Simon Willison’s Weblog

Items tagged startups in Aug

Filters: Month: Aug × startups ×


Advice for a new executive, by Chad Dickerson (via) Lara Hogan shares the advice she was given by Chad Dickerson (CTO and then CEO of Etsy) when she first became VP Engineering at Kickstarter. There is so much good material in here. I can vouch for the “peer support group” recommendation: Natalie and I benefited from that through Y Combinator and ended up building our own founder peer support group when we moved our startup back to London. Having a confidential trusted group with which to discuss the challenges of growing a company was invaluable. # 31st August 2018, 1:45 pm

What’s the first thing you would check if the company is losing money even though there’s a big increase in its revenue?

The company’s expenses.

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What is the single greatest value-add from Y Combinator?

It’s very difficult to pick the best one, but from our experience here’s something that really stood out: the sense of camaraderie and trust you have in others who are also going through YC.

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What is a good list of conferences, speaking gigs, hackathons, and other technology-centric events where one can reach software architects and developers?

We have a pretty comprehensive list of (mostly tech) conferences in the Midwest USA here: http://lanyrd.com/places/midwest...

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What advice would you give to a new technical co-founder at a startup?

It sounds to me like you’d be better off seeking an engineering role in an existing, relatively mature startup (one with 5-15 engineers) rather than looking to be a technical co-founder of a brand new company. Startup engineering is likely to be pretty different from what you’re used to, and there’s no better environment to learn than a fast-moving company that already has a small and highly talented group of engineers.

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Besides MTurk, what are some good resources to use when doing market research for a startup?

SurveyMonkey and Google both offer services where you can pay to get responses to a survey from a large number of recipients:

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How long should I budget for an experienced designer to design a responsive ecommerce store?

There’s no single answer to this—it depends on the scope of the project. A one-page store selling 3 items is quicker to design than a thousand page store with dozens of category homepages etc.

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If I told you "Get me a 20 minute meeting in front of xyz person and I’ll give you $20 whether or not they buy into what i have to offer, would you set up the meeting?

Absolutely not. My ability to make introductions relies on people trusting me to make good introductions. If I make a poor introduction to someone it damages or destroys my ability to make introductions to them in the future. If I get a reputation for selling introductions I’ll lose credibility with everyone in my network.

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What is a good onboarding process for a new employee at a startup?

Have them deploy the site on their first day. This ensures they know how to...

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How can I find short-term work experience at a startup in London?

Take a look at www.enternships.com—lots of London startup intern opportunities listed there.

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What is the best resource for someone who is non-technical to learn about computer programming/creating software?

Learn to program. You don’t need to learn programming to the standard where you could work professionally as a software engineer, but having enough programming knowledge to write some simple programs and automate some simple tasks will make you enormously more capable when it comes to working with programmers—or in business life in general.

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How should I evaluate a potential technical co-founder? What qualities matter most to the business, to investors, to future employees?

Build a small weekend project with them. If they can’t build and (more importantly) ship something simple in a couple of days, with you collaborating with them effectively on what it is, how it should work and so on, they aren’t a good fit.

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What are good ways to get meeting with VC’s without introductions?

To get an introduction, you need to impress someone who can make that introduction for you. Knowing someone who knows a VC isn’t enough. Take a look at the section titled “Asking for introductions to people is tricky” on this page to understand why: http://www.kalzumeus.com/standin...

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What is the best way for a startup to attract talented back-end and front-end team members?

First, pay them properly. It’s a lot easier for a talented developer to chose a startup over an established company if they aren’t going to have to take a massive pay cut in exchange for equity (most developers are smart enough to know that most startups fail... especially developers who have been in the industry for a while). If you raise money from investors, this is what you should be raising it for.

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What are some unique and creative gift ideas for a startup team of 20 (ages 25-35, 80% male, mostly developers, under $100)?

Lego. You can get some awesome Lego sets for under $100, and all of the developers I know love getting given Lego (since they’re “too old” to buy it for themselves, even though they actually really want it).

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Silicon Swings and Silicon Roundabouts. Matt Locke’s advice for anyone hoping to build a “Tech Hub” for startups, based on personal experience gained running a media centre in Yorkshire in the 90s. # 1st August 2008, 8:20 pm