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

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

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

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 (Intermedia.net). 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

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.

Comment So what you're saying is ... (Score 1) 209

I took a customers money and now I don't want to provide the service because it will cost me too much and it will eat into my profits ?

Tough.

As others have said, if this is contractual issue you'll need to renegotiate the contract - and (presumably) give some money back (like that will fly with the executives since the revenue has already been reported)... It makes no difference whether there are acceptable solutions that do not involve physically destroying the disk.

That's what the contract stipulated. Like it or lump it, that's what you signed up for when taking the money.

Why should I as tax payer allow you to make more profits for less service ?

Comment Re:Mafia (Score 1) 554

Employees don't get to write their own contract - no start-up would/should allow that. You want to be using the money you have for productive purposes (hiring engineers) not paying lawyers. Since stock ownership is governed by the board, anything out of "normal" would require their approval.

Be honest with yourself - what is your financial risk profile ? Are you prepared to gamble 5%, 10% or 20%.

If you're not prepared to gamble anything and will only accept "full market value" work for a large company.

richard.

Comment Re:Code for yourself in your spare time (Score 2) 516

I used to do quite a bit of that - contributing to open source, scratching my own itch, trying to find "interesting" jobs or technology to work on. Then in my late 30s it hit me.

All jobs suck.

Rather than trying to find something exciting to work on for the next 30 years, I refocussed my energies on doing stuff that would allow me to not have to work for the next 30years.

So I took all the time/passion I had and put it into my (then current) job. It was a gamble, an investment in me. Left that company within a year to do my own startup. Sold that after 3years with enough that I could meet my requirement of not working for the next 30years. But I found I liked the early stage start-ups. Once I'm not longer the lead it became another job.

Reckon I have one more in me - while I could not work - I want to not work on my own island :-)

Comment Re:First math and now OO... (Score 1) 755

I am so glad I didn't get a CS degree - and in fact most of the people I hire do not have CS degrees. My BSc in Mechanical Engineering is far more useful to me as a VP of a software company than any CS degree. Engineering taught me how to think, how to design from a blank piece of paper, how to manage projects, how to work with people. I taught myself to write code.

I want t hire people who can develop real world products not be the product of some well paid Dean's education experiment.

Anyone considering a software job should think long and hard about a CS degree. It wont teach you anything that you'll need in the real world. Do a real science subject or a real engineering subject, not CS.

Comment Re:Also (Score 1) 301

If the company and employee are still friendly you can work this out even in California.

I know of one case where an executive wanted to leave a large public company in a highly competitive market. Part of the agreement was that they would be continue to remain as a non-working employee including being fully paid for the following year (including all bonuses and benefits - no less than what they got in the prior year) if they didn't go to a competitor.

Since this meant that going to a non-competitor mean drawing two salaries, there was a mutual built-in incentive to work for a non-competitor.

Had they gone to a competitor they would have been no worse off than if they'd not signed the agreement.

vanye.

Comment grep (Score 1) 385

You can laugh, but its good almost enough for what I need.

All my archived email (93-2004) was copied to a NAS as individual messages (still have the Cyrus directory structure). Its the more recent stuff that lives in PSTs that is the problem.

One day I'll get around to going the same for my news postings. That's where the nuggets of interest are.

Comment Re:Killing NASA? I think not. (Score 2, Insightful) 411

Its funny - this is a rabid capitalist country, and yet when is proposed to allow commercial space flight to take over the boring operation bits everyone is up in arms. Whenever I hear astronauts talking about this my mind jumps to the infamous Mandy Rice-Davies - "well he would, wouldn't he".

Let NASA get back to some real research, not shuttling (sorry) people to the space station.

Who on earth believes that the government is more efficient than private enterprise at the operational level ? So set guidelines, safety regulations, create an environment where commercial enterprises can see an opportunity, and let us solve the problem. If that's done the country will not "cede America's longtime leadership in space", it will just be done more efficiently outside of the government.

Why should I as a large contributor to the government pay for someone to drive a bus into space ? What grabs my attention (and probably Joe public's for the last 30 years) is Hubble, Spirit + Opportunity, Pathfinder. The only time the shuttle breaks into public awareness anymore is when there's an accident.

And while long term we do need to have an off-Earth safety net - its not going to happen in my life, and a few people on a non self-sufficient beachhead doesn't do anything except waste money.

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