How To Get a Technical Guy To Work For You


I recently went to a networking meetup and met someone who had an app idea and was looking for a technical guy to be a partner or a cofounder. Invariably people chime in and say that you should go to the Rails meetups or some other technical ones. You’ll definitely find technical guys there but I think that’s just scratching the surface of the problem.

The real problem is convincing them to work for/with you. There seems to be a real shortage of developers and designers, especially in the bay area. There are so many exciting startups that have traction to work for not to mention the giants like the Facebooks and Googles. Those companies are offering great salaries with great benefits. On top of that, any able developer can apply to the numerous startup incubators and try to get their own idea off the ground. With so many appealing choices open to them, the idea of working for an idea guy for a few measly points is not going to be attractive unless you can show why they are more likely to succeed working or partnering with you.

How do we do that?
Prove the business. I love entrepreneurs who validate the business before investing a penny on tech. One great example is Dabble. People can take any class offered on Dabble for $20. Anybody who has a skill can offer to teach classes. When the site first started out this was a simple WordPress site with a sign up form widget. People sign up to teach classes and people sign up to take classes but there was no magician behind the curtains. When my friend Jessica Lybeck and her business partner started this site, they didn’t immediately hire a programmer to build the system. They just used WordPress and a WordPress plugin. A different entrepreneur would have build a pitch deck before starting this. Another entrepreneur would have probably spent a lot of money building the site so that people can sign up to teach and learn and built out this whole system.

Presell. I also love it when entrepreneurs have clients lined up to use the product. This maybe because they were presold based on a presentation or marketing material or they signed a letter of intent to use the product. Even better, sell – meaning get their money first before you even have the product – that’s the ultimate validation. They want it so bad they’ll pay you to make it happen. Sites like Kickstarter are great for something like this – it gets people to commit their dollars if they really like your idea.

Be open about your idea. This is probably the number one turn off for developers – when people come up and say I’ll give you a piece of the action only if you sign an NDA. News flash – your ideas are not new or original. I can’t tell you how many times people tell me an idea as if it was the next best thing since sliced bread and I tell them – oh have you heard of [X] app or [X] website? Do your homework people. Know your space inside and out. Who are the players, who are the competitors, what’s the market etc. Don’t worry about people stealing your idea. They are too busy doing their own idea.

Popularity: 4% [?]

Awesome Cool Looking Slideshows with Animoto


I’ve known about Animoto since I first saw them at SXSW last year. I recall they had booth babes in short skirts and boots. Anywhoooo… I digress. These guys have an amazing product that is super easy to use. It’s a slideshow creator that generates a video slideshow of the photos of your choosing. You can upload your photos or import them from a variety of online sources.

Their slideshows are really cool. The number of awards they’ve won speaks volumes of the sleekness of their videos. Here’s one I made from one of my Flickr photosets.

What I like about Animoto as a company is that they have a REAL business model. You can create a free 30 second slideshow at low resolution. If you want a full length one in a higher resolution then you cough up some dough. Also, you can order a DVD of said slideshow for a fee. They have some other business models as well I’m sure.

This year while at SXSW, I got to meet Tom Clifton and Erik Bjornard from Animoto. They’re really cool guys so I thought I’d give them some link love and finally get around to blogging about their product.

Popularity: 2% [?]

Autodesk Launches Project Dragonfly, Web-based 2D/3D Home Floor Planning


My friends Shelly and David have been hard at work at Autodesk ever since their company was acquired and wanted to share their brainchild with me. Project Dragonfly is a free web based application available through the Autodesk labs site that allows you to create home floor plans complete with furnishing in top view 2D mode or 3D isometric view. I saw an earlier version a few months back, and it’s really quite impressive.

What’s amazing about this application is how intelligent the system is. Objects that belong on the wall automatically attach themselves to the closest wall. There is built-in collision detection so you don’t create furniture abominations. Objects that belong on the floor such as rugs automagically go underneath sofas.

For you tech geeks, you should know that this is all done in 3D and the performance of the application is amazing considering how many 3D objects there can be in the scene all with pretty high resolution textures.

Read more about it here.

Popularity: 12% [?]

Pek @ Jelly Chicago

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Monday I had the opportunity to go to Jelly. What is Jelly? According to the official Jelly website:

Jelly is casual coworking. We invite people to work from our home for the day. We provide chairs and sofas, wireless internet, and interesting people to talk to, collaborate with, and bounce ideas off of.

The Chicago Jelly meets at the Noble Tree on Mondays and Wednesdays from noon to 4PM at the Noble Tree Coffee on 2444 N Clark. You’ll find all types of people showing up from designers, programmers, business types and so on who either have a very flexible day job or are freelancers or have their own startup. Anybody’s free to join. The idea is the alternative is just sitting either at home by your lonesome or in a cube.

Pek goes to Jelly on his day off work. What a nerd.

Jelly’s a very cool way to network, bounce ideas off people, and just be more productive. If I had a question, I’ll just throw it out there. Chances are somebody has an idea.

For more information on Jelly Chicago, visit this website.

Popularity: 2% [?]

Pek @ Tech Cocktail Chicago


This is my first Tech Cocktail. I’ve been wanting to go for a while and I missed the last one. This one was held at John Barleycorn in Wrigleyville. A few startups showed their wares. I got there at 6 and it was pretty dead. However the place got packed pretty quick. By the time I left it was standing room packed. It was just insane. I’m glad I went though as I met some really cool people as well as ran into some old friends. The likemind crowd was there. My old buddy Jason Rexilius who owns HosteLABS and runs BARCamp Chicago was there and FINALLY introduced me to Harper and the other Threadless guys. I’ve been wanting to meet them for a while now. Threadless, in case you are not familiar with, is a brilliant company. On the surface, they sell t-shirts. The beauty of it is that they don’t design the t-shirts. The designs are crowd-sourced from designers and artists all over the world who submit their designs to Threadless. Visitors vote on which designs are cool and ultimately determine which designs will be printed. The winning designer gets a cash prize.

On to some of the cool people I’ve met:

  • Andrew Huff, from Gapers Block, a web publication about Chicago
  • Ars Technica – I met a few of the editors there. I didn’t realize these guys are from Chicago. It’s a technology blog so you know I am a big Ars Technica fan.

So here are some of the cool companies I saw:

  • callpod – mobile device hub charger. Their product looked very stylish. It’s Chicago based, but they outsource the manufacturing to China and Malaysia.
  • mocklinkr is an online mockup collaboration tool. They just launched today. I poked around their website before coming to the event but there wasn’t much there. They had a really cool video demoing the product at Tech Cocktail though. It looks very promising.

All in all, this excursion was a success unlike some of the other tech events I’ve been to. I’ll probably go again next time.

Popularity: 2% [?]

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