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Comment: What is a "software shop" ? (Score 1) 176

by vanye (#48442099) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Starting and Running a Software Shop?

Sounds like thats a consultancy company.

I've only ever founded product companies.

Here's how we did it.

  1. Socialize, find other people around you that have complementary skills and who also are interested in doing their own company (our first company had an general business person, a PhD and an engineer)
  2. brainstorm, find gap in the market, find new product idea.
  3. make big decision to quit current job
  4. form company to hold IP and who owns what - this requires an initial set of capital - $20k. No IP - then what is your value ?
  5. Develop prototype. I (engineer) started working on prototype full time (using my savings to pay expenses), business person started building product contacts/approaching customers...
  6. As prototype develops consider external funding (VC) (until now we were self funded, CEO funded lawyers, I funded my own time - compensated in additional stock). Additional part-time developers were brought for stock. There should be people you know (and trust) - they will be the seed of the engineering organization. We had 2-3 - more and I would spend too much time managing.
  7. Once we had funding, bring on existing developers full time, start looking for additional engineers.
  8. Release initial product (4months after funding - 15 months after initial line of code written)

Key take away - a start-up is hard, you need to work with people you trust. If you're an engineer by inclination, stay in engineering, your start-up is not the time to be experimenting with new roles, you'll have enough to do just making sure your piece works since you're in charge... Remember that you're responsible for others giving up their secure jobs and committing to work for your idea, treat them with respect and share the wealth unequally but fairly (yes, unequally you've taken additional risk, they haven't).

Second followed a similar route

The actual tools are just details, you should be spending all your time working out how do we make this successful - not should we force highly motivated developers to use EMACS...or vi or

Its not important unless your product is EMACS....

Comment: Re: Maybe, maybe not. (Score 1) 749

by vanye (#47452565) Attached to: Obama Administration Says the World's Servers Are Ours

Interesting point regarding dual citizenship.

Not all countries allow for it (that would be like using a local cloud provider)

And you can't use citizenship in one to avoid obligations in the other.

If I enter the UK on a UK passport, I then can't claim protection from UK because I'm a USA citizen. I don't know if I would be eligible for protection if I entered the UK on my USA passport....

So if the EU requires you to keep the data private and USA requires it to be handed over - you're screwed...

We really can't tell the difference between Democrats and Republicans.... This sounds so Bush-like...

Comment: Re:Linus is being Linus. (Score 1) 641

by vanye (#46673305) Attached to: Linus Torvalds Suspends Key Linux Developer

Yes, and git is what you get when (one very talented) kernel developer writes a VCS for himself.

bk was better. It just worked. At a time when DVCS were bleeding edge, it was usable by people who came straight from CVS, that was a major achievement. That's what makes it better.

I've used RCS, SCCS, CVS, ptools (SGI's homegrown system), BK, SVN, HG, fossil, git.

I hate git the most.

But its one I picked to replace SVN; whereas fossil is my personal preference, sometimes you need to take one for the team...

Comment: "You want the risk ? You can't handle the risk." (Score 1) 263

by vanye (#46338799) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: When Is a Better Career Opportunity Worth a Pay Cut?

Not everyone is suitable for a small company, some think they are but have no small company skills.

* Do you go home at 5pm everyday?
* Do you take lots of vacations ?
* Have you ever thought "that's not my job?" ?
* Do you have other financial responsibilities (family)?
* Do you prefer to keep your head below the parapet ?

If you go into a job thinking how do I protect myself from stock dilution, how can I make up for pay cuts I took ? You should stay where you are. You don't seem to have the right risk profile for a small company.

No reasonable small company would give you anything but a negligible share of the stock pool - and if they do I would treat that as a red flag. Theya re paying you a salary - if you want significant ownership you need to be there before that pay salary (i.e. founder).

I've taken multiple pay cuts and I know I make less that I could elsewhere - but I would argue that each position I took helped me get to where I am now (second start-up founder), but I could' have know that when I started trading pay cuts for different jobs 20years ago.

Would you have taken a 20% pay cut to leave the company I'd only ever wanted to work for my entire life (I was third generation at the company)

Would you have taken a 20% pay cut to team up with your ex-boss when he got a new job in a small company ?

Would you have given up that job to then start your own thing ?

When that company was acquired, would you have left the acquirer and thrown away a $750k retention package to try it again ?

All were risky adventures - but they were adventures. Not everyone is an adventurer, you won't be happy until you work out what you want....

Salary is how others value you, how do you value yourself ?


Comment: Re:Find angel investors. (Score 2) 212

by vanye (#42924559) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: I Just Need... Marketing?

There's a huge difference between sales and marketing - engineers commonly don't recognize this.

Sales is all about the tactical - one deal at a time.

Marketing is about the wider market. There are also mutliple types of marketing. Product marketing (inbound or outbound) and then "corporate marketing". Its incredably rare to find a marketing person that can do all three. In engineering terms, its like finding someone who actively writes kernel code, SQL and GUI applications in the same week for the same employer (no hobbies).

If its a consumer product (mass market) then its probably not a direct sales channel, so you'll want a marketing person (outbound) not sales.

Where to find one ? You can't have mine...

As an engineer you're probably really bad at evaluating how good a marketing person is - no insult meant. I never knew how good mine was until after we'd worked together for a while. Most are not as analytical as engineers, if you find one that is, grab them, it will make your future life easier (possibly across multiple ideas/products/companies)

Do you know any other entrepreneurs ? If so try and talk to them of their suggestions - while they may not help you find one, then may help to interview one.

Its like hiring a PR firm - I have no idea what the criteria are. That's what make a good business partnership. Total trust in the competence and efficiency of the other person.

Comment: Re:its called HUGE tax breaks for R&D (Score 1) 395

by vanye (#41185595) Attached to: Can the UK Create Something To Rival Silicon Valley?

Its a state thing.

Some states allow them (I think MA), CA doesn't. (I only said MA, because I was acquired by a MA-based company and the contracts had non-compete clauses. That company did have a history of enforcing them - but since in CA they are against "public policy" and can't be enforced.

It has nothing to do with being a manager, it makes it hard to do start-ups since it becomes harder to prove the investors levels of paranoia that your bright idea isn't owned by your ex or current employer.

Comment: Been here multiple times (Score 5, Informative) 204

by vanye (#40089259) Attached to: Options For Good (Not Expensive) Office Backbone For a Small Startup

As a founder of two startups we're been here multiple times. Here's what I've found.

Google (email and docs) works okay for very early stage (engineering only - no sales/marketing people - little need to communicate outside of the company).

As we got closer to launch and hired more outbound people we moved to using Hosted Exchange ( Outlook is the driving force here, I have code to write and don't want to spend my expensive time fixing email/calendar/desktop support issues.

For Office applications we joined the Microsoft ISV program where we get 10 licenses for all their office products for about $400 per year. That also includes MSDN access so engineering can use Visual Studio.

Engineering does not use Office, all internal engineering documents are on the hosted Wiki (Atlassian) - but the hosted Exchange comes with an Outlook license so developers use that. I will neither help or hinder the use of anything else.

Everyone uses Windows on their laptop - using VMware Workstation to run the Linux VMs used for development.

We run the entire business on hosted services (Intermedia, Atlassian, JungleDisk (backup) and VirtualPBX). Our monthly bill is ~$600 for a 25 person startup - core engineering is now about half the company.

We have ~60 servers - but all are for dev and test, there is no "IT overhead"

The issue is not that you can't make it something else work - but why ? Unless you're developing an office or email software its just not a good use of your expensive (unique) resources. The goal of your company should be to efficiently sell more of your products to people that are likely using Microsoft products (at least the decision makers). So for maximum interoperability and profession appearance use the products your customers are using.

(I use a Mac, but I cannot use it for anything for external communication (PowerPoint, Word etc) - somethings just look different to the Windows version (fonts, text positioning etc). Not all the time, but enough to make it unusable from a professional appearance point of view.

Comment: Re:Democratic way... (Score 2) 403

by vanye (#39452281) Attached to: Do Women Make Better Bosses?

100% agree.

Business is not democratic - everyone isn't equal.

The janitor doesn't get to vote on strategic direction.

That doesn't mean that the dictator has to be malevolent - benevolent dictatorship seems to work well (from my pov).

Responsibility and Authority should go hand in hand - when they don't that's when organizations become dysfunctional.

"In the face of entropy and nothingness, you kind of have to pretend it's not there if you want to keep writing good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer