Sunday, November 07, 2010

Vin Vacanti On That Techie Cofounder

Image representing Yipit as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBaseVin Vacanti of Yipit, one of the hottest tech startups in New York City - not long back the not so hot, not so funded, but always promising tech startup - has produced a series of rather insightful blog posts on a topic that I have seen more early stage entrepreneurs in town struggle with than probably any other. The search for that techie cofounder beats the search for funding.

Vinicius Vacanti

Becoming Your Own Technical Co-Founder
Part 1: Guide To Finding a Technical Co-Founder
good technical co-founders are like the attractive people at the dance. They’re hot, they know it, everyone wants to sleep with them, and they can also go home and sleep with themselves ..... when we told people Yipit was going to be a Kayak for the Daily Deal industry ..... You’d have a lot easier time getting a great technical co-founder to join you if your initial prototype had 20,000 users and growing. .... good technical co-founders and angel investors are looking for the same thing. ..... It took me about six months of working full time before I could really build any prototype we wanted. Four prototypes / pivots later, we landed on the current version of Yipit
Part 2: Why You Can Become Your Own Technical Co-Founder
As the summer of 2007 came to an end, I had one of the most depressing and humbling weeks of my life. .... I was now sitting in my apartment realizing, for the first time (and not the last), that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. .... 80-page product spec ..... realized we were going to have to do ton of iterating .... Since I had taken two intro CS courses in college, we decided I would become the technical co-founder and Jim would help out on the front-end development (HTML/CSS) side. ..... I had never built a site and hadn’t written a line of code since my freshman year of college (7 years ago). .... s
Image representing Vinicius Vacanti as depicte...Image via CrunchBaseix months later, I was able to build almost any prototype we wanted. Really. ..... turned out that it was a lot easier than I had expected ..... Once we got traction, we had investors and great technical co-founders knocking on our door. ..... The version of Yipit that got us traction was built in 4 days. It took us a year of customer learning to know what to build. But, from a technical perspective, the MVP that got us traction took us just 4 days. ..... Getting traction doesn’t involve signing-up 1 million users. By the time you run into scaling issues, you’ll have an awesome CTO to help you fix it. ..... I remember playing with an early version of Foursquare and getting MySQL errors. It didn’t matter because they now have an awesome tech team that re-built it all. ...... The technology is simple in the back-end, the value created is primarily in the user interface and user experience. ..... A lot of the stuff that would have been a nightmare 8 years ago is trivial now. .... Whenever you run into bugs / issues when developing, do a google search for the bug and you’ll find someone has already posted it and someone answered it. With StackOverflow, that’s gotten even better. ..... turns out that pretty much everything you are trying to do on your web app has already been done by someone else ... they are all free and open source
Part 3: Should You Find a Co-Founder, Hire a Programmer or DIY?
You have the next big idea but don’t have a strong technical background and you don’t have a great technical co-founder lined up. Sadly, that represents over 95% of potential entrepreneurs out there and it’s a very frustrating experience. ..... The tech stuff is *really* easy and replicable by many. The key to your startup’s success is your sales, editorial or marketing operations most of which will be mainly happening offline. In fact, you’re initial product isn’t a real tech company, it’s a tech-enabled company. ..... 
Cover of Cover of Learning Python (Help for Programmers)you can get started on your dream today. Assuming you are not trying to innovate on the technology, either hire a programmer or start teaching yourself.
Part 4: Big Picture Overview of All the Components of a Web Service
I remember reading the Learning Python book and putting it down after 20 pages and having a major freak-out. ...... Six months later, much to my surprise, I was ready to build any prototype we needed. That made us very dangerous and credible as a startup team. ..... We now have an awesome tech team that understands them way better than I ever will. ..... use Amazon Web Services. Just make sure the person you hire lets you know what to do when the server goes down (it will go down) ..... make sure you know how to restart the server. ..... the online django book .... I use Textmate to do most of my programming. I use GitHub to manage my revisions. .... Databases store all of the data for your project. Think of them as really large excel spreadsheets with rows and rows of data ..... If you can, I also recommend switching to a Mac. It’s way easier to deal with than a PC. .... When I was starting out, I was always intimidated by the endless list of acronyms that were thrown around. .... In my next post, I’ll describe my experience of learning python and django in more detail.
Part 5: More to come ....

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