Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lean advertising for startups

My friend (and STAQ advisor) Brent Halliburton is writing a book called Lean Advertising for Startups, and he's running a Kickstarter campaign to support it. I've known Brent for a long time and he is an expert on advertising, so this is going to be a really useful book. It fills a hole in startup literature opened by the promise of books like The Lean Startup, which encourages businesses to experiment and learn what works while avoiding waste. I don't think anyone since then has written extensively about what how to actually do this in practice when you don't have a huge budget, using currently-available technology. That's where Brent comes in! I backed his project and hope everyone else does too!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Today is refactoring day

Today is refactoring day at STAQ. From an email I just sent to our team:
My hope is that today we focus on maintenance of the most critical parts of the app, resolving the most painful hacks, paying down the most significant parts of our technical debt, while being careful to avoid yak-shaving or gold-plating, or various other programmer pitfalls. It also needs to be something that can be finished by close of business.
Definitely check in with team leaders to make sure your project meets that definition :-)
Personally, I think I am going to take a quick look at [some occasional weird exceptions in Airbrake] and pick 1 or 2 of those to put to bed. Then I am going to do some "organizational refactoring"
 I'm really looking forward to seeing what we come up with! I've been wanting to try this for a few years, since I heard a story about LivingSocial. According to the story, there was a period of time when they did this kind of thing every Friday - no new code was allowed to be committed on Fridays: the team work on only fixes, refactorings, deletions, etc.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Programmers Wanted

I've been thinking a lot about recruiting and hiring programmers for STAQ, and about how to use plain language in business to communicate more clearly and forcefully. I want us to sound smart, professional, easygoing yet intensely focused. While doing this thinking, a friend introduced me to the idea of employer branding, which is totally a buzzword but still a good concept to keep in mind: you have to use different language and even different URLs when reaching out to different kinds of people.

These thoughts informed my work on a recruiting microsite called Programmers Wanted. It's intentionally simple and plain and straightforward. I want to talk directly to programmers and communicate our values, without having to spell them out in some corporate way. The main thing I'm hoping to convey is: "there's interesting stuff to work on and people whom you will enjoy spending time with, no matter what background you come from". I think I can boil the language down even further but Programmers Wanted is my first attempt at claiming a tech employer brand for STAQ.