The Many Hats of Building and Launching a Web Startup

  • by Tracy Osborn

  • Designer not a programmer

  • piloshophy: “An entrpeneur tends to bire off a lottle than he can chew hoping he’ll quick;y learn how to chew it”

  • project is ‘ramen profitable’

1. Start off on the Right Foot

  • Have a good amount of money in hand to lesson stress
  • Be in good health
  • Relationships in good shape
  • Quit your job cause you can’t do this as a side project

Redefine success

  • Don’t try to beat google
  • Make your goals modest
  • Small goals to begin with

I know HTML! I can program!

  • Started in Computer Science but graduated Graphic Design
  • Joined a startup as the Designer that grew into a medium sized company
  • Got bored
  • Wanted to do something that could impact the world

Tried to find a co-founder

  • Why weddings?
  • Work on something you love to work on
  • Cofounders are awesome, but no cofounder is better than the wrong cofounder
  • Things didn’t go well with the cofounder didn’t go well

Did it herself

  • Learn Python The Hard Way (Zed Shaw) Great programming starter book
  • Got recommended to use Django because of so many apps available
  • Launched in 6 weeks!

2. Launch as fast as possible

  • Don’t try to build giant from the start
  • Easy to get discourage
  • Everything is going to change once you launch - you can’t predict the direction of things
  • Take out as many features as possible - add them later if you need them

Work on the hard stuff first

  • Programming before HTML layout/design
  • Then make it pretty

Active Learning

Launch with bad code

  • Don’t worry about optimization (speed, caching, code smell, etc)
  • get it done!

3. Have a plan for monetization

  • Have at least a vague plan to making money
  • Raising money is a pain in the butt

4. Don’t be forever alone

  • Network and meet people!

    • Surround yourself with experts (in her case - programming)
    • Marketers
    • Designers
    • find the people who can help you do the work you want to do
  • NDAs suck

    • Most people won’t sign em, so they won’t be able to help you with advice
    • Most people aren’t going to try and implement your idea
    • Competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing
  • Ask when you get stuck

    • Don’t waste time banging your head against an impossible problem

    • Go ask for help

      • Stack Overflow
      • twitter
      • local meetups
  • Surround yourself with good influences

5. Take Shortcuts


  1. Start off on the Right Foot
  2. Launch as fast as possible
  3. Have a plan for monetization
  4. Don’t be forever alone
  5. Take Shortcuts