Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

27Jan

Can’t program? Where to find the best talent?

The other day on of our readers Joey sent us an interesting email, about an issue he is facing taking his idea to the next level. As this is a frequent question, we thought we’d share it here.

Joey wrote:

I am a young entrepreneur, and I stumbled across this site today.
You have a great thing going on here.
I have a question, simple to ask maybe more difficult to answer.
I have a lot of my layout done in the physical realm. I’m an idea person. I
play music and I’m busy savvy.

Where do most of these website start-ups find their programmers?
Its hard to believe the idea people themselves are all computer-savvy.

I’m very passionate, full of enthusiasm, and have a partner who is an amazing
computer person. She’s very busy though right now,
so I need to find trustworthy and passionate programmers to work with me as
freelancers.

An answer would mean the world to me!
Thank you for this website ;),
Joey

There are many stumbling blocks to starting a web projects, and unless you come from a technical background you will need to either find partners for a joint venture, or look to hire a freelancer or agency to build your website or project (you can also buy a few books and start learning, but we’ll focus on some practical approaches for the time poor).

Finding a joint venture partner is an ideal way to minimize your risk, and is an excellent way to get your project kick started. The best place to get started is in your group of friends, work colleagues, or by checking out the forums available for your topic.

In a joint venture partnership, each member can focus on their core speciality, and because you will be sharing revenues there is an incentive for all parties involved to contribute. The advantage here is that you won’t have to invest in web development, design, SEO, marketing, PR which means you could launch a project much sooner, and at lower cost than if you were flying solo.

Another popular option available is to hire a freelancer. You can either hire a local professional by placing an ad in a local paper, or you can use websites such as Elance.com, gumtree.com, or sitepoint.com. Look out for design contests, and users with a high post count or recommendations.

You can also attract some great talent by targeting your local colleges and universities, students are always on the lookout for after study work, or work experience to pad out their CV’s.

There are many skilled professionals specialising in every area, which you can hire on a hourly or project basis which can provide you with some great work at low cost. Elance is a great starting point, as you can review each provider’s CV, and view feedback from previous projects.
Make sure you consider the provider’s expertise, the feedback received, as well as the location where the provider is from. Also, be prepared to spend more time micro managing, and reviewing when dealing with non English natives, or bargain basement quotes!

Another option available is to use an agency, although this is usually a more expensive option, agencies can provide many additional skills to the table, and their experience can prove beneficial for growing your Start-up. Alas not all agencies are born equal, so make sure you always ask for references from happy customers.

24Jan

Feedback Army – Crowdsourcing Usability Testing

By Chris in Resources, Startups with 3 Comments



feedbackarmy

Raphael Mudge the founder of Dashnine Media contacted us about his latest venture, Feedbackarmy.com

Usability testing, user reviews and focus groups are recommended to ensure the success of your projects, and will enable the identification of problems and issues early on. Unfortunately usability testing can be expensive, and finding the right user sample, organising user surveys, can be time consuming and over the budget of many smaller startups (and many large companies!).

Feedback Army takes usability testing to the next level, and enables you to submit a website, survey questions, and get up to 50 responses within days – Not weeks.

Feedback Army taps into crowdsourcing through the Amazon Mechanical Turk webservice, which enables it to leverage an on-demand and scalable workforce which is paid per HIT (or task). This is a great way to get access to a huge workforce, which can execute tasks within minutes for a few $$$.

Feedback Army sent us an invitation to try out their service, and within two minutes we had submitted our survey. We checked again a day later, and we had 10 responses waiting full of interesting feedback from users – Not bad!

feedbackarmy results

The service starts at $7 for 10 up to $33 for 50 responses – This is really affordable, and you will find that this is a great way of getting real world feedback at short notice – Ideal for testing anything from offers, landing pages, websites, the possibilities area endless.

One element I would suggest to be added to the service would be an option to segment responses by demographic – answers from 10 random users has value, but feedback from targeted users is ultimately more powerful.

So don’t delay, check out the service at feedbackarmy.com and use it to improve your products, services, and websites.

23Nov

Trustpilot.co.uk – Sorting The Good Companies From The Bad

trustpilot uk startup

As internet users become more and more cautious of where they spend their cash in light of the economic downturn, the bigger the impact of website and product review websites in the purchase process. Who will you trust Dell, or some smaller firm selling desktop PC’s online?

Well we’ve had a look at Trustpilot, and this decision might become a whole lot easier. This innovative UK startup have launched a reputation monitoring service based on user comments and reviews, which are then presented to users through their website and their browser app which overlays a trust rating on top of Google results.

Checking out user reviews for a website becomes as easy as reading the colour of an icon that changes from red to green will give you an indication of how trustworthy a given company is, and by placing your pointer over that icon where additional information is displayed.

trustpilot in action

The information provided includes the percentage of approval the company has, the actual number of reviews as well as a “TrustScore”

Check it out at Trustpilot.co.uk.

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27Jun

Create crazy animated .gifs at BlingEasy.com

Recently launched BlingEasy lets you “pimp out” and animate your photos and share them with your friends.

The system is surprisingly solid and is very easy to use. It’s one of those sites that you can happily mess around with for ages.

You can view the epic .gif I created here.

Joe Daley, the sites founder, filled me in with a bit more info.

I started the site around nine months ago, I hired a guy to help with the part of the code that saves the .gif, I knew this was an important piece of the project, the first version took a minute to save the photos, 2nd version 30 secs, still not good enough so we worked another 2 months and finally now it takes only 2 to 5 secs to save a photo.

I always tried to keep these things in mind when building blingeasy.

1. clean interface
2. easy to use and understand.
3. make it fast, fast, fast!

The flash editor was a huge challenge also, we had to optimize gifs as they are loaded so they load fast inside the editor and are not to big once they are placed on the photo.
really the whole project was a huge challenge mentally and physically, I basically had my mind made up I would not stop until it was done right. We went back to the drawing board many times to redo functions and code.

Duncan Riley covered BlingEasy with a blog post entitled “BlingEasy: So bad It’s Actually Good” and I’d have to agree with him. This website certainly isn’t for everyone but for the select few that this does appeal to I’m sure it’s a godsend.

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20May

Raising funding is often harder than building a product/business — and much less fun!

Okay, a few days prior to today I was reading the wonderful hacknews and came upon this article. It covers some elements and ideas that helped us find interest in bootstrapping and independent-ness at IndieStartups. I’m quoting a bit here, or if interested the article can be read at OnStartups.

1) Most folks don’t need venture funding in the early stages

2) the odds of first-time entrepreneurs actually raising VC is pretty low.

Oh, and 3) it’s one of the least fun activities an entrepreneur can take. Raising funding is often harder than building a product/business — and much less fun!

The simple answer is no, I have not changed my mind on VC. I still don’t think most early-stage entrepreneurs should go out on the venture fund-raising circuit. They should maintain the option of a modest exit. Focus on solving the customer’s problem (not the VC’s problem). My situation with HubSpot was special. I had already done the bootstrap thing (multiple times) and made money. I had above average odds of raising money for HubSpot.

So, why did I raise funding? Because, this time around I wanted to take a shot at the big leagues. Sure, any success (even a modest one) is nice. But a modest success is not going to change my life much at this point. I want to swing hard. It’s not about the money. It’s about the fun and excitement of pursuing a really big idea, working with really smart people and doing what I love. [And, of course, the money won't hurt either]

And that, my friends, is why I raised $17 million in venture funding.

Once again, full article at OnStartups.

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