In episode #6 of the Giant Robots Smashing into other Giant Robots podcast, Ben Orenstein is joined by Dan Powell, founder of Abakas. Dan plays the role of Consulting CTO for his clients.
They discuss the best and the worst of his job, his history as a Linux hacker, and what his experience has taught him about technology and technology trends, and how he stays on top of them. Also, how to create effective, well-written, maintainable software, the Rails talent crunch, developers getting promoted to management, maintaining work-life balance and how not to get burnt out, and much, much more.
Call us toll-free at 1-877-9-ROBOTS x198 and leave a voicemail. That’s (877) 976-2687 x198, email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to us @thoughtbot.
Follow @thoughtbot and @r00k on twitter.
In episode #4 of the Giant Robots Smashing into other Giant Robots podcast, Ben Orenstein is joined by David Thyresson, the founder of Stattleship and a past client of thoughtbot.
Ben and David discuss how he got started with Stattleship, how he came to work with thoughtbot, and what it was like to work with us. Also, how the idea of what he would initially build changed, and how through agile software development he discovered how it was wrong. How he learned Ruby on Rails from thoughtbot during his project. Finally, what has worked for driving visitors to the site, and important lessons learned about starting up, building an app, and running a business.
Call us toll-free at 1-877-9-ROBOTS x198 and leave a voicemail. That’s (877) 976-2687 x198, email your questions to email@example.com or Tweet to us @thoughtbot.
Follow @thoughtbot, @stattleship, and @r00k on twitter.
When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I’m sure this pattern emerges in other industries, but here are some strawman personalities of web/tech types of people, and how they respond to business problems…
Practical examples of problems, think about how each role might react to each:
There are “build” and “buy” solutions for all of these, and I think the psychology and personality types of our strawmen will strongly dictate which direction they want to go.
So who’s “better”?…it depends. This may not be true in large organizations or very top-heavy organizations, but in the context of a small self-directed team, I think you want to make sure you’ve got the first personality type as your owners/operators and managers, and try to get as many of the first and second type as you can for your employees. Unless you have a large team with a lot of management and oversight, be careful about the third type.
That being said, there certainly is a time and place to write software! The key here is to realize that just because you happen to be capable of using technology and software to solve problems, or because you happen to be in the technology service business, does not mean that you must build new technology to solve every problem you encounter.
About three years ago we decided that we no longer needed a dedicated support person. The employee we had in that position did the payroll (using a payroll service), the bookkeeping, other important human resources administration like benefits, and other miscellaneous administrative tasks like booking travel and arranging meetings.
We made this decision because we felt like we wanted to take control over our own business, and stay lean and small. We weren’t interested in spending time on things which were not core to our business.
Over the course of about a year we outsourced the bookkeeping, switched to a better payroll company that the outsourced bookkeepers would manage, and split the remaining tasks among the three owners.
Now that we’ve been doing this for about three years, we’ve gotten to the point where there is more stuff than the three of us can handle, and other tasks that others are doing that isn’t the best use of their time. Especially since we are aggressively growing parts of the business.
So we’ve decided to hire a new Office Assistant.
In this position you won’t be answering phones, doing bookkeeping, human resources management, or payroll. You will:
We’re looking for someone in the Boston area with a high energy level and an outgoing personality who will hopefully work here long term and grow along with our company. Ability to use a computer and the internet effectively is a must. We aren’t looking for someone who is eventually hoping to be a programmer or designer.
This full-time position will have a competitive salary and benefits that will be dependent on experience.
If you know someone who might be interested in this position, please forward this along to them or have them email their cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kristof Bardos of Digital Natives asks:
I read about ‘Web Business Kick Start’ as one of your services. My question is, are you acting as a startup incubator, or merely like a kind of consultancy of tech and other business areas?
The Kickstart is somewhere in-between a startup incubator and our normal development engagement where we do agile, iterative development from concept to production.
In addition to the normal application development we usually do, we give our customer office space in our office and assist them in hiring a team to replace us. The people they eventually hire work right alongside us, being trained in Rails if necessary, our process for developing software, and the application itself.
After launch, and when the team is ready, we step away and the company goes on its own.
The Kickstart differs from a more traditional incubator in that we charge our normal application development rates, and we don’t assist with the legal setup and organization of the company. However, there are no additional charges for any of the other services. We don’t typically take equity in the kickstart companies, but it is something we are open to and evaluate on a case by case basis.
Building a successful business is about more than just the software we build. As with all of our customers, we take an interest in helping them succeed. Introducing them to our other contacts and potential investors who might help to make their dream a reality.
The majority of businesses we work with come to us with little more than the concept, typically in the form of a pitch-deck or wireframes. They are typically a single founder or a pair of co-founders who are either self-funded or have a small amount of angel investment. Most applications are launched, to production, in 4-8 weeks from the start of the project, and then go onto ongoing iterations from there.
Take a look at a video we produced with two of our customers.
I hope that answers some of the common questions we get about the Kickstart service.
Do you have a question about how we do something? Get in touch with us and we might feature your question here on the blog.