it stall but we’re not stopping now. That would be crazy.

Saw some girl in a gossip column the other morning, some daughter of some F1 guy. Loaded. Her bar tab for the night before was 30k. My face contorted staring at her drunken face just thinking, with 30k, we could change the world.

48 – “And now we wait”


I’ve been looking forward to this moment for a long time. It was ten months ago when we first had the idea for Story. And now we’ve almost completed its first chapter.

So it’s a real surprise that I’m not enjoying it at all. Neither’s Paul.

Filippo is uploading Story today. Me and Paul are at our day jobs. We’re both ill, I have a whole iPad magazine to design and publish by the end of the day and Paul is launching his company’s website in two other countries.


Paul: Filippo, the app still switches to landscape.

Filippo: Yep… on my list! Could you please remove the stories without authors from the database?

Paul: Yeah.


Simon: How are we going to publish stories from a ‘Story’ account? We can’t use the facebook page cause it screws up the facebook app and the Story app. I tried to make a normal person account called ‘Team Story’ but it knows it’s not a real name.

Paul: I’ll have to make a web page that bypasses Facebook.


Simon: I feel like the app should load 24 stories at a time. So you get a nice bit of scroll before it starts to load again.

Filippo: Well I load 9 per page to fill one screen, 24 seems quite a lot to me, what about 18?

Simon: 9 fills an iPhone 4S but not an iPhone 5. Yep 18. Also, the images in stories are still low res. They don’t look retina.

Filippo: I can implement the retina images, the only concern will be that all the image upload and download will be double in size. Is it ok for you? and Paul I don’t think you have to do anything for this, can you confirm?


Simon: The background texture is missing from inside the stories…

Filippo: I can see a background texture… Can you explain please.

Simon: Look at this screen shot. No background!

Filippo: LOL I can see a texture on your image too. But the texture is a layer of dust on my screen… Okay adding background.


Filippo: New version of Story app available. For the submission I’ll need the story icons in these four sizes; Four to five screen shots of the app; And then: Application description; Application category; Application keywords; Url for website; Email for support.

Would be great if you could provide all this by the end of the day so that I’ll be able to submit the application!


Simon: The story icon spacing for Following and My Profile still doesn’t match the Discover screen. Create screen texture still the old 10×10 – should be the 100×100.

Everything else is looking greeeaaat!


Filippo: Regarding the app spacing… it’s fine?

Simon: Horizontal spacing, not vertical.

Filippo: Ah yes.

Simon: Paul can you delete all the bullshit stories from the database so the screenshots look good?

Paul: I’m ramped. Will get on it.


Simon: I’ve written the app description, have a look. Paul? My head is screwed today… input please.

Paul: Sounds shit. Try this. Filippo what do you think?

Filippo: It’s not bad!

Simon: Yeah that’s better although it says ‘story’ a billion times. How about this?

Paul: Yes. I’ve deleted some of the bullshit stories.

Simon: Hmmm, a lot of stories about chicken on that first screen.

Paul: Yeah. Lemme clean some chicken out.


Filippo: Sending a new version with new spacing. By the way what are the app categories?

Paul: Social.

Filippo: There are two…

Paul: Lifestyle.

Filippo: Can you add me as an iTunes Connect user so I can submit the app on your behalf?

Simon: I can’t add you because you’re already registered!

Paul: DENIED!!!

Filippo: Hmm, I see. Okay let me think… Okay try this email address instead.

Simon: Done

Filippo: Great thanks. Could you please create the application in iTunes Connect. The first step is decide the name of the company that will be displayed in the app. Since that name can’t be changed I prefer you do it. If you go in ManageYourApp>add New App and then follow the instructions.

Paul: Shall I?

Simon: Yes!

Paul: Team Story, right? What’s a SKU number and a bundle number?

Paul: Argh!


Paul: Fuck me this is taking fucking ages. Now I need to upload everything like images n that. Like is it gonna ask me for the app too?

Filippo: Can you save your progress? I’ll pick up from there.

Paul: Doesn’t look like it. Wanna do this over Skype with me?

Filippo: YES.


Simon: Here are the new App icons


Paul: Are these the icons?

Filippo: Guys I’m submitting. No more changes unless we do it right now.

Simon: Yes they’re the icons.


Filippo: Done! And now we wait.

47 – Monday


From: Filippo
To: Simon, Paul
Date: 14 December 2012, 18:34
Subject: StoryApp

Hei Guys,

Released a new version.
We all here had a good test, we will keep doing it during the week end.
Would be good if you could do the same and let me know on monday.
If we submit the app on Monday we can hope in a release on the app store before Christmas.

Let me know…

From: Filippo
To: Simon, Paul
Date: 16 December 2012, 14:26
Subject: StoryApp

All looks good. With your blessing we ll go for the store hopefully tomorrow!!!
Thanks a lot for your help!


46 – I see you


That’s it. Go on. Have a look. I see you. Looking straight forward but eyes straining down to the side. I can see you. In the reflection of the Tube carriage window. Eyes angled on my iPhone.

Don’t know what this app is do you? Like the look of those icons though don’t you? Yeah me too. Let me swipe through a load of them. I know you like that. Let me just tap this gorgeous tab here and you can watch the icons zoom off the screen.

Tap. Look at that. Did you just flinch? That’s just a little article I wrote. A picture at the top followed by a load of text. I’ll just pretend to read it for a second so you can have a look.

That’s not all. Let me just get back and, tap, look at that! A recipe! About some kind of tasty looking chicken pancetta dish. It wasn’t working yesterday but our coder has fixed the bugs and now it works perfectly. But you don’t know that do you. He’s called Filippo.

Here’s a photo story of Paul’s son. That’s right, this app can really do a lot. I see you, pretending to look at your phone but really looking at mine. I’ll edge my phone out so you don’t have to strain so hard. I see you. You’ll love playing with this. Soon.

We can’t wait for you to play with this.