In general, I think "process" is more important than product. I think that how you work and the decisions you make over time compound, and great things emerge from that. This article provides a compelling argument for why this idea can be powerful.
Process may be the engine of progress, but you still need gas and a direction. Eventually, you want something you can show off. Projects are those artifacts. Some projects are major missions, whereas others are quick experiments or demonstrations. Most (maybe all?) of my projects are software-related because most of my processes revolve around software engineering. Here they are!
In November 2012, I decided to join Chris Murphy to build a company together. We founded Zoomforth, and grew the company from nothing to a key component of many major companies' workflows. Along the way, my role has evolved from being a lone programmer hacking out an MVP to leading a small engineering team as we capitalize on improving what we recognize to be the most important parts of our product.
I've been incredibly lucky to work with exceptionally skilled and motivated peers at Zoomforth. I am also thankful for the support of our investors -- including the support of 500 Startups, whose incubator program was an excellent learning experience. I continue to work on this "project" passionately, and I'm thrilled to be a part of the continued growth of the company.
As one of the first ten engineers at Radius, I had the opportunity to substantially contribute to the direction of the company. I joined Radius after graduating from UCLA, and worked there for two years and a few months. I was lucky to work with skilled engineers whose knowledge and guidance helped me to grow substantially. I learned Python during this time, and substantially improved my front-end engineering competency. There were multiple projects I worked on over the course of my employment at Radius, but the most exciting and important was the initial application we built when we pivoted from Fwix to Radius. We pivoted from a local news service to a local business lead generation product, and rebranded in the process. On the strength of the initial Radius application, the company was able to raise a Series B round. I left around that time to found Zoomforth. Radius later went on to raise another 96 million dollars, and is still going strong.
I built imgist as a side project early in my career mainly to improve my programming skills. It uses Python on the backend, and at the time I built it I was fairly new to Python.
Imgist scrapes all of the image links on the reddit frontpage (as well as several subreddits), and then provides a viewing experience that shows those images in-line with their reddit titles. The images load in advance, thus providing a fast experience. The result is a smooth, slideshow-style minimalist experience for consuming image content from reddit. You can also jump back to any date, for any of the supported subreddits. It has been running since 2011, and thus has historical reddit content dating back to then. There are hundreds of thousands of posts in the database at this point.
I have not done any real work on it since 2012, but it attracted a small but rabid following when it was first released. Due to the strong support it continues to receive from that small group of users, I have maintained it, and so it remains functional. I intend to release it as open source at some point, but I have not made the time for that yet.
I created this project in 2010. There is an (often hilarious) absurdity in having images captioned by text that has nothing to do with the image. Initially it was all crowdsourced images, using a custom wordpress-based backend. Eventually, I decided to re-host the site as a static site. You can access the source code for the simplified static site here
AverageCats was made in 2010 as a parody of LOLcats. It contains pictures of cats with captions of what the cats are actually doing. It uses a custom wordpress-based backend like Unrleated Captions to handle crowdsourced content. I have not given it attention since 2010.
LOLPlants is like LOLCats. But with plants. There are a lot of plant puns.
Project Website (no longer running)
I created MLIA as a parody of FML (fmylife.com). It resonated strongly with many people, and spread virally. It contained crowdsourced anecdotes about "averageness", and was surprisingly amusing. An example would be "Today, I briefly considered getting car insurance, before realizing that I didn't want to deal with it at the moment. Then I had some trail mix. MLIA"
At the height of its popularity under my direction, MLIA was receiving over one million visitors per day, (with an average of 3 pages viewed per visitor). I learned a lot about scaling a project, viral content, and infrastructure over the course of running MLIA. After founding it in May 2009, I sold it four months later, with the goal of focusing on my engineering skills and finishing my degree at UCLA.