Day 51: I’m proud to be an American. Also, learn how to code. Own your startup.

STATUS: I built a Twitter search engine for businesses. The shit you’d do to get your startup off the ground.

MOOD: AWESOME

—————

1. I am SUPER happy that marriage doesn’t just mean man + woman anymore. We’ve just witnessed our own Brown vs Board of Education, and no blood was shed! What a time to be alive.

2. I made this post on reddit, thought it’d make for an interesting blog post:

Okay, so before I write my post, I’ll be upfront and say that I’ve had a few beers while trying to battle Twitter’s OAuth implementation. I won. Anyone interested in a business to Twitter username search engine?

If you’re a non-technical person, learn how to code. Seriously, just learn. It’s a time investment and will take a while for you to get right…but so is this startup building shit. I can’t imagine ever wanting to put the core technology of my business into someone else’s hands, and I can’t imagine hiring someone to build something that I can’t understand.

Programming languages are WAY easier to learn than they used to be. Python is an incredibly accessible language that is EXTREMELY powerful. Entire businesses (i.e. Google) were built on it. Entire businesses are devoted to teaching it (i.e. CodeAcademy). Again, it’s a time commitment and your code will BLOW CHUNKS at first, but it’ll get better.

Honestly, I wouldn’t even let this discourage you. You WON’T FUCKING BELIEVE just how much EXTREMELY powerful software used by household businesses is using 100% n00b code. The code isn’t important; delivering the product is

(more disclosure: I’m using PowerShell for my MVP though I’m planning on porting it to C# when it’s live after a few weeks of fund-raising)

maybe i’ll post this on my blog

TL;DR: LEARN TO CODE and own your startup

EDIT: EVEN MORE DISCLOUSURE I “learned” Assembly, C and C++ in colleges. Those programming languages are hard to learn. If you’re reason for not learning how to program is “I took a class on C and it sucked ass,” things are better now, I promise. (Yes, I learned some very valuable programming idioms that would be difficult to learn in higher-level languages. Things like pointer arithmetic and manual memory allocation. Things that 9 times out of 10 WON’T prevent you from starting up your startup.)

Day 51: I’m proud to be an American. Also, learn how to code. Own your startup.

Day 18: A new approach.

STATUS: I’m going to take a break from building thinglistr and, instead, focus on getting its story solid.

MOOD: I’m surprised I didn’t pass out while writing this.

————

I finished Startup Weekend NYC a few hours ago. Our group didn’t place, but we did get an “honorable mention” by one of the judges. I didn’t actually show the product well enough, and even though the pitch itself was pretty good, other groups had much more to offer in that respect. I agree with their decision.

Regardless of how we fared, the connections and friendships I made through that ~30 hour grinder were the real prize. I met a whole collective of really fucking smart and ambitious people that I would have never met in any other situation. I might (might) even have a team forming for the project that we pitched. That’s a fucking win in my book.

Despite sleeping maybe nine hours between these three days, I felt drunk with energy the entire time. We had high points and low points, but never low enough to cause in-team drama. Our team dynamics were amazing. I think it’s rare to assemble a team that works together so well that easily, so that meant a lot to me. I did everything I could to ensure that the team dynamic did not fray, even if it meant reliquishing control and having my core concept get vetoed. Many people say that the team matters way more than the idea, and I can easily see why.

So what of thinglistr? Well, ironically enough, it took a weekend bootcamp in a sector that had nothing to do with my potential product to convince me that I’m doing my product wrong. (Another reason why I don’t care at all about having to pay $125 in credit; I might have kept making wrong decisions had I not gone.)

I spent too much time building and not enough time solidifying that my concept is something that people will actually use. I’ve asked a handful of people, which is fine…for a tool. My idea needs tens of thousands of users repeatedly using the site per day. A handful of people validating the idea will not work, and using that as a talking point with an investor or copartner will probably not get me very far.

This event also made me realize something very important: visuals matter WAY more than functionality. It’s really, really difficult to ace the MVP because “minimum” threshold differs between people. For me, I thought that the minimum I needed to have before pitching my idea was a working product that demonstrated thinglistr in action.

Well, the team that won this damn show didn’t write a single line of code. It was all mocked up. The reason why they won wasn’t because of their graphics; it was because of their approach.

If I can convince investors that (a) finding happy hours, bar specials and lower-key “events” is very much a real problem, (b) that several thousand people said the same and (c) that my solution will be difficult for the competition to replicate, I might have a chance.

I guess i do need to start thinking in terms of billions of dollars in revenue if I’m going to get serious about this. I’m guessing that that’s the only revenue point where these activities make sense.

Day 18: A new approach.