Wixel Blog

A log of company news, product stories and team opinion - told with oodles of personality.

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The Wixel Story (Part 1)

To be a business, is to have a story to tell. This is our story.

Our story is not one of rock-star success, media hype, investor funding or the stuff social media blockbuster movies are made of. We are two people working in an arena that we enjoy, with people we like, creating things we need, solving problems we’ve had (or spot) and helping others do so too. Sometimes we just build cool things for the hell of it. We do this every day.

Before Wixel

I was a year into starting and running an ideas and online strategy consultancy. My well paying retainer clients were in actual fact also funding my insatiable business addiction – an addiction mostly dedicated to online ventures. Setting up online businesses is not as easy as some bloggers make it out to be – you need real skill. Skill, however, changes your expectations of technology. There are many e-commerce platforms out there, but finding a platform in a landscape changed by social media, geo-location and design, is a whole different kettle of fish. No e-commerce platform pleased me.

Sean had spent two years working for a large San Francisco based web company. When he started working for the company, he was the fifth employee. When he left the company, there were well over sixty employees – the company was plagued with the unavoidable bureaucracy of a growing institution. His strong technical competence, brilliant design skills and business savvy could only be realised in a company of his own. He had a business and had already coded, what he called, a social e-commerce network (Mooblr), by the time we met.

Initially I just shared my thoughts, needs and crazy visions with Sean. Those ideas not only changed the course of Mooblr’s development, but both our lives. We decided to develop Mooblr together. Once we started working on Mooblr, our ideas surrounding e-commerce and software development became so large and so eclectic that we soon realized we would have to hang out with each other for a really long time in order to realize them all.

Discussion after discussion lead to a partnership – we make an unbeatable business team. Corresponding values, complimentary skill sets, contrasting personalities and individual business styles, proved to be magical ingredients in, what we believe to be, a wicked business potion. Wixel is the end-result of an amalgamation of our companies: a web development business and an ideas and strategy company. Engineer meets business junkie is a winning combination.

The Name

We have my sister, Jamie, to thank for the name. Her comment on one of our illustrations, “Love the little wixels!” created this brand. As it turns out, there’s an apt definition for the word Wixel.

Wixels are wireless pixels that exist in physical space. They are small light objects of which the colour can be controlled wirelessly. Wixels liberate pixels from the two-dimensional constraints of the screen and make it possible to create colours and patterns in full, three-dimensional physical space. Like pixels, the colour of individual Wixels can be controlled in real-time, allowing for a continuously changing appearance.

Early Days

We cannot and do not subscribe to release fast and iterate methodology. We are both perfectionists with a strong sense of vision. Our character traits and personalities help us build, exceptional products. We have a unique way of working, which has been naturally refined in the time we’ve spent developing a product in a complex and challenging landscape. In addition to this we made the decision to develop some of our other ideas simultaneously.

It was a conscious decision to develop more than one product before releasing any one of them. We felt that we had to capitalize on the way we were thinking and working developing Mooblr. We realise that once a product is released the business enters a different operational phase. Wearing development and creative hats for longer, having uninterrupted time and focus was our gift to these products.

Timeline
January – September 2010: Part-Time
- Feb – Bev & Sean partner and start discussions on Mooblr
- July – Wixel is registered as a company
- August – Product development commences and the Wixel website is launched.
October: Full-Time
- Sean & Bev start working on Wixel full-time

We will eventually use our blog to share our thoughts and techniques on how we did it and why we chose to do it the way we did.

We do take on occasional and select client projects. When you are self-funded, it definitely helps make ends meet.

What’s Next?

We remain focussed on wrapping up product development. This will continue into early 2011. All products and Open Source projects are scheduled for release in 2011.

Experience Thus Far

It has been an immensely busy year for us. I had business to wrap up and Sean only finished at his old company eight months from the time we started talking about Mooblr. Despite juggling many commitments in 2010, we managed to build on the success of our old companies to form a new company working on multiple products in ten months, part-time.

As I said in our previous post: Ideas and innovation are about improvement – improvements on usability, quality and cost. The thing about improvement is that it can be either continuous or disruptive in the market place – either way it remains an improvement. Some of our products will most definitely create a stir while others will make vast improvements on existing ideas and technology. Our success is determined by the amount of positive difference the improvements make.

We hope that our experiences, lessons and ways of thinking inspire more techies and business people to follow the beat of their own drum. We trust that you will enjoy our products as much as we do.

About Beverley Merriman

Bev is a business woman by day and writer by night. In her spare time she is a gym bunny and quote collector.

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