Simon Willison’s Weblog

Items tagged quora, startups in Nov

Filters: Month: Nov × quora × startups ×


How does one actually find Angel investors, when our business/startup is taking off and we need to grow fast?

The best way to approach angels is via introductions. To get introductions, you need connections to people who are known and trusted by angels.

[... 281 words]

I’ve been working alone for about a year, how do I get out of this feeling of loneliness because no one is around me?

This is why co-working spaces exist. I don’t know which country you are based in but here in the UK most cities and many larger towns now have at least one tech-focused co-working space where you can rent a desk on a month-to-month basis and have a work environment outside your home with other freelancers with whom you can socialize.

[... 129 words]

Has anyone been through Y Combinator more than once?

Yes, this isn’t that rare. I think the Hipmunk crew went through YC, despite having previously gone through as part of reddit. The Erics from clutch.io had previously participated in YC as part of Convore.

[... 51 words]

Are there any good bootcamps, such as Code Fellows, DevBootCamp for mobile (iOS/Android)?

Big Nerd Ranch have been offering iOS and Android for several years now. A friend of mine went in the iOS course a while ago and spoke highly of it—he has since released an app to the App Store.

[... 62 words]

Do all incubators / accelerators welcome their startups getting funding?

Yes. The goal of incubators and accelerators is to obtain a small amount of low-cost equity in promising companies and then help them grow and reach their potential.

[... 122 words]

Should I pull the plug?

Is there any way if turning this in to a recurring revenue product? It’s enormously easier to get money from an existing customer (since they already know that your product works for them and is worth the cash) than to sign up a brand new customer.

[... 140 words]

What would be a good web application framework to use for running a small online retail business?

I’d look at hosted SaaS solutions rather than running your own. I haven’t tried it myself but I’ve heard excellent things about www.shopify.com

[... 47 words]

Does Ycombinator accept applications even though we will not be able to work full time on project?

Very unlikely. One of the questions on the Y Combinator application form is something along the lines of “Which of the founders listed on this application are ready and able to work full time on this project—please explain”. If none of your team are able to work full time on the project, your chances of being picked over other teams who CAN commit are vanishingly small.

[... 91 words]

In which case have you seen a non-tech sole founder rise to build a sustainable great company without a tech co-founder? How can this work? What are the steps/advice you would give to the non-tech founder?

Here’s a great write-up of his experience: From Selling Scoops Of Ice Cream To Founding ZeroCater | TechCrunch

[... 110 words]

I’m a developer, I’ve an idea, how to look for funding?

If you only need $10,000-$15,000 you should be looking at funding it yourself—professional investors very rarely get involved for that size of raise, and you probably wouldn’t want them to—giving up equity in exchange for so little money is usually a bad idea.

[... 90 words]

What should be my strategy to become a tech entrepreneur?

Go and work for an early-stage startup. Pick well and you’ll learn a ridiculous amount in a very short space of time: excellent preparation for later striking out on your own.

[... 47 words]

How can I find info on startup companies in stealth mode in a particular market segment before they launch?

The whole point of stealth mode is to prevent you from doing this. That said, if you make sure you’re well connected with entrepreneurs and investors in that particular space you’ll increase your chances of hearing about things before they launch.

[... 66 words]

Is there a compilation of all of Paul Graham’s essays available online?

Yes: his website. http://www.paulgraham.com/articl...

[... 23 words]

How can I invest in pre-IPO companies like Quora, Github, etc?

Get to know the founders and investors and see if you can get involved in a future funding round. If you don’t have at least a few hundred thousand dollars to invest you probably won’t get very far though, an even if you do you’d better have more than just money to bring to the table—these rounds are often over-subscribed which means the company can pick the very best out of a number of investors.

[... 139 words]

What’s my shot at getting into YC or TechStars NY if I am applying from outside the US, alone with both business experience and technical skills?

I’d say your chances are significantly higher than the average application, for both of those programs. Go apply already!

[... 51 words]

How many YC companies have tech co-founders?

Ballpark guess based on my experience in YC: over 90% of YC companies have the technical capability within the founding team to at least ship their MVP. YC is really good at taking technical teams and teaching them the business side of things.

[... 56 words]

What’s best the site to visit to START building a website?

There are two ways to approach this: you can try and learn HTML yourself, or you can use tools that will help you build websites quickly without needing to code.

[... 114 words]

Can top VCs hire almost any employee they want for their portfolio companies?

There’s little a VC can do to convince someone to go and work for one of their portfolio companies that the company couldn’t do itself. They might hear about good candidates through their networks, but that candidate will still have plenty of other opportunities to chose from.

[... 117 words]

Is it worth it to give up equity in a seed stage company for something other than money? E.g. access to multiple consultants/mentors, as well as regional angel and vc groups?

Yes, but not very much equity. It’s reasonably common to give small (less than 1%) stock grants to members of your advisory board for example.

[... 75 words]

What is the equivalent of fuckedcompany today?

The TechCrunch deadpool, but it’s not nearly as fun. http://techcrunch.com/tag/deadpool/

[... 24 words]

Which online platform can you recommend for organizing group trips? I’ve review startups that tried to build that, but failed a lot. Anything you can recommend that you used or use continuously?

TripIt has worked extremely well for me for trips with up to 9 people.

[... 52 words]

Why do so many London based SAAS startups only price in dollars?

UK customers are used to paying for some things in dollars. US customers are likely to be very uncomfortable paying for something in a foreign currency. So if you are only going to support one currency at first, it makes sense to pick dollars.

[... 62 words]

Is it better to create your own framework, or would it be best to just use Django or something like that?

You should absolutely use an existing framework such as Django rather than writing your own.

[... 176 words]

Why do developers so dislike “ideas people”?

There’s no disdain for creativity or the business side—those things are essential! The disdain is for people who think that having the idea is enough for them to be useful for the company (“I’ve got a great idea, I just need a developer to build it for me”). If you can’t build you’d better be able to do a LOT of other useful things. Having an idea isn’t enough.

[... 148 words]

Is it worth accepting an investment from YCombinator if you have an established network in the valley?

Yes. Plenty of the companies in our batch at YC already had well established networks, and they still benefited enormously from the advice and introductions YC could offer.

[... 295 words]

How do you get started with an entrepreneurial idea?

Anything can seem like a good idea at the moment you come up with it: the ideas worth pursuing are the ones that still seem like a good idea weeks or months later.

[... 48 words]

What are the best practices for onboarding new software engineers?

I’m a huge fan of “deploy on the first day”—which forces the issue in getting all of their accounts set up, their development environment ready, showing them where source control is, how code review works and so on. Even if it’s just adding themselves to the about page or humans.txt file, it means they can come in on day two ready to get real work done.

[... 106 words]

What communities and interest groups in London should software developers get involved in?

The monthly Hacker News London Meetup Group (held near Old Street) is a great opportunity to meet up with entrepreneurial-minded hackers—the talks are usually a good combination of technical and startup/entrepreneur material, and it attracts a really interesting crowd.

[... 61 words]

What are the differences between GDC and SXSW? Which one is better for a web entrepreneur?

I haven’t been to GDC, but it’s a game development conference. SxSW interactive is almost entirely web stuff, so it would be a better fit for a web entrepreneur.

[... 51 words]

Why is Java perceived as not cool for startups? We seem to be getting a lot of feedback lately that a startup should be using Ruby on Rails, PHP, Python, etc., if they want to be agile and iterate quickly.

You should re-evaluate your beliefs. Dynamic language programmers spend a great deal of time thinking about code quality and maintainability. TDD (and BDD), which I believe was first popularised within the Ruby community) are extremely widespread, and profiling and debugging tools are widely used and constantly improved. A strong test suite provides far more effective protection against bugs than static typing and an IDE.

[... 152 words]