- US USB power adaptor
- Ethernet connector for MacBook Air (so far never used but its only been a month)
- US plug adaptor for Apple power block
- VGA dongle for Mac (amazingly this is the first one I bought and I still have it)
- USB to USB connector (male to female)
- USB to printer form factor connector
- USB dongle with attachment to allow it to read/write MicroSD cards
- Another USB form factor convertor
- Universal plug adaptor (works everywhere). Got this in Frys. Its great ‘cos it has a USB power point built in
- Three MIFI
- Mac iPad Cable (also can be used to charge iPhones)
- MicroUSB cable
- Verizon LTE MIFI (for USA)
- USB extension cable
- USB hub
- Ethernet (use to roll up but the spring is broken)
- MicroUSB car charger
Not shown is my MacBook Air, my Samsung Galaxy G4 and their associated chargers. I carry all this stuff in a transparent Ziplock bag so I can easily see what I am looking for. My backpack of choice (not shown) is a Lowe Alpine computer backpack, I favour it because it comes with a slip on waterproof cover which is great for cycling in Irish weather.
Monday will mark my first day at 10gen as Director EMEA. Why leave a very successful Irish startup, FeedHenry for a new position in 10gen I hear you ask?
Well, it’s not everyday you get a opportunity to work for a company that is changing the world of Enterprise Data, Hugh McLeod famously challenged Microsoft to “Change The World or Go Home” and that’s exactly what 10gen is doing with MongoDB. With 4 million downloads and counting and enormous credibility amongst the code cutters who actually build software everyday this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Its also Open Source which is something I have been passionate about ever since installing my first GNU C compiler in 1989.
I will continue to be a booster for FeedHenry and I wish everyone in that company the best of success.
Short pitching is all the rage with one, two and three minute pitches the norm at startup events. You rarely see companies given more than 10 minutes to present their company. Inevitably you are there with 10-50 other participants trying to make an impact. I have been giving this advice out to companies for a while now so it seemed a appropriate to whack it into a short blog post.
- Entertain me: I’m bored. The panel has been companies trot out fomulaic pitches all day long. Tell a story, demonstrate enthusiasm, joy, laughter. Make sure you don’t sound or look bored, or disenchanted. You’d be surprised how many founders leak those emotions in pitches.
- Three Messages: Think of three things you want me to remember and hit me with those. Nothing else.
- Your deck: You deck is just there as an adjunct to your presence. Single words, pictures or clearly articulated, defensible killer stats that no one else has.
- Finish With A Flourish: Make sure they remember you as well at the end as at the start.
What not to do:
- No Financials: If you are profitable say it, if you are experiencing 200% month on month viral growth say it. Don’t drown people in spreadsheets.
- No Reading: Regurgitation of blocks of on screen text is a waste of everyone’s time.
- Running out of Time: Practice your timing, not hitting your mark makes you look like an idiot.
- Rushing: Don’t try and do your standard 15 minute VC deck in three minutes.
- Double headers: One speaker. This “and now my CTO will tell you about…” looks like insecurity and ego mania.
- Demos: It will break, you will look lame.
- Videos: If I wanted to watch a video, I’d be back in my hotel room.
You goal is to leave them wanting more…
Its appears so, judging from Simon McGarr’s blog post today.
I came across this tweet today from @monkchips :
I read the article and thought it was just about the worst advice you could ever give a person who wanted to start their own business. In essence it says “wait” and “learn from others”. Well apart from the fact that success in startup land is in no way correlated with age (so waiting to get better is a bust) the difference between running a business and working in a business is the difference between sex and pornography. Sex is hot, exciting, frantic and full of energy, pornography is well, kind of sleazy.
The best day to start your startup is today, not tomorrow.
You will learn more as a startup founder in 6 months that you will learn in ten years as an employee. Why because as a employee you are riding with stabilisers and as we all know you have to take those mothers off to really grasp how to balance on a bike. As a founder you have to do everything, which forces you to learn prioritisation, you have to do shit you never learned in college and you have to learn that stuff fast. Finally you have to do the hardest thing you can do in business which is make life changing decisions with horribly imperfect data.
I worked for a a bunch of software companies big and small after college, always as an employee. Its inherent in the level you work at that I was never involved in decision making at any level that was make or break for my employer. Basically you end up coasting in the functional discipline you learned at college (mine was computer science).
The other thing people forget about is that the salary sacrifice required for starting a company later down the line is a huge cost. If you are straight out of college you have been living on fuck all for four years. So some additional hardship to get your business up and running is no big deal.
So get out there, start, fail and start again. As Winston Churchill said:
Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm
One of the fundamental problems of hiring good developers is telling the good ones from the okay ones from the total duffers. The industry as a whole has developed some crude indicators, including batteries of interviews, extensive technical tests and gut instinct.
However the most compelling indicator of programming capability remains the programmer’s opus. For years this was not accessible except at a gross level. Essentially you could look at commercial product they had contributed to. This didn’t really cut the mustard because on a large project it was easy to fudge the issues around what a individual’s specific contribution was. We are all familiar with the lurkers on large projects. Worse we know both intuitively and from past experience that 20% of the people generate 80% of the bugs.
Open Source helped enormously and if you cared to take the time you could examine a body of work for an individual. However not everyone contributes to Open Source projects because the friction of engagement was relatively high and the slow promotion from viewer to patch submitter to committer was a total turn off for most people.
GitHub changes all this.
GitHub combines the ridiculously easy forking, branching and merging capabilities of GIT with a hosted SaaS solution for sharing code in a social context. The result has been that since 2008 GIT and GITHub have become the defacto standard for Open Source projects. Despite a number of holdouts (notably the Apache Foundation) the rest of the world has embraced the utility of social coding.
What does this mean? For the first time in the history of the sector we have an enormous body of active code that is accessible via a public API. More significantly, that API is not just for the source code, its designed for the meta-data around the source code, the users, the events, the issues and the organisations. What this offers us is a set of raw data that we can analyse to understand not only who is good, who is bad and who is indifferent, we can reverse engineer the key indicators to allow us to identify the different classes of programmer from the lurkers and bozos.
Michael Lewis‘s Moneyball taught us that in the absence of a solid methodology people go with gut and those gut instincts are almost always skewed or outright wrong. Daniel Kahnman confirmed that analysis in “Thinking, Fast and Slow“, where one of his key discoveries was that a good heuristic, applied consistently will always beat the opinions of experts. The power of MoneyBall was that it showed how good historical data can be used to give a indication of future performance and how performance may not be related to the indicators we have used historically.
So we have the raw data, constantly updated by GITHub. We know that the major league of software is open source, so if you are not committing in GitHub are you even at the show? Finally we know that with A16Z’s investment of 100m dollars there is going to be some additonal commercialisation. Its seems an obvious play to use the vast array of analysable data to monetise the community on GitHub in a variety of ways.
So can GitHub become the MoneyBall of Software? Can we develop meaningful heuristics that can identify not just ninja rockstars but good team players and players with the equivalent of a consistent “on base percentage“.
I think that data is in GitHub, we just have to mine it.