Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Grassroots - Idea to Launch - Part 4 of 4

App Redesign - October 1st week

Sakthi, our Designer made almost all screen designs and UI Implementation also started. Meanwhile, I was showing that to Design gurus in my circle, asking for feedback, ways to improve it even better.

I contacted Avis Manoj and explained about Grassroots and shown him the design. He totally loved the overall project idea (how can he not!) and decided to support us, more than I expected. He made his first sample design, Event Listing page.

From this
To this

After seeing the above transformation, we brainstormed and decided to redo the complete UI. That's a very major decision at this point, as it means missing all internal milestones and extended QA release to 1 week before App launch on Nov 19. But sticking to our policy of Better quality, we proceeded with re-doing of this new UI.

As for UI Implementation, big appreciation goes to Ram Kumar and Gopi Natraj for their excellent support in implementing this UI from scratch in such short time.

NGO Admin - Dropping resource again!

October 3rd week. The new front end developer, who joined September 1st week and shown good progress in first 2 weeks is way off track and couldn't deliver as promised, because of his personal problems. We are just a month away from Launch and now the NGO Admin works again goes to Hold.

I was hunting down for resources to get it to completion. Pulled in various people and initiated them in current code base. Parallely, Arjun pulled in his friend Aravind to develop NGO Admin from scratch in a PHP based template. Not wanting to take any risk at this point, I let couple of developers work parallely on same requirement to see who progress.

Aravind/Arjun, with their expertise in PHP accelerated NGO Admin development.

Out of this chaos, I found this super supportive Gem, Pooja Srivastava, who supported first with NGO Admin, then with fixing functionality defects in app and later become our Front end Lead, taking over every front end development from Volunteer App, NGO Admin to Master Control Panel.

Big applause to Ashok Jp, who after completing his 10 hour work day, supported to fix app defects in the last 10 days.

Last week Development

In last 2 weeks, we decided to drop more than 60% of planned features as most of them were partially done, not given to QA for proper testing. It's a clear decision to give necessity features and given them clean with good quality.

Because of last minute Design change and loads and loads of fixes, we were like working 18 hours / day in last 1 week and prepared the app for launch. Without even complete QA, we went to Launch.
Last Day (T-1) team work in my home.

Operations and Launch Preparation

Technical struggles on one side. Field struggles on another side.

Our field Commandos, Gowtham Shana and Sathish Kumar were taking care of college sessions, taking various measures to connect Volunteers into the system. More than all, they handles the complete Launch preparation all by themselves with absolutely zero input, support from me in last 3 weeks.

Grassroots Launch preparation is such a heavy weight task and none of us had any previous experience managing such a big activity all by ourself. From Venue selection, Chief guest selection, to inviting All social activists in Chennai, they ran Pillar to Post to make this possible, in grand way possible. I should also appreciate Darthy Rachel, Arun Prasad, Sakthi vel and numerous others, who co-ordinated with the Commandos in making the launch possible.


Official Launch post @ http://grassrootsapp.in/blog/2016/11/much-awaited-grassroots-goes-live/

As for Launch, Yes, There are big room for improvements, glitches, mistakes. Regardless of all this, I would say, its a grand success, given our little expertise and prior experience. Complete credits to the Commandos, Gowtham and Sathish.

Grassroots is not just an App. It is a Team, it is an emotion, it is a seed for Revolution. Islands of NGOs and Social workers, when connected together in a single platform is going to bring on massive social changes at an ever accelerating pace, than anyone can now imagine.

Grassroots, as an App and as a Team is a new born and now walking in 4 legs. It will take time to walk in 2 legs and grow. It will definitely fall down many times, because that's the process of learning. But it will always move forward, keep evolving and serving it's role, Connecting people for Social change.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Grassroots - Idea to Launch - Part 3 of 4

With the awesome team mentioned in the previous post, I planned to keep myself away from Coding. Being a passionate developer, it was a hard decision to keep my hands away from keyboard!

But rather I planned myself
  1. to focus on pulling in volunteers with Gowtham through College sessions, (this is totally new to us)
  2. get in touch with many NGOs to discuss the idea with and to evolve the idea,
  3. getting into tech works, only if the team faces any hardest challenges,
  4. do R&D and make requirement/specification documentations for further modules after Launch.

Company registration

Then I spoke with Antony from Arappor Iyakkam to an idea
  1. of registering this as a company.
  2. tax and legal procedures and more.
My initial idea was to do legal procedures/registration this after launch, as I have no idea about this. But Antony told it's all very simple procedure and he could help me in registering the company. Wow!
Then we initiated the company registration process. The company shall be named
Gethu Games Pvt Ltd

Games? Gethu? WTH! Yes. That was almost everyone's response, given I was speaking about using technology for Social change. Here is what I have in mind:

Social impacting Game ideas:

Being a game addict (in my college days) and a person with little social consciousness, I can imagine how Games could be really `Game changing` in making people act on social problems. Games are addictive medium which effectively communicate information deep into a person and possibly make them act than any other media be it newspaper, TV, films, etc., More than all, Games are very effective to educate children.

So that's my point. To create games, which provides entertainment, as well as impart deep knowledge on Social problems and possible solutions in kids and make them grow as socially concerned persons, through this addictive medium.

Bragging section:Btw, I already made such a simple game in 3rd year of my college and selected to Semi finals of Microsoft's International student level competition. More @ http://saiy2k.blogspot.in/2010/01/green-game.html

August 1 - Development starts

We started the development on August 1 with two major unexpected setbacks:
  1. Our technical lead, who is supposed to manage the whole technical works, couldn't join because of some personal issues.
  2. Sames goes with our NGO Panel developer.
I tried searching for another resources to replace these two. Finding resources at junior level is easy, but finding someone of Technical lead level at the bare minimum package I can offer is almost unimaginable.

So to get thinkgs rolling, I got no option than filling the shoes of technical lead, by myself. So I took it up! Except for the NGO Panel all other teams were working great and I kept looking for resources to develop NGO Panel.

From my initial plan for myself,

  1. College sessions - Explained Gowtham the situation, asking him to completely take care of colelge session, putting bulk weight over his head.
  2. Get in touch with many NGOs - skip
  3. R&D and documenting future plan - skip.

Mobile App Dev

With my awesome Interns Thina, Ritesh, Jegadesh and Rohan, we started Mobile dev and it was going good. I was into mobile dev and co-ordinating between every team, reviewing their works, and taking care of non tech works.
I was also doing my part time job that time, which I quit from the month of October.

QA - Haribabu

With Haribabu being the lead of QA, it was going excellent. He was churning out 50-100 test cases / week giving good coverage to all scenarios, along with interns in QA, Ujay and Gayathri.

Server - Arjun

The single man army, Arjun Prasath took complete responsibility of REST API, DB Design, Server management and all server side stuffs. From Day 1 to till today, he is taking complete care of server side, taking big weight from my head.

Arjun and Haribabu both rendered their professional expertise and their awesome skills to Grassroots, without me digging in and doing any sort of micro management. Happy and grateful to have such skillfull, independent resources in team.

We followed Scrum to manage the development process

Nature balances everything


Despite the setbacks, I was overall positive, hopeful, excited, motivated, inspired, (put all remaining positive words here). They say Nature is all about balance. Then how can it let me to be all positive and continue like that. So to balance the equation, it stepped in and hit me, where it really hurts, shattering me into pieces. But it equally balanced in positive way, at a different place, where its due.

Of course, details can't be posted here!


My productivity dropped to 0. It took almost 2 weeks for me to start recovering. Even then, I couldn't give my 100% for long time. It impacted the project most.

But the situation made me realize, how gifted I am. It shown me I am surrounded by all gems and diamonds who care for me so much. They did their best to stitch all my wounds and get me back on track. Thanks you soooo much for all the special care and concern, because of which myself and Grassroots are standing where we are at the moment _/\_

Thanks _/\_

September Month

Arjun and Haribabu were on track, but mobile development took a big hit and NGO Panel was yet to start. But then we got a front end Developer for NGO Panel. Thanks to Arjun :-)

On Campaigning side, Gowtham was visiting many colleges, but struggle to get actual session. Though we had promises from dozen colleges to give us session, no one is giving concrete dates.

Sathish Kumar - Another Super hero entry

Sathish is a new volunteer in Chennai Social Service and he was super active during Vegam and was taking care of all Social media activities. So I appraoched him to get his support in managing Grassroots FB page and online activities. I explained him the concept of Grassroots and loved the concept and promised he will give maximum support and also help in taking Social awareness sessions in colleges along with Gowtham.

After our initial discussion, I told him I will send all details in mail, but missed sending it for a day. Then he sent me this in whatsapp.
September 19, 2016!
It was like hitting a hammer in my head. I realized how my emotional stupidity is affecting the product. I know how demotivating it will be for others in team, when 1 person dont follow up properly. But that day, I realized I was that person who is demotivating everyone in the team!

Decided to stay away from everything and give up on every person, that affects my productivity. It was not easy, but drastic situations call for drastic actions. Hope it will be understood!

More to be continued...