Startup Life

City Of Epic Kickstarter Campaign!

My friend Katherine and I have been working like crazy on a game project for the last few months, and we’re thrilled with what we’ve accomplished so far. Now, we’re trying to bring it to an open beta while making it as fantastic as possible. We’ve started a Kickstarter campaign to get us there.

City of Epic is an RPG based around real-world where can i buy clomid exercise. Rather than get all TL;DR, I’ll let this “high quality” video explain it:

If you like some combination of gaming, fitness, and awesomeness, please consider donating!

Startup Life

Pivotal Tracker

I just finished up my third week at SkillSlate. For anyone who missed my last post about it, it’s a directory of handymen, personal trainers, and other service providers. Right now it’s just in New York City, but that will change soon.

SkillSlate uses Pivotal Tracker for task management. At this point I have used just about every task management tool under the sun. Bugzilla, Eventum, Trac, various offerings from 37 Signals… I even rolled my own using WordPress once. So far I can’t say that any one of them is my favorite. They each have their advantages and drawbacks.

Pivotal is interesting because it uses a model for estimating deadlines and organizing workloads that I haven’t seen elsewhere. You assign points to each task corresponding to how long you think it will take. The points are relative to each other, not time. So if you decide that changing the colors in the header is a one point task, you might decide that adding some validation to a form is a two point task, and totally rewriting the login system is a five point task.

Then, rather than assign tasks to releases or milestones, you create releases and arrange your various tasks as needing to happen either before or after said release. As you work and close out tasks Pivotal calculates how fast you work. Based on how fast you’re working and how much needs to be done, Pivotal will estimate when you’ll be finished (and whether you’ll hit your deadline if you’ve set one).

It’s an imperfect system, sure. First and foremost, every member of the team needs to be on the same page with their point estimations. Second, the UI is completely non-intuitive. I had to actually watch the help videos to understand what was going on. Each team likely has multiple projects, but switching between projects is a clunky process. And the various reports and charts seem scattered and hard to find.

After getting over the UI though, I love Pivotal Tracker. As someone who has an “amazing and somewhat alarming thirst for points” (Chris’s words), seeing my workload broken down visually is very handy. If you turn on the “charts” view you’ll get a graph of how many work units you need to plow through to release on time versus your current rate of work. It helps turn a mountain of endless tickets into something more organized and paced.

I’ll be interested to see how well the time estimates work. In order to provide useful estimates it needs at least a month worth of history, so it will be a little while before we get a really accurate reading for our team.

Startup Life

Big Changes Ahead

The past week has been eventful, to say the least.

I’m excited to announce that starting in August I’ll be joining the team at, working with their development team to launch the next version of their site. SkillSlate is a company that focuses on connecting freelancers and independent contractors with clients. Having spent the last two years freelancing and running my own business, I’m excited to work with a team again. I’m also bursting with ideas about various ways the site could be expanded, though I will be careful to avoid the dreaded “you should” in conversations with the rest of the company. It’s a pretty small team right now, so there will be plenty of learning opportunities as it grows. I’m sure I’ll blog about it, at least as much as my NDA allows.

I’m also incredibly sad to be leaving my job at NearlyFreeSpeech.Net. For the past year and a half I’ve worked on their customer support team. This blog, along with most of my other websites, is hosted at NFSN, and has withstood being Slashdotted, BoingBoing’d, Farked, and god knows what other horrible slew of internet traffic. It has been an privilege to work there, and I will continue to be a happy customer of theirs. If you are a command line ninja who can talk to humans (via email), you might want to consider being my replacement. Drop me a line (kellbot at gmail dot com) with some background and I’ll pass on the details.

As for my own startup, it’s on the back burner for now. We had a catch-22 where we couldn’t get funding without building the site first, but as freelancers we never had time to build the site without money. I still think it’s a good idea, but it will be a few years before I’m able to devote resources to it. The good news that after a few years of getting paid a real salary I’ll be able to fund my own projects. The new job is a great opportunity, one that was essentially dropped in my lap. But I can’t move forward without a longing look towards all the things I’m leaving behind, particularly a great part-time job and the luxury of working in my PJs until noon.

Startup Life

Well, I Suppose It's Official…

… I am going full-time with my startup. In a moment, I’ll tell you what it is, but in the meantime, let’s look at how I got here:

At any given point I have probably a dozen half-finished and half-baked projects lying around. Some of these are business ideas, some of these are just projects with no intent of monetization. Invariably they take a backseat to things like paid work. What can I say, I’m a sucker for things like paying rent and eating food besides Top Ramen.

About three weeks ago, I haphazardly mentioned one of them, called Tastemob, to a friend of mine. I’d been listlessly searching for a co-founder, and had mostly decided to set the project aside and maybe get a desk job, mostly because I miss working with other people. Around the same time, a friend of mine forwarded me a job opening at a social gaming company in Manhattan.

What happened next is kind of a blur. My aforementioned friend, whose name is Katherine, started going full steam ahead with the Tastemob project, doing all viagra for women sorts of business-y things I had previously not really taken the time to do. She started getting really excited about the project, and that reignited my interest in it. Meanwhile I had an interview at the game company, and after a bit of phone tag with my references they offered me a position. In the time between the interview and the offer (barely two weeks) we had applied to a few startup incubators with Tastemob and gotten generally positive responses to the idea.

My boyfriend Chris maintains that I am the only person who would ever get upset by an offer for a job they wanted. He may be right. But faced with choosing between a job that sounded pretty good versus putting my all into a startup that might just have some legs… it was hard. I talked it over with a variety of my friends. In the end, almost everyone said to go for the startup, that I’d be plagued with “what ifs” if I didn’t. One person suggested I take the job and then just quit if the startup got funded, which is a bit too shady for me. It took me a good half hour to write the email declining the job, and probably another 10 minutes to hit “send.” I made my now business partner, Katherine, swear she really did think Tastemob was a viable product and that we were going to try our damnedest to make it work.

Now that I’ve turned down a job in favor of Tastemob, I have a distinct sense of “no going back.” Sure, I’m freelancing now anyway so it’s not as if I’ve suddenly committed to a giant decrease in pay the way quitting an existing job might. But it still brings a sense of finality to the decision.

This post has gotten a bit lengthy, so I’ll save another post for blathering on about Tastemob itself. In short, it’s a social shopping tool, meant to solve the problem of “I want to buy something but I can’t find the exact thing I’m looking for.” I built the prototype in November, and now we’re hoping to have a beta up in mid March (having not worked on it all winter). And now that I’m in it for real, it appears we’re gong to be building a real company on it.

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Startup Life

Keeping Your Startup Organized

In the few days since my post on finding a co-founder I have, to my surprise, found a co-founder! It’s funny how things work out like that. My co-founder, Katherine, has actually been a friend of mine for a while. So unfortunately I don’t have any sage advice for those still on the hunt for a partner in crime business. Or maybe I do: talk to buy cialis viagra everyone you know about your business idea. If it’s any good, someone is bound to get excited by it.

The next step is figuring out how we stay organized. We have a lot to do: apply to various startup incubators, put together something resembling a business plan (or at least an outline of what we’re doing), sit down with a lawyer and become a real business, etc. Oh, and build the prototype. Actually the prototype is built, but it’s kind of hideous, so it needs work.

What do other startups use to stay organized? At Etsy we used Trac, which is decent software but has a somewhat miserable UI. It’s powerful, but the amount of work I’d have to put in to get it to do what I want is more than I can handle right now. We’re already using Google Docs and Google Calendar, but I can’t find anything that ties those together with a nice project management interface. We need to keep track of who is working on what incubator app, what still needs to be done for the incorporation, etc etc. I feel like just about everyone has this problem these days, so I’m interested in hearing everyone else’s solutions.

Startup Life

Finding a cofounder

When you’re looking to start a company, how do you find a cofounder?

I have an idea I’m trying to build into a company, but need a partner on it to stay focused and keep at it. It’s just too big to do by myself. I’ve been trying to think of aquaintences on either the product management side or the dev side of things who might be interested. A lot of people I know who start companies do so with former coworkers, so I started there.

Luckily, I have one former coworker who would be just fantastic to start a company with. She’s smart, motivated, and knows the market we’re going after. She was laid off from our former employer about a year ago. Of course, being as awesome as she is, she’s started her own company in the year since then (which is quite successful!) and quite understandably wants to stay with it.

Other friends, such as those at NYC Resistor, are either happy in their current jobs or already started their own companies. I’m feeling a little late to the startup party.

At the crux of my issue is the fact that I’m inherently bad at networking. This is an awful quality for an entrepreneur, I know. I also know some people who are equally bad or worse who managed to find people to start a company. So what I want to know is how viagra with no prescription in britain they did it.