Lessons Learned from a Screencast Business

Geoffrey Grosenbach runs a company called PeepCode Screencasts that produces outstanding screencasts for learning a variety of programming topics mainly around Ruby on Rails. I’ve purchased a bunch of them and they’ve all been fantastic learning tools. Recently he posted a transcript of a presentation he gave on the lessons learned from three years of running PeepCode. One skill that is important is being able to respond to change. I frequently think back to a quote I saw in a

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How Do You Prefer Web Startups Communicate?

I’m in the process of launching a new product and with a clean slate I’ve started to re-examine all my processes. One communication aspect I feel the need to visit is how users of a service prefer to stay informed about developments and news. Specifically, I’m talking about new features and updates. While there are many options, the main ones come down to the following: Email Blog – visit directly Blog – subscribe to RSS feeds Twitter View notifications when

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Boxed Ice on Running a Successful Beta

Boxed Ice, creators of Server Density, wrote up a nicely detailed post on how to run a successful beta program for a web application. Knowing when to release a product is difficult. The maxim “release early, release often” certainly applies but that has to be balanced against making sure you have a minimum viable product and features that work well, with a minimum number of bugs. You also need to get feedback as early as possible to either completely change

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How Social Media Really Works

Great thoughts on building your products from A Whole Lotta Nothing: So maybe instead of getting your company on twitter, paying marketers to mention you are on twitter, and paying people to blog about your company, forget all that and just make awesome stuff that gets people excited about your products, hire people that represent the company well, and when your stuff is so awesome that friends share it with other friends, you may not even need “social media marketing”

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Startup Revival Plans to Archive Failed Companies

Startup Revival is a recently launched site that is attempting to catalogue failed startup companies so all entrepreneurs can learn from their mistakes. I love the concept and they recently added my story of EvolvePoint’s failure. Do you have a company with a great foundation, but it just didn’t work? Or do you have an idea that’s collecting dust? Don’t let your great ideas go to waste. We want to hear about them. It looks like you can register and

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More ways to kill your business

I’ve been trying to write about the lessons learned from the failure of my last company (albeit quite slowly) and I read a post this morning from Mike McDerment of FreshBooks that covers some similar topics. His post is titled 7 ways I’ve almost killed FreshBooks and I can second every single point he makes. Luckily for FreshBooks, they’re still around and thriving. I especially appreciated his first point – “Thinking we had to move faster than we did” As entrepreneurs, we tend to immediately

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Lessons From a Failed Startup: Create Administration Tools Early

The lessons learned from the failure of my company are going to be in no particular order, so I decided to start with one that I’m already applying to my next project – creating admin tools as early as possible. With FeedCraft, we took the approach of getting the application launched as quickly as possible with the main features we needed (which I think was wise, but I’ll have some thoughts on this in later posts). In the rush to

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The formula for building web applications

I read this article on Mashable (via Fred Wilson‘s tweet) and had to post this quote on building web applications: Determine a basic need -> Create a service that satisfies it in the simplest way possible -> Open it up. It sounds simple, but it’s not; determining a basic human need, like the need to share photos or the need to communicate with short text messages is a hit and miss affair. … I believe now that in many cases

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Lessons From a Failed Startup: The Overview

Many say you learn more from your failures than your successes. I believe this to be absolutely true in business as well as most other aspects of life. And you can also learn quite a bit from the stories of failures from others. So, as promised when I announced that my company was shutting down, I’ll be posting a collection of thoughts on what I feel are some of the big learning lessons in this experience of running an Internet

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The advantages of being a student entrepreneur

The other day I had the opportunity to have coffee with a student entrepreneur from Virginia Tech. This is the second such meeting in a month and I hope it’s a sign of future trends. Over the past two semesters, I’ve met with three entrepreneurs, all at the end stages of their undergraduate education, and all were pondering this decision – take a “regular” job or start my own business. In my opinion, the decision is a no-brainer. Follow your

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