As of February 2013, Adam Rice and I have closed down our startup Looxii. We learned a ton and had an “Acqhistition” (sic: Techcrunch). With the two of us working full time at other endeavors, we decided it was time to shut things down. We are both still active participants in the business and startup communities in Atlanta.
To offer a little technical background on Looxii, when it was launched, Looxii was built in Python using Google App Engine. App engine was in beta at the time and it worked well for us because it was built on Big Table, a fast key/value database which allowed us to find tweets and social media mentions quickly through millions of rows of compiled info. It didn’t provide the means to easily run analytics on the information, but we achieved that by using counter tables. In the fall of 2011 Google App Engine came out of beta and reworked their pricing plans. The new pricing plan was skewed against apps that had a ton of storage and would have increased our monthly costs by $2000 - $3000.
Over about a two week period I ported the app to the open source equivalent of the Google App Engine stack. I setup an ubuntu box running nginx web proxy, webapp2 router, and jinja templating. On the database side I decided to go with the old standard, mysql, which ended up being fast enough, but didn’t provide the search capabilities that I needed. To take care of our search needs I installed the sphinx search plugin for mysql and I was able to simplify many of the analytics processes and get real time counts that allowed Looxii to be faster and more reliable. The final version of Looxii was flexible and open-source and easily run through AWS.
Building the application provided many challenges with APIs, and large amounts of data that needed to be searched, index, and analyzed in real time. One of the major take-aways that I’ve gotten from this experience is that starting a project with an all open source stack allows for greater control over hosting and costs when running a startup. Of course now that I’ve completely embraced Ruby on Rails, I always am using an open source stack.
I enjoyed building and running Looxii, even though it could be difficult at times, and I look forward to learning new things and starting many new projects in the future.