From an Idea to Prototype, 9 Months of Toil & Launch: The Crispify Journey

Nine months ago, I started working on an app idea. To repeat the story that has been told countless times before, I left my job and it wasn’t easy. I knew this from the start, but it was no where close to how hard I’d imagine it would be.

There was a lot of pressure. For 9 months, I worked single handedly to create the product. This article, is for anyone who might be in my position at any point in their life. It is for people who work hard, and work alone most of the time but still want to change the world.

For more than 3 years, I’d been developing and optimizing video codecs for different ARM processor platforms. I learned a lot about video processing algorithms and image processing algorithms while I was working. I was also working on a few short films in the meantime. While making films, I got involved in the most important part of the process for the first time – Video editing. It is a time consuming process and you need to spend more time learning it to produce good videos. It made me to think, “what if we could automate some of the editing techniques?”

At first, I tried to automate the cutting-off-unwanted-portions-of-video. I got fairly decent output with my first prototype. Then, I realised that it was also compressing the file size of video while enhancing the tempo of the video. In other words, the quality of the video improved while it compressed the file. This made me to think, “Wow! This will create a good value as a mobile app!”. Around this time, I applied to Startup Chile accelerator program with the prototype. I’ve shared my six month experience at the Startup Chile in an older post.Crispify

While I was in Chile, I fine-tuned my ‘Crispifying’ algorithm. I also improved on the prototype by adding interesting video filters which will make up for the poor lighting. Since, I didn’t have enough experience in developing an Android app, I thought of outsourcing it to a freelancer. This is the first mistake I made during my product development. At the time, I was also concentrating on improving my algorithm, designing the app, drafting for patent, planning for a business trip to the US and managing a freelancer in a different country in a different timezone!

I sucked at managing the freelancer. After a month, the outcome was bad. I was totally demotivated for the time and money invested on it. My friends in Startup Chile and my own brother as my mentor gave valuable suggestions which helped me overcome that setback. Then, I turned to an Indian company called Queppelin for my app development and it made my life easier. We redesigned the app completely and changed some of the requirements by this time.

The alpha version of the app was ready by the time I was to return to India. At this point, I got help from Moolya team to test the product. We changed a lot in app’s original design and features during this phase. After a month of continuous effort, between me and the team at Queppelin & Moolya, I launched Crispify in closed beta and got feedback from initial users.

We kept improving the product for another month, taking feedback from many. I was also taking care of accounting, budgeting, hiring, testing, developing the website, creating an explainer video, applying for US regular patent and applying for various incubator and accelerator programs. I had fun in doing all this for the first time! I met with a lot of setbacks in this 9 month journey. I felt low, demotivated and devastated at many times. I even thought of quitting, because I wasn’t sure if I could complete it.

I got past all the pains and pressures with continuous support from my family members, friends, well wishers, development and testing team. Did I say that I handled everything single handedly for 9 months? Sorry, I was wrong. I was helped by a lot of hands to build this product. Today, we are launching Crispify. Like any entrepreneur, I need some more hands to make this product successful. You can download this free Android app from here. Looking forward to your feedback.

About the Author: Balaraman Lakshmanan is the founder of Crispify, an Android application to increase the tempo of the video automatically and intelligently while compressing the file size during the process.

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