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How To Startup!


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How to startup! (and not be a programmer) [idea investigation; competitive landscape; what problem are you solving; how are you solving better than others; who would actually use your service if you …

How to startup! (and not be a programmer) [idea investigation; competitive landscape; what problem are you solving; how are you solving better than others; who would actually use your service if you came through the way you plan?; pencil wireframes/sketches of information architecture; digital mockups; pretty design; cutup of pages; programming; testing; bug fixes / revising; private launch (more testing/feedback/revising); public launch; marketing; blogging; reaching out; listen]

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  • Link to the 100 web startup ideas:
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  • 1. (not being a programmer) By Steve Poland
  • 2.
    • Don’t devise a Solution to a non-existent Pain
    • What pains do you or others have?
    • Here’s 100 web startup ideas:
  • 3.
    • If you can’t find a competitor, you aren’t looking hard enough.
      • Twitter = Facebook
      • Facebook = Twitter, MySpace, Friendster, etc
      • YouTube = MetaCafe, Vimeo
      • Google = Yahoo!, Excite, Lycos
  • 4.
    • Are you worth the switching cost?
      • Evite has been out-dated since 1996.
      • Founder of Friendster launched competitor in 2006.
      • Socializr couldn’t get the masses to switch.
  • 5.
    • ASSume nothing!
    • Talk to potential customers, now
    • Talk about your business idea to everybody! (ok, maybe not directly to your competitor)
      • You have the passion for it.
      • People won’t steal it. They may think about it for a second, but tomorrow they won’t. It’ll take 100’s of hours.
      • Ideas are nothing, Execution is everything.
      • Talking with others will help you refine your idea.
  • 6.
    • Will customer #1’s experience be just as good as customer #100,000?
      • See
      • There has to be value to User #1 and then you’ll see User #2 come on board, and so forth.
      • MyBlogLog gave bloggers stats at first — that was of personal value/utility to them. Later on, MyBlogLog applied all the social networking features that we’ve come to know/love about MyBlogLog — but that was after they had a bunch of users in their system.
      • Ditto on Delicious.
  • 7.
    • Can you sell someone on it in 30-seconds?
    • If not, it’s too complex – you might be making up this “pain” that the person can’t grasp in 30-seconds because they don’t have that “pain point”.
  • 8.
    • How will you make money?
      • If advertising or anything else, be realistic with how much you likely can make and how the business would eventually sustain itself.
        • A ‘Twitter’ story rarely happens.
    • I prefer making money off Customer #1.
      • Self-funded vs Investors.
  • 9.
    • I personally start with pencil on paper mockups.
    • Then I get digital mockups designed (focus on the user-experience / flow).
      • Then a pretty design and style guide.
    • Mockups cutup into HTML, to give to a programmer to make it actually work.
  • 10.
    • Finding a programmer is as hard as finding your husband/wife for life  It’s potentially a marriage.
    • NDA signed
    • RFP (1-2 pages about the project, with a spreadsheet of line items for each page/component of site/app)
    • Be aware of their questions, it’ll help you gauge how well they “get it”
  • 11.
    • Project Management software – I use BaseCamp ( )
      • Manage task lists, milestones, discussions.
    • I have two weekly meetings with my programmer, and constant IM’ing during week.
    • I try to keep discussions about functionality in BaseCamp, so we have it archived.
    • We use Unfuddle (or Github) for version control. Unfuddle has ticketing (nice!)
  • 12.
    • “ If you're not embarrassed by your first release, then you launched too late.” –Reid Hoffman
    • Put dates to milestones.
      • Internal private beta - We just play with it
    • Public private beta - Select people to play with it
    • Public beta - Anyone can play with it
    • No longer a beta
      • (Gmail has been beta 5+ years)
  • 13.
    • Testing, Bugs, Fixes, Feature Requests
    • Listen! Allow users to contact you easily – put your phone number up, email address, contact form, AIM, etc.
      • Bugs and changes into Unfuddle.
      • Ideas for future features into BaseCamp.
    • is great for gathering feedback/input (feature requests) from users.
    • ClickEgg and Userfly for user experiences.
  • 14.
    • Contact:
      • Steve Poland
    • Slides: