"Teach a person to hack and they'll hack. Teach a person to learn to hack and they'll gradually become a ninja-rockstar-guru over the rest of their life."
PS it is a very short book.
So, if you made them zany events -- like renting out a full restaurant and curating a list of 50 top matches where folks don't get to pick them ... all of the sudden that sounds fun. Or a first class at ball-room dancing. Or canoeing. Actually, I'd prefer even goofier stuff like the flash-mob-ish sort of things where you have groups that baked into their activity / assigned mission you have some reason for pairing them up.
If you can just create environments for people to do stuff that's fun and meet other people along the way without the baggage of calling it a date or the signaling of "I can't get a date", then it's cool, not desperate and attacks the largest part of the market: the folks that wouldn't use current dating sites even if they didn't suck.
The best way to do that is to focus on a specific untapped niche (dating for hackers/geeks/reddit users?) or a small geographical area you can take over. Once you have a manageable, highly targeted audience, it becomes a lot easier to reach them in a cost-effective way. Then:
1. Seed the site with some profiles to start. You NEED to do this. Everyone does this, and it works. Either work out a data sharing deal with a small niche dating site to cross post some(mostly female) profiles to your site or just make some yourself.
2. Males join many more dating sites than females. Since you already have lots of female profiles, you can start by targeting males in your niche. Male dating traffic is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than female dating traffic.
3. Spend $10K testing _interest targeted_ Facebook Ads. Don't just target all single males- you will get destroyed by better funded competition. Target by specific interests "Like WoW- Meet Gamer Girls!" and optimize for the highest CTR possible until you get cheap clicks. Once your CPC is below $0.30 or so, up your budget and scale.
4. Spend $10K on carefully targeted Plenty of Fish Ads. They have an excellent, powerful self-serve ad system that many dating sites use successfully. Think about it- everyone on POF is interested in online dating, so it's super relevant.
6. Spend $20K doing carefully selected direct media buys on community forums, discussion groups, etc. If I'm targeting WoW players, there are many forums happy to sell banner space at a cheap CPM. Same thing if I'm targeting athletes, fishing enthusiasts, etc. The general thrust is "Meet someone to do X hobby with". You can also do this on AdWords(content network).
7. Deposit the remaining $10K with a reputable affiliate network. If you offer an attractive payout and have high converting landing pages, you can get thousands of affiliates to promote your site on all of the niche traffic sources you don't have time to test. Pay significantly more for female signups to balance out the site. This is where you begin to get consistent growth every day and can presumably raise more money or start monetizing your users.
The one that we're sure has been used is simply scrape profiles from somewhere else. Someone just did that, scraping from Facebook, and it made quite a stir. At first you'd think that could not even have a remote chance of working, as the scraped people would certainly notice when you started matching them for dates!
If you were a bit smarter, though (and unethical people can be smart), you'd just use those scraped profiles to make your site look busy. You'd never match anyone to them. You'd only make matches among people who actually come to the site and register.
In other words you need a niche. I'd hit up â€" maybe even sponsor â€"Â something like book groups. (Pick a major metro and blanket it; that buys you the geographic proximity). Then, once you're rolling, use the success to knock over the surrounding geographies.
How do you use $50k to get attractive women, who can easily get dates in real life, onto your dating site? Offer them something they find valuable, but most importantly, wouldn't be embarrassing for them if their friends found out.
What might that be? What about a charity auction? Men bid on women's profiles and the highest bidder gets to take the woman on a date. 90 % of that money goes to charity (10 % to you, the owner of the site). Women can choose to either make their bid amounts public or private. They can also choose a charity of their choice.
Women don't have to be embarrassed about doing something for charity - in fact, they might drag their friends along for kicks (and among some groups of women - to see who can get the highest bid). They also get to go on dates with generous and/or wealthy men. Valuable + not embarrassing.
To set this up, start in NY. Throw events with the $50k where women get to set up profiles online and men bid on them, preferably with influencer type groups.
You can offer the reverse as well, so it's not sexist (although that sort of controversy mixed with charity gets you a lot of press) and because some women would delight in bidding on men.
Later, you can expand bidding to include other, non-monetary things: home cooked meal by professional sushi chef, help with moving, etc. So the less wealthy men can too have a chance at wooing the women of their dreams.
Then get radio shows involved. Radio shows need new material everyday. Everyday do a mini contest with no prizes for different topics:
1. worst place to meet2. worst pickup line3. worst foobar4. worst dressupetc.
do this every week before the contest ends.
make sure to get the nonprofits involved. Feature a nonprofit each week. Always make a story about how a specific person would specifically benefit from the charity.
Felix Denis in his book mentions selling beer on the island, donating a portion of the profits to the women and orphan fund.
Holding a contest for the winning cap. He describes in detail here: http://books.google.com/books?id=meKL68N5esEC&pg=PA261...
Besides, what use is a domain name which follows your criteria but is meaningless in the context of the product? Build the product, find it a name, name the domain something related to the product name or purpose. Save your $500 for somehting else.
Thats my opinion, at least.
Incidentally, I'm willing to part with enemynetwork.com for $500 (or an ipad) :-D
Or add some details like keywords for your app. Maybe I have something more suited.
Nice work. My comments:
+) Is it possible to use only one button? When I browse and select the image, I expect it to be uploaded automatically. For example Gmail and Tineye have this behavior.
+) Try to show more feedback about the uploaded image. When I upload the image, almost instantly a download notification appears. (I think that it was "too fast".) I expected to see some changes before the download is available. For example:
- see an upload progress bar - see an scaled version of the image in the site (this is important) - see a fake "working" progress bar :) - see a message "Your images are ready to download" - see a "download button" in case the automatic download fails or I touch "cancel".
I would change the titles of the buttons:
Isn't "Upload" really "Download icons"?Isn't "Browse" really "Upload photo"?
progress bar or status message for each action.
Add cancel button just in case.
below the fold explain the steps or add text near the buttons:
Step1. Upload photo
Step2. Download icons
I am curious what did you use to make this app? php? what did you call to resize? I have been working with iOS so I doing some transforms but I have done nothing like this in other languages.
They are all in your head anyway. I've been thinking about the Harry Potter thing of how they get to the train station for wizarding school by running straight at the brick wall with confidence, which carries them through it and to a different world, where a train awaits to whisk them off to a magical place, a place to learn yet more magic. I think it's a great metaphor. The brick walls aren't really there. Just go at them head on, believing they aren't really there.
Oh, and there's no spoon either.
Best of luck.
I know another guy that was rejected from YC and just sold his company to another company all of you have heard of.
YC is great, but it's one of many paths. Every time I read, "YC rejected me but....." it sounds like "Harvard rejected me, but somehow my life didn't end."
Sometimes you wonder how a company managed to exit with their idea but people count for so much. I have friends that, if they had the dumbest idea in the world, I would put my money down because betting against them is a losing game. If it sounds ludicrous, is because you've never had friends like that.
If you had pitched with the same co-founder and same idea and still got funded, you could have given PG a big 'told ya so', but different idea, different co-founder, is really a different sitation. Plus, I'm sure YC doesn't invest in many ideas/people that they wish they could, as they have to make selections on very little details.
Out of curiosity, what stage are you at with the new company? Did you close your round with a working prototype? moderate user traction? existing customers?
Again, congrats on the funding. Best of luck with the new biz.
when YC has told us no in the past --> just sparked the fire that much more.
my personal motto: doubt me...please do ;)
I'm not convinced ability to get funded matches with likelihood of profitability.
Personally I wouldn't require this whatever possible, even in that case, but that is a different topic altogether so...
It's even more impressive that YC helps founders succeed by rejecting their applications, and motivating them to try harder.
The latter is a truly scalable business model. Maybe YC should get a chunk of stock simply for letting companies apply to the program...
awesome, so me and my (currently 20) low friend count remain anonymous because nearly all of those 20 friends have 250+ friends.
The best opportunity to do it would be if they stay later than the rest of the team, or come in earlier, to do it away from the rest of the team. It is humiliating to fire someone and then parade them in front of the team. Asking them to stay late (Eg: 5:30 if the team goes home at 5) on a friday night might be a good way to do it.
You inform them that they have signed a confidentiality agreement and need to delete any copies of proprietary code or data they may have.
Be sure to give them some severance, unless they committed a heinous crime. Some companies make you sign an agreement not to sue as part of severance. Have all this work out after you fire them, rather than on the spot. (You don't want to force them to give up rights in an emotional situation, where they are ambushed by the firing and thus, by definition, have not had an opportunity to consult with a lawyer.)
Whatever they have done, realize this is a failure on your part. Treat them respectfully, and do not fall into the trap of attempting to rationalize or justify it. IF you can give them an honest answer as to why (assuming this is not for cause) then do so. Otherwise they may well assume it is for age, religion, skin color, etc.
Having a letter of recommendation written "To whom it may concern" beforehand and signed by signficiant people in the company (if this is a startup, that means the CEO) would be a classy thing to do. (again assuming it is not for cause.)
If it is for cause then you have to tell them the cause. If they dispute it, then say that decision to fire is made and if they wish to they can of course consult a lawyer.
The team will move forward even if you do everything wrong. But how you treat the employee, no matter what they did, will affect how the team sees you. So, treat them as you would want to be treated.
If they have code on their laptops make sure they delete it obviously and get with your attorney.
Just let them go, and let the team know along with the programmer in question as to why you let them go.
Startup lawyers know everything about acquisitions. They see them first hand from a unique vantage point: CEOs tell them stuff they won't tell investors, and vice versa. They are the only people that know the whole picture.
VC: "We want to buy your company". Me: "Umm. Okay. But, I am still developing". VC:"No worries. Come down". I do (plane flight). Show up in this big office. They make me wait in a huge room at a table that could seat 20. One guy walks in with a thick printout, throws it on the table so the printout slides to me and says "This is how we value a company. Read it." I read it and the value of my company would be based solely on revenue.
What I learned: Don't let them put you in the defensive position. If there is a strong fit then revenue and metrics shouldn't play much of a role (at least initially). If you are taking the time to meet them face-to-face then I don't think it is too much to ask for a ball park figure.
Hope this helps.
b) No. Never tell a car salesman what you're willing to pay for a car. That becomes the starting point from which he'll only go up. In your case, the reverse. I'd hire an independent auditor to valuate your business, giving you a high, low and median selling point from where you can intelligently negotiate.
Your diligence needs to be done as to whether or not they're actually a good fit to buy (qualified?) and research them to see if it looks like they may be interested in your company from more than just a buying perspective, because they could just be shopping you and there's no need to disclose everything.
Sure you'll end up paying them a hefty cut...but you won't get screwed.
Plus, if you're getting interest from one large company, there are probably others interested as well and a good broker can run an auction for you to get a much better deal than trying to do it alone.
Selling your company isn't something you should do by yourself in my experience.
If not drop, then drop the distraction and get back to work.
If maybe, decide if you really want to go work for the big company and if so, hire a pit bull to work out the deal on your behalf, then get back to coding in case it does not go through.
Flirting can lead to marriage, but it can also lead to a case of the clap. If your product is strong, there are "plenty of fish" as they say.
If you really want to have an exit then you need others involved as well - other buyers and smart experienced people to help with valuation and legals.
DEcide what you are worth - and use gut feel (your number) and someone that can give you a quick and dirty valuation. If you actually have revenue or even profit then this stuff is easier, but mainly it's doe by comparing you to other deals.
Reach out to other likely buyers and let them know that these guys (named or not) are sniffing around. The code words used by big companies are that your are 'in play' and you want to court the decent buyers before creating an auction situation.
Control the process yourself once you have the buyers lines up. Give them consistent information, deadlines for tabled offers and then start playing them off against each other. YOu'll get a great understanding of how they operate and can choose the company with the best money AND fit.
Before you share anything too private then do make them sign an NDA - you should have a stock one, and the negotiation process to get them to sign will be a good telltale.
Oh- and the unsolicited offerer should always come to see you - at least at first. No acquirer is too important to come to see you.
If you don't, consider finding someone as a last minute advisory board member explicitly for this purpose.
If you have dreams of sitting down to a nice application and reading people's feeds in an orderly, unified fashion you might be disappointed.
Incidentally I am creating a RSS Reader (actually much more than that) which is very similar to Flipboard in terms of the interface. But unfortunately, I probably won't have it ready for at least a few more months. Email me if you're interested in knowing a bit more, or helping out (I could use some help with the coding)
Therefore, I use the iGoogle homepage. It allows you to add a bunch of feeds and show each feed's latest 3 to 10 headlines, all together on a single page, separated in 3 by N blocks.
I'm using the A1 iGoogle theme for its simplicity, and the User CSS Safari extension to remove any further distraction.
As someone who does work on a startup in London, but didn't go last night, it's because I've found the HN London meetups to be chock-full of people who don't work on startups, but simply talk all evening about recycled opinions they've garnered from reading HN posts.
Not an interesting way to spend an evening.
(For future reference if Springboard runs one of these events again, it's definitely worth going. I got a lot of practical advice that's going to have a major impact on my business, plus I had an early stage VC ask me for a pitch deck. I'm not sure how the event could have been any better.)
Honestly, and this is not a criticism, that evening felt much more like "talk about programmer stuff" than it did "talk about startup stuff". There were a couple of good talks about the business of startups, and the rest felt like coding, or pitches, or both (and again, this is not a criticism).
I used to go to quite a few tech events in London but found I was spending too much time with like-minded people (techies) and not enough with people who had other backgrounds and interests.
These days I pretty much just go to LRUG once a month to socialise with the good friends I've made there over the years.
HN strikes me as a fairly diverse group though, so I'd be interested in going to the next meetup.
Due to work pressures, i.e. launching soon, I saw it better to spend my time working on my startup than going to the HN event. I have 2 children, and work from home, so I need to grab any opportunity I can to work.
Also, there are now lots of startup events in London, and if you are busy then you really need to pick and choose which ones you go to. In my case I am going to the lean startup one next week, which I see as being currently more relevant (and maybe more useful) to me than the HN event.
(Speaking of which, nearly everyone I know â€"Â including us â€" is hiring.)
(I regret that I missed the talks - unfortunately I was held up by a meeting that ran late).
Off the top of my head, possible options:
1. Startups don't engage on HN, or don't feel part of the community. This seems pretty unlikely.
2. (London) HN readers are predominantly people in full time jobs, or just not entrepreneurial.
3. Startups are too busy working.
But none of those seem particularly probable. Maybe it is a cultural difference?
Or maybe it was just a bad night for startups :)
Raises hand (see profile for details)
If they're not already working at a startup, are people who attend these events likely to be open the idea of work for equity or co-founding?
If you use MSN messenger ... add me as a contact. (That goes for everyone else)alainrichardt [at] hotmail.com
Sorry to say so, but this sounds like a classic case of 'a stitch in time saves nine.' I appreciate that you were nervous, but you should have brought in outside help/advice when you first realized you had a cash flow problem. They may have been scamming you, but then again you may have caused them a major cash flow problem; manufacturing margins are relatively slim, and $50,000 is a lot of money by Chinese standards. Suppose the factory has had difficulty paying its workers or your broker has been prosecuted over unpaid bills? At the very least, your broker has suffered a major loss of face, and serious damage to her commercial reputation. Meanwhile, you have not just lost $50,000, you appear to have lost your entire supply chain - and it's possible that you now have a reputation as a buyer who doesn't pay on time, and will have difficulty negotiating terms with alternative suppliers in addition to the more generic problem. Although you might have had to spend a few thousand for legal assistance a few months ago, look how much more it has wound up costing you.
So, get help immediately. A lawyer is like a doctor for your business in this situation, and your business has developed a serious problem. As well as the legal costs, you may have to pay compensation to your Chinese broker or supplier, and possibly go there in person to demonstrate your sincerity and restore their reputation as well as yours. You should also be exploring alternative avenues of supply, commercial credit, and how less flexible payment terms might impact your cash flow. It's going to be a lot of work. Good luck, and I hope it all works out for you and your firm.
Most of the larger companies have offices in places like Singapore and China so can offer help there, and for reasonable premiums you can be completely covered for things like this (legal fees, collections, remediation, etc.).
I've never had a need, but some friends who run physical goods companies swear by it for reducing risk and, arguably more importantly, stress (big losses from complicated situations like this are almost entirely mitigated).
Seriously though. Why not just fly there? It's a couple grand to likely get back $50k (cash or merchandise). People are far less mean in person.
In the future it's best to have an expediter in China that can check the facts on the ground. Also you should not have to pay for manufacturing before the product is shipped or at least checked by an independent contact in China. Usually terms are around 30-90 days depending on the industry and product (sometimes up to 6 months).
I put up a manufacturing guide a few months ago where I talked a bit about this: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1840896
In my experience legal advice from people that do not practice law is rarely helpful and potentially harmful.
In my experience, Chinese manufacturers have very little incentive or desire to provide credit or terms of any kind. They also have little desire to problem-solve issues or defects. So, it's no surprise that your problem is (according to them), your problem. I don't know if there is even a Chinese equivalent to the saying "the customer is always right".
Getting 'initial traction' is likely about not losing interest while waiting for 'real traction', and being confident that your product/service accomplishes it's core function/value very well. Someone correct me if I am wrong: traction is measured in gaining popularity ( increasing users, or sales at an increasing rate ).
http://blogs.balsamiq.com/product/2008/08/05/startup-marketi...(hacker news discussion: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=267639)
1. Anonymity: I guess, but not sold.
2. Hosting & IT Infrastructure: Isn't this largely a thing of the past? Could you really offer hosting and such cheaper than the likes of Heroku/GoDaddy/the like?
3. How many start-ups, in the mode you speak of, "need" this? Hey, having an accountant ready to go is great, but most certainly you'll be charging extra for that? Payment systems are also something that has become easier and easier to implement.
4. Legal Umbrella: For me, this is the scary one! How am I going to get that umbrella without giving something major up in return? This is something I'm already working on...right? So why give it to someone else? Now, maybe offering up a GOOD set of standard docs and/or legal services to get ME setup with my own protection would be something worth considering.
5. Moral Support - Can't argue with that. I get a heck of a lot of it right here on HN though! What would be better would be skill augmentation! I suck at graphic design/visual stuff and I equally suck at bizdev/marketing - and I would gladly trade some of my coding skills for someone to help me on the stuff at which I suck.
6. Solidly supplied by HN users, but can never get enough! This has a stronger impact in a "non-virtual" setup where you work next to these like minded individuals "x" number of nights a week.
Sounds like a negative response, but you asked if it would appeal to me and unfortunately, in this case, with the parameters described, I don't think it would. But I'm just one voice and wish you the best.
Has anyone ever considered a virtual incubator? I think the biggest con to something like that is the loss of face to face interaction with others. But considering that more and more startups are getting there start in areas where a traditional incubator may not be available. It may be a groups best option to get access to some those resources.
Our IT guys just screwed up both UPS & Fedex's systems here at work just last week. I'm a programmer at a distribution company, and had a front row seat to the mess.
We had a power surge that fried two of our shipping stations, and the last backup was about a week old. Since all the stations are identical, they cloned the hard drive from one station and put the image onto the two replacement stations, thereby getting them up and running quickly.
The imaged system and the replacements then started generating identical tracking numbers. While the packages arrived correctly (the address is encoded into the barcode), the tracking information was garbage on the both companies websites. It would show packages jumping from California to Georgia in a matter of minutes for instance. Packages were delivered multiple times, etc. No major harm was done, but customer's who were attempting to track their packages were very confused.
Not sure what you can gleam from this, but at the very least it's obvious that neither company treats the tracking number as unique, and they don't use them for anything of importance internally.
For example, I am currently receiving a TV from UPS. I have to be at home to sign it. But, I have work. I'm not going to take an entire day off. But, the delivery window is an entire day. Surely, the trucks have some sort of route and surely the trucks should have some sort of GPS. I don't need to know exactly where it's at, but c'mon at LEAST a 2 hour ballpark.
If you think like a 19 year old, you will go for the close too soon and end up with an abortion or an orphan.
ESL teacher: pregnant = "with child", but you can't just bandy the term about
All this knowledge is power. Some risks have been reduced. More importantly, others are the same but I now have a much better idea of what they are!
HN provides me whole new level of confidence!
Thank you everyone, especially those of you who share all the nitty gritty details of your successes and failures!
(ps related thanks to proggit and the BoS forum as well)
Agreed, and then...
- Contact the site admins for the major airport hubs (SFO, LAX, ORD, JFK) and sell to them- Contact all those independent Wifi operators at airports and sell them, they're hungry for content- Contact Virgin, Richard's guys are always up for something new & different!- Add Twilio.com SMS API, a "GroupMe" for flight notification?
The project died after I couldn't get much interest in it. But I still have the domain - took everything offline some time ago though...
After about a year or so, the same features started popping up in sites like kayak.
(although that may be in part to me showing early revs to a buddy who worked there)
If you want to get your toes in the water a bit with ML, there are some great ML libraries that encapsulate some of the popular algorithms. Mahout, Weka and Mallet are popular in the Java world,
A lot of folks use Python for ML as well, and there are some good libraries there.
The R language is also popular in ML circles; as is C++. If you learn some combination of Java, Python, C++ and/or R, you'll be in good shape from a programming language standpoint.
Check out http://mloss.org/software/ also.
Some good books to get started with include:
Algorithms of the Intelligent Web
Programming Collective Intelligence
Collective Intelligence In Action
Stanford make a great series of lectures available online that you might find useful.
Good References:1) Elements of Statistical Learning - Hastie, Tibshirani and Friedman
2) Pattern Classification - Duda, Hart and Stork
3) Pattern Recognition - Theoridis, Koutroumbas
4) Machine Learning - Tom Mitchell
The net is swamped with illiterate postings so your service should be in hot demand.
EDIT: And why would businesses want it?
I'm all for Ask HN, but please just hang out here a bit. Contribute with some comments. Provide unique insight. Don't just tap into the great resources here - become a part of them.
Comments rather than threads picked because they stuck, but the contextual threads were also good.
It's a curated list of the best 'Ask HN' threads collected over many years, first by Gabriel Weinberg, now maintained by Michael Fairley.
I actually printed this out for reference, the only time I've found myself doing this.
I am aware that since then pg has been thinking about ways to refine the commenting system or flagging to make sure that the right incentives occur on HN to encourage worthwhile threads and comments to those. Kudos to the OP here for asking all of us to look up good examples of worthwhile content on HN.
Now the way I "bookmark" HN threads is by sharing the submitted links, with a hat-tip to HN, with my Facebook friends. Seaching the links I've recently submitted to Facebook, I see that an HN thread about science books
was quite useful and well liked.
About the success of failure from fiaz
and "Ask HN: Industries Ripe For Disruption?": http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=475736
I'm definitely holding onto this super thread, though, as it may well become the unofficial threads of threads.
I see "saved stories" under http://news.ycombinator.com/saved, but don't see a way to save anything there. The only other option is to comment on something and then have it available under "threads", but that sucks.
Sorry, I'm a newbie around here.