The Best Place to Find Ideas

In 2009 I was working (rather happily, for the record) at a small Toronto startup called Pingg. It was an event management app, and anyone who knows me will tell you that isn’t exactly up my alley in terms of excitement. Not that it wasn’t fun to work on, but as far as that deeper level of “I want this for myself” type of excitement — not even a little. I don’t think I’ve ever hosted a party in my entire life.

So naturally I found myself itching to do something for me on the side.

What to do, though?

It felt obvious to me that I should make something for developers, since I was one. But not obvious what. For a while I kind of just fantasized about starting my own app/company, but didn’t actually do anything about it.

Finally it came to me. Bug tracking, of course!

Kirk has a headache

Did I give you a headache?

I know, you’re thinking, “Please no! No more bug trackers!”, and the me of today might agree with you. But at the time, younger and greener as I was, I really saw the bug tracking ‘landscape’ (more eyerolls) to be pretty… rough.

At Pingg we were using Bugzilla of all things, and there weren’t even a lot of good alternatives. GitHub issues was new and pretty broken (and we were still using subversion anyway), JIRA was/is just ew, Pivotal Tracker had too much agile workflow stuff going on for us, FogBugz was really expensive at the time, etc. I figured “I can make something simple that is basically just the features we actually use from Bugzilla!”

I decided to go for it.

Just do it!

I’ll spare you the Shia LaBeouf gif. I started churning out code for a new bug tracker. I called my prototype ‘Traqerous’ (get it, Bugzilla –– Traqerous? No? Just me? That’s why I changed it later to Bugrocket), and it was great fun indeed.

That’s how the best ideas are born. From a personal need. From a pain point you have in your life. That’s not to say they are guaranteed to make a huge lucrative business (Bugrocket isn’t exactly making millions 7 years later, more on that another day). I do guarantee that, at least, you’ll learn a ton. And you never know what will strike a chord with others who have the same problem.

Don’t be afraid to try things like that. Just make something fun. Something that you want or need yourself. Something you can’t shake the urge to make.