Bootstrapping without knowing since 2016. Say Hi to Point Chronos.
by Nico Arche
Hello, my name is Nico. This post is to tell you a little about the history of Point Chronos, my first digital project. When I created Point Chronos in 2016 I did not have the knowledge that I have now and much less did I know of the existence of the “Bootstrapping” concept (it did not even exist haha).
If you get bored with the first paragraphs you can go directly to the one called “All versions”, that’s where the funniest part begins.
Now I am a web designer specialized in WordPress (I have a small agency called Weplika) and I study programming. This allows me to dedicate full time to my projects. But when I created Point Chronos I worked for a company that provided internet connection services as a sales man and marketing strategist. Point Chronos started as a side project. My first project.
What is PC?
Point Chronos is a Saas web-based scoreboard for martial arts combat. These scoreboards have a countdown timer, point counters, “Exits” and “Warnings” counters. Controls are built-in. The user can select from a Dashboard the scoreboard they need according to the duration of the central timer, which ranges from 1 minute to 3 minutes in the last update made. These scoreboards open in tabs of the browser you are using and can be sent to a screen via HDMI, WIFI, etc. It’s cool and easy.
Every weekend there are martial arts events all over the world. But very few are “big events” and have the infrastructure like the US Open or The Battle of Atlanta. Most are smaller, open tournaments that bring together schools and competitors from different disciplines, where the organizers make a great effort to organize a quality event. Not everyone has the budget to access platforms developed for the organization of these events. Some don’t even have a digital scoreboard to keep track of the fights.
This is where the idea of creating Point Chronos was born.
A simple solution for a simple problem of a group of people
Problem: Not having a visible scoreboard for competitors and spectators with which to keep track of time and points. Reasons: Little accessibility to this technology and high cost of event management platforms of this type.
Solution: An economical and easy-to-use web application that works on any laptop. With controls included to work only in one browser tab, making it easy to mirror the screen to a television or any other screen.
All versions, the funniest part of the story
At that moment I thought that the most useful thing would be an android application. The first thing I did was put together a draft where I wrote in detail how the app had to work. Since I didn’t know how to program, I contacted a programmer and in a couple of weeks, Point Chronos was ready.
The app was well accepted in the local and international environment. Since it was free at first, it had many users, but later when it was priced things changed.
It was difficult to connect to an external display. In 2016 and more so in these Latin American latitudes it was not as easy as now to be able to connect a mobile device to a screen. This became an obstacle to achieving broader implementation in events. In fact, I don’t remember anyone using it at their events.
I worked on improvements for a while, a few more sales were made, but I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere.
A system that only i could use
The app was new in an environment unaccustomed to technological improvements. This led to many event organizers contacting me so I could bring a system to their events. They provided televisions and I carried my laptop with Point Chronos and I was in charge of controlling the fights at their events.
To be able to do this, and coming to the end of 2016, I designed a version of Point Chronos in web format. Since until then I had no idea how to make a website, I used a software called Website Evolution X5. Crazy. I could create a functional website and run it locally.
Read this carefully. The stopwatch was made with FLASH, frame by frame. 24 frames was one second. Therefore I had a PNG for each second. I did it in 2:00 minutes and 1:30 minutes. This FLASH ran best embedded in one of the pages created with this software.
To control the points of each competitor, I created two galleries of images with numbers, from 00 to 99. The rest were simpler things, but they took time to prepare.
I adapted this version according to the event for which I was hired, but I could not “sell” it for someone else to use. Therefore, almost simultaneously create a new version.
The definitive FLASH. It was already obsolete before it was used
Going to events was good. I made many contacts. They invited me to tournaments that I had never been to as a competitor, they paid me to use my system and they also allowed me to compete. It was great, but I was also a little tired. Point Chronos was never my full-time job, I already had one of those and I did it from Monday to Friday. By 2019 I was already a little exhausted from going to events, I needed event organizers to be able to have Point Chronos without depending on me.
Then, almost simultaneously with the version that was used at events, the idea was born to create an executable version that would not require an internet connection and that could be installed easily. They would run the app, use the scoreboard for combat, and then need to restart. Everything was very rustic and I didn’t have to be there.
Laughter aside, it was a beautiful stage of learning. I remember it with a smile.
Some sales were made, combined with the possibility of also downloading the Android app for the same price.
As of 2019, the project was stopped. I was not satisfied with the product. I knew it could be improved but I had already lost motivation and the event organizers were happy with the version they had.
A new hope
At the end of 2021, an event organizer friend asked me what the possibilities were of making a new version of Point Chronos because “the little FLASH program” that I had given him no longer worked. It seemed like a good possibility to resume the project, this time with much more knowledge and better prepared.
By that date I was already dedicated to designing websites in WordPress. I had several web design clients as a freelancer (agencies, entrepreneurs, etc.), I had launched projects like Fly Menu (a digital gastronomic menu saas during the COVID confinement), I had recorded a Podcast about entrepreneurship and digital skills, and I had some clients of Hosting. In fact, for some of the websites I had to do some work on the CSS of the sites.
The main thing was to achieve a complete scoreboard with its main components made with code. The timer and point counters had to be made with programming. The site was based on WordPress and the codes embedded within the environment that this CMS could give me.
I’m not a programmer (yet) but I consider that one of my skills is knowing how to search, learn and try things. So I searched the internet for ready-made countdown timer codes thinking about adapting them to what I needed. I did the same for the point counters, which I have to admit was the hardest. Of course ChatGPT didn’t exist and at least I didn’t know of a tool that created code on demand.
Why did I do this and not use WordPress plugins? Because I didn’t find plugins that fit what I needed.
Tools like GitHub, Visual Studio Code and Codepen were essential. I found repositories, projects created in Codepen that I could copy and modify to see how they worked. It was all trial and error. Watch videos on YouTube about how to modify very specific things. Take lines of code from one file and put them in another. So a lot of things that, due to lack of knowledge, I couldn’t do any other way.
Tip of the day: Learn to program as soon as you can. It doesn’t matter in what language. It’s a superpower!
The learning was a lot and the result left me quite satisfied. I had managed to create a beautiful, functional countdown timer and point counters, the closest to what I had imagined I wanted to achieve.
There were three base files: one in HTML, one in CSS and one in JS. Three for the points counter and another three for the countdown timer.
This part is summarized clearly, because once I got the codes to work I had to duplicate and adapt them to create the rest of the components. For example, I had the base codes for the countdown timer but I had to create several of different time durations. Same with point counters. I had the base of one for points for the Blue competitor, but I had to create the “Exits” and “Warnings” counters, for both the blue competitor and the red competitor.
It was time to move on to WordPress. I had to embed the execution of these small programs within the environment that WordPress gave me. Create the corresponding folders within the hosting to host the files, design a page and place the blocks where the scripts for each of the scoreboard elements would go.
It worked. I was very happy at that moment. It was a mix of feelings. On the one hand relief because I had fulfilled a debt I owed to myself. On the other hand, a very great emotion because I had created with my own hands something that I really liked, practically from scratch, digging and learning by trial and error. It was 3 AM on a weekday and I was alone in my apartment.
I had achieved the functionality I was looking for. Of course my teacher friend was the first to use it and the feedback was very good. But there it stayed. Point Chronos boiled down to just one URL. A link that directly loaded the scoreboard. Without landing, without sale, without anything more than that.
Find the right focus
Wanting to do everything at once has a con: you can’t. I am going to develop this statement a little more: when you are freelance you enjoy almost absolute freedom to do anything, so you want to do everything. And what happens is that you don’t end up doing anything quite right.
I needed to focus on what was important while still doing what I liked. And the freedom of being a freelancer comes at a price: what matters is what puts food on the table. Which prevents you from having to go out and look for work again. Anything that helps you not have to get up to travel for 2 hours. to your workplace. That becomes the main thing.
Then I began to “cleanse” my mind of all those things that I wanted to do or would like to do but never did for whatever reason. What I did was write in a Google Doc everything that was on my mind, from promoting my agency’s brand to learning to play the harmonica. Then, separate them into groups based on relevance. Thiago Forte wrote a book called Building a Second Brain that raises a very interesting concept called the P.A.R.A method. which is used to organize tasks and to-dos. Super recommended.
The result of that cleaning was to focus on a few, very specific things, which I consider to be the most important at this moment. The rest of the things are still there, but I don’t see them every day, they are not in front of my mind, so they do not haunt me. And the important ones start to have my full attention.
From a professional perspective, designing web pages in WordPress is my main job, very clear. I have to give it priority. And from a personal point of view, it seems important to me to be able to continue creating, to have side projects that allow me to learn and be part of a community of digital creators. I love thinking that I can create something really useful with my own hands (and brain) and that it can give me another level of life or that someone can find it so useful that they want to buy it.
The return of Point Chronos
The process described in such detail above took place in August 2023 and by the beginning of September it is ready to get its hands on Point Chronos again, this time more seriously than ever.
I already had the scoreboard part resolved. I just had to make some small adjustments to the codes and change some blocks within WordPress to make it look better.
So, I focused on creating an attractive landing page that gathered the most important information but that did not consume excessive time to create. I was inspired by the websites created by Tony Dinh for his tools.
The purchase process and access for users had to be simple: a purchase button that leads to a payment gateway and then a login button on the main page from which you access a dashboard where all the available scoreboards are located. so far and a brief explanation of how it works.
By the first days of October everything was ready and I could begin to disseminate it. Monetization is based on a lifetime membership plan. And as a freemium I offer access to a test scoreboard.
I was (and am) super satisfied with the result because again, despite not having programming knowledge, I managed to create a professional product with the tools that I did know how to use.
If you are interested in knowing more in detail about the technical part, you can comment on this post or write to me on Twitter.
Creating this post was one of the next steps planned. I wanted to be able to get closer to this community (totally new to me) by telling my story, or rather the story of Point Chronos. I have to highlight that Arvil Kahl inspired me to write this, to tell part of my story in this format.
From the moment this new version was launched, I have been focused on collecting the feedback that users who are using it for their events can give me, and with that feedback I put together a list of features that I am working on little by little and what they will generate. first price increase.
I am looking to partner with brands related to martial arts. Clothing brands, news blogs, social media accounts to disseminate the activity.
Basically the next steps are focused on: marketing, dissemination and improvements based on feedback from current users and things that I already want to do from the beginning.
Thank you for coming this far. I appreciate it. Telling a story is a beautiful adventure. I sincerely hope that this story inspires you and shows you that you don’t need to be a genius to create something that makes you happy.
I leave the link to the project website: pointchronos.xyz in case you want to see it. Any feedback is welcome. On my Twitter, @nicoarche, you will find day-to-day things related to this project.