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How I Built 180 Websites in 180 days and became a YC Fellowship Founder (zube.io)
72 points by jenniferDewalt on March 16, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 29 comments

This is a really amazing endeavour! Great job! I really like Coded and Electro Bounce. A couple questions: Could you provide some more details about individual projects (frameworks used, any source info)? Also, how long on average did you spend on each project? Finally, what's your favorite project?

I was spending an average of 10 hours a day, every day on the 180 Websites project. For YumHacker, I was working on that full time for about 6 months or so. We've been working on Zube for about 1 year now full time.

Thank you! Electro bounce is one of my favorites as well :)

180 websites is mostly Rails backed. The first 68 pages are served out of the public folder and almost everything else was done with Rails. The last week is all done with Node.js.

YumHacker uses Rails as an API on the backend, and Backbone,js for the front end.

Zube uses Node.js and Backbone.js.

Edit: Here's a blog post I wrote after finishing the 180 Websites project that talks more about that. - http://blog.jenniferdewalt.com/post/62998082815/after-180-we...

Awesome, thanks for the link. I'm looking forward to looking at more of your projects!

I had a lot of fun working on the 180 Websites project. It was grueling at times but pushing something live everyday was super satisfying. My favorites are Electro Bounce, How We're Feeling and Elevations.

I love working on Zube now. It's awesome to be able to make a product that helps developers.

Hey everyone! I'm happy to answer any questions. AMA!

Great work and fun article. You sort of already answered my question about how repeatable this is outside web development. I think having resources like StackOverflow solving most common issues and the field not having a lot of depth (barrier to entry) were critical. Might be a tad more difficult to do, say, secure systems software or hardware this way.

Determination, practice, and one-milestone-at-a-time are my main takeaways here. This benefits any field. Strange enough, it especially benefits high-assurance software because the stuff takes so much time and analysis companies might pull out financially or FOSS people loose focus/hope. INFOSEC guru Paul Karger promoted turning a big project into a series of intermediate, useful deliverables to maintain morale and provide short-term revenue from licensing/sales of intermediates. Seems same for learning, too.

Inspiring stuff!

What's your take on Jira? How is Zube different from others?

JIRA is a great tool but it's hard to set up and for small teams it can be overkill. We built Zube to provide an Agile workflow right out of the box so you can get up an running right away.

Zube is also deeply integrated with GitHub and everything is synced both ways in real time. So even if some of your developers want to stay in GitHub, everything is still up to date.

To me, this two-way sync'ing is the killer feature of Zube (from my short usage so far), along with its Trello-like card metaphor for issues as a value-added layer.

Just having the real-time filtering on issues is a huge win. Change a filter, see your updated list. Excellent.

Right on!

I am deeply encouraged by your article. Surprisingly! I was thinking of doing the same thing prior to reading your article, which is, as part of my 100 day of code challenge to build a website every day and GitHub it. I guess the reason for my procrastination is being afraid of using GitHub, my lack of javascript knowledge & I barely know any design. Your input is definitely helpful! I really want to start being proficient in those areas mentioned. Also what learning resource would you recommend for javascript front & back end, web/application design, UX design and better grips on Github!

Hello, great job, I started following you first a few months back. My questions are,A: if you had to start all over again, what would you do differently. B: how did you decide on what to build each day in those 180 days. Last and this is the most important, I think learning by doing is the best way, is there a way where your experiences could be optimized for a newbie, where he/she could start from day one, build something and learn a specific part of a technology, and all the way to the end.

For someone who struggles with the design side of making websites, this is inspirational. I guess the takeaway here is just to practice, practice, practice.

Thanks! Yes, repetition is super helpful. Before starting a new project, many artists will go through a 'research' phase where they'll make quick iterations of ideas over the course of days or weeks. That's part of where the idea for the 180 Websites project came from.

Congrats to your achievements, Jennifer. I heard of you previously from Pieter Levels (12 startups in 12 months). You guys are my role models!

Thank you! Pieter is awesome :)

Great passion and commitment! I am curious how you became confident in javascript and rails in a short period of time? Did you read books?

Thank you! I did a lot of Googling. Each day I would break down what I wanted to do into small components and start researching. I used sites like Stack Overflow, Mozilla Developer Network and CSSTricks to find answers and a lot of trial and error to get things working. I also used Michael Hartl's Rails Tutorial to get up and running with Rails.

Thanks so much for sharing Jen. So inspiring!

This is super awesome and inspirational. What was the most frustrating experience you had in your 180 day challenge?

During the project I had to travel from San Francisco to Pennsylvania for family obligations. I managed to do a pretty good job of keeping my coding schedule up while flying and spending time with my family, but I ended up having to stay up pretty late to finish each day's website.

By the end of the trip I was really burnt out but I still needed to crank something out on the flight home. I had an idea for a site where you could enter a few hexadecimal color codes and the screen would transition between them. It seemed totally easy in my sleep deprived state but when I started working on it on the plane I totally floundered.

When I finally got back home to my apartment in SF, it was 9pm and I had virtually nothing to to show for my day's work. Also, I was now freaking out. I didn't know how I was going to be able to push up anything!

I took a look at what I originally wanted to do and what little I had done and realized if I reigned in my scope a bit, I could get a website out before I completely lost my mind. I pared it down to just two colors and cut out all the bells and whistles and just barely managed to get it out the door. And then I had a very, very nice sleep.

Cool, thanks Jennifer! That was some serious dedication, super admirable. :)

One more question, although I've already asked a lot of you. How did you make sure you conceptually understood what you were learning at every stage, not just simply taking code and just replacing bits of it here and there?

I had tried picking up textbooks and online courses before I started the 180 project and none of them stuck for me. While I could do the exercises, but I never felt like I was understanding how to actually use the skills I was learning.

With the 180 Websites project I was forced to figure out how to apply code to make something function. I didn't always know exactly how things worked, but by starting with small manageable tasks I was able to have a pretty good understanding of what I was doing. Pushing forward, day by day, the things that were a bit hazy started falling into place.

This is truly an inspiring story, Jen! Kudos on the journey and all the best with Zube.io

Thank you!

You're an inspiration.

What is a fellowship founder?

YC recently started a new program called YC Fellowship. We're in the second cohort now. It's an 8 week program for early stage companies that you can participate in remotely. They describe it as a lighter version of YC core.

You can read more about it here - https://fellowship.ycombinator.com

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