Talk to each other, you are missing out

For the past few weeks I’ve been talking to entrepreneurs, trying to help with their problems. I’ve heard both of these statements repeated a few times:

Marketing is easy, but coding is impossible.

Marketeers

and

Building a thing is fun, but then I have no idea how to market it.

Coders

It’s frustrating to hear both this things at the same time. Even within each of the communities, inside Indie Hackers, Microconf, TWiST, we seem to have subgroups of techies and non-techies that talk among themselves but not to one another and they are both wondering where the other ones are.

Please: start talking to one another, you need those connections, your idea need those connections.

If you are either a marketer or a coder and want the other one to join your team as a non-paid co-founder you are asking them to make an investment. A huge investment in terms of personal wealth. A person might be able to start 10 startups in their life, so, you are asking them for 1 tenth of their resources. Act accordingly. Put the effort, show traction, show results. I see people put more effort into talking to an investor that will invest only 1% of their resources.

The second thing a lot of us should do, and this include me, is not focus so much on our own ideas and try to work on other people’s ideas. Build someone else’s thing, market someone else’s thing. Don’t chase one idea, chase the outcome of a successful startup and accept that it might not be your idea.

If you are a developer, know this: whatever idea you come up with, it’s an idea that another developer is likely to have, and likely to implement to compete with you. That’s why there’s so much out there in terms of Twitter clones, issue trackers, cryptocurrencies thingies, etc. A non-coder idea has the value of less competition. A CRM for a niche you’ve never heard of might be the best SaaS ever!

If you are a marketer, know this: even in a crowded space, you can make a difference because there are a lot of companies out there that have a great product and are struggling with marketing. I often find a market need, like, “Private teachers need booking systems” and in my market research I find that the perfect booking system exists and nobody is using it. Lending your superpowers to a developer that’s charging ahead with building yet-another-whatever might be the best SaaS ever!

Finding a co-founder for your startup

Update: this list is now being maintained on it’s own page: Finding a co-founder

Someone recently contacted me at MicroMentor with a few questions about their startup, including, how to proceed without a business partner. I told him he should probably find one and then I discovered I had more co-founder search resources than I thought:

Any other resources you are aware of?

Book Review: Build the Fort: Why 5 Simple Lessons You Learned as a 10 year-old Can Set You Up for Startup Success by Chris Heivly

build the fort coverThis is a short and sweet book that compares the act of starting a company, a startup, with that of building a fort. It’s a very enjoyable read with the childhood stories of building a fort and it reminded me of those days in which it seemed easier to find a co-founder.

I’m not sure the book had anything new to me having already read so many other books about starting companies but it was still an enjoyable read and it’s good to get concepts refreshed. This book puts a lot of emphasis in socializing the idea and indeed that gave me a lot of food for though regarding how I’m going about my own startup.

I think it makes a very good first book about startups or a refresher for someone that’s been doing it for a while and needs a refresher.

★★★☆☆

Buy Build the Fort: Why 5 Simple Lessons You Learned as a 10 year-old Can Set You Up for Startup Success in USA

Buy Build the Fort: Why 5 Simple Lessons You Learned as a 10 year-old Can Set You Up for Startup Success in UK

Startup Weekend Lausanne 2011

Picture of the Eneo team
The Eneo team

This past weekend I participated in the Startup Weekend Lausanne 2011, my first startup weekend ever. It was amazingly interesting. I worked on an application called Eneo. Eneo allows you to talk with people around you using your mobile phone, people that you don’t know, so the next time you are stuck at the airport waiting in a 3 hours delayed flight, you don’t have to eat alone. Find someone else in the same situation and go for lunch.

I think the application has great potential and I was told that the jury didn’t understand it. I don’t know, they spoke in french. Supposedly the event was going to be in french and english but was all in french… I was bored when I wasn’t coding.

I’m thankful I didn’t present an idea, I would have done a poor job of doing it. I now wrote a list of things to do when presenting an idea. I was going to publish it, but it’s gold so I’ll keep it to myself, at least, until I use the techniques. Muahahaha.

I chose a company to work with, but the guy with the idea decided not to work on it because he didn’t get enough people. It was him, one designer and me, a programmer. I was surprised. Then I saw most groups were more than 5 people, some may have been even 8. For me that’s absolutely crazy. The startup sizes that make sense for me are 2, 3 and 4. Any less and it gets lonely (tell me about it!), any more and it gets crowded.

When the group I was in disolved, I turned into a free developer and the four or five groups that didn’t get a developer already started to pitch to me (now they did speak in English ;), at the same time. It was crazy. I think I got a glimpse of how investors feel. At any rate, immediate ego boost for a developer. If you are a developer I recommend to attend this events, is great for you and great for the event.

While working on our project I did make some mistakes. One was working on a mobile application. I haven’t done mobile in a while, I’m not fast at it; not weekend-fast at least. Give me a week and I’ll be rocking your phone, but in a weekend, no. I decided I wasn’t going to code, but I’m a coder and in less than two hours after joining Eneo I was writing code. I paid a step price when I tried to make the application look mobile by using jqtouch. I never used jqtouch before so there were a lot of things not working and I wasted precious hours on it. Big mistake.

My second mistake was trying to make a product. I wanted to woo the jury by showing an active product with users already. I failed to do that. I should have gone straight to coding a demo, not a finished product. What we ended up with was half product half demo, not good at either.

Here’s the app running in a desktop browser (imagine it’s a phone):


Next time I’ll do better.

What is a "startup project"?

I’m (hopefully) creating a term: “startup project”. A startup project is a project done on the side, not setting up a company, with or without partners, with the intention of one day becoming a startup.

I don’t have a startup, but I have many startup projects. Many silly little ideas with great aspirations. I need a term to separate that from non-startup project (like writing free software or build a house for the dog).

My startup projects are:

Many of them are dead or inactive. With .gitignore and .hgignore I believe I’m already getting as many visits as I possible can and it’s not that many (understandably, it’s extremely nichy).

RadioControlPedia is there, providing the information it has and open to anyone to contribute. I have some plans for it in the future but for now, I’m putting my time in other ideas. I really want to stay away from content for now.

Restraq and Hear a Blog deserve posts of their own, so wait for it.

Meanwhile, what do you think about the term “startup project”?