Great story about the development of the idea of Medium and the process in rapidly prototyping and filtering ideas to something simple and focused.
On January 11, 2013, I had my last day at Academic Software Plus and will be the Platform Team at Engine Yard in about a week.
I was the companies first intern back in 2009, and was hired at the end of the internship and I accepted my first full-time job as a web developer.
makeshift Best Intern Award. We found this plaque when we expanded our office space and it was repurposed using the label maker.
I was able to be there at the start of a large project being written in Ruby on Rails and help it go live in under a year. I watched the team grow in terms of skill and size.
I was able to attend my first developer conference (mountain west ruby) and several others. I was able to be a part of WNY Ruby group and the company has been backing the group since as long as I can remember.
It has been a great experience working at AS+. While there, I learned to work in a team.
The changes you make impact others.
The changes you make impact others and you have to understand whatever you push, must be ready for others to pull in. So, don’t commit those git conflicts, don’t forget database migrations or even don’t forget to check in an updated database schema file.
Keep things clean.
Clean commit history helps a lot. When someone looks at the
git log they should be able to read it, and not like reading a 14 year old’s twitter feed (“OMG”, “LOL”, “HE TOLD ME TO!”, etc.). rebase your feature before you merge in to make sure you adjust your work on top of others.
Allow people to figure things out easily.
The original author will not always be available to explain the reasoning behind decisions or easily decipher the purpose of methods. Make things easier for everyone and document. This is a lesson learned through growing pains and especially harder justify when things are changing frequently. But, better late than never.
The best way for change is to encourage.
Sometimes small pains just pile up and it all becomes this larger monster that no one wants to attempt. People will yell about the pains, which helps bring awareness, but what really helps is when someone is able to say, “here was a problem, here’s the start of a solution”.
Accumulated office possessions. Lots of coffee mugs, a few foldable.me’s, a giant mousepad and some led lights.
I ran gitstats on our main application’s git commit history and got some interesting stats from it.
I was the number 1 commiter at 26% of all commits since August 2009. I removed more lines than I have added in commits (I’d like to think that’s a good thing).
The future at Engine Yard
I look forward to joining Engine Yard and the awesome people in the Platform team that I had the pleasure of meeting in Portland, OR and the former AS+ employee Jim Lindley. I will also be hanging out with the Buffalo team in their office.
I do not know too much about exactly what I will be working on, but look forward to some big things!
The Big Idea
George told his story of starting Synacor, fresh out of college as an alumni of University at Buffalo. They were sports fans and thought it would be awesome to have an email @ domain of their favorite team instead of just @hotmail.com, which George said sounded “like a porn site.” They would then partner with companies to brand emails with advertisement in exchange for the email service. So they had an idea, but they faced the classic dilemma for startups, an idea but no capital or even anything built.
Path to Starting
Luckily, one of the founders was interning at a company, and after pitching the idea, was able to not only get an adviser to help guide them, but also space in the office for them to meet and work out of.
They had a space, but they were business guys and still needed an engineer to build the platform. They approached a local developer, Mark Musone, and pitched him the idea. As a result, they were able to have him do the development, but in exchange, they would help work on his house. This meant putting up drywall, putting in windows and a stairway. They now had an employee… and employer.
In order to get their first customer, they decided to provide the service for free. They approached the Buffalo Bisons and asked to have a link placed on their site for email signups.
From there, they were able to get more customers and more advertisers. Three years after that, they had over 200 customers!
When finding people to invest, you should think about what people are interested in and focus on that.
People believe in markets and people.
The Secret: PHD
The big secret to starting a company. George revealed his ideology behind being successful at starting a company, the acronym PHD.
P - Passion
He sees passion as having believe in yourself and your dream. As time passes, this makes things fun.
H - Hours
Devote more time than others. Put in that extra effort and immerse yourself in your field. Devoting time becomes more and more natural.
D - Discipline
Be able to focused to your goals. Out of the three, this becomes harder over time and needs more attention.
From this talk, I learned how important it is to find advisers to fill in those knowledge gaps.
During Q&A, he answered the question of how to address self-doubt or second guessing. He said that you are going to be 50% wrong, but also 50% right and just know that and be ok with that. This made me think that beyond that, you should know the next step to take if you are going to be wrong, that way you have confidence no matter if you are right or wrong.