I'm a fan of bundling which sounds a bit like what luckyisgood was getting at.
Every consultant wants diversified and/or recurring revenue. This is why just about all of us inevitably create (or try to create) products of our own. Eventually, many consultants get wind of the idea of retainers, which can have the predictability of SaaS but without needing to build and market software first.
The issue arises with how most consultants put together retainers. It's usually something like "I'll sell you in advance 20 hours a month of my time for $2000."
Here's the problem:
Any first grader can figure out that you're effective hourly rate is $100, which is probably less than your real rate but hey, it's a retainer and it'll relieve your need to always be selling, so that's OK for most.
Since you'll be making $100 an hour on this retainer, your income potential becomes constrained (you're now on the hook for 20 hours a month @ $100/hr) and the client knows what your hourly rate is. "Brennan, I need more this month. I'll pay you $2500 for 25 hours" or "Can I just pay you $100 an hour when I need you?"
And this is where the retainers of a lot of the consultants I've talked with go south, and the relationships sour.
A better approach (which is something patio11 and I talked about during an event we hosted last year) is to instead sell bundles which could include your time, and hosting and make these bundles really tricky to divide.
I could sell a client on:
- Backup management
- Framework / security updates
- A/B test experiments and management
- Up to 20 hours of upgrades and modifications
Now it's not so easy to divide the invoices I'm sending my clients monthly by X.
And I could charge... $5000 a month for that. Or whatever would make it so that my client gets both the peace of mind they're looking for (smart guy managing hosting, backups, security issues, etc), a product that's becoming more valuable (running a/b tests, analyzing their funnels, etc), AND a pool of time for me to do whatever random updates they need.
Here's what worked for us:
- after selling a website, we sold the mandatory support and maintenance contract. We considered this service the foundation, or level one of our recurring revenue stream. This is fairly easy to sell and renew. The recurring revenue we got from this was enough to keep us afloat.
- after selling support and maintenance, we upsold the client to "levele two": services which grow our client's online business. The types of services we offered in this plan: everything that needs to be done to reach client's business goals, and that we could deliver well. This was harder to sell (because the type of client needs to be just right for this kind of service), but the amount of money coming in every month is substantial. This is what makes the agency grow in long term.
Here's what didn't work for us:
- web hosting. We've been offering this for more than a decade and in the end, all things considered, it is just not worth it. A combination of support + maintenance + growth-oriented services is a much better bang for the buck. We sold most of our servers and hosting accounts to a specialized hosting company and focused on what we did best.
For the exact details about building, pricing and selling support and maintenance services, check out my book: https://www.simpfinity.com/books/recurring-revenue-web-agenc... the part about growth-oriented services is coming soon, matter of weeks)
I love talking about the subject of recurring revenue, it's a passion of mine. I'll gladly answer any questions you might have.
When it is a new company (is going to launch in 1 month for example), i propose them to set a launch page (basic one, created in max. 15 minutes) for 100 , to collect emailaddresses.
The launch page includes a text email to all of your visitors when they subscribe and say that this proposal doesn't include HTML (for images), because that is custom work and more difficult.
When the moment arrives, i ask them for the text they want me to send to their visitors.
In 70% of the cases, they ask to include a picture of the team.. I explain them that this was not part of the deal, but that i can change the message to a HTML email for 80 (if provided the assets first).
So, selling a website earned me another 180 , a happy customer (the launch page is added publicity)
How do you upsell?
When you offer "hosting"... do you offer intelligent systems? advanced low level networking? CDN? anycast DNS? disaster recovery plan? peak resistance? awesome monitoring system with 24/7/365 support of the solution? 0day level security solutions? nanosecond performance? 99.999% SLA? penetration testing as proactive maintenance? multidevice testing of every change or patch? development, staging, validation and production environments? storage engineers? database tuning? project road-map with weekly (or daily) reports and meetings of a team of engineers analyzing infrastructure usage, logs, new threats, proposals and evolutions? an awesome web interface for ALL customer facing controls? a problem free experience?
Or are we talking about cheapo domain+cert+shared resources "online presence"? If yes, than maybe just stick to one provider and seek for a "reseller plan", to minimize costs, and as said in other comments, start offering a "maintenance package" as part of the products/solutions to get some recurring revenue.
When you get a great team of operations and support engineers with outstanding knowledge and passion for "systems", they stay motivated, and they are not mismanaged, you will be able to monetize them (and their "toys") with "hosting", "cloud", "online presence", "services" or whatever name, in team with the rest of the solutions you sell.
Infrastructure is a complex and expensive topic. If you do it properly, you can move money. You just need more customers wanting your system solutions/team, than the cost of it.
Otherwise, there is many competence and "third party" services, and the average position is to re-sell that, and focus on the ego of "i'm a designer/coder, systems is a second class stuff I cannot convince you to payme more for that".
Call it cloud, thats where the money is.
Except one thing.
DreamHost staff are generalists. They're probably good at fixing hacked WordPress blogs, but they will never be able to compete with you when it comes to in-depth troubleshooting of the exact application that you built for your client. At best, all they can do is direct your client back to you. At worst, they'll misdiagnose the problem and damage your client's website.
You, on the other hand, are a specialist. You know the website inside and out. You can take one look at an error message and figure out exactly which line of which file is causing the issue. You know when the software stack will need to be upgraded, and you know which parts are the most likely to cause trouble after an upgrade. You know when the client is expecting traffic spikes, and you know that when that happens, DreamHost is likely to suspend your client's website.
Your hosting package, should you choose to offer one, must take advantage of these differences. It should be part of a long-term support contract, not a standalone product, and it should be massively overpriced, like, at least an order of magnitude more expensive than the off-the-shelf equivalent. In exchange, the client gets a server stack that is perfectly tailored to their app (nginx, node.js, redis, you name it), a guarantee that they will never receive a canned answer in response to an urgent support request, and a guarantee that their website will not be suspended in the middle of the biggest marketing campaign of the year.
And of course you should be ready to fulfill such expectations. Don't use cheap servers to host your clients, get some Linodes or Droplets instead. There will be no in-house email hosting, it should be outsourced to Google Apps or some other company that specializes in email. Don't mess with cPanel, your clients can call you if they need to make any changes. Everything should be premium-grade, because there's no money to be made in the low-end market. Make your customer feel like your offer is actually worth the combined cost of hosting and support that you're charging them for.
I don't specialize in anything particular. I do both web and desktop apps for my client. They are a small suite of systems for collecting certain types of physics data, mapping it, and performing a basic analysis of subsets of that data. Other than setting up the servers (system administration is a weak spot for me), I've built everything of consequence in the project: from designing the database schema, to implementing and even improving the client's proprietary algorithms, to building a smooth, intuitive (as intuitive as this can get) UX around Google Maps. But it's mostly done now and I'm bored with the project.
Any tips on how to get out of such a rut?
Along the way I was able to run a website that delivered the retail customer website of a billion dollar company using my code.
How something as silly as hosting helped make it happen..
I have hosted customer apps and sites in a datacenter since about 98. Networking, security was something that there was little choice to avoid picking up in addition to software development.
Forget about today, even 15 years ago (man it's weird typing that), hosting was quickly becoming outdated. Yet, there was still an earnest need that was going unfulfilled.
The need I see repeatedly is for complex/custom hosting of Web apps and websites instead of the basic ones.
Example today? Even something as simple as Wordpress is a pain to reliably host when there is traffic for the average person. Someone deciding to master WP has lead to a fantastic startup with WPEngine which sits on the premium end compared to it's peers.
This isn't for everyone: assuming you have the ability to develop your skills as needed, and with the right support, you can tackle your slice of the complex/custom/app hosting market.
Even small businesses with custom workflow or website apps often end up needing their own vps or dedicated server to maintain. If you're this passionate about hosting, I'm trusting that you have or are pursuing dedicated hosting skills.
Putting together a managed server hosting package that may or may not provide application level support can be quite stable income assuming the line is clearly drawn between code induced issues vs infrastructure induced issues.
How much is on the other side?
On the low end I have changed a few hundred a month, all the way up to a few thousand a month, so a customer can have a sys and app admin rolled into one.
The right kind of customers definitely have a peace of mind budget, where they want the discipline and consistent availability of someone who cares about them more than a contractor. The bottom rung of customers don't scale very easily, either.
In short, I don't accept bitcoin because it is pointless and most companies that do accept bitcoin do so for the PR value, not because it benefits their bottom line.
1. Price volatility
2. Bitcoin is designed to be deflationary. Most people that buy Bitcoin are letting it sit there and hoping that their investment will go up rather than using it for purchases.
2. Regulatory uncertainty
To some degree (2) causes (1). Both the threat of regulation and the lack of regulation cause volatility, and that issue not going to go away any time soon.
If you are at a new place, and you don't have a clear view of the overall architecture, which parts are in good shape, which are not, etc, it is natural to be less confident in proposing a solution, particularly if people have been there for a long time.
However, it should not stop you of asking open ended question like "Why did module X have been developed with Y instead of Z ?" You'll probably learn quite a bit on the historical, political or time constraint reasons. And you could stumble upon a good suggestion because no one had the idea or will to change the status quo.
The advantage of being new is that you can assess the code base or practice with a "fresh" look. I don't think that anyone is expecting you to have the best idea on every proposal, you should maybe relax a little bit on the image you want to project. You can't be "the expert" in two months. Try to focus on a very narrow part of the project where you feel you have a related experience or can contribute something meaningful.
One of the best little essays on life and growing up was written, and spoken, by Laz Buhrmann. You can find the text of it here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/chi-schmich-su...
> Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.
...and this is true.
It is human nature to compare ourselves to others. That is how we measure our own progress. We don't measure it in absolute terms -- we do not tend to say, "I have four more units of happy this year than I had last year," instead we tend to say, "those other people get to take vacations all around the world, and I don't."
And so we strive to have what other people have.
This effect can be especially poisonous in environments like HN, where you see so many examples of bright, young, successful people, especially those that are more successful than you. And so you look at yourself and you think, "all I have is this uninspiring, unimportant job, and those people are making a difference, and that's what I want to do, but I don't know how."
It is a cruel unspoken truth of reality that a major part of success and difference-making is based on no small amount of luck. Sometimes -- maybe most of the time, maybe even all of the time -- making a difference, or becoming wildly successful, is a matter of simply doing the right thing when you are in the right place at the right time.
It certainly cannot be forced, despite what a few notable examples might lead you to believe.
So if you love coding, then code, and if you ever stop loving coding, then stop coding and try to find your next life (http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2722#comic). I have done this a few times, and it scares the piss out of me every time, and every time I love it and I would never go back and choose not to do it. I have met the most amazing people because I did something unexpected.
And if you are lucky, you will find sufficient happiness in coding and stability and you will have a comfortable life and you will find your rewards in yearly vacations, hobbies, and maybe family. Or, if you are lucky, you will look inside yourself and realize that you could never be happy enough having just all of that, and you will strike out into a more frightening and unknown future; maybe you will try your hand at your own startup, maybe you will fail, maybe you'll try again, and maybe as a result of all of that you'll never get those vacations or that family, but at least you will have tried and that will make you happy.
If you are unlucky, then you will do one when you should have done the other. Try not to do that.
But most importantly, and I want to say this with all of the conviction that I can muster:
Do not be in a hurry.
I can very nearly promise that if you wait until you are 25 to start something of your own, you will be just as happy with the result as you would have been at 21. The four years from 21 to 25 seems significant at 21, and utterly insignificant at 30. By the time you are 50, you'll find it funny how much pressure young people place on themselves to grow up more quickly.
Do not dismiss your own troubles, they are as important to you as finding dinner is to other people. You are, again, comparing yourself to others.
I graduated last month, 2nd in my class for computer science. I previously interviewed with Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Twitter -- all rejections! It was super depressing. One of my only friends at school landed a job at Twitter and his GPA was much lower than mine, he didn't work as hard, and now he gets paid 50% more than I do. Yes, 50% more, no exaggerations. Fuck me, right? haha
So what am I doing now? I started my first full-time software engineer job last Tuesday with the same Fortune 500 retailer I did internships and co-ops with in the past. I code business applications for the company, it's fun but not super interesting. I'm making good money -- not top dollar, but a fair salary (maybe a little lower than I expected for having 4 internships before graduation, but still.)
The real world is boring and no matter what work you're doing, it's probably not going to be super interesting. Think of it this way, even Google needs teams to do their boring work... I'm sure there are bored people at Google getting paid much much more than me (and you)!
Needless to say, I'm not excited about my job. I'm excited about getting paid, but work is work. I'm working with the frameworks and languages that I want and I think that's all that really matters in the end.
The last thing you need to keep in mind is that the work you're going to do, as a programmer/engineer, will most likely NOT change the world. Company's taglines like "Come Change The World With Us" -- shit like this -- is used so you think their company is doing great things, but they really aren't doing anything great. They use these strategies to attract top talent. It's the same reason Target and Coke use the color 'Red' to sell their products via their label (red means cheap!) Honestly, if you really want to change the world, change professions... and remember, becoming rich != changing the world -- you could own a sweet startup that does nothing more than sends "Yo!" to a friend on your friends list, but this doesn't change the world.
So what can you do now that you're bored and you're fortunate enough to have a job in this economy? My suggestion is to work on something you really care about on the side. Make a project for yourself or work on an open source project that you think is helpful or "world changing". Live your life day by day and every now and then think about "how can I make my life easier" -- and build something that does make it easier.
Transitioning from school to the real world is really weird. I've done it 4 separate times before graduation (internships and co-ops) and I've always loved work way more than school. We all have high hopes for graduation and when we don't get what we want, we can dwell on it for some time. Your best bet is to take things slow and take action on ideas when they come to you in your free time. Work on open source projects or make something for yourself. Be happy that you have a job and can pay off loans (if you have them)
Sorry this response was so long, but I hope it helps in some way :)
"Theres this primary America of freeways and jet flights and TV and movie spectaculars. And people caught up in this primary America seem to go through huge portions of their lives without much consciousness of whats immediately around them. The media have convinced them that whats right around them is unimportant. And thats why theyre lonely. You see it in their faces. First the little flicker of searching, and then when they look at you, youre just a kind of an object. You dont count. Youre not what theyre looking for. Youre not on TV [haven't founded a startup/haven't built a famous app/changed the world].
But in the secondary America weve been through, of back roads, and Chinamans ditches, and Appaloosa horses, and sweeping mountain ranges, and meditative thoughts, and kids with pinecones and bumblebees and open sky above us mile after mile after mile, all through that, what was real, what was around us dominated. And so there wasnt much feeling of loneliness." - Pirsig, _Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance_
So, that's called life.
During life you do spend a lot of time wondering what the heck you are doing here after all. Some people say the point is not to find the meaning of life but to make your life meaningful. Others prefer to just enjoy the ride and make the most of it. Your mileage may vary and nobody knows what paths your life will want to take.
But there's one thing that makes life so vivid and that is death.
Without death you would never reach even a partial conclusion of what to do here because you just wouldn't be bothered to and you would be procrastinating instead for your whole life. Death conveniently and equally applies to everyone, and it makes you think about what really matters for you in your life.
The unescapable end of your life may seem like a long way ahead for someone who's 21 years old but when you're older it feels that was just a moment ago when you actually were 21. Years go by quicker than you think, and each year you will be thinking about it more and, most importantly, prioritizing your life accordingly.
Some people see it coming early, and make a better life of theirs after that realization. Some people hit it late, but that's all right too because eventually you will not only merely know but also realize, with all the cells in your body, that you won't be here forever. For real. And why that matters is because you know you can't fool yourself anymore.
And suddenly then some things don't matter anymore and other things really start to matter. You will see for yourself at the time but I'm willing to bet a lot that your career won't be one of your key questions.
Rather, it sounds to me that what you were really worrying about was whether you will "never ever create something that truly changes the world". But that may or may not involve your career: you don't know it yet. Life unfolds in most unexpected ways: if only you go with whatever works for you, you will bump into something that truly changes your world.
And it is then you know what you will do with the rest of your life.
There's no need to be so hard on yourself. You don't go about dismissing other people because they haven't reached the pinnacle of success at 21, do you?
You are 21. Give yourself a bit of time to ramp up to 'changing the world'. Its going to take time. Its going to take working those 'boring' jobs to make your bones, improve your skillset, develop what you need in order to do that truly impactful stuff.
Highest honors? Great! You know how to code. I can guarantee you though, there are a 1,001 other things that a classical comp sci degree hasn't prepared you for in the business world, while working with teams of other developers. Take the time. Enjoy the time. Learn from other's mistakes, learn from the business mistakes that happen in the companies you work for, and learn from your boss, your leads, etc. In 5-10 years...take on changing the world, with a toolbelt of useful things you have learned, and a much more realistic view of the world around you.
You are just getting started. I know the tech world makes it seem like any of us can just EXPLODE onto the scene, change the world, make millions, but in reality this career path is no more a shortcut to insane riches than any other, and the same rules apply. We have our flukes (Insane purchases from startups) but those are the exception, not the the rule.
Welcome to life, my friend, its a little rough around the edges, its not what we dreamed it would be, but it's the only one we've got.
Before I took an office job, I could make small projects but couldn't program beyond maybe 1000 lines of code without running into trouble. At my job, I learned to be a great programmer, an engineer and a software architect. I became focused and patient. It is often a necessary right of passage for those 'great engineers' and 'people who change the world' to work in an office. It can take years, but you can become a better engineer than you ever dreamed you could be.
Trust me on this: you might like it a lot more than you think.
It feels like it sucks but you're in a good position now.
I eventually managed to get a job (onsite IT support) after 9 months of unemployment and held it for 2 years, until I finally got fed up of it and decided to find a job doing web development. I found one working for a design agency and moved out of my parents' house to go work here.
Once again, this was a boring job. I eventually ended up getting fired from this job (due to unrealistic expectations of a junior developer on the employer's part) and was unemployed for 8 months.
After 8 months, I started working at my current place of work, I moved closer to work in February and really enjoy it. Best of all, I get to have an impact on people's lives for the better (education software).
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that yes, while we all go through shitty patches, it's those experiences that make us who we are and what we go on to do. If you feel depressed, please go talk to someone.
Working a full work week doesn't mean you have to drop your own projects. I still work on my own projects in my own time and I'm sure many others who work the same amount of hours do too. Don't let a dry patch ruin it for you, you never know when inspiration might strike next. Ideas don't come if you force them, you just have to relax and let them come.
I'm sure I've missed a load of points, but seriously, if you want to talk my email is in my profile.
I've had some luck with meetups.com and going to a couple of them. For example, I recently joined a non-profit that makes/helps maintain other non-profits full stack websites. Even though the programming isn't challenging, I get enjoyment from the idea of helping others. Try to broaden your interests. You (and me) are only 21. We have our entire lives ahead of us. You know a highly marketable skill, so you don't have to worry about getting a job. You can shape your own adventure, make your own life and do stuff that makes your happy.
Beyond that, why don't you try to push yourself at work by taking on more work or by creating new work for yourself? There are hundreds of posts about jobs that are boring and how to improve them. Luckily for you, software engineers are often given a lot of freedom to experiment.
Years 5 through 12, I developed my skills in project management and people management. Being able to code is one thing, being able to plan out a project takes it to a whole new level. Instead of a 5-10k line of code project you are now working on 100-500k LOC projects.
In my late 30's I am now off on my own, started my own company and I am close to releasing my first product. The keys to making this happen are the extremely valuable experience I acquired by "just being an employee", also I saved about $200k before I quit "working for the man".
Getting a job is not an end, like I said it's the beginning. How much you learn from the experience is up to you. If you really want to eventually do something big focus on making every situation a learning opportunity, also don't get sucked in by the lifer's. Don't waste money on fancy cars, don't buy a house, don't get married. If you tie yourself down with debt and responsibilities you may very well find yourself working for the man until you retire.
"Whichever route you take, expect a struggle. Finding work you love is very difficult. Most people fail. Even if you succeed, it's rare to be free to work on what you want till your thirties or forties. But if you have the destination in sight you'll be more likely to arrive at it. If you know you can love work, you're in the home stretch, and if you know what work you love, you're practically there." - http://paulgraham.com/love.html
It's a huge adjustment, and I still find myself backsliding, but you can train yourself to dedicate that bit of time you have free to working on your own stuff. It won't happen overnight, and you have to be understanding with yourself when you're tired, but a 40 hour a week job doesn't limit what you can do.
In this the protagonist discovers he is special, exceptional. He devotes time to thinking and researching career goals and world-changing ideas. Dreaming of reification and being lauded as the (Gauss|Galois|Mozart) of his generation, the present may be bleak, but the future is glorious.
Act II: The Crisis
In this, the protagonist discovers that he is challenged for his position. Others, caught up in the race of life, don't look deeply to see his talent, and communion with the muses is precious only as long as it relates to engineering goals. He is human, suffering financial and relational setbacks, feeling the muses have deserted him and he is fully mortal after all.
Act III: The Resolution
In this, the protagonist discovers he is not alone. Others around him, few to be sure, are equally talented and working to achieve their purpose. Perhaps he's at the 99.9th percentile and realizes there are still 6 million contemporaneous peers. Einstein, Crick, and Jobs all went through this before their breakthroughs. The protagonist finds a passion, gives it his heart and soul, and achieves Movement I of his life story.
Also, you say you've created dozens of projects but they were all unsuccessful. Why? What caused them to fail? You might be able to use your office job to learn skills that will help you avoid those failure modes in future projects.
(One common failure mode, which pg talks about in many of his essays, is not making something people want. Your office job should at least help you learn how to do that--even if it's making what your boss wants instead of what users want. But that still helps you get over the mental block of thinking that whatever you have coded must be important because you coded it. If you're coding for fun, it's fine to think that way; but if you're trying to make a "successful" project, then you have to face the fact that you don't get to define what success is. Don't feel bad if you have that mental block: most coders do--I certainly do. It's just something you have to learn to deal with, and that takes time.)
One day you'll cherish the day you realized you were ordinary.
Think about all the people who run, run, run, all their lives, chasing some fantastic dream of success (whatever that means), only to retire slightly wealthy and die of a stroke 2 weeks later. They never got that insight, and they lost their entire lives for it.
What I wish I'd have been able to do at your age is learn the stuff I'm learning now. Design patterns, how to refactor. Test-driven and Behavior-driven development. But that's just me, your problems might be different and need a different approach.
If you don't have any ideas, learn more about the world. That will give you ideas about what you can do in the world. Just go with your gut. Do you feel like learning new programming techniques? Take your first paycheck and buy a bunch of books. Do you need problems to solve? Get out and meet some people. If there's one thing about 'people' that's remarkably consistent it's that they all have problems. Do you just want to have more fun? Try a local bar or save up some cash and travel.
There are tons of directions to go in the world. All you have to do to feel fulfilled is to pick one and start moving.
So stop achieving objectives and start answering questions. Pick a question, any question, and answer it. If you need a starter question ask this one "What is the difference between a life well spent, and one that is wasted?" There are a number of written works where the authors have talked about the answer. read at least six if them, do you agree with any of them? all of them? What do you disagree with? Why? Answer that question. Continue until you die.
live a little, sounds like your already burnt out. pick up some hobbies, learn new things. inspiration comes from strange places.
oh, and there is no need for self deprecation. everyone's got issues... accept them, work on bettering the ones that bother you the most.
Find mentors at various stages of life. Talk to them, figure out what worked for them and what didn't. And why they're there.
If you don't like what you're hearing, take a counter-strategy. At a previous job, I noticed most of my coworkers were out of shape, divorced, and unhappy. Also completely out of touch with technology.
I did the opposite and I got out after a year or so.
Hope this advice helps in some fashion.
2) Read some Stephen R Covey books. The best thing I ever took from Covey was his statement about life "To live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy" When I question myself, I ask if I am fulfilling one of those 4 goals.
3) Stay out of debt! Debt will ruin you.
4) Don't wait for tomorrow. It never comes. (To live)
5) Mentor someone (To leave a legacy)
Don't take your 40-hours a week job as a death sentence. Take it as a way to make ends meet while you plot your course.
You can always work on interesting things in your free time.
The 1% club can't be inclusive, that's just how it works.
If you're feeling a moment of "that's it", if that's what you're feeling means you can aim higher.
One of the main things not taught in school is it's not about what your degree makes of you but what you make ofyour degree.
It's important though to appreciate opportunity, be humble, work hard and work on building discipline and consistency in improving what you do.
Learning that we're not special, not because we're not unique, but because everyone's special is a valuable lesson of my 20's.
By saying things aren't right here and now yoy may be implying you are done learning and where are the results. I'd say you have quite a bit more learning and experience gathering to do beyond what the echo chamber of funded startups allows.
Again, this is perfectly normal, and attracts intelligent people to figure out this gap for themselves. This opportunity is the gift. The startup of you is the most valuable startup because it will be present in everything you do, and those things you do, become destinations you stopped off at along the way.
If I could tell myself something at 21, it would be to shut up like I did, be thankful for any opportunity, learn twice as fast to get half the respect, become four times as good to get equal respect to folks twice my age, and then become eight times as good to get ahead of where I want to be.
No one said an extraordinary life doesn't take extraordinary effort in the right ways. Being aware of what you just wrote is really important.
Feel free to get in touch if you like, I have a similar story to yours plus some things that I got lucky with.
I don't mean to be harsh, but there are recent grads like me don't have a job yet...I did spent a few months just sitting home and think hard about what projects I want to work on. But getting a job by passing interviews has proven to be difficult for me...
> However, I haven't had any unique (at least a little bit) ideas in months, and it's killing me.
Everyone have ideas. I have tons of start-up ideas and cool open source project ideas. I think the main problem I have is I am bad with front-end. But I am starting to implementing some of them by just writing the backend first.
But you will benefit from having a job. Trust me. I will love to have a job because there are always some problems to solve, instead of sitting by myself all day. Personally, I like making tools. So whether i work in a startup or not, there are always chances I can launch a new tool to improve the existing procedure. Writing internal tools MAY not be my main job in the future, but it can be a hobby and a way to promotion and recognition. It can even be open-sourced :).
Don't be so nervous :) I hope the best for you.
Personally, I hate Monty Python and never found it funny.
Gitit personal wiki for technical information (my blog post: <http://nathantypanski.com/blog/2014-07-09-personal-wiki.html...).
Google Calendar has my schedule, including where I am at any time during the day. It syncs with my phone, laptop, and tablet. While I would prefer something plaintext (like Org-Mode offers) the Android compatibility is not as good.
Google Tasks (integrated with calendar) and Google Keep for on-the-go notes and tasks.
Paper notes in two-column Cornell style in bound notebooks <http://www.reddit.com/r/GradSchool/comments/27l7tx/whats_you....
I access the files with a fluid interactive interface and full text search provided by Notational Velocity / nvALT (http://brettterpstra.com/projects/nvalt/), for when I'm in a graphical environment, or my own NV-inspired shell script(https://github.com/lfam/n) for when I'm in a console. My primitive script has Bash and Zsh completion and gets out of my way pretty well... could be improved a lot, though.
I use Syncthing (http://syncthing.net/) to sync this directory between my devices. Syncthing is a FOSS decentralized file sync program that works on Linux, OS X, Windows, FreeBSD, and Solaris. Plus there is a work in progress Android app. I recommend it highly if you are looking for a FOSS alternative to Dropbox or BitTorrent Sync. It works right now which is saying a lot compared to its competitors, and it is truly decentralized (no server / client architecture like Seafile).
If anyone here is an Android developer, they could use your help, especially with the filesystem.
I've been meaning to explore org-mode. Maybe next time I take a long plane ride.
- Sticky notes: Yes, a small sticky notes is enough. I write down all my to-do list _at that day_ in that small sticky notes. If my todos do not fit on single sticky note paper, i must write it on another paper (for another day).
- A small book: B5/A5 size is good. It is very effective when i am unable to pick up my phone (e.g.: in commuter). I write most of my ideas there.
- Google Keep (within my Phone): Seriously, i have tried Evernote, Springpad, etc, and nothing suits my usecase. I don't need categories, tags, etc. What i need is stream, because i don't care my old notes. I don't care about reminder a month ago to buy a juice for my mom. I only care about newer notes.
I just save things in Evernote. Physical documents get scanned and uploaded. I also use BitTorrent Sync for things like music and videos. Extremely sensitive stuff like banking documents are encrypted and synced as well. I don't upload that stuff.
- Apps such as Wonderlist, Clear...
- Entries in my GMail Calender
- Notes App on my Phone
- Post-it notes
- Writing reminder emails to myself
At the end of the day, nothing really worked for me.What DID work for me: a Whiteboard on my front door.
I have all my project ideas, to-do lists and appointments on there.
Some people try to use one tool (for example Evernote) for everything, but in my opinion there are benefits to separate ideas, writings, sketches from tasks that need to be done.
I've got multiple wikis for different projects I work on. I keep the wikis in a Dropbox folder to sync them across devices.
Since I use markdown for my Vimwiki files, I can edit them fairly easily - I use Editorial on iOS when I'm away from a computer.
For me, to-do lists are far too limiting. Trello strikes the right balance, however, when it comes to customizability.
Keep it all in text, avoid vendor lock in. My workflow is timeless and needs to outlast the latest trend.
is lame. It looks amateur.
Have a look here:
Are you trying to estimate the size or your total possible consumer-base, or are you trying to sample a very small subset and ask them questions?
Don't think of it as a matter of discipline think of it as an optimization problem :)
It's super easy and fast to transfer money between BOA account and the Merrill Edge. This is the killer feature. There are limits but its faster than other brokerage accounts to get money in and out of your brokerage accounts.
Depending on how much money you have in your combined BOA account + Merril Edge accounts. They will give X number of free trades a month. The highest is 100 free trades a month.
If you have over 100k combined (brokerage + checking + savings), they upgrade you to preferred rewards platinum. Biggest benefit you can use any non-BOA atm in the US with no fees.
I quite like Google Finance for monitoring stocks and the portfolios, but god, what an awful, completely ignored mobile app! It won't even sync data. The desktop version is so simplistic and nicer in comparison.
Anyone know of third-party apps that read Google Finance data?
You are being asked to make an investment -- extra work for less money -- so think like an investor, not like a worker. In this situation, a VC would probably ask your friend to come back when he has a prototype or can show more traction. You should do the same. Take the job with the established company, at least for now.
No need to slam the door, though. Tell your friend that his idea sounds farfetched, but that you'd be interested if he could show some real progress -- an actual client or a working prototype. You should be able to part on decent terms.
I'd say this is a terrible thing to aspire to: you'll dread work. It'll be a matter of how many hours a day you're going to play tetris, and you'll end up just trying to pass the time. Passing 40 hours a week is tough to do when you're not really free. And heaven forbid the company blocks your ESPN/Fark/Deadspin/whatever you're reading. The stories you hear about these boring jobs--do the people who have them love them? I've never heard of someone with minimal responsibility actually enjoying their job. Sure, everyone loves an easy week now and again, but after that, a boring job really drags.
Boring jobs will eat your brain. There is no fulfillment, no pride in your work, etc. And ultimately, you'll probably end up weeded out, unless you're "lucky" enough to stay hidden in the folds of the company long enough to retire.
And what happens if/when the company hits a rough patch and realizes they can remove you? Your marketability is at a minimum: you're making a lot of money, have no new skills and are on the same job market as people who have actually worked.
Best thing to do would be to find a way to make money at something you enjoy. You don't have to make a lot of money, but enough to coast with minimal expenses. Do you really want to spend your life doing nothing, accomplishing nothing and with nothing to show for your years? It doesn't have to be anything in particular, but spending 40 hours a week doing nothing for a career is a gigantic waste of time, resources and energy.
That said, at an abundant salary and a young age, you can go the mr money moustache route. Save your way into an early retirement. That is probably the easiest thing to do, then any money you make from working is just 'bonus' and you can take jobs that pay less, don't challenge you much, and are perhaps less stressful. I expect you will get bored though.
The situations where you can get a sinecure (the name for the job type your looking for) is when you are in a relationship with the ownership and simply your presence is valuable enough to justify your salary. Some very large names in a field for example can get by with just having their name on the employee list as their 'value' to the company. You can also find spots in companies which are actually covers for a differently funded activity. An acquaintance of mine worked at a restaurant which was used to launder cash from some criminal group. There wasn't a lot of business so they didn't have to do a lot of work, but they got paid anyway. Granted it was at a much much lower wage but I expect there are larger companies with similar alternate agendas.
If you don't like real estate, then pick something else: save a bit longer and buy a pizza franchise. Save for a few centuries and buy a football franchise. Buy some other kind of small business. Learn an investment strategy that makes you a few percentage points annually.
> Is there a way to get a ...decent salary...doing very little from 9-5?
This is generally called passive income, and you don't get this on someone else's payroll. You have to get there on your own.
Think 86$ an hour when jobs that are supposed to take you 2 days to do are setup for 2 weeks of work. So lots of doing nothing.
Speaking from experience. Its a lazy persons wet dream.
Mostly, though, it's less a matter of the position than of strategies you can use in any position. A perennial favorite trick seems to be working on multiple projects reporting in to bosses who never talk to one another. I've seen people perfect the trick of telling each boss that they're working on stuff for the other, until both essentially give up. At a company where reorgs are frequent so that many people nominally report to managers who have no oversight of their actual work, you can even get people who literally appear nowhere on the org chart but still get paid. It sounds like a joke or a movie plot, but it's true. I've seen it. I have to admit I've been tempted to "fall between the cracks" myself, but I'm just not that kind of guy.
The problem comes when you've been in that position for 10 years, doing little to no significant work, not building or honing any skills, and suddenly a new management comes in and cleans house, and you're gone. Now what?
I work for the government and we have a lot of folks like what you describe, but with less income. As long as they show up for work and answer a few emails, mostly, they can get by. This works, I guess, if you're just a few years from retiring. But we do sometimes get aggressive politicians in office who promise to "cut the fat", and we have had cuts and layoffs in the past. So imagine yourself, at 25, you take a position and intentionally don't learn, don't advance, and just do the minimum to collect the salary.
10 years later, you're 35 and still working with Java 6 on some legacy system that needs 2 hours a week of maintenance. That's your whole job. Suddenly, some political upheaval happens and a bunch of folks, including you, are laid off.
Can you get back in the game? Of course. Would it be a lot easier to get back in if you took that time to keep your skills at least somewhat up to date?
That said, I'm very sympathetic. I'm a computer programmer because I've always been good at it. When I was a kid, and in high school, and so on. That's the only skill I learned. But I don't like computers. New frameworks don't excite me, they make me feel tired. When I go home, I don't want to play with the newest technology or even gadget. I dream of getting out of computing all together, but, nothing else would bring the salary combined with the light workload. It's a "bronze handcuffs" situation (I say bronze, because, as a government worker, my salary is too low to qualify for anything else). I had a job for a while teaching remedial basic math to adults, which was pretty neat, but it was part-time, no-benefits, low wage. That's the kind of thing that is fulfilling, but doesn't pay the mortgage.
Even so, I read HN. I sometimes do make time to try new ideas, even small ones. I'm not using node.js or angular, but, at least I've heard of them and know what they are. Don't become the guy that hasn't heard of them [where them refers to whatever is fresh] and doesn't know what they are... Or I worry you'll find yourself in a very difficult spot in a few years.
No accountability, don't really have to do anything, high salary, no real job requirements except age and citizenship, not a lot of work expectations, and if you are an incumbent your re-election rates are 90% for House and 91% for Senators.
If by 'low accountability' you mean - don't do much work - it definitely exists and is all over corp IT shops. I would separate out the technical positions from the management positions.
A manager usually doesn't do much real work, they have a team to do the work, but does often bear the responsibility to higher up mgmt, and will get canned when things go bad.
A dev works very hard, but once you become an expert after years of specialization in say a particular language for framework, you can coast because it takes you 30 minutes what a junior person may struggle with all day.
I've met all kinds of devs who are very sharp, they make over 100k and they don't "work hard" at all.
If you find something like this you absolutely must supplement it with lots of self-directed learning or you'll stagnate and be totally stuck.
Look for a big company. Easier to hide in them.
Find a place with internal fights. Same reasoning.
No external competition is a plus.
A lazy boss is a treasure. A very busy one is a close second.
Never be just under "the line" (between managemente and technical).
Have reports. Make them do everything you should.
For me, it's Governance. The governance departments of big companies do not produce a product the company sells (maybe it can be argued that they take a role in producing the image of the company, though). If they don't do their job properly and other departments of the company do not comply with whatever they are governing, they can always blame that department. And their jobs are well paid as their role is seen as important from a higher management position.
But the challenge and enjoyment is not there. I find myself working like crazy after hours to carve out a new career while still maintaining the income of the day job.
The balance between stressed-out and challenged can be hard to strike. But I know that for me I need to be challenged to be enjoying my work life.
You're not just asking for a high paid job with low accountability, you're also asking for a place where you don't have to learn (so a stagnant field) without advancement that's an area of the cube that is totally empty as far as I know.
I suggest you get off your ass for the next 10 years, save like mad and then retire from your savings at as low an expense level that you can get away with.
Book recommendation, Oren Klaff's Pitch Anything! http://pitchanything.com/book/
They were basically useless in helping us get anywhere with funding. I don't know why the founders engaged them.
- I have the access to the server so I'm going to take down the website (I can do other suff as well)
...and stop posting nonsense stuff like this, even though you may be justifiably angry. That sort of thing is a good way to end up being the defendant in a lawsuit, instead of the plaintiff.
Stop with the revenge fantasies and call a professional. Right now you are angry because you have been shafted by this employer, who has basically put one over on you. If you start making angry threats you are likely to end up in even worse trouble and your employer will end up looking like the victim while you will look like the villain. I promise you that getting a letter from a solicitor will rattle your employer a hell of a lot more than any threatening behavior you could possibly engage in.
Remove this post, walk away from the job, gain other employment and try and get paid from them for the work you have done.
Have you seen the movie "Office Space"? There is a scene where they just stop paying an employee in hopes they get the picture and just leave on their own. A non-confrontational way to part ways....
If I was your employer? I'd get a restraining order against you and use this post as cause to fire you, as well as keeping it for a great defense against a lawsuit (since you've painted yourself as a malicious hacker).
Collecting may take a lot of time and energy. That time and energy is on top of the time and energy spent actually showing up at the office and doing the work, and the time already spent is a sunk cost.
Finding other gainful work gives a person options. It gives a person time, and reduces financial pressure. It lets a person look forward.
As virtually everyone has said, the very first thing to do is get in touch with a solicitor. The next thing to do is follow their advice, which I would expect would be first sending a "srsly, pay me" letter, and then going to court if that doesn't work.
Based on your contract, you should be able to get an enforceable demand for your employer to pay you. If you are not paid and the deadline for payment expires, you might be able to get a lien over the server and other property. At that stage you can shut things down, etc. If the employer is a company then there might be a case for flagging them as trading whilst insolvent. Under UK law that is a biggie.
As @issa suggests maintain your dignity and professionalism. Taking revenge could put a dark cloud above your reputation.
Unless you have political skillz be very careful with how and with what you contact board members. They might be in cahoots with your problem person. I'd suggest in person meeting so you can better assess the situation. Emails are often very unsuitable for such information.
Don't do anything retaliatory or hostile until you've exhausted your legal options, because it will either leave you liable for damages, or harm your case, or both.
2 ) I agree with ErikRogneby. Lost the Russian from there. It doesn't fit there nicely.Perhaps add flags to the bottom instead of other languages.
3 ) The top should not be hidden and only visible when going to the top.hide it when scrolling down and show it when scroll it up.Or simply show it always.
I still haven't figured out exactly what you are trying to solve.
But i do like the page. It is nice and clean.
The screenshot hints at a sort of shared folder space for placing things for design review and comments.
I would suggest adding a section above "Take a new approach" that tells me the problem I already have before telling me how Staply fixes it.
Where you say "Private" and mention SSL, I think this is really bare-bones privacy. That's more like "Secure" to me. Privacy implies that you wouldn't sell my data, that you would store it encrypted on your servers, and that your servers are secure. It's more than just the transport layer.
1) on the pricing page it states: "It means that you will be only able to access all the messages, files and links sent earlier than one month ago. Basically you will be able to access the data sent latest 30 days ago." - This needs cleaning up.
"It means that you will be able to access all the messages, files and links sent in the last 30 days." would read better. As it is written it sounds like I can access history 2 months ago but not 5 days ago.
2) Lose the - unless they are in a Russian speaking part of the world. I hate to say it, but you will lose customers in the US. There is a certain amount of xenophobia here, as well as the nationalistic "american exceptionalism", and other media fed concerns about Russian hackers stealing identities etc..
I agree with the other comments suggesting that it is not 100% clear why someone should sign up (from the landing page alone, at least). I think that a panel focusing on some of the use cases (that you've nicely identified on this HN thread) might make your service clearer, and help motivate more users to sign up.
Best of luck.
That's not grammatically correct. Write "We'll send an invitation to this address" instead.
Basically, it looks like Staply is kind of a chat room app with file sharing as part of it. Or not? I was kind of confused.
And curious why you need to have the mixpanel badge at the bottom right? What does it do for you?
Looks good. Is it like Slack on top of google apps?
Turn the photo around so she looks at the opt in.
>Forget about looking for a file or a link, in Staply the are always ar your fingertips.
Quartzy YC S11.
You could do Bluetooth, but some percentage will have it turned off. Since this is a voluntary deal, you could just have them turn Bluetooth on when they want to be tracked and run periodic scans.
Trivia: I once ran something like this when I lived next door to a prostitute and was able to track her customer arrival and departure times (along with BT MACs, device names, etc).
1. Biggest challenge is finding contractors who are actually as good as their portfolios. I am not sure if this is a case of portfolio fraud or simply not a good enough interview process on my part, however, after working with some providers, I just can't believe all those 5 star ratings are real.
2. Too many contracts bid without actually reading or understanding the requirements. The best people I have found actually addressed each requirement point by point.
3. Too many contractors provide too little value. I expect them to manage everything they need to do on their side, and not just be the hands on the keyboard. Too many times have I had to put THEIR test plan together because they had no clue how to actually test their work.
My approach has simply been to hire lots over the years and then rehire people proven to be good. It's a crap shoot initially though.
Your target market is thus (more or less) restricted to people who don't yet meet that level of experience and professionalism. You get the contractors that have no existing clients and no clue how to approach companies, and you get the project owners who are out to get bargain-basement labor and firmly believe they'll be the one poster who gets lucky and finds a contractor who works on the internet yet is too inexperienced to realize what that means for their billable rates.
This is still a potential market, but you've lost the more desirable end of the pool before you even leave the gate. And even if that is the end of the pool you want to provide value to - you can provide far more value by helping them move upstream, rather than trying to stamp out another marketplace which is a bad solution from its conception.
The key to finding good contractors is to start out by breaking down your project into smaller pieces and giving the contractor one small independent piece to implement for a fixed price. If they deliver on time and quality work commission them to finish your project on an hourly basis.
What would be perfect is to give each freelancer a 1-2 hour test that will be shown on their profile. It will show what they are capable of within 1-2 hours. For example, a logo design. Each applicant does the same test.
Note: I've been doing 'nix/python/perl for about 7 years professionally and also don't have a degree. I've actually been using the Khan Academy to re-learn some of the more advanced Algebra and Calculus bits I forgot a little bit each night for the past few weeks. When I'm done, I'll likely find a college that will do night school CS. Not because I need it, but because I want to have a degree. Having used Linux as my primary operating system fulltime for the past 12 years, I can honestly say I could teach just about any of the Linux/Unix classes. But it is good to have accomplished something.
 http://www.cs.princeton.edu/~rs/ and http://www.amazon.com/Robert-Sedgewick/e/B000AQ4JCO
If so bite the bullet and go full time to a decent university. Many will take your professional experience in lieu of academic credentials.
Contact the admissions departments at your chosen institution to find out if you qualify before applying through UCAS.
Any STEM degree can lead to a H1-B visa provided you can find an employer.
Edit: That's California State University, Northridge (Los Angeles County, CA - USA).
Here's their Computer Science department website:http://www.csun.edu/engineering-computer-science/computer-sc...
I also considered several factors:-Is an MBA still a desirable degree? (the answer may vary depending on industry, location, position, etc.)-Do I need to go to a top X school to receive a decent ROI?-What are the costs (tangible, intangible, opportunity, etc.) with each option above? This is a complex question with several sub-components. For example: a full time MBA would mean two years less career progression on top of salary loss.
There are many variables that can be difficult to estimate:-Actual cost of an MBA-Opportunity cost of lost salary (full time MBA)-Opportunity cost of lost salary increase (no MBA), if any-Networking value of attending certain schools-Etc. ad nausea
Of course, many of these are recurring. Which rate do you use to estimate current value of the time series? Student loan rates if you need financing? Discount rate used to quantify risk of any of the options? More uncertainties
I created a spreadsheet to estimate my various models and came up with the following solution for my particular use case (YMMV!):
I enrolled in a professional MBA program from a top 25 public school (part time, one weekend per month, 16 months, with online work to supplement) of which my employer would cover some of my costs (no stipulations on repayment).Net result? I felt that I learned a lot and that the program was worthwhile for me. The most important piece of knowledge: how to best find out what I do not know about a given situation. I will never be a corporate accountant, but I now know what I do not know about corporate accounting (A LOT!). I know now that I do not know a lot about valuating pre-revenue startups, etc.
Do I feel that every person in my cohort received the same amount of value from the program? No. You get out what you put in.
Do I think an MBA is right for you (or anyone)? That depends on your situation. A driven person can learn most, if not all, of the material on their own. They can network on their own. They may not derive any benefit from an MBA.At the end of the day, I estimated all of the constraints and variables to the best of my ability and went for the option that I felt was the most correct for me, at that time.
So basically, I just rambled on for a TLDR answer of: it depends.
1. Get an MBA if you want to transition more to management. This will relinquish really any technical responsibilities. MBAs matter a lot trying to get manager roles at large companies. They also are brilliant for networking--you can have a safe haven to meet potential cofounders who are very good at the business side of things while you work on the technical aspects. That said, just like I wouldn't encourage a woman to go to college to find a husband, I don't encourage you to go get an MBA just to find a co-founder. It's something you should be open to, but it may not happen.
2. The space is definitely moving quickly, but there's still a lot of traditional data warehousing stuff out there. Unfortunately, it's increasingly commoditized. If you're not getting a job because you don't know the latest technologies, then you should probably learn them. This would most likely be a bit more valuable use of your time than an MBA if you really want to remain technical. It may or may not be Hadoop (you may want to latch onto Cloudera or Hortonworks), but whatever your local market is bearing--I actually see quite a bit of variation throughout the country in terms of tools being used. If, however, you're not getting jobs because your price is too high, you may want to take the time to learn the things that will increase your value while biding time on the lower paying projects.
3. I don't know immigration law well enough to have any sort of comment about a startup in the US vs India.
I think there are 2 situations where an MBA could be helpful. First, if you plan to move into management, then an MBA is helpful. Second, if you plan to start a company, an MBA is helpful.
The advantage of an MBA is it'll give you an understanding of the business aspects of building a startup.
However, if you plan to stay technical then obviously an MBA would not help.
2. Project Management
There's a lot to be said about experience with PM. But to get this type of a role you need to show the employer that you're the type of person who takes responsibility.
3. Startups - India vs. US
Starting a business is hard. I have experience starting 2 companies in the US, and 1 in India. Both environments have pluses and minuses. I would not say its 100x harder to start a business in India, but it's definitely different.
The US is a mature economy, the rules are very clear, and starting a company is fast. So is shutting it down.
In India, the economy is growing, the rules are defined, but getting stuff done is tough. Setting up a company requires more capital, more clarity about what you're doing, and shutting down (in case of failure) is way more expensive.
Apart from a career in Management, one of the biggest reasons to do an MBA is simply for the "networking opportunity".
It's tricky to reason about profitability in startups, because most "successful" unprofitable startups choose not to be profitable, usually in order to buy further market share.
The big difference between a seed round and an A-round in practice seems to be that valuations for seed rounds are usually casual (and sometimes nonexistent, deferred to the A round), and A-rounds always come with a valuation.
Generally, a seed and (sometimes) an A round are things you could imagine getting without being in immediate striking distance of real profitability.
By no means is that complete, but that should give you a primer, and I learned about it from other startups that successfully have raised funds. (I was in the dark too at a point. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4064276)
The other big thing is just to get out and talk with other founders near you. I found (at least in our community) they were very willing to share information over a beer or soda.