Simon Willison’s Weblog

Items tagged startups in Jul

Filters: Month: Jul × startups ×

Would you pay for a service that allowed you to shadow people in your profession of interest?

As a high school student I would not have paid for this. It’s a big gamble (what if I spend money only to find out that the career doesn’t interest me), it relies on me having a good idea about what I want to do first (which I didn’t), it’s something I can get for free elsewhere by taking to friends of family, and I didn’t have any money to spend anyway.

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Which companies in London are using Python?

We use Python/Django for—we’re based in London.

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What’s an idea worth?

I like Derek Siver’s model proposed here:

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I have an idea for a website, with an idea for eventually having cashflow out of it? However, my skills are insufficient to build it and I have no money at all to hire someone—what’s my best starting point?

You either need to learn some skills, or you need to earn some money. Sadly, having a good idea is not enough—you need to be able to execute it as well.

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How would you know if your start up is just ’reinventing the wheel"? Should you just stop or just keep going?

If you have enthusiastic users (or paying customers) then it doesn’t matter if you are “reinventing the wheel” or not.

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At seed funding stage, how can a Startup protect itself from losing the majority?

Firstly, don’t sell a majority stake in your company. Secondly, hire competent legal advice to make sure you fully understand the terms of your investment and don’t get caught out through misunderstanding board voting rights, preferred vs common stock, liquidation preferences etc.

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Are there any sites/services that you can subscribe to where you can watch a developer code “Live”?

The Ludum Dare game development contest sometimes has contestants that livestream—Notch (the creator of Minecraft) has done so in the past.

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For developers and Startup Founders, what software licenses would you prefer to use instead of open source options, if you had unlimited funding?

With unlimited funding... I’d still prefer to build my company on open source licensed components. It’s not about the price (heck, I’d use my unlimited funding to support the projects my company benefited from)—it’s about the freedom to understand exactly how everything works, fix stuff that doesn’t, and benefit from the community of others solving the same kinds of problems.

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How do you impress a venture capitalist so much that he invites you from another country for a meetup?

Don’t make a big deal about the fact that you are travelling from another country. Try to get a few of them interested enough to want a meeting, then make a bigger trip out of it.

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Is there software that can help me keep track of contacts and referrals while I am building my seed round?

We used Highrise from 37signals for this when we raised our seed round and it worked perfectly. You can forward or BCC it emails, use it for tasks and reminders, tag contacts in it and use the mobile app for when you are at fundraising networking events (we used that to great effect at Y Combinator demo day).

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What do business people look for in a good business card?

I like to encourage writing on business cards—which means that the card shouldn’t be glossy (to ensure pens work on it). Our business cards, designed by my partner Natalie Downe, actually have a labelled “notes” area on one side of them.

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Y Combinator Demo Day and Class of Summer 2013: Is it true that YC alumni are participating in the primary selection process during S13?

Yes—this has been happening for a few years now. Here’s Paul Graham’s announcement about it back in October 2009: Announcement: YC alumni will help us read applications

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What is the inital costs for a tech startup? Do you have any checklist or spreadsheet?

Initial costs can be incredibly low—a few bucks for a domain name, $40/month or so for VPS hosting. Things only start to get expensive when either you need to scale up to multiple servers (which means you’re doing well) or when you start to pay salaries.

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What are some good examples of travel startups that use crowdsourcing?

Trip Advisor, Yelp, any of the big review sites.

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Does Y Combinator ever fund British startups?

Yes. Our startup went through Y Combinator Winter 2011 (Jan to March this year) and we’re a pair of UK co-founders. We’re back in London now.

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Silicon Roundabout. Matt Biddulph maps the abundance of interesting startups and tech companies that have popped up around Old Street in London. # 28th July 2008, 1:36 am

Top 10 dotcoms to watch. From the Guardian—Dopplr and Moo both get a mention. # 30th July 2007, 2:19 pm

You don’t need business development people. If you’re successful, companies will come to you. The deals will still be distractions and not worth doing, but at least you’re not spending any effort trying to get them.

Mark Fletcher # 12th July 2007, 5:50 pm