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My name is Lenny Bogdonoff and I’ve been working on a platform for graffiti and street artists to showcase their work online. Think Wikipedia for graffiti artists. During the day, I am a software engineer for the New Yorker magazine.
I joined Orbital after I read Gary’s blog posts titled “On Self-Sufficiency.” The post discusses the importance of financial sustainability in personal and entreprenuial endeavors. Immediately, I wanted to join his Entrepreneurial Design class and complete his assignments. Not too long after, Orbital began.
I applied without a exact project to work on, but a clear expectation of the value I would gain in the process. Until now, I have accumulated a long list of uncompleted side projects. I use side-projects as a way to learn something new. I came into Orbital with two potential projects, but without any particular reason to work on one over the other. I decided to work on the project that I was more passionate about. I painted graffiti for over 8 years, so I decided I wanted to give my self a way to contribute back to the graffiti community.
Orbital became a reason to work on a side-project to its completion. I started out working on a mapping service. The focus was to help graffiti artists coordinate their painting expeditions without getting caught. I was thinking a mobile-Google Docs for localized maps.
Instead, each week, I made something completely different. I started out with a portfolio for graffiti artists. Then I started making a way to find all best painting spots of a city. Then I started a weekly graffiti email newsletter. And then I made a competitive game for people to identify the artists of a graffiti piece. The list goes on, but each of these projects was not wasted effort.
I adjusted my targeted audiences, recognized assumptions, built micro communities, selectively accepted advice, and made many new friends. I eventually settled on working on the project I am working on now, a graffiti artists showcase tool. **I discovered many things – mainly I discovered what I don’t enjoy doing. **My current idea will transition again. I’m almost sure of it. Regardless, one thing is very certain. I’ve deepened my own intuition by knowing where I stand in the realm of graffiti and the Internet.
I know clearly what I know to be true, based on my experience exploring the graffiti community in the way that I did. I’ve developed a deeper insight about where I will be investing my effort, based on my own awareness of the potential growth. Before, I was pursuing experiments based on not having a reason not to. I was confident I would learn more from trying out an idea than to intellectually conceive of reasons for or against it.
Now, I’m working on the project that I want to and can sustain. I discovered in the end, my own sustainability is the most important thing.