My Startup

Lesson 1: My experience as an early stage startup employee.

This is the first lesson in the series: Why Should You Consider being an Early Stage Startup Employee. This mini-course is from our monthly event series: Femgineer Forum, which was sponsored by nousDECOR in April 2014. By Poornima Vijayashanker If you think that being at an early stage startup employee means that you just work 100 hour weeks, then you're in for a surprise! Having been an early stage startup employee at Mint.com, and having started my own startups: BizeeBee and Femgineer, I've gotten a real sense ... Read more

Journey From Founding Engineer to Founder, Lesson 2: Invest in Infrastructure

By Poornima Vijayashanker A little over 4 years ago I decided to transition from being a founding engineer to a founder. I knew that I could build a product and recruit a team, I had learned those skills at my first startup, Mint.com. But I was really curious to know what it was like to be a founder. I wanted to build a company and a business. Most recently I’ve met many engineers out there who are contemplating this transition, and maybe filled ... Read more

Running Remote and Making Progress

This post was inspired by the Startup Edition prompt, “How do you build a team?" When I started BizeeBee, I had one word in mind, freedom. More specifically, I wanted the freedom to be able to work from anywhere, and still make progress. However, having never built or run a remote team I knew I'd need help. My co-founder Alex Notov had a very strong vision for how to make this possible. Having been a freelancer for a few years, he had developed ... Read more

Seven Somethings That Keep Me Smiling

The journey of a founder is tough.  You have to get comfortable with rejection, learn to bounce-back from mistakes made due to a lack of knowledge or experience, and keep hoping that your vision will come to reality.  All the while motivating others, building and shipping a product, and finding ways to make the business profitable!      While I've been in startup land for 7+ years, it's officially been 3 years since I started my entrepreneurial journey as a founder.   It ... Read more

Preoccupations Over Pricing

Using growth as an excuse for not putting a price on a product or a service is just denying the inevitable, a lack of a business model.  So you can wait, raise a bunch of money, and then figure out how to monetize.  Hopefully you'll then make enough to have justified the investment.  But let's assume that for the time being you don't have a business that is fundable, how long are you going to give away your product before you ... Read more

How to Attract and Sell to Early Adopters

During a recent office hours a student asked me how I got early adopters for my startup BizeeBee.  I started by telling them about what I did for the first 6 months of BizeeBee, back in 2010. Conversations Create Converts I had been doing yoga with a number of studio owners for many years, volunteered behind the front-desk, but I didn't know how to run a studio.  Then one day I was telling Linda, a fellow yoga practitioner and studio owner, about an ... Read more

Conversations Potential Co-Founders Should Have

I recently met up with a friend of mine to have tea and catch up in San Francisco. I hadn't seen him since he had sold his last company a year ago. He was really eager to get to work on his next idea. As he was telling me his idea I got excited, because I had heard this same concept only two weeks ago. A friend of mine in Seattle had already built the prototype for it! I decided I ... Read more

Blurred vision is better than blindness

Everyone by this point knows that one of the primary tasks of a startup founder is to set the vision for the company.  Yes there are additional tasks such as keeping employees motivated, recruiting new talent, and good old fundraising.  But for now lets focus purely on setting the vision.  Initially, this is one of the hardest tasks because there are three things that determine the vision: What will the product be? Who will the product be for? How will the product and company ... Read more

Culture of Constraints

In 4 days it will be the 1 year anniversary of launching BizeeBee my second startup. When I started BizeeBee I was determined to put in place engineering principles that I hadn't been able to at previous companies.  I also wanted to avoid a lot of bad practices that I had experienced throughout my career such as splitting the responsibilities of development and testing, and product bloat. I know most startups like to take the quick and dirty approach to product ... Read more

Challenges of Getting Early Adopters, Acquiring Customers & Monetizing

I've gotten some requests recently to write a post on how we've gotten early adopters at my startup BizeeBee and how we got them at Mint.  I hate to burst everyone's tech bubble but there is no secret for getting early adopters.  I also want to address two concepts in this posts getting early adopters vs. methods for customer acquisition.  The reason for the dichotomy is that an early adopter is essentially a product tester and product evangelist.  They will stick around forever and are highly ... Read more
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