The Lean Startup Ninja

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Talk we gave at JavaOne in San Francisco September 2013. An entertaining tale of the technical, financial and cultural journey that jClarity has taken to date as a new start-up in the Java/JVM performance analysis tools space.

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The Lean Startup Ninja

  1. 1. The Lean Start-up Ninja Martijn Verburg (@karianna) Ben Evans (@kittylyst) http://www.jclarity.com - @jclarity Sunday, 8 September 13 1
  2. 2. Sunday, 8 September 13 Remember these guys? 2
  3. 3. Who are we? • NINJAS (obviously) – And mostly lean ;-) • Martijn Verburg (@karianna) – Founder & CTO at jClarity – aka "The Diabolical Developer" – Java Champion, J1 Rockstar, Author, Speaker etc <yawn> • Ben Evans (@kittylyst) – Founder & Chairman at jClarity – Deep dive technologist – Java Champion, J1 Rockstar, Author, Speaker etc <yawn> • adoptopenjdk.java.net / adoptajsr.java.net Sunday, 8 September 13 3
  4. 4. Context - What our start-up does • See what we did here? ;-) • Java/JVM Performance Analysis Tools – For cloud and enterprise • Lots of deep dive or bleeding edge tech – – – – – – – Sunday, 8 September 13 Hotspot (JVM) internals Linux internals Virtualisation technologies vert.x Angular.js & pals MongoDB etc... 4
  5. 5. What we're going to cover • How to be Lean & Agile – What does this really mean? – How do you implement it? • How to be a Ninja – Ninjas were actually on the good team originally – Do not read Hacker News - ever. • Lessons from start-up life – Technology • MongoDB, Angular JS, vert.x and more!) – Culture • From office hours to bust ups and in between – Angels / VCs / Lawyers • aka Vampires and Sharks Sunday, 8 September 13 5
  6. 6. Sunday, 8 September 13 Start-up life if you believe Hacker News 6
  7. 7. Sunday, 8 September 13 Most startups fail in 12 months We are not Instagram, Uber, Yelp etc - We're still alive and kicking after 18 months which is awesome 7
  8. 8. Part I - Lean and Agile • Why it's important • Why the principles matter • Implementation in your culture • Cargo Cult is bad Sunday, 8 September 13 8
  9. 9. So why "Lean" and "Agile"? • People bang on about this.... • But why is it important in start-up life? – Is it not important elsewhere? Sunday, 8 September 13 9
  10. 10. Why "Lean" and "Agile"? Sunday, 8 September 13 Your amazing idea...... 10
  11. 11. Sunday, 8 September 13 The truth! 11
  12. 12. Where you actually end up • Start-ups transition...... a lot. – Their entire product / idea / market – More than twice in a single year • We transitioned product twice – GC Log Analyser to general purpose performance analyser • We transitioned markets three times – From cloud to enterprise and back to cloud again • We laugh at our original business plan Sunday, 8 September 13 Quote the business school quote 12
  13. 13. Don't make my eyes bleed • Famous post by a VC/Investor • WHO are your target market? – Make them real people • WHY will they use your product? – This varies for different customers • HOW will they give you money? – Our FD says "Make money while you sleep" Sunday, 8 September 13 13
  14. 14. Lean / Agile practices that helped • Stand-ups – 24 hour warning on anything that went right or wrong – Great for team building (celebrate success / help on failure) • Retrospectives – Kept us honest with each other (most of the time) • Small, 1-week long achievable sprints – With a very real goal at the end – Even planning 2 sprints in advance didn't work Sunday, 8 September 13 14
  15. 15. What we failed to do • Validate product against users, early. – We waited too long to get our product out as a Beta • Revenue stream from product, early. – Nothing beats a self sustaining business – Even if you think your product isn't up to scratch yet • Sales and Marketing – Need to get someone in at the start – If you've solve Cold Fusion but can't sell it.... Sunday, 8 September 13 15
  16. 16. Cargo cults • You are not your users – Our peer group are Java/JVM performance specialists – Our customers are (generally speaking) not specialists • Not Invented Here (NIH) – Very easy to fall into when you're a green field product – We have a strict culture of "Avoid if at all possible" Sunday, 8 September 13 16
  17. 17. Part II - Be a Ninja • Automation • Everything is a first class citizen • Technical Debt • Picking the right technology • Usability Sunday, 8 September 13 17
  18. 18. Automation • It changes *everything* • One-click release / deploy – We took a long time to get there – But we always worked on it each sprint • Chef / Vagrant solves everything? – No – You need shell scripts, build tool skills, AWS skills, networking skills, Linux skills, SSL skills... Sunday, 8 September 13 18
  19. 19. Everything is a first class citizen • Only as strong as your weakest link • All tech should be treated 1st class – – – – Sunday, 8 September 13 Your product code Your website code Your customer reporting code Your accounting / E-Commerce code 19
  20. 20. Technical Debt • Is a much bigger risk than people think • It slows you down • It makes you inflexible • We focus a sprint ~1/month on this Sunday, 8 September 13 20
  21. 21. Picking the right technology • Follow the "Matt Raible" principle – See his decision matrix on Java/JVM web frameworks • Set out criteria • Add weightings • Run the numbers • Prototype the top two Sunday, 8 September 13 21
  22. 22. Usability • Consumers are spoiled today – Beautiful and useful UI/Ux, thanks Apple for the trend! – They expect the same at work • Poorly thought out Ux will kill your idea – Your idea can get "lost" in the noise • We hired an expert! • But we failed on running studies / labs Sunday, 8 September 13 22
  23. 23. Part III - Lessons from start-up life • Minimum Viable Product (MVP) • Being a business • Culture • Vultures, Vampires and Sharks – And some good guys • Technology Sunday, 8 September 13 23
  24. 24. Minimum Viable Product • Cold hearted capitalist – "Whatever people will pay for" • Hackernews Fanboy/girl – "What I coded over the weekend" • The perfectionist – "When it's ready" • The ideal scenario – Gets you revenue and receives generally positive press Sunday, 8 September 13 Sometimes a MVP is a Webpage that allows potential customers to show intent 24
  25. 25. Being a business • Identify if you need professional help – Tech people aren't always good business people • Get strong mentors – Be prepared to spend equity on this • Admin matters as much as product – Invoicing, Accounting, Legal, Sales, Marketing etc • Stick to your vision Sunday, 8 September 13 25
  26. 26. Culture • Culture varies massively – Even in the so called meritocracy of the tech world • Remote vs local teams – Distributed teams are hard – Technology can help – Social infrastructure is far more important • Hierarchies are minimal – Act like "A Boss" and you'll quickly lose respect • It's like a family – Fight, forgive and move on Sunday, 8 September 13 26
  27. 27. Vultures, Vampires and Sharks • When things are looking tough – You'll get 'rescue offers' – It's just business, don't take it personally – But don't take the 'offer' • Angels are Devils in disguise – Most VC's are just plain evil – Do your research • Lawyers are expensive – They smile lots and have nice suits – That suit is more than your monthly run rate Sunday, 8 September 13 27
  28. 28. There are good guys • Aimar Capital – Moss Mosimann is an investor who gets it – They actually mentor the start-up • Crowell and Moring – Lawyers who have a specialist arm for tech start-ups – Guide you through Patents, Trademarks, Contracts etc Sunday, 8 September 13 TODO More 28
  29. 29. Technology • We had to chose a modern tech stack – Asynchronous messaging – Browser based UI that had great Ux – Distributed • Minimum reliability and scalability – Could scale if need be – Could failover if need be • Security / Data protection – SaaS service - don't divulge customer data – Customer data needs to live georgraphically Sunday, 8 September 13 29
  30. 30. Sunday, 8 September 13 It was a big step forward in our devops story 30
  31. 31. Chef Report Card • 7/10 • Positives – Recipes galore! • Java/JVM recipes • PHP/Wordpress recipes • MongoDB recipes... • Negatives – Inconsistent command line – Fairly complex – Doesn't do deletions Sunday, 8 September 13 31
  32. 32. Sunday, 8 September 13 Think distributed node.js with a real VM and ployglot language support 32
  33. 33. Vert.x 2.x • 6/10 • Positives – Websocket support – Eventbus shared across – Easy, no shared state • CSP style concurrency – Eventbus to the browser! – Multiple JVM language support • We used Groovy Sunday, 8 September 13 TODO: Explain CSP 33
  34. 34. Vert.x 2.x • Negatives – NIH Logging – Release a new version without supporting old version – No security • SSL support in hazelcast • Not for eventbus traffic • Architected for local data centres – When we’re moving into the cloud Sunday, 8 September 13 34
  35. 35. MongoDB Report Card Sunday, 8 September 13 Hands up if Mongo concerns you about...? 35
  36. 36. Sunday, 8 September 13 36
  37. 37. MongoDB Report Card • 4/10 • Positives – Document models – Nice Java API • Negatives – No support for timezones other than UTC – Security • compiled own SSL-enabled daemon – Difficult to sysadmin – Election Algorithm broken – constant reconnects • Not an issue, but very confusing Sunday, 8 September 13 37
  38. 38. Sunday, 8 September 13 We wanted functional programming and lambdas because we were dealing with asynchronous messaging (think handlers etc) 38
  39. 39. Groovy 2.x scorecard • 5/10 • Positives – Looks like Java – Has fairly nice JSON and handler support – Friendly devs, respond via twitter • Negatives – 2.0 was a joke (compiler broken etc) – IDE fail – Build system fail Sunday, 8 September 13 We wanted 39
  40. 40. Sunday, 8 September 13 Directive based approach - true Javascript front end framework 40
  41. 41. Angular JS • 8/10 • Positives – Ability to implement early Html5 features – Declarative • Easy to understand and read • Two-way data binding – Structures your code into simple – Client side templating – Clean language separation vs templating Sunday, 8 September 13 41
  42. 42. Angular JS • Negatives – Testing --> Testacular/Karma • Requires node.js <blurgh> – Google search gives you testicular cancer results – Doesn’t fit the eventbus so well • $scope.$apply – Documentation/Stackoverflow presence – People are familiar with jQuery, declarative is new to them. – Javascript tooling sucks • IDEs • Libraries • Maven integration Sunday, 8 September 13 42
  43. 43. Summary • Start-ups are very tough – Beautiful and useful UI/Ux, thanks Apple for the trend! – They expect the same at work • Poorly thought out Ux will kill your idea – Your idea can get "lost" in the noise • We hired an expert! • But we failed on running studies / labs Sunday, 8 September 13 43
  44. 44. Often you will feel like this Sunday, 8 September 13 44
  45. 45. But at least you don't work for Sunday, 8 September 13 But at least you won't be working for this guy! 45
  46. 46. Built for the Cloud. Works in the Enterprise. http://www.jclarity.com Martijn Verburg (@karianna) Ben Evans (@kittylyst) Sunday, 8 September 13 46

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