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My co-founder Ben Sperry and I applied for the W2012 Y Combinator funding round last fall with Codiqa, our jQuery Mobile developer tools and services company based in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

I interviewed with YC for the W2010 round with my last startup, which ultimately failed. It was a really great experience and I had a blast, even though we didn’t get funded. Being able to talk with really brilliant people in the orange room, meeting and pitching the partners, and exploring the tech capital of the world was an experience I will always cherish.

This time around, I was really confident we’d at least get an interview for Codiqa, so we submitted early and iterated on the application after that. A week before the application deadline we got a message on Hacker News from Robbert Morris with a question for us to clarify something on our application. I took this as a sign this would be the last time they checked the application. Too bad, since we made a ton of changes after that which might not have been reviewed (if that is true, it’s an argument against submitting early).

My good friend Ryan Oldenburg, now lead Android developer at Hipmunk, put me in touch with Steve Huffman, co-founder of Hipmunk and Reddit, for some much needed feedback on our application. He basically said that we needed to do a better job explaining why jQuery Mobile matters. In the end, we didn’t do a good enough job of that, and I think our other answers lacked substance and confidence (and were too MBA sounding). On Halloween night we received an email saying we were rejected, had a moment of sorrow, and moved on.

Not long after, the jQuery Mobile project started following our updates and expressed interest in what we were building. The fact that Codiqa is 100% dedicated to jQuery Mobile, we believe, set it apart from any other mobile app building tool. We began talking with Todd Parker, leader of the jQuery Mobile project, who was instrumental in giving us early feedback as we developed Codiqa, from its evolution as a desktop application to a web-based service.

We launched our private beta of Codiqa in January of 2012 to about 500 users. For two months we worked feverishly to build our MVP, fixing bugs and adding necessary features. We opened publicly in late February with an announcement to our mailing list and  Twitter followers.

In February we approached Todd with a proposal to put a free, embedded version of Codiqa directly on the jQuery Mobile homepage. He loved the idea, and on the night of February 27th we went live directly on jquerymobile.com (scroll down to play with a basic version of Codiqa).

Since then, Codiqa has been growing beyond our wildest imaginations. By the end of this week we will have over 10,000 users, up from about 1,000 just a month ago. The excitement surrounding jQuery Mobile is huge, and we have people from all over the world using it. Here is a graph of total registered users over the last three months:

Total registered users by day

Here is a graph of new accounts per day over the last three months:

Signups per Day

Codiqa launched with a freemium model: we have a basic builder that only allows HTML exporting, no saving on codiqa.com or using our sharing and theming tools. We try to upsell through saving your app instead of just downloading the HTML. Right now we are not satisfied with our conversion rate from free to paid. We are going to run some experiments, but we’d love to hear your ideas (NOTE: We just made a change which seems to be really improving this!). Here is a graph of free users and users with a plan (we just launched, so almost all users are still in their trial period):

Free vs. Paid Signups

And the conversion rate from free to paid:

Conversion rate from Free to Paid

We hit a major milestone yesterday: our first successful charge after a 30-day trial ended. We have about 1400 users in a free trial right now so we expect to successfully convert and charge a number of them to bring in some revenue.

For the next few months, our plan is to focus on our “hot dog” (see Rework) – the builder we’ve developed. We are going to be adding more components, fixing bugs, and updating our pricing to better reflect the use-cases we’ve heard from our customers. We are going to be launching an alpha version of our desktop  builder in a month or so and are going to spend more time blogging and sharing our expertise with our users.

Codiqa has given both Ben and I some really amazing opportunities. When I think back on my two years since graduating college, nothing has grown my career nearly as much as building Codiqa. I left my 9-5 job two months ago.  Since quitting and then launching Codiqa, I’ve been approached to lead a chapter in the jQuery Mobile Cookbook, a project lead by appendTo and published by O’Reilly Media. I also started doing part-time consulting to pay the bills with appendTo and some of the best Javascript and jQuery developers in the world. I’ve learned a ton from them already. Both Ben and I have been approached numerous times with employment offers since we launched. It seems like starting a business is a great way to quickly boost your career. My only regret was not starting on it sooner!

We are really excited for the next few months. We want to be very transparent about our growth as we bootstrap Codiqa. We would love to hear your feedback or any ideas you have on how we can grow Codiqa! Please leave a comment below if you have something to add. Stay tuned for more posts as we build Codiqa!

Max

Hi, I'm Max, Co-founder of Codiqa, the easiest way to build jQuery Mobile prototypes. I'd love to talk with you: follow me!

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