Status update for Marmalade AI

  1. We’re half way through Y Combinator Startup School 8 week program! What is it? In sum, it’s about 30,000 people worldwide studying Y Combinator produced startup videos, meeting online weekly to aid and abet each other in similar areas and/or geographic proximity, and also importantly it is motivation to get out there with an MVP (Minimum Viable Product).

  2. Put up this forum based on Discourse running on Docker on a Digital Ocean droplet.

  3. Working on a) expanding my existing (Marmalade AI) Flutter-based ListView app to include authentication, data connections, and Stripe subscription capabilities as one piece of an MVP; and b) building off my previous Python work to pull profiles for trial segments, which then need to have some sort of clustering capability, to tie into that.

  4. Accounts established or being established on Mailgun, Google Cloud, Digital Ocean, and Hubspot that enable carrying through development work in 2020 without cost as a startup.

  5. Incorporating as a C-Corp in Delaware and opening a Silicon Valley Bank account, via the Stripe Atlas program.

  6. Sending invitations to participate in this forum to people who participated in user research in Q4 2019 or we otherwise have reason to think are interested in following (and contributing to) Marmalade AI progress. Welcome! Please share your ideas!

  7. Learned how to stir fry enough salmon/mackerel and vegetables with serranos, ginger, and garlic over rice to last through the week, saving time for getting outside for 20-25 miles of bird watching hikes per week in the south San Francisco Bay Area, ranging from Alviso and Baylands along the Bay shore over to Sanborn County Park above Saratoga in the Santa Cruz Mountains and down to Coyote Valley south of San Jose.

Ok, so brief update on Marmalade AI status:

  • Finished Y Combinator Startup School (“graduated”). Noticed that the second half was largely about everyone realizing they were running out of time.
  • Totally focused on MVP software development, which is “coming along well” (meaning: sure hope to have something running by mid-April, when the Y Combinator summer batch interviews happen).
  • Realized that talking with other startup founders through and random pairing phone calls is something that overlaps partially with the point of Marmalade AI.
  • Continuing to get great insights on this forum! Please forward to friends. It’s different than one-on-one user research discussions, and really look forward to more!

Update for May:

  • More software development to do for the MVP, probably at least through May, and that’s only including basic clustering. Google’s Flutter environment is great but there are learning curves in some areas that weren’t expected.
  • Understand better, after a lot of and one-on-one calls, plus interactions with people at both companies, how networking on Marmalade can learn from them and be more effective for specific niches.
  • Key elements: Serendipity vs focus, seeking information as you would on a forum vs creating a profile that draws information to you, visual vs non-visual information, simplicity of interaction on a phone vs complexity of behind the scenes intelligence, and the need for a user to control easily how, when, and why their virtual network manifests itself.
  • Again, there have been great points made on forum, so please forward to friends and ask them to put in their say about what would make a networking app actually useful daily.

Update for June (>July):

  • Immediate goals are 1) a “sign up” button on, linking to pre-availability sign up in freelancer niches: website development, grant writing, ML clustering, speech language pathology, and digital marketing; 2) profiles, lots of them, for freelancers in these niches to use for ML model building; and 3) access the results of #2 via GCP Cloud Functions in our Flutter prototype on Android/iPhone.
  • Many more and one-on-one calls, plus great talks and breakout sessions with startup founders and networkers, in forums ranging from Univ. Chicago alumni network to Founder Summit (with keynotes by @fredwilson and @rahulvohra this week) on how to make virtual networking work better.
  • Excited to be getting some interest in helping (aka, co-conspirators, freelancers, job seekers) on both the software and business development sides.

Hi everybody! Can’t believe it’s been 3 months…

  • Marmalade is now: Four co-founders, all remote, and accelerating.
  • Inefficient, unfocused networking is The Big Problem we solve.
  • Market: all networkers > freelancers as subsegment (50M U.S.) > specific freelancer niches (digital marketing, UX, and machine learning; each 100K U.S.) which need efficient, focused networking.
  • Prototype and angels in November.
    –> Please send your angels that will understand WHY this is BIG!! (
  • Marketing: Starting from the 6,000 profiles we now have in Hubspot, we are working to get a handful of influencers in these freelancer niches in the loop with us to build a networking flywheel.
  • Engineering: (cloud/Firebase) ML/NLP model building, based on our niche profiles, generate the Marmalade networking platform and tools on phones and web (Vue.js > Flutter).
  • Marketing/Engineering: share progress via Figma screens and Jira stories.

Hi everybody! November update here…

  • Continuing to work on the prototype in Vue.js and Firebase back-end. We have them connected with profile data but there is more work to do for a prototype. We’re not contacting investors until we have a prototype (web and phone).
  • Please send investor suggestions. We think this is either a $500K investment by 10 angels, or a $2M investment by 1-2 VC firms that invest in marketplaces at the seed level (
  • Main information sources for investors:, Crunchbase, and conferences.
  • Current pitch deck:
  • Testing and comparing two names/logos on Reddit r/freelancers, Indie Hackers, anywhere else suggested?
  • We’ve been adding “influencers” with whom we are communicating weekly, starting from our 6,000 freelancer profiles in Hubspot and from connections.

Hi everybody! April update here…

  • Aiming for alpha in May (“late” May).
  • Restructured for production, models, and development databases.
  • Still to do: integration of NLP, lazyloading, UI to see your network incrementally evolve AND Hubspot marketing.
  • Stretch: enable staying on the platform to talk with peers.
  • Plan A is tech freelancers in UX design, digital marketing, and machine learning. Plan B is alumni.
  • Current pitch deck:
  • Postings on Handshake and Indeed for summer interns (unpaid resume builders!):
  1. software engineer: full-stack: Vue and Google Cloud, mix of refactoring prototype code and adding functionality as needed;
  2. Inbound marketing: the work and data for connecting one-on-one with first 1K users;
  3. Website developer: update for speed, SEO, multilingual, GTM;
  4. Content marketing: research-based writer to deal with messaging to connect with first 1K users.

July update here:

  • Like I said, alpha in May August.
  • Summer interns Steeler Shannon, Justin Blake, and Kechi Boniface have been great!
  • New website will be ready to go live shortly (Gatsby on Netlify).
  • Email will go with invite codes to a short list of tech freelancers in UX design, digital marketing, and machine learning.
  • Also to reviewers of related products on various forums.
  • Goal: feedback, keywords, usage requests.
  • Current pitch deck: