We won JLAB!

November 28, 2017

logo

After weeks of hard and focused work, my team at Exaactly has won the JLAB incubator programme, and along with WeFiFo we will be each getting £100,000 of investment - from JLP and L Marks, who together are running the JLAB scheme.

our messy desks

Trying to squeeze all the computers on one desk was a challenge. JLAB’s incubator had definitely a literal incubator feel to it due to the amount of space we had…

 What does Exaactly exactly do?

At Ex@@ctly we’re building a revolutionary addressing solution, allowing couriers to locate even the most obscure and hidden entrances to any kind of delivery locations. Our Ex@@ctly Address is composed of normal address data and plenty extra information about the access to the property, parking details, doorbel instructions, etc.

 How did it feel to be in a startup competition?

Every developer is used to work under time pressure. Although estimating time it takes to write software is always a … shush… guess, this time having only a few weeks to make sure that everything is going to go to a plan was a stressful situation.

 What did I learn from this?

  • Firstly, that it takes great cooperation to push through a stressful sprint like this. The people I worked with gave all they could to deliver - and communication in a dev team in that situation was crucial.
  • I’ve learned to deal with a problem of reading a language I don’t know - in this situation, php. Our backend is built in it and although we’re migrating to a serverless setup on AWS, for the duration of the contest we’ve had to operate on the current stack as is. We’re a small team and in order to ensure that everything is delivered on time I had no other choice than to comb through this strange code, using tools like hyperpolyglot to find necessary info.
  • Working with additional pressure of ‘one chance’ was a big stress factor - with any launch of a product there’s only one opportunity to get user’s attention, but if something doesn’t work for one user, it may work for another, but in a scenario when we’re being judged by a panel, everything has to go super smoothly on the first go.
  • When there’s no time to build an admin panel to observe user interaction on the day of the live tests, ssh-ing into the db server and periodically running select * from... just to see what’s going on is a valid analytics technique ;).
  • Sleeping on a problem is better than trying to crunch code a solution without stepping away from it. We’ve coded for 12+ hours on some days, one of my friends even ended up regularly sleeping in the office just to get this done. Working in that manner proven to be chaotic and produced code that took us a good couple days to refactor back to useability and extensability.

 Was sleepless two weeks worth it?

Yes.

 Do I want to work like this often?

No.


Written by Daniel Kaczmarczyk, a software engineer and educator. you can find me on twitter or email me at daniel.kaczmarczyk@hey.com

a pale blue and yellow circle