miércoles, 18 de noviembre de 2009

Do one thing better!!!

There are many things startups have in common, but I would like to guess that limited resources is practically a defining characteristic. When you’re building a startup, you’re short on cash, short on people, and short on time. The only resources you’ll have a surplus of are dedication and drive.

So how can you compete? You’re up against the world, and other products exist in the market. Most competitors will have more people, more money or more time in the market than you. Maybe they’ll even have all three!

So what advantage can you exploit? Well, how often have you heard that a particular software is “bloated”? The 80-20 rule loosely states that “80% of the customers only use 20% of the features of any product”. You don’t need a huge feature set to attract customers, in fact, most customers prefer something simple that takes care of most of their needs instead of something complicated that covers many needs they do not have. I think it boils down to two things. Keep your product simple and to choose one thing and do it better than anybody else.

If your product is simple, it easier to maintain, easier to develop and modify, and easier for others to understand and use. If you do the one thing that people need well, then they are more likely to be exited by your product, and more likely to use it.

Examples? Sourceforge(sourceforge.net) is the defacto standard for hosting your open source projects. It’s huge, sprawling, and includes version control repositories, wikis, message boards, forums and a long list of etceteras. Github(github.com) was launched early last year and has now gathered an impressive following. It lacks many of of sourceforge’s features, but it focuses on hosting code really well, and is really simple to use.

The Flip Ultra (theflip.com) is a handheld camcorder introduced into the US market in 2007. Flip camcorders shot standard definition video (Sony and other competitors at that time were already offering High Def and 1080p), had no zoom, white balance, or any of the other myriad features standard on camcorders at that time. However, it is very simple to use (just point and shoot) and it’s cheap. The Flip Ultra is now the single largest selling camcorder in the US with over 13% of the market, and Pure Digital, the company that makes them, was sold to Cisco in May for almost $ 600 million.

Pure Digital’s founders understood that 80% of the users just want to shoot video. They want something easy to use that just works. The Flip Ultra did one thing well, and did it in a way that was easy to use. I think there is a lesson to be learned there.

miércoles, 4 de noviembre de 2009


I have to admit I was skeptical about pair programing when I first heard about it. Two people, and only one writing code? It seems like a terrible idea to me, cut your productivity in half before you've even started!

Of course, part of the problem is the "lone cowboy coder" syndrome. I mean, we all want to be like Willam Gibson's (link - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_gibson) characters, the lone hacker against impossible odds. I used to think I coded best when left alone. Anybody else would just slow me down.

Boy, was I wrong. I read a great article about pair programing by Jim Resnik in the New York Times(link http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/20/jobs/20pre.html?_r=1) and decided to give it a try.

It's by no means easy. You need to trust and have a good relationship with the person you pair program with, but in a startup, well, you're already married to your partners! Any friction will have to be worked out before the shit hits the proverbial fan, or else you need to start looking for some new partners...

If, however, you manage to get past the obstacles (and there are at least 10 reasons why most attempts at pair programming fail (link - http://blog.obiefernandez.com/content/2009/09/10-reasons-pair-programming-is-not-for-the-masses.html)) then you will realize that it's just a better way to do things. You code faster, you maintain concentration much easier, you code is much better quality, bugs are easier to find and quash.

In fact, we've gotten so used to pair programming that when we can't be together we try to use VNC or other means to keep in touch. If that's impossible then I can assure you that you feel the loss.

So, if you're in a position to give it a try, do so, and leave comments on your experiences!

martes, 27 de octubre de 2009

YES WE CAN innovate!

“Everything that can be invented has been already” - Charles H. Duell, Commissioner of the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 1899
People keep innovating. It’s part of what makes us human, we are constantly searching for ways to make our lives, everybody’s lives, better.
But not everybody is an innovator. Obviously Charles H. Duell wasn’t. Even before we decided to jump head first into founding our startup we have been constantly double guessing ourselves. “Will this work? Will people like it? This idea’s terrible!”. Somedays you feel like The World is Yours

and someday’s, well, you feel your idea is full of fail

and everybody just can’t stop telling you how bad it is . There are always people who “wont get it”. That’s fine. I believe that’s what separates the visionaries from the sheep.

“I see little commercial potential for the Internet for at least ten years.” – Bill Gates, 1994

Yeah, even successful, important people can fail to grasp the magnitude or the potential of certain things. So if you don’t believe in yourself, you’ve already lost. Forget prophets and doom-mongers. The only way to know if something is going to work or not is to try it.

So hang some motivational posters on the wall! Keep yourself focused! Believe in what you do! ‘Cause (almost) no one else will…

viernes, 23 de octubre de 2009

Start of second week at Tetuan Valley

Start of the second week at TetuanValley, and there are no signs of slowdown. Like the Spartan Agoge, the pace has proved to fast for some, and two teams just could not continue.

I know that those of us that remain are strengthened, you could tell just by watching the presentations. Where our first pitches were vague, after one weeks work on the project and @Alex Barrera's special mojo/coaching/advice I was actually exited by the project presentations this week. I understood their vision, and the project.

I believe the hardest thing about giving your pitch is realizing that people don't share your vision, not because they don't want to, just because you haven't explained it correctly. You're too close, the project is your baby and you take for granted too many things. So take nothing for granted. If you're exited by what you're doing, don't be afraid to show it, just make sure to tone down the technobabble...

miércoles, 21 de octubre de 2009

First step

Well the first week has gone by, and what a week it has been!

Being selected by TetuanValley has been like being strapped on to the Apollo rocket, you're going up, full speed, ready or not. The most exiting part is the feeling that this week has been the first step towards making our vision of therapeers true. One of us suffers from a chronic illness, so we know how lonely it can get when everything is not right. That's what drove us to start therapeers, a place where you can find people like you, and learn from their experiences. That's why we believe it is so important to share, because the internet enables us to communicate and exchange knowledge with each other like never before. We also want to help you take control of your treatment by organizing your medical information. Last, but not least, due to how medical data is controlled at this point in time, pharmaceutical research companies are desperate for useful data. Data that can be used to further research our illnesses and hopefully, one day find a cure. That is why at therapeers we will try to provide useful information to medical research companies.

What about privacy? Don't worry, we understand that you might not feel comfortable sharing everything. That is why you can sign up to therapeers and give us as much or as little of your personal data as you wish. You can use our tools and browse our data and just be a number in the system. Even if you decide to share your name and interests with others at therapeers, we pledge to never, ever use or share your personal information with any third party. The only data used will be anonymous, medically relevant facts, and only in the interests of furthering the medical science.

Speeding up the pace of research may seem like an ambitious goal, but we believe that by collaborating at a global scale, we can do this. We can all change the world. Are you with us?

We are working on the project non-stop, so stay tuned for any updates!