10 Things Not to Do in a Startup

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An entertaining talk I gave at ConFoo 2014 based on my 18 years in web development on what NOT to do in a startup company.

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10 Things Not to Do in a Startup

  1. 1. John Coggeshall
  2. 2.      18 years in web development, PHP Former Sr. Architect, Zend Technologies Core PHP Contributor Startup CTO Business Owner
  3. 3.  This is going to be an entertaining talk about failure  I’m pretty good at failure  I’ve watched a lot of people fail too  I’ve also learned a lot in the process  Names have been changed to protect me as necessary
  4. 4.           ????? ????? ????? ????? ????? ????? ????? ????? ????? ?????
  5. 5. Act I
  6. 6.   New minted consultant at Zend Technologies First big project is working on Signature Network’s biggest client, the band U2
  7. 7.    The project was doomed from the start Technical Debt isn’t like a bank loan, it’s like the mob. Bono publically apologized for the failure (awesome)
  8. 8. Do not neglect technical debt  ?????  ?????  ?????  ?????  ?????  ?????  ?????  ?????  ????? 
  9. 9.    Hired by another development shop to work on the Amp’d Mobile backend Severely overarchitected CMS Wouldn’t scale, all hope is lost. “Amp'd Mobile takes the crown for moneyburning with $360 million in losses.” – Quicken
  10. 10.  Do not neglect technical debt.  Do not overcomplicate.  Do not ignore the advice you are paying for.        ????? ????? ????? ????? ????? ????? ?????
  11. 11.    Joe is a construction guy and he had an idea for a great new web site that was going to make all sorts of money Joe doesn’t know the first thing about programming web sites, but what problem could that be? He doesn’t need to know right? Let’s talk a bit about Joe.
  12. 12.    It’s okay if you want to start a tech company but don’t know how to write code It is not okay to do so without having a quality partner who does It is not an acceptable substitution to just hire a programmer employee and rely on them for business decisions
  13. 13.  Do not neglect technical debt.  Do not overcomplicate.  Do not ignore the advice you are paying for.  You must have expert skills in your tech as partners not employees  You get what you pay for, don’t be cheap.      ????? ????? ????? ????? ?????
  14. 14.     Despite what you might think from this talk, I am actually pretty good at my job. Hired on as CTO to a startup called Individual Digital Like many fledgling startups, we had plans to take over the world. …. And we failed.
  15. 15.  We were well funded.  We had good ideas.  We had good market opportunities.  We had good tech and the staff to run it.  We had it all, but one thing
  16. 16.    We displeased our masters (investors) by tying the success of our product to a single thing. As executives / founders we allowed ourselves to be boxed in to what amounted to acceptance criteria We were succeeding in building a business, just not the business our investors wanted.
  17. 17.  Do not neglect technical debt.  Do not overcomplicate.  Do not ignore the advice you are paying for.  You must have expert skills in your tech as partners not employees  You get what you pay for, don’t be cheap.  You must manage expectations  You must be flexible    ????? ????? ?????
  18. 18. Act II
  19. 19.    What follows happens almost every time I walk into a project Many of you have experienced this We can all commiserate together!
  20. 20.    Any project of any size needs a way of managing the tasks to get it done Word docs are great for first cuts into a new project, but break that down into discrete tickets Pick a philosophy for development, I really don’t care if it’s Agile or Waterfall – and stick to it.
  21. 21.  Do not neglect technical debt.  Do not overcomplicate.  Do not ignore the advice you are paying for.  You must have expert skills in your tech as partners not employees  You get what you pay for, don’t be cheap.  You must manage expectations  You must be flexible  You must have a development process   ????? ?????
  22. 22.      In life, in development, in anything. Never forget KISS Keep requirements clear but simple Keep features lean and useful Keep architecture clean and expandable Keep process structured and habitual
  23. 23.  Do not neglect technical debt.  Do not overcomplicate.  Do not ignore the advice you are paying for.  You must have expert skills in your tech as partners not employees  You get what you pay for, don’t be cheap.  You must manage expectations  You must be flexible  You must have a development process  You must keep things simple  ?????
  24. 24. Last but not least…. Follow me on Twitter @coogle, Check out my code on Github (coogle)

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