This is the third year in a row that I’ve sat down to type a “year in review” blog post on New Years Eve. I’m glad that I’ve settled into this little blogging routine, as it has turned into a fun way to take stock of life’s twists and turns. It’s also now funny to think that 2019 was quite easy to write, and then last year’s post felt like documenting glimmers of fun while the world was on fire. I really had expected 2021 would be a bit more un-eventful than 2020, but that certainly wasn’t the case. I’ll remember 2021 as one of the most eventful and chaotic years ever. Don’t worry, I’ll spare you from any ranting about politics, COVID, or the state of the world; that stuff is too exhausting to talk about after the past two years.
2021 started out for us in Snowshoe, West Virginia, where we were lucky enough to enjoy some much needed vacation time on the slopes. And here I am a year later, writing this blog post from Snowshoe where we have been enjoying some skiing and avoiding yet another massive surge in COVID cases back home. I can’t say we did much else last winter aside from travel up to Snowshoe for much needed changes in scenery and some adrenaline filled skiing. Then towards the middle of winter, life went from quarantine slow to some totally new level of busy.
We started 2021 at Storyware with a stacked project schedule and some new team members. Despite the stacked schedule, we finally reached a huge milestone and released our first SaaS product, LoyalBrew, in March of 2021. LoyalBrew is essentially a new take on loyalty programs that was originally targeted towards “Ale Trails” as a way to replace paper passports. I developed LoyalBrew and designed it on the fly, leveraging the new Laravel Livewire framework for building native-app-esque experiences in the browser. Since the official release, LoyalBew has continued to evolve and we’ve signed some notable customers including the Asheville Ale Trail.
Sometime towards the end of January I received a text from Griffin Harrington, a JMU classmate who I hadn’t spoken with in nearly 10 years. Griffin had a new business idea and needed to chat with someone about the software side of things. Well, in March we co-founded RecRe, an autonomous rental box company offering recreational and lifestyle product rentals in hyper-convenient locations. Our goal with RecRe is to enable people to play more, while owning less. Check out the video below to see how it works:
We first intended to place RecRe boxes in public parks with a rev-share model. We’ve since pivoted towards working with campuses and apartment complexes, but hope to see RecRe boxes play a roll in activating public spaces sometime down the road.
Taking RecRe from an idea to an actual business has been one of the most valuable experiences of my life. Most people who know me are aware that I have a love/hate relationship with technology; technology is great and allows me to live the life I live, but technology has become increasingly terrifying and I’m always yearning to disconnect and enjoy life outside. RecRe is a product that uses technology to enable customers to do just that: to get outside and enjoy life.
Since starting RecRe in March, I can’t say I’ve had much free time during the workweek (or many weekends). My nights and many of my weekends over the summer were spent building the MVP RecRe web app in preparation for our product launch. This web app was a real joy to build since it involved opening and closing a box on demand through an IoT device. The tech stack is a fun one, leveraging Laravel, Laravel Livewire, Particle.io, Redis, Pusher and more. Like LoyalBrew, I developed the app myself and designed it on the fly. I’m pretty damn proud of the RecRe web app.
Seeing the box come together as I poured my skillset into the MVP app was pretty awesome. The launch of our first box in October was a huge sense of accomplishment for everyone involved. Our product has since been well received, the business concept has been proven, we’ve raised some capital from investors, and we’re now preparing for a busy 2022. We have a number of boxes in production overseas and my old colleagues from Indonesia are working with us to turn the MVP app into a full-fledged SaaS platform that will enable our customers to manage their own boxes. Look out: our first RecRe boxes will be arriving on college campuses around the mid-atlantic region quite soon.
So all of the above was mostly about work. What happened outside of work in 2021?
If you read last year’s post then you know we adopted Cocoa, one cool pup, towards the end of 2020. Cocoa and I became best co-working pals this year. He’s a great co-worker who enjoys the occasional game of fetch, eating mulch, and long walks on the beach (or in the mountains). I did my best to keep up my love for landscaping whenever I could get away from the computer when we weren’t traveling. Olivia and I also managed to take a few fun trips this year, most of which included the pup. And since Olivia and I discovered that we absolutely love spending time at Snowshoe, we bought a condo up here over the summer. You can pretty much count on finding us in the mountains for the bulk of the winter months from here on out 🙂
2021 has been a bit tiring, so I’d prefer to go spend time away from the computer instead of continuing to type. I’ll let the many pics below illustrate the fun things that happened in 2021. Thanks for reading and I look forward to chronicling an equally action packed 2022 in 365 days.
Well, that’s it. Have a great year and stay tuned for updates. Maybe I’ll actually carve out some time to write or finally rebuild this website in 2022.