From Bookkite to Polychart: Where are they now?

VeloCity: What have you been doing since the VeloCity Venture Fund?

Lisa: We pivoted.
So when we won VVF, we pitched the idea of Bookkite, which is something that allows people to catalogue and share their booklist. And since then, we’ve moved completely away from that idea to Polychart, which isn’t really related in any way…
Jee: But it’s more fun.
Lisa: So the reason we pivoted was something that Ted [Livingston] said to us, which is if we want to do a startup we really have to pick an idea that we’re really, really passionate about and that resonates with us. I worked with the Facebook data science team and data is really what drives me.
Jee: And I wanted to solve a more technical problem than making a consumer website.
Lisa: So this is something that we’re both really passionate about.

V: So what’s going on with Polychart?

L: We’ve build Polychart.js, which is a really flexible javascript charting library. Just this week we are rolling out our first beta version of Polychart, a browser based platform where you can drag and drop to create charts, analyze data and see different aspects of your data very quickly, without having to code.

V: Did you spend all of the VVF money?

J: No. We spent about $3,000. A few of the reasons are: we didn’t pay us and a lot of things are provided by the workspace here. So we spent money on some computer hardware and to attend a conference in San Franscisco. It was called Strata, data science related, and we wanted to go and present our ideas and attend various lectures there. So the plane ticket and a bunch of expenses incurred during the trip were most of our expenses.

V: What has been your biggest achievement since the Venture Fund?

L: We’re obviously very thrilled about actually launching something that people are using, that’s one thing. Another thing is we got into the conference, that was a very big deal to us. And a third thing is, we’re on our way to getting our first customers!

V: What have you learned over the past 8 months?

L: Uh let’s see… A lot! It’s really hard to get it all down to one answer, but we’ve learned a lot from Mike Kirkup, who taught us a lot more about the business side of things. We’re both developers, so the business side is really something that we’ve never had to deal with. VeloCity has taught us a lot about how to run a business –
J: – how to market ourselves, how to give confidence to customers that we’re not just going to run with the money…

V: What do you think you would be doing if you didn’t win VVF?

J: Stay jobless, carry a sign, will code HTML for food.
L: I have a feeling that we would still be working on Polychart in one form or another.
J: For me, I really enjoy startup life, and the mindset that we have to be in to work in startup, so there is a possibility that I would’ve been working with Lisa on Polychart. One thing is, we don’t really need that much money to work on Polychart, so, in some sense, winning or not winning didn’t make that much difference, financially. But it was good to have all the mentors and the infrastructure and the support from the VeloCity people. So I would have either been working with Lisa or working with another startup.

V: What’s next for Polychart?

J: Be the next big thing.
L: Yeah, so we’re in the process of gathering feedback, packaging what we have into products that will fit into niches.
J: The plan is to test a bunch of ideas and hypotheses around people’s behaviour, how people want to use our product and what kind of value people want from our product. So we want to test these hypotheses one by one and see what sticks and what doesn’t.

We are excited to see what Lisa & Jee come up with next! If you want to keep up with them, follow them on Twitter, @Polychart.

@UWVeloCity