Pixelcode is where everything started. Young, Kevin, and I graduated in the same class at Stuyvesant High School in NYC and all went on to attend Cornell Engineering. Young and I tried to build a bus transportation app in React Native during our Freshman year but paused working on that. During our Sophomore year, Young & Kevin were roommates and we all recruited together for tech internships; Young & Kevin for software engineering, and me for product design. Magically, all of us received our Facebook internship offers in the same week in October 2017.
We spent much of our fall semester in 2017 building mobile apps for the Cornell community by joining Cornell AppDev, a design and development club. We used tools like Zeplin to handoff designs to developers. However, we noticed an inefficiency. We essentially had to design twice; once in Sketch, and again in code. Although Zeplin had a code-inspect feature, it was inaccurate. What looked like a Button to the regular person, Zeplin would infer it as a text element on-top-of a rectangle element.
We wanted to make this easier and faster so that developers can spend time on more important problems, not coding pixel-perfect designs. What if you could export a Sketch file as iOS Swift code? That would be magic. Since we had ime after securing internships, we started to hack away at a proof-of-concept. We spent 3 nights per week at eHub in Collegetown in Ithaca.
After hacking away, we were able to successfully export designs containing text, images, and buttons into Swift code. It was so sick. We knew that this would save lots of time for developers. We presented at a small pitch competition at Cornell and the director of eHub cut us a $2,000 check to build more.
That winter break in between 2017-2018, we turned my family's small apt in Queens, NYC into an office space and hired 2 engineering interns from our high school. We spent the money frugally and hacked away at building support for more UI elements and creating a web-app. See a demo here:
In the spring, I pitched to Rough Draft Ventures, Dorm Room Fund, Contrary, and other folks in the university entrepreneurship ecosystem. I also pitched at the TigerLaunch Regionals in NYC and went on to pitch as a finalist at Princeton University in April 2018.
Watch me pitch at the 2018 TigerLaunch Finals:
Despite the interest, we were unfortunately swamped with coursework. VCs didn't want to invest because we were going to FB for our summer internship. The project naturally died down and we decided to pause working on it.
However, in my heart, Pixelcode is a big success because it proved to us that we had good chemistry of working together. Our technical & design talent allowed us to execute and ship extremely fast.
This was just the beginning to all the fun projects we would build and ship together in the future.
Snapshots of Pixelcode Designs