The Story

By radek

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Story Behind

The story behind can start with this image:

Architect - What I Really Do

If the image isn't clear enough, the last picture shows aligning the symbols of toilets for the architectural "blocks" library. Saying that this is an architects' "daily bread" wouldn't be entirely true, but claiming that it never happens - would simply be a lie

I made my first, professional steps in architecture a decade ago during my summer holidays, to accomplish the obligatory internship required by each student of Faculty of Architecture. The job wasn’t bad, I was in fact excited that I managed to get it at all, with no connections, no portfolio and no references. After all, at that time, I was stuck in a small town with only few architectural offices operating in the area, most of them were sole trader businesses looking for clients, not staff.

As I graduated and got my real first job, it became clear that, upon entering the university, I have been told the lie. The lie was that architecture is a creative profession.

Architecture has very little to do with creativity. 90% of it is a hurdle of finding the compromise between investor’s budget, engineers’ structural walls and columns layout and tons of building regulations. The remaining 10%, the final result you can actually see, is the outcome of the senior architect’s ego, who wants to take the credit for the final look of the building. I can’t blame them for that. To get to that stage, they had to go through incredible amount of unsatisfactory (by all means) work.

But the image of an architect that average Joe has, especially after watching “How I met your mother”, is nowhere near the reality. One every 50 people will get a chance to be creative and design something that will actually get built, the rest of us need to do important, but far from exciting, craftsmanship work.

Not that I was desperately craving for the opportunity to be creative, but I felt that I can use my time better than inserting the symbols of toilets, bathroom sinks and urinals into the project.

I had no idea about running a business, but I felt that this is what I should be doing.

Nothing much has changed ever since, because every day I realize how little I know about so many things.

Still I have no idea about running a business, but I still feel that this is what I should be doing.

After reading dozens of generic books about business, marketing, biographies, etc, after coming up with some decent business ideas, I was completely lost. Books kept me in my comfort bubble, I was reading, I was learning, I wasn’t wasting time. Zero execution, all theory, but that’s the way to do it, right?

Finally I passed the stage of “one more book, one more DVD, one more TED talk” and realized I need to act, do something about those ideas, turn them into reality.

I just had no idea how to go about it.

Not having any mentor who would guide me, or role model I could reach out to, I started asking questions on message boards. I had to register to several of them, ask the same question on each of them. I had to read that it’s not for me, that I should not even start until I get the comprehensive knowledge on the topic. “Your google doesn’t work?” was the hit “funny” response at that time. I had to learn to filter out the trolling and that debate between two guys who will always end up arguing for 5 pages on some irrelevant details. They are always there.

Sometimes there were some comprehensive, matter-of-fact responses. Very comprehensive responses, with links to several articles, in which I could find more links to more articles, containing links to more articles with links to more articles, full of links to more articles… Having 30 opened tabs in my browser was a matter of less than 10 minutes. Maybe it’s my luck, but I hardly ever got a clear answer to my questions, most of the time they were ambiguous, leaving me more confused than before. And all I was really after was a short, clear, “yes-no”, “left-right” answer.

But eventually I made it, and I had some basic understanding on how to start.

That didn’t last long, because shortly after, the first obstacle came up, and I had to ask another question, related to my goal, but in totally different area of expertise. So I signed up to yet 5 another message boards, asked the question, heard “your Google stopped working?” again, had to filter that 2-guys debate, opened another 27 tabs in my browser, ended up more confused than before.

Nightmare. Pure nightmare.

That’s when the idea of was born.

When having a goal, we do not need to get all the knowledge at once. In fact, that would be counterproductive, because the world is constantly changing, the legislation is changing, the geopolitical situation is changing, our family situation is changing, our physical and mental health is changing, our social circle is changing, the technology is changing, our understanding of certain things is changing. In fact, very few things are not changing.

So I though how great it would be to have a tool that allows us to ask a simple question each time we need a short, simple advice, that is a result of previously made choices and taken actions (so we don’t need to repeat ourselves). Tool that guides us step by step in a smooth, logical sequence, rather than forcing us to memorize generic set of steps, that are unlikely to work for us. Tool that leaves no space for negative comments, trolling, discouragement.

question → answer → question → answer → question → ...

Tool like a GPS for your goal, that will only tell you “turn right” when reaching the crossroad, rather than “ok, so remember: take a left at the next traffic lights, then take a right at the police station. Straight ahead for next 57 meters, then when you get to Prudence Street, take your next left. Pass Tesco on your left, take a right at the next traffic lights. Straight ahead for the next 170 meters, but keep right. Take a left when you come to a bus stop sign, and then… but are you sure you want to do it? It’s snowing, the roads are slippery, and you’re not a very good driver yourself, maybe just call a cab instead? It’s pricey, but they know what they do. And why do you need to go anyway, why not just stay home, huh?

Map vs GPS

When we're asked what is difference between any other q&a website and, we like to use that metaphore, where q&a is a traditional road map, that contains more data that you can chew, and that is more like your car GPS, telling you only what you should do next, rather than overwhelming you with the entire city's topography.

And so we've built it.

Just like in life, there was no one, best, ultimate guide that helped us to build such platform. We were learning every day, we were testing every day, we were making mistakes every day, we were asking questions every day. But that each and every single day, often filled with frustration, disappointment, and new realizations, was one step closer.

Giving up was never the option, because that would undermine the idea behind . We had to be the Proof of Concept that the idea works, that, with persistence and just the right advice at the right time, everything can be done.

Goal achieved.

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