Time and why I had to say no.

Ina Yosun Chang
3 min readOct 1, 2020

Recently, I won SIGGRAPH Real-Time Live for my automagical real paper straight-to-AR story creation software, DrawmaticAR — an unlikely feat because I’m solo working with a budget of 0; the next smallest team has a dozen members and is part of a multi-million dollar research group. I remember when I won my first Techcrunch Disrupt Hackathon Grand Prize, I was belittled for beating a weak competition of starving developers. And now, mature enough to simply let the usual belittlers be who they are, I can only find my win and bigger mission highly apropos — the big 10 year picture, assuming I get to keep working on my win, imagine if you can create a full-length animated film directly from whatever it is you write. What if high-budget visual storytelling could be democratized to how a novel is written by one person. So, the first iteration of this software, was written by a software soloist.

Seeing a personally meaningful problem that I can build an innovative solution to solve — that was something I’d always done, as far as I can remember. I grew up at the right time, in the right location, that even without understanding much of the world, I was able to develop that natural skillset into becoming great at building software solutions. However, I took it for granted. Rather than seeing it as a career, for me, building software for money was my backup. (For a while, I entertained the belief of an equation being forever, that I could help further theoretical physics, into uncovering, a deeper more fundamental truth.)

Zoom forward twenty+ years and that is exactly what I am still doing. The ultimate swiss army knife who works out demo software magic to help other people’s startups raise funding. Completely unemployable because she’s far too productive, simply a beast.

The bane and beauty of building client projects is that, eventually, you literally become good at everything because otherwise, the whole project would sink. This is the rainbow to hope for when you work with the classic client ill-equipped team. To minimize damage from the existing team’s skill-debt, you get the chance to do way beyond what you were hired to do, to experience how to build everything — without the safety net of hierarchies of managers, because you are right at the front-line.

However, I’m always self-deprecating in what has inadvertently become my career. I describe myself as slumming from client projects to random hackathons for cash.

I like to build apps using emerging technologies that solve hard problems, that has the potential to make money, but I don’t properly capitalize on it. I’d love to be able to find a business-oriented cofounder who can keep up and assist in that area. But, barring that, I’m pushing forward myself.

Respectfully, I’m self-funded from client projects - where I have to fight against capitalism for free time to build my projects that win awards, that matters to me. This means being selective in client projects that pay highly (on a project spec defined basis), but doesn’t deviate too much from my core purpose (i.e., takes me little time, is basically something I’ve made already, etc).

So that is the reality, if I’m saying no. Being a one woman team, you can imagine my difficulties in raising funding, so effectively, I have to “raise” my own venture funding from client projects. Please figure out your budget, and let’s talk then.

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Ina Yosun Chang

{wonder, innovation, elegance} ∈ a hacker's take on augmented reality, 3d graphics, mobile iOS and Android dev, startups, COOL STUFF and life