Behind the Door of Making Ambee 2.0

Tomas Baran
5 min readJan 14, 2021


Ambee’s roots go back to 2013. Its first brand name was Goldee, and it was part of my first startup. Let me show you its history, presence, and what’s ahead. Read about significant milestones and lessons learned along.

Goldee 1.0

Goldee (2013–2014)

At Goldee, we invented dynamic light animations for Philips Hue besides other things. It was one of the first apps for Hue lights. It gained a lot of popularity, so much so that even Philips themselves were promoting our app. It was simple, sleek, and novel. As with every innovative product, Goldee has been the target of many copycats till today.

You may not know that the Goldee app was created by many people. Its creation consumed much intellectual power — UI/UX designer, light animation designer, iOS developers, backend developers, copywriter, marketer, customer support representative, and others.

As you may have heard, two guys responsible for the backend decided to destroy the server on their own when Goldee was facing the most difficult moments of running out of cash. I learned about it from users complaining that the app stopped working. Unfortunately, the two guys obfuscated the server to the point that it was irreversible to let it run again. It was a big disappointment both for the users and for me. I had no choice but to let everyone know about what happened and shut down all Goldee operations.

Goldee tech:

#ios-dev #objective-c #aws

Lessons learned

  1. As a CEO, I should have been more technically advanced since it’s essential to have more control. Nevertheless, I believe it is good to trust the people we work with because nothing will work without trust. However, I believe Git control is a must for every founder of a small startup. That alone could have saved the Goldee app. CONCLUSION: Founders, have Git version control from day 1 on your local machine too!
  2. While all the people involved with Goldee added their value, having them aboard consumed much of the funds. On the other hand, Goldee didn’t generate any cash to make up for it since it was a free app. CONCLUSION: A. Start a project with as few people as possible. B. Start monetizing from day 1. C. In most cases, it’s best to do both (A and B).
Ambee 1.0+

Ambee 1.0+ (2015–2020)

After I announced the end of Goldee in December 2014, I suddenly received almost a thousand emails from Goldee users saying they are missing their favorite app.

First off, I am beyond grateful to each one of you, my supporters. Thanks to your encouragement, and because of my lifelong passion for light, I knew that I had to start over. My second reaction to the number of received emails was, “Where is Michael who is responsible for support?” That’s when my transition from talker to doer started. I realized that at Goldee, we got to the point where I was managing everyone and not being responsible for one particular thing. My only duty was to manage, delegate, and talk… That suddenly changed! I was by myself, devasted by the end of Goldee, with no funds left to support me. I had no idea what to do next…

I knew one of the biggest mistakes I made at Goldee was not having a co-founder, so I started to look for one. I tried hard to find one, but it wasn’t yielding any fruit. After more than half a year of searching, I was still only by myself. My parents were very kind to lend me 5 000€ to start the app again by myself from scratch, which I did.

This time, I was looking for only one fundamental person beside me: an iOS developer. I found a developer on Upwork. Coincidentally, he turned out to be one of the best developers I had worked with. He wrote all the code of Ambee, and I did everything else: app design, light animations, customer support, deployment, marketing…

Unfortunately, Ambee wasn’t sustainable, paying an external developer and earning me bread and butter. So, I was forced to stop updating the Ambee app, although it’s still alive and works excellently with the Philips Hue Lights.

Ambee 1.0+ tech:

#ios-dev #swift #objective-c #parse #firebase #git


If I want to keep improving Ambee, I have to go even leaner and do every bit of the app myself. CONCLUSION: Learn to code!

Ambee 2.0 (2021+)

When I announced plans for Ambee 2.0 in 2019, it was clear to me that I would be the developer; however, I could not code. I understood the basics, but that was about it. I have always wanted to have Ambee available for Android, too, so the first thing I did was to buy an Android phone. Then, I started studying Android’s eco-system, material design, programming languages, … I was eventually deciding between two cross-platform development frameworks: React Native/Javascript (by Facebook) or Flutter/Dart (by Google). Since I had no experience with JavaScript, Dart was basically as new for me as JavaScript. Still, my default option was React Native due to its popularity, but I picked Flutter in the end. It may seem that choosing Flutter is riskier because of its novelty. However, Flutter, being inspired by React Native, is like React Native done better: more modern, faster for development, and also having better app performance for users.

So, I took a course on Udemy by Angela, which taught me the basics. Then I created a simple tool that I wish had existed: an app that would inform us about the Sun’s position and natural vitamin D intake possibilities. I called the app Sundee (iOS and Android). I did a few more projects to gain confidence in my Flutter development skills, which you can check out on my Github or Dribbble.

And here I am now coding Ambee 2.0 that I’ve redesigned entirely and that I’m also coding from scratch. The only thing I will keep the same is the library of your favorite light animations that you know from Ambee 1.0+

Being the developer, designer, and marketer of Ambee 2.0 gives me a great advantage for you, my users. I am now completely independent and capable of doing any change, fix bugs, or just to move the app forward myself. It’s been a long way to learn many different skills that numerous talented people did in Goldee. It took a lot of trial and error, patience, frustration, but in the end, it will all be worth it once Ambee 2.0 is out.

Ambee 2.0+ tech:

#ios-dev #android-dev #flutter #dart #firebase #git

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