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 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]

Published in: Business, Technology

How To Startup!

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