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Design’s Place in a Startup

A reader took the time to shoot me an email with a few questions about design and startups… His questions were interesting enough that I thought they might be worth blogging about. So here goes: Question #1 – What is the priority balance between programming and design/UI? In my opinion, it totally depends on your startup, and where the core of your innovation lies. Take a hard look at...

I lost 36 sticks of butter in 3 weeks

I don’t imagine too many people who read this blog would be terribly interested in this, but I have to crow about it anyway. Joe (cofounder and roomie) and I figured that the move to Silicon Valley was an ideal time to adjust our diet and shave off a few pounds. Since arriving (Jan 4), I’ve lost just over 9 pounds or (as I like to think of it) 36 sticks of butter. This is all with...

Startups: Launch Early, but Launch Small?

One of the recent YCombinator dinners that we attended featured Joe Kraus (who founded Excite and then later JotSpot, which sold to Google). Like all YC guests, Joe had piles of startup wisdom… One of the things that stuck out to me (which I’d never heard much) was when he said, “when we launched JotSpot in beta, we launched it to too many people.” Huh? Too many users...

Arrived in Silicon Valley

Joe, Brian and I have arrived in Silicon Valley unscathed, despite the monsterous storm blanketing the region. The trip was rainy, but thankfully the snow was fairly painless except for about a 10 mile stretch at the Oregon border. We’ve settled into our furnished apartment and have shuffled it around to be dramatically more office-centric. Not a lot of people know this, but RescueTime was...

Stealing Photos, Fair Use, and Business Models

I have a hard time getting high-and-mighty about the paparazzi crap that I see in grocery store lines, given that I can’t seem to tear my eyes away from the train-wreck controversies of online celebrities. I just…. can’t…. look…. away! Over the past two weeks, one of the big memes in the echo chamber is related to stealing photos… It seems a small a capella...

Evaluating New Product Ideas (focus on Tractability)

Evan Williams (founder of Twitter, fellow corn-fed midwesterner-turned-dotcommer, and someone I get to meet via YCombinator!) has a fabulous post on how to evaluate new product ideas. To sum up his excellent post, here is the matrix he came up with: Tractability Question: How difficult will it be to launch a worthwhile version 1.0? Obviousness Question: Is it clear why people should use it...

Bootstrap Design for Geek-Powered Startups

One of my brethren at YCombinator sent out a request to the 2008 Winter Founders list a request for information about design services for his startup. He and his co-founder, like many YC founders, are hackers. In my career I’ve been a web designer (although I’m only moderately good at it), I’ve hired web designers (for a consulting firm I used to run), and I’ve hired...

Best Marketing Quote of the Day

“”Marketing is a Tax You Pay for being Unremarkable”
Robert Stephens
Founder and Chief Inspector, The Geek Squad
While I think that’s a touch on the simple side, it rings pretty true. What would happen if all the people who were concentrating on advertising and PR instead started focusing on making the offering and/or the customer service BETTER?

The Fuss About Macs, Priming, and Racism

Alan Steele (ex-Jobster colleague) tweets: “using a mac for the first time in many years. so far i don’t see what all the fuss is about. it’s just another desktop…” I tend to agree. A computer is a means to an end, and an XP Windows box usually gets me to my “end” just fine. There are certainly some differences among the platforms, but I think it mostly...

Sometimes, Redeye is a Good Thing

Been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been absolutely slammed and had a few scheduled trips smack dab in the middle of some of the busiest work time I’ve ever experienced. Today I’m organizing a batch of pictures for a Flickr upload session and found a gem from Halloween. I was attending a Murder Mystery Dinner (something I was fairly skeptical about, but we had a great...