Archives for posts with tag: startup

Who do you bring to the fight when facing a tough market, timelines and competition?

While excellent engineering talent is a must, there are many overlooked or under-appreciated roles that I believe are essential to the success of any software company – at any stage.   I often hear the excuse:  “We are too small of a company to hire a ________”.  Well guess what?  Your competitors have one, or maybe more, so SOMEONE at your company has to be taking on these responsibilities.  You might be lucky enough to have these roles filled, perhaps these responsibilities are shared within your company, but ignoring them will soon land you in a lot of trouble.  Lets get started with the 3 P’s that I believe are so important for any software project to succeed.

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The infamous TN1-VISA: Its like Willy Wonka’s golden ticket, except this one lets me legally work in the US.  I took this photo 5 minutes after walking out of the US customs office in YYZ

(for tips on what to do/expect when making the move yourself, checkout my other post here)

I recently moved from my home town of Toronto, Canada to downtown San Francisco.  A lot of people have asked me why I moved (other than the job) so I thought I’d write a quick post about my move.  Over the next few months I will also be publishing weekly (hopefully) updates about my journey into the heart of the tech world.
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Last night was Democamp26, held at the Ted Rogers School of Management.  There were some great demos that I thought I’d summarize for anyone who missed the event.  I am going to omit the summary of the fantastic presentation by April Dunford, and stick to the demos.  You can find her slides here. To any of the companies that may be reading this, my summary is the impression that I got from your 5 minute pitch, not gathered from your website.  Please feel free to correct any inaccuracies and I’m always happy to see comments.  I’ll also be giving me 2-cents on each project which I intend to be purely for constructive criticism, there are enough trolls on the internets.  Excuse the verbose nature of my posts, this is my blog, I like to ramble.  Without further delay: OpenApps, TeamSave, KoboBooks, SWIX and Status.net

Company: OpenApps
Website: http://openapps.com

Summary: OpenApps is a simple point and click solution for websites to enable user developed apps.  Think Facebook apps on your personal blog or company website.  The value prop is that not everyone can afford to build new site functionality, and their technology can easily allow developers to create apps for others to consume.

Presentation: This presentation was great.  Fast paced and straight to the action. Krispy (the presenter) clearly has talent for presenting and genuine enthusiasm for the product.  His excitement kind of felt like what it would be like if the ShamWow guy made software (I mean that as a compliment Krispy).  Big Kudos to their team (who were all present and proudly wearing their company gear) for launching on stage last night.  As someone who has been part of a live on-stage website launch (I was lucky to be at TechCrunch50… name drop… *cough cough*) so I can totally relate to the pressure the team must have been feeling.  During the 15 second Wireless Internet drop, I glanced over at the dev team in the audience who were all equally relieved when the Wireless kicked in again, I shared their relief.

Killer Feature: 2 killer moments during the presentation.  Their apps magically* sit on a sub-domain of your company URL (search.democamp.com) and the “Look and Feel” easy button which essentially auto-styles a vanilla app install to your caompany’s layout.  Thats a neat trick.

Comments: I got the idea, the demo made it pretty easy for people to get.  The business model is pretty clear to me, they take a 30/70 split in favor of the developer on the apps.  The apps have a monthly fee and its a win-win for small companies and independent software developers.  My only concerns is that their review process will likely run into similar problems as the Apple App store, and the responsibility of service and uptime of each app is really up to the developers.  Now this makes sense for OpenApps, because they could not feasibly support all these user generated apps, so companies must understand that most of the apps will have an “as is” tag stamped on it.  I caught up with Krispy after the presentation who reminded me that they aren’t in the business of hosting applications (though I believe they can, with a cost), they are in the business getting cool apps on peoples websites.  At the same time they are giving developers a distribution platform for their apps, and helping them make money.  +1 for helping developers out.

*Don’t worry, I’ve done the old “host file” hack many many times in demos.

Company: TeamSave.com
Website: http://teamsave.com

Summary: Companies give better deals when you buy stuff in groups.  It ‘s hard to get people to commit to group buys.  Squeeze people to a 24 window and people trying to get the deals will become your sales force.  Cool.

Presentation: I like these guys a lot.  We got a 2/3 life lessons and 1/3 demo which I liked (although I’m sure some didn’t).  I am young, in a start up and trying to make great software that sells.  These guys are all of the above, so the presentation was great for me.  This duo was featured on the hit TV show “The Dragon’s Den” where they successfully pitched JobLoft.com  and eventually sold it to onTargetJobs.com.  Hearing these success stories is always nice.

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