Archive for December, 2009

Is Google lowering the bar for entrepreneurs?

December 24th, 2009

Recently I was listening to an episode of the Rebooting the News podcast where I heard Jay Rosen discussing a concept project called that he’d like to bring to fruition. While explaining the project, he also mentioned his technical inability to build it on his own. While I’ve blogged about bringing people with ideas together with implementers, his comments also made me consider what options others like him have to bring good, web-based ideas into reality.

One somewhat recent development for people in a similar situation is the arrival of Google’s App Engine. This service is hosted by Google and allows people to create up to 10 free sites (some usage limits apply). For some entrepreneurs, this could be a great, low cost resource to float new ideas or explore new internet products. The problem is the technical skillset that has often been required to create a new web based site/product.

I recently attended a presentation by Charles Severance where he mentioned a course he teaches designed to bring non-programmer librarians up to speed with App Engine. He has also published a book, Using Google App Engine, that “assumes no existing knowledge of programming”.  I’ve decided to give this book a try to see if it can help non-programming entrepreneurs. In an upcoming post(s), I’ll try and apply the techniques outlined in the book to creating a new business concept. I’m hoping to determine if this approach will work for some of my friends who aren’t (and don’t want to be programmers). Stay tuned…


December 21st, 2009


I was reading through Paul Graham’s “18 Mistakes that Kill Start-ups” essay and found in note #13 an interesting idea and a possible answer to my previous post‘s quandry.

“[13] So how do you know whether you’re in the category of people who should quit their day job, or the presumably larger one who shouldn’t? I got to the point of saying that this was hard to judge for yourself and that you should seek outside advice, before realizing that that’s what we do. We think of ourselves as investors, but viewed from the other direction Y Combinator is a service for advising people whether or not to quit their day job. We could be mistaken, and no doubt often are, but we do at least bet money on our conclusions.”

For those that aren’t familiar with Y Combinator, it is a group that invests early in start-ups and puts them through a kind of boot camp to get them up to speed. Angel and early stage investors can offer an kind of audition of sorts for those of us trying to decide whether to do it full time or not.

 So write up a business plan and submit it to your nearest business plan competition-see if it goes anywhere. If it doesn’t get selected to win it all it doesn’t mean it is a bad idea and you won’t be successful but it can provide you with opposing pespectives that test your level of determination. Maybe even put a chip on your shoulder to prove some folks wrong.

Part-time Ponderings

December 16th, 2009

Currently I have a full-time job and am seeking to do a start-up or two on the side. Like many of us it is with plans to sometime switch from the full-time grind of working for someone else to the full-time grind of working for myself.

However, the whole work-life balance thing (like I ever really had it to begin with) gets thrown out of whack with this part-time approach because of that silly 24 hours in a day rule and this annoying thing called sleep (it really isn’t annoying-I love it actually). The problem is compounded if you have others in your life like a spouse or children.

As I examine my life and look to do those things which energize me and are most important to me I find that my current job just gets in the way, especially because it demands as much as I’ll give and then some. So I consider quitting…

It is like going to the edge of the high dive for the first time inching cautiously closer and peering over the edge before changing your mind and postponing it just a little longer-especially in this economy I tell myself.

The phrase “this economy” makes me think of all the opportunity there is because there is so much pain to solve. So I pause at the end of the diving board and glance back to consider it once again.

What if I just find a less demanding job that doesn’t require a long commute, in a place that doesn’t cost so much to live in? Would it get easier? I ask myself. Would I take a pay cut to have that? Would my family? Would I work a job that wasn’t fulfilling for that free time?

Then I start to dream a little more-what if it was job I actually enjoyed? Whoops back to working for someone else. So much for breaking out of my cage. So I look at learning from those who are doing it. What if I were to work for a start-up, that’s a good way to get my feet wet with this whole entrepreneurial thing. My daydreaming search turned up a few interesting sites that I wanted to share in case you happen to take this exit on the highway of life.

Here are a few job posting sites that specialize in working for start-ups. Warning some are geographic specific and others primarily focus on tech jobs:

Here’s hoping for a swan dive rather than a belly flop. Good luck everyone!

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