— A Fun Nerdy Side Project

Edit May 28th: StartupAdventure was reviewed by PSFK!

Back in 2013, I spent a good deal of time learning how to code on Ruby on Rails, I used Michael Hartl’s Rails Tutorial and the learning platform Treehouse (referral link) and hacked together RewardBox, an app that helps you build habits through variable reward reinforcement. It was a great education to the MVC mental model and those ideas help me as a product manager at Percolate.

Since then, I’ve had a few opportunities to code here and there — I wrote a little Ruby script to call an API during the Smithsonian Hackathon at the Luce Center, and wrote a little code using Squirrel to govern the Electric Imp for Team Ghostfinger at Hack Day 2015. Still, I’ve been itching for more. (Because I’m trying to be a good chef).

Pretty Sure This Web Thing Is Sticking Around

So this spring, I decided to take the General Assembly Front-End Web Development course. My friend and Percolate designer Melissa Mandelbaum had taken it in the winter and had said good things. It’s 10 weeks long and covers HTML, CSS, basic JQuery-flavored Javascript and some Bootstrap. Every Tuesday and Thursday I would trek over to the 23rd St and Broadway and spend 3 hours working with Troy Mestler,Saimon Sharif, and Morgan Polotan honing my web chops.

I’ve been messing around with HTML and CSS for a long time so those were mainly refreshers. But what was really cool was learning Javascript. We covered parallax, onClick events, hiding and revealing elements in the DOM, even calling APIs.

I find front end web dev super rewarding because you can see the results of your work almost immediately. Instant gratification is a great motivator to keep building.

My Final Project: StartupAdventure

Every student in the GA class has to build a final project. I have always thought those “Choose Your Own Story” style books were such a cool idea. I like the idea that fiction can be interactive.

When I went to Malaysia last fall to teach a startup workshop, I also did a little presentation where i walked entrepreneurs through some of the decision points I faced as a founder at Ridejoy, allowing them to think through the different options before sharing what we did and how it played out. People seemed to really like that.

So I decided for my final project to create StartupAdventure, a piece of interactive fiction where you get to experience the rollercoaster of being a founder. From which media outlet you choose to launch with, to your choice of investors, to your growth strategy and beyond. Your choices play into which “ending” you get.

There’s lots that’s still missing: a mobile experience that works beyond just iPhone 6. More company types. Greater interactivity like accepting the founder’s name, and more diverse story arcs. Still, I’m proud of what I shipped. If you’re interested you can give it a whirl:


You can tweet me at @jasonshen and let me know what you think. Also you can find it today (May 14) on ProductHunt!

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Jason Shen

Jason is a tech entrepreneur and talent expert. He is CEO of a performance hiring platform called Headlight, a Fast Company contributor, and an advocate for Asian American men. Follow him on Twitter at @jasonshen and subscribe to his private newsletter.

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  1. Awesome to hear you’re expanding your skill set. One thing about coding is that it’s usually the most valuable skill in the room. Be prepared to get sucked more and more into it! Will check out Startup Adventure when I get the chance…

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