ASCII Art as a Service

The Story of Asky

During the summer of 2015 a group of us on the tech team at work created Study Session, staying late on Wednesdays to commandeer a conference room and work on personal projects. The idea was that it would serve as motivation for us all to make progress and also, given our diverse skillsets, we'd have people to lend a hand as we all tried to embrace new skills.

Study Session was a hit and I decided that I wanted to both learn NodeJS and to create a Slack integration. I was inspired by our team's obsessive use of the Giphy integration and thus the idea of Asky was born. I spent the next several weeks immersed in online tutorials and hammering out code. It felt so good to be creating again.

Asky was initially released to little fan fair. I hooked it up to our work Slack and it got moderate use. The Asky Twitter account brought in a few users and was the source of the first highlight for this project when Tim Ferriss, of whom I am a big fan, gave us a follow and retweet.

All was quiet for a time after that until October when Ryan Hoover suggested I post it to ProductHunt and enlisted Ben Tossell to get it featured. That's when the crazy train left the station.

I spent the day on October 14 in awe at the response to this project. That and quickly fixing bugs. Traffic on the site spiked by something like 4000%, both my Twitter account and the project one blew up, and the project went over 100 upvotes on ProductHunt by midday.

This whole experience has been a bit surreal. I never thought this goofy project I built for fun would generate so much excitement for people. It's got me amped to build more things. There are definitely some folks I need to thank. First and foremost Alec who was a big inspiration to get building again. I'm lucky to call you friend. Big thanks also to Ryan and the whole ProductHunt family. You've truly built something amazing there. And of course I have to thank all the upvoters, tweeters and supporters that showed this project so much love. I really appreciate it.

- John