Startup Engineering – an introduction

At Coursera Balaji (Standford Phd, CTO/Founder that raise 65 M+) and Vijay (MIT Grad) teach practical software engineering skills. Their course is about everything they wished to known when starting their companies. This includes lots of UNIX, emacs, JS and web programming.

In the first week they give an introduction into the startup culture. You can find a short overview over the first weeks content attached.

What Is a Startup?

A new found business build to grow rapidly (NOT like a barber shop). You should search a new niche with a huge market and be the first one to take over the place here. Often new technology is involved and it is about going from 0 to 1, not 1 to N. 

A startup solves a problem for your users and you have two tasks. first solving this problem and second  making everybody knowing about and using your solution. Most important: targeting your growth rate each week (5 – 10 %), use new registrations, active users, shares, etc (whatever makes sense to make this stats). There is no speed limit when starting up, execute and learn/

Startups in the Past:

1800s -> startups for oil, steel, pharmaceutical, telegraphs
1900s -> automobile, aviation, telephone

There are many similarities between past and today. New technology involved new markets and many business were started in a non-regulated environment, because it was so new (NON-REGULATED MARKED). Many company started with a common name pattern (e.g. .com phase (amazon.com) OR name car company after founder (FORD, CHRYSLER, …). And startup costs were low -> startups in flats (eg. one who sold oil on a one barrel base from his living room), they grew rapidly, scaled very well. Many companies pop-up during such a start, only a few survive and take over the whole market.

  • SO WHAT IS IMPORTANT?
    • ONE: low entry costs
    • TWO: few / no laws
  • MVP (minimum viable product) – lean startup – has to be cheap!
  • Startups in the present
    • technological ground: Internet starts in 1980, broad spreading around 1990 (TCP/IP WWW in 1991)
    • political ground: collapse of soviet union + National Science Founadation Acceptable Use Policy was removed (which banned commerce on the internet) -> huge, global market existed // fall of iron curtain
      • acceptable use policy -> existed because of the fear of wide-spread of drugs, porn and spam, malware AND users academia and military did not search for traffic
      • fractions: the globalizations coefficient G (the more juice states there are equals allowed transactions, higher = better)
    • first of all, technology was available, but market not ready, then, the market WAS READY
    • -> rise of the internet start up
  • key features of internet startupsscalable -> only servers
    • market size -> global
    • generality -> software eats the world, form everything out of nothing
    • low capitol barrier -> computer is cheap + open source
    • low laws / regulatory barriers -> code is law, but this might change (PRISM, SOPA, …)
    • long tail -> endless specificity
    • failure tollerance -> still virtual, not physical, probs if it gets real (global stock market, airplanes, …)
  • what is startup engineering
    • startup engineering like chessboxing
    • getting something to work well enough for people to buy!
    • academia like zero customers -> chess
    • architecture astronauts -> planning for infinite number of customers -> boxing
    • in between of both lies startup engineering / software engineering
    • most of all: systems integration (new technologies, snapping pieces together)
  • design, marketing and sales
    • in a startup, you have to do all this side tasks (can’t concentrate on programming only)
    • you have to solve real world problems (office, furniture, garbage)
    • it is all about problem solving as fast as possible -> HN meetup
    • at start you need to do a lot of things on your own, because there is no money
    • later on, you can move this tasks to other ones
    • BUT to start and hire great people, you also need brochures, pages, etc.
  • why mobile html5mobile is the future
    • responsive design
    • location independence = bigger scope
    • simplicity
    • ubiquity
    • JS as future

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