Year One - Journey to Indie Developer


It’s been 1 full year since that ‘Hello World!’ commit on Atlist Maps. This is my personal journey to being 1 year into building a product I can call my own.

Although, it didn’t just start 1 year ago.

A little bit of history

I was never one to stay in school. I spent most of my college years (2008-2011) running around downtown to all the startup events. The sprouters, meetups and talks, you name it, we were there. Startup culture consumed most all of our time. We even worked out of our bedrooms with makeshift white boards, and post-its covering the walls.

I joined a small Toronto development agency as the first employee, because it aligned with everything I wanted to do. Work with startups! I loved it. Working at an agency is challenging, but it is very rewarding. I was helping others realize their visions through app development and design sprints. Over 7 years, I was part of more than 100 product launches, and still have relationships with some of those clients. What made it difficult, especially as a company, was the never-ending quest to find new technologies that would define the next-step for the web. We were constantly learning and evolving our approach to software development.

Turning point

I’ve always had an itch to build my own products, ever since school. If you were around Toronto during 2008-2012, it was a magical time to be an entrepreneur. That entrepreneurial passion is still with me, I also loved my team at the agency. I was giving 110% to my clients, it was a struggle to even think about side hustles anymore. Sadly, there was a trend in the industry where there wasn’t as much of a need for small expert boutiques. In early 2019, we inevitably closed up shop which was heartbreaking.

After completing my final commitments, I took some time to be alone and to really identify what could be my next steps. After building apps for clients for so long, I kept coming back to building for myself again.

Next chapter

I started building an app with my friend and business partner, around something I’ve very passionate about, maps. Steve made a video on how we got started.

I had built an an app a couple years prior that would optimize my wifes courier routes through Toronto. I had watched her struggle trying to manually reorder her stops every morning before she went on her deliveries.

I personally love working with maps. There have been a few client projects over the last decade that had some map related features, I believed there was a need for better tools to create, collaborate, and share custom google maps. That’s my goal with Atlist Maps.

This last year has been challenging, and rewarding. Some weeks were the most challenging of my entire career, but I also grew the most as a developer. I share some tips, challenges and insights during my first year building a product as a solo developer.

What’s next

Owning my work felt like the next step in my career. Things may change, but for right now I’m excited for the future. Looking back, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished up to this point.

Your journey is vastly different than others. For example, this may be Year 1 of building Atlist Maps but it took 10+ years of hard work and learning for me to get here.

Thanks for reading ❤️

Some stats:

  • 1,281 signups
  • 1,865 maps created
  • 14,241 markers added
  • 1,070 images uploaded