Prior to our big launch in January 2013, we did a trial run of free maths grinds. We did one broadcast a week, for 8 weeks, from November to December 2012. Interestingly enough, we actually got quite a lot of interest in these grinds. Some 70 – 80 students logged in to watch each class live. There was one episode of cyber bullying during these grinds. Some lads from a south county Dublin school asked one girl in the live chat room if ‘she was hot’. It turned out that these lads had logged in to see (and possibly make fun of) their own teacher who was teaching maths with us. Our higher level maths teacher was a stentorian (of loud and powerful voice) doctor. A fine man indeed, who sported his OnlineGrinds.ie t-shirt with great aplomb and swag. It fitted the doctor beautifully.
Here is a sample lesson from the doctor himself. Fast forward to 1:25 to hear him at his best:
Despite a few technical issues (as usual) (SL) and the one episode of cyber bullying (which got us a nice piece in a broadsheet newspaper incidentally – click here to read the article in the Irish Indo), the free trial grinds were relatively successful. Our big launch date was Monday, Jan 14th 2013 and what you are about to read next is one of the main reasons why BS was so dear to me and why I loved him as much as I did.
Source Code – The source of all evil
It was Saturday 12th Jan 2013, just 2 days prior to our big launch. The excitement was palatable. The company I founded was going live in 2 days time. But the feeling of elation was equally matched with the feeling of butterflies in my tum tum. Needless to say I spent most of that weekend in the studio obsessing and making sure everything was perfect. I am the first to admit that I am an insanely obsessive person and the slightest black mark on our whiteboard, for example, would be a MASSIVE irritation to me.
Here are some pictures of how perfect the studio was (note the absence of anybody else) :
I am often asked if I have OCD and, as far as I know, I don’t. What I have is far worse than OCD. Approximately 52 times worse. This may well stem from my education in the Shannon College of Hotel Management where our college director was an ex army general. Believe it or not, we had to wear a uniform in hotel college. In fact, not only did we wear uniforms, but we had regular uniform inspections. Every now and then we would have to line up so the general could inspect our clobber. We would walk up to him and have to do a twirl in front of him (if only I had my pink, lycra tutu back then, says you).
First, he would look at our hair to see if there was any gel in it. If there was, we would have to go home and wash it out. He would then inspect our faces to see if we had shaved that morning. Again, if we hadn’t, we would be ‘ordered’ to go home immediately and get out the Mach 3 (one time I was so pissed off about being asked to go home and shave that I went back to the apartment, packed my stuff and headed to our house in Achill Island with the intention of never returning to the college. There was still a lot of alcohol in my system from the night before however, and I returned back to college the following Monday when I returned to relative sobriety).
The inspection then moved in the direction of our blazer, shirt, trousers and finally, our shoes. Our black, leather shoes needed to be polished to a brilliant shine. The latter didn’t usually necessitate a trip home to our luxurious apartments, as someone always had some shoe polish (or equivalent; something like Vaseline) on them. However, one day I wasn’t sent home, I was sent to a shoe shop. The heel on my left shoe had actually come completely off and I simply never bothered to get a new pair as only one of them was faulty. It almost looked like I was walking with a limp. In the uniform inspection queue that day I had to raise my left heel off the ground to give the impression of equilibrium. When I faced the general that day, no matter what I did to try to camouflage the left shoe (doing a speedy pirouette with my arms extended above my head in an arch shape, rather than a simple twirl, whilst making a big, cheesy, smiley face and humming the nutcracker theme song, for example), he spotted the missing heel.
Anyway, I am going completely off the point here. All I am saying is I have a severe form of OCD when it comes to perfection and attention to detail. Almost destructively so.
So, back to Saturday 12th January 2013, 2 days prior to the launch of OnlineGrinds.ie. At 18:15 that evening, BS decided to make a declaration via email (he always believed in emailing rather than picking up the phone). He advised that the majority of the source code (technical term for describing what makes up the website, building blocks if you like) of the website would not belong to OnlineGrinds.ie, but it would remain the property of his own business. Lovely, yeah? Perfect timing, no? Here is a copy and paste of the EXACT wording of this infamous email of 12/01/13 (click on wording to increase size):
This news broke less than 48 hours prior to our first paid live grind. It essentially meant that if there were to be a future sale of our company, most of the website would belong to BS, not OnlineGrinds.ie. Therefore a large portion of the sale value would go to BS, not us. As you can see, he declares that OnlineGrinds.ie did not have “any real IP assets of note”.
As you are aware, the initial agreement was that he would develop a website capable of broadcasting live and interactive online grinds and this website would be owned 100% by OnlineGrinds.ie. This is why he would be getting 50% of the company, diluted to 33% once an investor came on board. I presumed that he would write the code for everything; the broadcasting software, the chat facility, the database framework, the payment code, the whole 9 yards. But no, all he did was take third party software plug ins and use his own company’s code to hold it all together. Jaysus, if I had known that originally, I would have done it all myself! And I am about as technically minded as a blind gorilla with no limbs.
None of the the new information I learnt in his email that day was ever set out in our initial verbal agreement. But yes, being the gob shite that I am, I never insisted on a written agreement at the time.
What was I to do when he dropped this bomb? He had left it until 2 days before we launched to break the news. Having spent a lot of money on advertising our launch, I couldn’t pull the plug now. But the feeling of being raped by BS did not outweigh the motivation I had to launch, and to fulfill my goal of making grinds more convenient to Chloe and Greg and more affordable to Stacey and Jason, regardless of money I would make (or lack thereof) in a future sale. So we trucked on with the launch. But what an absolute gem of news to receive.
Next Chapter – Chapter 6: The Daily Grind