Startup On the Side

Here are my thoughts on a transition plan from full-time employment to full-time unemployment; also known as becoming a founder of a startup.

  1. Never sign an anti-moonlighting or non-compete agreement – ever. Never sign a blanket IP assignment agreement.
  2. Find the smallest iteration you can do. Do it.
  3. Iteration zero: plan the first four weeks of development.
  4. 1 hour of focus each weeknight, 2 on Saturday. 0 on Sunday.
  5. Consider learning to be productive time. This includes reading books.
  6. Create a quiet space in which to work. Have a family? Include them in the planning so everyone has a voice and catches the vision.
  7. Write down on paper and post in your offline life somewhere: “Life is a marathon not a sprint – pace yourself.”
  8. Sleep well, eat well, don’t drink. No sugar, no pop, no diet pop, no candy. You need mental focus.
  9. Maintain old and foster new relationships. Life is relational not just task oriented.
  10. Don’t give equity away. Everyone’s time has the same value no matter what role they play. $200/hr, $100/hr, $50/hr – doesn’t matter what you choose when everyone is the same.  More is probably better later.

Ideas for Improving Tech Startup Speed to Market

  1. More open collaboration between big players. Big players does not necessarily mean companies.  I’m thinking programming language creators, library writers and platforms.  People like: Bjarne Stroustrup,  Guido van Rossum,  Simon Peyton Jones,  Philip Wadler,  James Gosling,  Martin Odersky,  John ResigIsaac Z. Schlueter, These Guys, DHHChris Wanstrath, Linus, AWS, Docker, Vagrant,  This list could be huge.  If you’d like to add to it, please comment.
  2. More open source released from incumbents and startups. Let’s stop solving the same micro-problems over and over. If you’re using, you need to be giving back.
  3. SAAS to support startups. API common web app needs: membership, subscriptions, accounting, legal – basically create a tech startup business in a box erector set or Lego style.
  4. Startup U. Worry about accreditation later. This is education for entrepreneurs and founders.  Focus on practical approaches to launch – level playing field.
  5. Create a foundation to focus on human-scale solutions for the betterment of humanity. This foundation produces white papers and a knowledge base that founders of tech startups can tap as needed.
  6. More cilantro. It makes everything better.
  7. Move beyond agile and into hourly iterations/releases.
  8. Move fast but don’t break things. Breaking things saps our energy. Let’s figure out ways to decrease defect rate while at the same time increasing release rate.
  9. Break mental models apart.  Deconstruct them. Require value from every stage of all processes.
  10. Less iPhone more flip phone.