As a natural experimenter, developer Amila Gamlath wanted to create a site that would function as a tool for managing and sharing programming knowledge. These “tips” he thought, were the perfect way for developers to compile and share ideas that would help them in turn build better tools and products.
His website, Tipila.com is a resource for programmers. It’s easier and much more logical to use than simply reading forums and scrolling endlessly through posts for just a few lines of code. And it allows programmers and web developers to share code snippets and programming tips easily.
Gamlath is a dedicated entrepreneur who’s meticulous about refining his ideas and work. He’s had no issue with reworking and integrating items into the site in order to ensure that it’s not only pleasing to the eye, but as importantly, is functioning properly and efficiently. Already, he has active and high profile developers using the site and providing him useful feedback.
We had a chance to discuss Tipila with Gamlath and here’s what he shared with us :
What were the early days of Tipila like?
I always wanted to start something of my own and was always on the lookout for exciting ideas. I was just out of university and working as a software engineer. We were working on cutting edge projects but the most annoying problem was that we were spending lot of time searching and finding solutions only to forget about them when we needed to do them again.
So I had this idea of creating a tool that you can post programming tips to. A “Tip” is an exact, to the point instruction of how to do something. Normally when a solution is found in a forum or a blog you need to read a whole lot of things to find the actual solution which, most of the time only a few lines of code.
I had brainstormed the idea for a few weeks and came up with a design to a web site and started developing it in my free time. I would come home from work and spend the entire evening developing the site. I would develop part of it and then scrap it and then I do it another way – This continued for a long time.
So tell me more about when you were starting out.
Making money from it wasn’t my priority. All I wanted was to create a great tool. My motto is if you create something really great, it will work. So I spent a great deal of time learning new stuff and experimenting with new web development techniques. I had no investors to please or deadlines to meet. I had all the freedom I needed to create Tipila the way I wanted. I would develop the site and then scrap it and develop again until I was satisfied with the outcome.
It was not about just creating a website. I needed it to be beautifully coded, have new concepts like REST URLs and to be built on the latest platform. That way, it would also function as a great learning opportunity for me personally. When I developed a new version of a tool or framework, I updated all the codes to be compatible with that.
As I was the only one involved, I had this great freedom to work and since Tipila was a solution to a problem that I had as a programmer, I could use it as a user and see what was missing and then work on that. That continued for more than 2 years until the final product came out the way I wanted.
How was the support from family, friends, and those around you?
I got invaluable support from my family and friends. Actually, my colleagues were my first users so I had instant feedback on everything. I still listen to their comments and fine tune Tipila accordingly.
How do you handle the challenges for Tipila?
I knew my product was great and I have plenty of time. So when a challenge comes I spent a great deal of time on researching it and finding a solution.
Tell about how the funding, if any, came about for Tipila?
It was and still is self-funded as I did the development by myself. I did not have to pay for it and the main expenses were the hosting and related charges.
Can you tell me about any new developments or plans that you’re going to roll on out Tipila.com?
I have lots of things in the pipeline for Tipila. The first thing is the API and the extensions for popular Development Environments (which is nearing completion) so that users can easily access their tips from right inside the IDE. And then I have features planned that would benefit companies and corporate users.
So how do you envision Tipila in five years?
As an encyclopedia for programmers that’ll make the life a little bit easier for them. I expect the Tipila to become the first place that a programmer will search to find something. Also once this is successful I have plans to move the Tipila concept to other areas besides computer programming. Tipila is a new way of sharing and managing knowledge. It’s easier than writing a blog and has more features than a micro blog. So, I firmly believe that the concept of posting tips has a bright future in lots of areas.
What lessons have you learned from starting and following through with Tipila?
Never give up. Don’t be bothered by others. Have faith in yourself and keep working towards the goal.
What inspires you?
My passion to create Tipila as good as it can be. I loved programming as a kid and still do love it. Seeing Tipila working nicely inspires me to make it even better.
What does being successful mean to you?
Having the freedom to do what you love. The ability to work for yourself, work when you want, and to take vacations when you want. And overall, to be with people that you love.
I have achieved some of those already and I’m laying the foundation to achieve the rest.
What advice would you share with someone considering starting up their own business?
Be passionate about what you do. Don’t focus on the money. Focus on the product. No matter what happens, believe in yourself and keep on going.
Do you have any favorite authors, musicians, or artists?
My favorite authors are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne. Their decades old stories still fascinate me and make me forget about everything else when I read them. Also, I love the Russian song Chuzhoy by Maksim.
I consider lots of things to be works of art like cars, photographs, and electronic items, not just paintings. If the designer spent time trying to make it as beautiful as it can be then it is a work of art for me. For me the E type Jag and the Alpha 8C are works of art. So is the MacBook Air.
So how do relax considering you’re so busy?
Sleep. And by watching something nice or going for a drive on a winding road.
If and when you have time for a vacation, where do you like to go and with whom?
To the beach with my wife.
What country would you like to visit that you’ve never been to and why?
France. I am always mesmerized by the beauty of Paris and French country-side. Once I missed a chance to visit Paris when our team became 1st runner up in the Microsoft Imagine Cup when I was at the university by a very tiny margin and ever since then it’s been my travel goal.
What languages do you speak?
Actually English is a foreign language to me as I’m a Sri Lankan. I also speak Sinhala.
What trick or “life hack” have you learned that helps you balance your work with your personal life?
No matter how busy you are with your work, always spend some time out of it every day. That helps to balance your personal life and be productive about your work. Spending time out of it allows you to have a fresh [perspective of] your business.