This is a list of major projects I’ve built or worked on, as of October 2020.
Guilded is the chat tool for gamers that makes Discord feel like Skype. Acquired by Roblox.
Research Explained creates visual abstracts to summarize complex research papers into a concise and accessible graphical design. Our goal was to make it easy to understand what scientists actually did in their pre-print COVID studies, rather than just relying on sensationalized and usually incorrect headlines. I still think all research papers should include a visual abstract with a consistent design for easily parsing gist of the paper.
Hiome is the first true occupancy sensor for your home. Unlike motion sensors, Hiome knows exactly how many people are in each room and can react to your movement instantly, meaning lights follow you from room to room like a sci-fi movie. My customers love their Hiome Door sensors, but the sensors were too expensive to ever go mainstream and the global pandemic drove the price of thermal sensors even higher. However, the tech is very cool (I received a grant from Y Combinator for it), and I still hope to see something like it succeed in the world.
Canvas is the largest open source learning management system. It’s used across all the top-tier universities and is among the top 20 most visited websites on the internet. I helped scale it up to handle over 1.5 million concurrent users.
Maven was meant to be an automated office manager for handling repetitive tasks, like re-ordering supplies, scheduling cleanings, etc via an AI. I worked on the idea with Eren Bali (CEO of Udemy and Carbon Health) and built a concierge model prototype in 2 weeks to validate the idea. After 4 weeks, I shut down the project due to a conflict with an investor, but in hindsight, I’m glad it failed quickly. I don’t think machine learning is good enough yet to handle unscoped problem spaces like that, and we were being rather optimistic that we would figure out the tech later.
The Flocks were a fun IoT project I built with a friend for Cisco to demo their new IoT platform. They were an art installation that reacted to their environment (using weather data, tweets, noise level, etc) to move, change colors, and play sounds. Four of them hung in 1871 for several months until one fell and we removed all of them as a safety precaution.
Eligo is an independent energy provider who bet that we could win the market with better technology. In particular, we automated away most of the manual processes involved in selling energy to large corporate customers, like pulling their historical data and creating a customized quote. Before Eligo, this was a painful manual process involving complex Excel spreadsheets. Our tech enabled us to compete and win massive deals with our small team of 9.
Tabule was the first smart student planner. We actually started as an in-class Q&A tool for integrating iPads into classrooms, but pivoted to focusing on helping students stay on top of their workload. We used a combination natural language processing and clustering algorithms to parse course syllabi, organize your workload by priority, and enable a social aspect to managing your homework. For example, Tabule would spread out your workload so you do roughly the same amount of work each day. If somebody else in your class added an assignment, you could see it too so that you didn’t forget something. Students loved the app, but we never found a great way to monetize it and eventually ran out of money. Read more.
I built a custom CMS for a high school literary magazine and learned a lot about poor architecture decisions.
I built a video streaming service for my friends before YouTube existed. It was a lot of fun, but boy is streaming video expensive.
There’s a ton of other, smaller projects and experiments I’ve built that never even launched. That’s the fun of building, and I’ll keep doing it for as long as I can!