Simon Willison’s Weblog

180 items tagged “startups”

2013

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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/

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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.

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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.

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Is it common a Silicon Valley startup give employee free shares, or just option to purchase shares?

The problem with giving people shares outright is that they have to pay tax on them. If the company later goes bust (as many do) and the shares hence prove to be worthless, the employee has paid tax on something that has no actual value.

[... 147 words]

Is it possible to run a successful company without being unethical or operating on the fringes of the law?

There is nothing inherently unethical about entrepreneurship. Find a problem people have. Figure out how much money solving it will save them (or help them make). Charge them less than that.

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What are most important websites, online sources of knowledge and news for startups?

Hacker News is still the best starting point, which is pretty impressive considering how long the community has been around.

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Http://www.theacademyofbusinessstrategy.com? I’ve been contacted by this ABS to pursue some kind of degree leading to lots of money. It definitely looks like a scam, but is it? Has anyone actually done business with them? Are they legit?

When this exact same question was asked on Yahoo Answers a couple of months ago http://answers.yahoo.com/questio... someone showed up the same day with a very positive testimonial. I wonder if the same thing will happen here on Quora.

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Why doesn’t Yelp require a login? Is there evidence that suggests that acquiring users at the engagement stage versus initial landing is effective in specific markets?

Unnecessarily requiring a login to browse is (in my opinion) dumb. It discourages people from sharing links to content on the surface and can prevent search engines from indexing content, both of which are terrible for SEO. It also puts a pointless barrier in front of people who are trying to figure out if your service is any use, and encourages fake signups which pointlessly pollute your user database.

[... 101 words]

Y Combinator: I want to apply to YC and I have 5 people on my team. we have two founders one technical and one designer but on our application I want to only include our three programmers one being a founder. Is this frowned upon at YC and does it hu...

YC are fine with three founders—no need to limit it to two.

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If you’re starting a website as a product, what are the important things to consider for the domain and how important are they? Ex: effect of being .com, .net or .io etc., and is it okay to have a hyphen in the name?

Get the .com. If you don’t, you’ll find that a surprisingly large number of press mentions etc will link to the wrong place—and you may end up having to pay a fortune later to buy the .com from a domain squatter (the price goes way up once your site starts to gain traction).

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What do you do when you passionately believe in what you’re doing and have been seeing strong customer validation, but people around you constantly diss it? How do you persevere without a support system?

This is one of the reasons it’s a good idea to build a circle if trust with other entrepreneurs—or potentially even move to a “startup hub” region where more people are doing startups.

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What should the CEO’s salary be in a startup seeking seed capital? Is there an average number?

If you haven’t yet raised any capital, how can you pay a CEO salary at all?

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