Reflections on startup life: Week 62

It’s been 62 weekly posts and although this one is now really pushing the boundaries of “a week”, I’m not going to let it go past.

I’m mentally saving a couple of things for next week (ie. in two days time…) so I’ll make this more general. Still there are a few things worth mentioning.

Last week we finally moved out of the “catch up” phase and have started pushing new features again, it’s felt good to actually cut code that users see. It’s also great that the “under the hood” experience is so much better, but I think it’s the things that users see which really motivate.

I had mentioned last time about how press coverage was “hollow calories”, well I still think that, but we were seriously stoked to get covered in the NY Times . How cool is that! Even if it was syndication, I won’t tell if you don’t. Interestingly the NYT didn’t drive that many signups — by far LifeHacker has been the best, I think as a blog they have the closest link to our value proposition.

While talking about traffic, we’re been excited that we’re breaking out of the English speaking countries. The second biggest sign up day has actually been driven by this Spanish Blog Alta1040. Although our UI is in English, the underlying engine supports and renders any language as well as search in different languages too. It really helps having a cofounder like Alex that really gets and cares about these things (years of building sites to cope with Chinese).

This leads me to spend a lot of time using Google Translator to translate Tweets and Blog posts to get a feel for what people are saying. One comment I see a little bit lately is variations on this “ son los padres”. It feels like it might be slang — Google Translate tells me this is “ is parents” or maybe “ is Father”. I like to think in some alternate reality we are in a bad remake of the Spanish version of Empire Strikes Back —, I am your father. If anyone knows what these people are trying to tell us, I’d love to know. Actually, maybe not — don’t spoil my illusion — I’m convinced they think we are super cool.

Final thought is on the value of time. If users and press is one measure of traction, then the amount of random spam and tire kickers you attract is another! It feels like some days every second email is from some “marketing” company about why we should use their product or service to attract more users.

I’m also getting a lot stricter on meeting people face to face — I still like to do it, but a few months ago I’d happily head into the city for a coffee just to meet up, now I want a pretty clear idea on what we are going to discuss, especially if it’s not a genuinely social visit with friends. I’ve found that simply asking for a phone call clears out a lot of people quickly — if someone can’t find 10 minutes to call you and discuss, it’s going to be a wasted 2 hours to get out of the office, onto the train and into the CBD and back. Especially in Melbourne the “Coffee” habit is a time waster in itself — people default to meeting for a coffee when sometimes a quick phone call would do.


  • I still like press coverage.
  • Moving some features forward again.
  • Very productive meetings and feedback with several people in the fund raising space.

Lessons Learnt

  • Somewhat unrelated to the reflections, but in times of uncertainty you’ll have tough conversations with your cofounders — Alex and I had several of those last week. But coming through this makes you stronger and better aligned. It can be painful, but it’s really important to do.

Goal this week

  • Get the weekly post done on Monday!
  • Better ways for people to share and connect with and other users.