CategoryStartups

Zeno & Software

Everyone with a fine liberal arts education should be familiar with Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox (props to Steve Leroux for helping me remember his damn name). “Suppose Homer wants to catch a stationary bus. Before he can get there, he must get halfway there. Before he can get halfway there, he must get a quarter of the way there. Before traveling a quarter, he must travel one-eighth;...

Silicon Valley versus Seattle (and Everywhere Else)

There has been a lot of chatter lately about alternatives to Silicon Valley. There is no denying that Silicon Valley produces more startup success than any other town. But is it cause or effect? Does SV add some secret sauce to the startup recipe or is it simply a place where a lot of geeks tend to congregate? For starters, it’s a good idea to read Glenn Kelman’s outstanding post on...

Adsense is Broken

I love the idea of contextual advertising, and I think Adsense has been a boon to entrepreneurship across the world. But it’s clearly broken. Today we received some nice feedback about RescueTime: from A RescueTime User to team@rescuetime.com, date Feb 9, 2008 1:27 PM subject RESCUETIME APP FEEDBACK great site! put some adsense here and i’ll click it every time i come here! This is the 3rd...

Why I Don’t Like Calling Myself a Designer

This Tuesday, I’m going to get a chance to meet Kevin Hale, who is the designer behind Wufoo and proprietor of ParticleTree. Kevin wrote a blog post last month that I think is one of the better summations of what it means to be a web designer. While I don’t want to dwell on the negative, Kevin has a pretty good description of why I hate to refer to myself as a designer (whether...

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...

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...

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?

Big News for Me and RescueTime (see you in Silicon Valley)

I’ve posted a lot more detail and accompanying thoughts over at the RescueTime blog… To summarize: RescueTime has been funded by YCombinator, one of the most prestigious seed-funding outfits that’s out there (in geek circles, anyways). If you aren’t familiar with it, here’s a bit of info. YC was founded by Paul Graham (startup guy, writer, and crazed Lisp advocate)...