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From Developer to Startup CEO: Things I've Learned on the Journey (CEE MVP Community Open Days 2016)

As developers we are logical, methodical and intelligent creatures. We learn the advanced development practices from the best books, greatest minds in our peer group and our own experiences. Then some of us decide to start companies building our own products and we realize that our earlier beliefs are sometimes at odds with what's best for our startup, and that there are issues we have to deal with that we didn't even know existed. In this talk Alan shares his experiences transitioning from a developer with more than 15 years of experience to running a startup company.

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From Developer to Startup CEO: Things I've Learned on the Journey (CEE MVP Community Open Days 2016)

  1. 1. From Developer to Startup CEO Things I’ve learned on the journey. Alan Mendelevič @ailon
  2. 2. A little bit of history…
  3. 3. About me… as a developer • Started on a ZX Spectrum in late 80s • Graduated from Vilnius University with BSCS in 1997 • Developed in everything from Pascal to VB to C++ to PHP, but mostly C# • Was an expert in JavaScript before it was hip (in 2002-2004), but lost the edge later on
  4. 4. About me… as a part-time entrepreneur • Developed my first “product” (a game for ZX Spectrum) as a teenager. Stolen by a “friend”. • Had a developer article directory site called ArticleCentral.com (1999-2002). Sold for not much. • Created SPAW Editor (one of the first and most popular web WYSIWYG HTML editors) (2003- 2008). Didn’t go all-in and lost • Led .NET branch of amCharts (2008-2011). Didn’t get near the traction of the Flash (now JavaScript) branch.
  5. 5. About me… as AdDuplex CEO • Launched AdDuplex (the product) in January 2011 • Established UAB AdDuplex (the company) in November 2011 • Participated in Startup Sauna accelerator in Helsinki, Finland (Spring 2012) • Participated in various startup events (Startup Sauna Silicon Valley trip, Startup Lithuania Roadshow, TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin, DLD Tel Aviv, etc.) • Raised seed funding (€400,000) in 2013
  6. 6. What is AdDuplex? Our mission is helping indie developers achieve success
  7. 7. Developer success factors Marketing/User acquisition Monetization
  8. 8. Empowering developers to help each other grow. • free advertising for your apps • utilize 100% of your ad space • 10,000+ apps, more than 1 billion ad impressions a month www.adduplex.com The largest cross-promotion network for Windows Phone and Windows Store apps
  9. 9. NEW. RISING. BEST. Expose your Windows app or game to the widest community of Windows 10 users and enthusiasts. If an app or game release is not on AppRaisin – it didn't happen. http://appraisin.com
  10. 10. Crowdsource ideas for new features CrowdSource.CrowdFund.CrowdMarket Let your loyal fans help you grow your business. Crowdfund the development of these ideas Crowd-promote their availability A P P S T R E TC H . C O M
  11. 11. From Developer to Devpreneur
  12. 12. Developer’s Work Cycle Task Deliverables Money Employee/Contract developer Task Deliverables Money Entrepreneur developer SALE SALE
  13. 13. As a technical person you have a huge advantage over wanterpreneurs
  14. 14. IMHO FTE-to-entrepreneur is easier than freelancer-to-entrepreneur
  15. 15. Having passive income source(s) is the best Recommended reading: The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
  16. 16. You will have to build (and probably fund) a prototype or, preferably, an MVP yourself
  17. 17. Release date is a feature • Your runway is limited • You are probably not the only one with a similar idea
  18. 18. Use what you know.
  19. 19. Embrace technical debt
  20. 20. Implementation on crutches Refactoring Perfect implementation time W1 W2 The cost of opportunity Cx Cy Cz Opportunity Cost
  21. 21. No one cares how clean your code is
  22. 22. Getting ideas and inspiration The Daily Practice “Every day I write down ideas. I write down so many ideas that it hurts my head to come up with one more. Then I try to write down five more. … The “idea muscle” atrophies within days if you don’t use it. Just like walking. If you don’t use your legs for a week, they atrophy. You need to exercise the idea muscle. It takes about 3-6 months to build up once it atrophies. Trust me on this.” http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/02/how-to-be-the-luckiest-guy-on-the-planet-in-4-easy-steps/
  23. 23. Recommended reading The Lean Startup by Eric Ries Zero to One by Peter Thiel & VS
  24. 24. Networking The other kind…
  25. 25. The Sad Truth: You will have to talk to people
  26. 26. I’m an introvert. What about you?
  27. 27. Some networking tricks for introverts
  28. 28. The hardest trick: start way before you actually need it
  29. 29. “Facebook is the people you went to high school with. Twitter is the people you wish you went to high school with.” probably by Adrian Parsons @adrianparsons Software Engineer @etsy. Hacker. Optimist. https://twitter.com/adrianparsons/status/12919404808 Twitter
  30. 30. Conferences and other events
  31. 31. Know the reason you are going there Hint: it’s not for the content
  32. 32. Create a list of people you want to meet there. Leave happy if you’ve talked to 30%-50%.
  33. 33. Engage them on Twitter beforehand Gives you a very easy “ice breaker” when you meet in person
  34. 34. Never eat alone
  35. 35. Always wear a Whatzit Leil Lowndes How to Talk to Anyone
  36. 36. “Dress code” • Wear company branded apparel • Add your Twitter handle
  37. 37. Recommended reading • Networking for People Who Hate Networking: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed, and the Underconnected by Devora Zack • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain • How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes
  38. 38. Convert your network into business opportunities, funding, etc.
  39. 39. Serendipity* A lot of our business deals came out of getting to know someone at some event with no specific agenda set in advance.
  40. 40. *Be careful not to become a conference ho Mark Suster
  41. 41. Polish your “elevator pitch”
  42. 42. “Stage pitch” is very different from speaking at conferences
  43. 43. The most important public speaking advice I ever got Find a memory when you felt really appreciated by someone (preferably not your family). Think about it every time before going on stage.
  44. 44. Startup Accelerators are a good way for techies to get a business crash course Make sure to understand what you are getting into, though.
  45. 45. Few words on funding
  46. 46. Do you really need or want it? Recommended reading: Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup by Rob Walling
  47. 47. No one will fund your PowerPoint deck
  48. 48. Fundraising takes a while Maybe you should spend that time on your product instead?
  49. 49. The best time to raise money is when you don’t need it
  50. 50. Cash constraints are good for you
  51. 51. Once you get funded you get a boss… again.
  52. 52. “Invest in Lines, Not Dots” Mark Suster GP at Upfront Ventures
  53. 53. Know how much money you want to raise
  54. 54. Know how you are going to spend it
  55. 55. Know how you are going to make money
  56. 56. Look for your first investment close to home Or a place you are willing to relocate to
  57. 57. Get a good lawyer, but do your homework Understand industry jargon and “standard” terms
  58. 58. Must-read: “Venture Deals” by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson
  59. 59. Hiring: the other side of the table
  60. 60. Don’t hire until you have to
  61. 61. Once you get to a team of ~5, your next hire should be an office manager. Otherwise you’ll become one.
  62. 62. Hire for culture fit more than competency
  63. 63. IMHO Stock options don’t really work in our neck of the woods Show me the money!
  64. 64. One more use for your network
  65. 65. Sponsor and attend local user groups, meetups, etc.
  66. 66. Get a Premium LinkedIn account
  67. 67. Recommended reading Who: The A Method for Hiring by Geoff Smart and Randy Street.
  68. 68. So, do you still want to launch a startup?
  69. 69. Building your own company is hard, but fun and rewarding. Even if you don’t make a billion in the end.
  70. 70. Thank you! Alan Mendelevich alan@adduplex.com @ailon

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