From nothing to reality

Handmade drawing with a phrase that reads: “For those of us that believe dreams flow from nothing to reality, we exist because we took the first step to become reality from nothing. — January 30, 2019”
For those of us that believe dreams flow from nothing to reality, we exist because we took the first step to become reality from nothing. — January 30, 2019

There and back again into blogging, storytelling and reflecting on my day to day as a digital craftsman. Hello, my name is Gilbert.

It’s been almost 10 years since I last blogged. Back in the day Blogger was a thing, Google Reader still existed, you shared photos to Flickr and Twitter was the new place where you connected with likeminded people from around the world. Talking about the latest changes in tech, software development paradigms and distribution platforms was a day to day activity and something I did as part of my job — and while that’s not changed much, other things have.

10 years ago, the iPhone era of apps was just starting to take shape, Flash had not yet been declared dead and distributing rich, interactive, web apps directly to people’s browsers had just become powerful and simple enough to be a viable option for anyone building digital solutions for the first time.

I stopped blogging for many reasons, but one specific reason is worth mentioning: I headed back to school. I moved across the world from America to East Asia, made Seoul my new home and shied away from the industry for a while; and while this change alone would have inspired a lot of great stories, I shifted my focus to developing and shipping applications, rather than talking about it.

Over the past 10 years, I swapped direct-to-consumer, agency-style, experiences for solving people’s problems through technology. Whether it was assisting tourists to explore new places using their newly acquired smartphones, to helping Latino families in the US create new futures for their children through a college education. I moved from the safe world of corporate to the exhilarating world of startups. Building something from scratch and making a living from it, was, for the first time, within my reach.

A little over 10 years ago I meet a girl. She is now my wife. Together we make for a super powerful couple where the sum of our parts results in an amazing force of nature.

Five years ago, together with 2 other partners, we jumped ship to build something of our own. We started a company whose sole purpose was to empower musicians to engage, grow and monetize audiences at scale. In doing it, we built the #1 music app in Latin America, above the likes of Spotify, SoundCloud and Deezer; Leaf gave millions of users from around the world a beautiful, simple, yet powerful experience to connect with the music and artists they loved, and while it was successful as a consumer app, it did little to help us deliver on our original mission, so we pivoted.

The technology and methods we built while delivering Leaf Music became the foundation for a new solution, one where we would empower not only musicians, but anyone with something of value to offer, to build and engage audiences of their own, online and at web scale; we called this solution Leaf Grow.

The past 10 years have been a rollercoaster of emotions, amazing highs and a few lows, but if I’d define them in one word is Learning.

Through this blog, I will try to put into words many of the lessons learnt and those still to be learnt while building products, teams and companies. This is more for me than it’s for you, but you are more than welcome to tag along; after all, life is for sharing!

Pura vida.