How a Non-Technical Founder Recruited Her Technical Co-Founder

Interview with Melody McCloskey, CEO and co-founder of StyleSeat  By Poornima Vijayashanker Today we sit down with Melody McCloskey to talk about how she started StyleSeat. Melody dropped out of her high school C++ programming class, but she knew how to manage developers, and she worked closely with one to create a product prototype. This prototype, paired with her research and vision, helped her recruit her technical co-founder, Dan Levine. Learn how her early product traction, market research, and passion for the idea ... Read more

From Learning to Code, to Building a Prototype, and then Getting it Funded

Interview with Alyssa Ravasio, CEO and Founder of Hipcamp By Poornima Vijayashanker Alyssa Ravasio loved the outdoors and was fed up with the outdated campsite reservation systems in California. She set out to fix the problem, and since she had a non-technical background, her first line of business was to learn how to code. She took classes at Dev Bootcamp, which enabled her to build a prototype while she was a scholarship student in my Lean Product Development Course. She launched the prototype ... Read more

Dealing With Deadlines That Are Doomed

By Poornima Vijayashanker As we get close to the end of the year, we get pulled in a number of directions, both personally and professionally. This can of course induce a case of I just don’t wanna. And we’ve probably committed ourselves to deadlines, only to discover that we probably won’t meet them. Instead of just coming right out and saying the obvious, “This deadline is unrealistic, and then providing reasons.” We put in longer and longer hours. In some cases we meet the ... Read more

Bootstrapping a Startup to a $100M Exit Outside Silicon Valley

 Interview with David Cummings, CEO and Co-founder of Pardot By Poornima Vijayashanker David Cummings started a business in college and used it as a test subject, as well as a funding source, for his next company, Pardot. He built an MVP in 45 days, but customers didn’t want it. Learn how David used this early feedback to pivot, hire a great first sales rep, and grow the company into a multimillion-dollar business that was acquired by ExactTarget, then Salesforce—all outside of Silicon Valley. Pardot ... Read more

How to Gain Traction Through Partnerships & Avoid Becoming a Commodity

Interview with David Terei, CEO and Co-founder of Memcachier By Poornima Vijayashanker When Amazon launched ElastiCache, an in-memory cache web service, David Terei and a fellow Stanford PhD student named Amit Levy were fascinated with the technology. Rather than being intimidated by the giant, they were inspired to make a better version of the product that would make developers’ lives easier. They talked to potential developer customers, validated the need for the product, and then built MemCachier. Read on to hear how they ... Read more

Bootstrapping a Startup to a Profitable Multi-Million Dollar Business

Interview with Ben Congleton, CEO and Co-founder of Olark By Poornima Vijayashanker A high-school-aged Ben Congleton started an IT consulting company with a couple friends and just $100. The next company he bootstrapped, Olark, is now a multi-million dollar business. In this interview with Ben, we’ll learn why his cofounder team decided to bootstrap instead of raising much capital, and how they got their first customers. Olark is a live chat software service that helps businesses boost sales, resolve issues, and understand their customers.  Poornima: ... Read more

Turn Your Skills into a Startup

Interview with Thomson Nguyen, CEO and Co-Founder of Framed Data By Poornima Vijayashanker I sat down with Thomson Nguyen, CEO and Co-founder of Framed Data, to chat about how he based the company on his existing expertise from his previous job. We also talked about why it’s OK — and smart — to launch an early product even if breaks a little, in order to get validation that customers what it. Framed Data takes data from businesses and turns it into actionable insights and decisions. Poornima: “Let’s start with your background. What ... Read more

How an Early Employee Made Her Mark at a Growing Startup

Interview with Brittany Forsyth, Head of Human Relations at Shopify   I sat down with Brittany Forsyth, the Head of Human Relations at Shopify, to discuss what it’s like to work on someone else’s startup idea as an early employee. Brittany joined the company when it was a 20-person fledgling business and has seen the culture evolve as the service spread worldwide. Shopify is a commerce platform that allows anyone to sell products online, in-store and everywhere in between. It powers over 100,000 retailers in ... Read more

Getting Your Product Hunted Like a Pro

By Poornima Vijayashanker Back in 2007 I was working on my first startup,, and in our efforts to be scrappy we explored a variety of marketing platforms to acquire our first set of users. A few of the folks on our marketing team mentioned that they wanted to leverage the content from our blog on Digg. Instead of just putting it out there, they took the time to understand how to use Digg effectively, through a combination of infographics and high-quality ... Read more

Interview with Julia Grace, Head of Engineering at Tindie

Where do NASA, Google, Intel, and the world’s best makers go to create and buy gadgets? They head over to Tindie, the popular hardware marketplace. If anyone knows how to build great products and manage a top-tier engineering team, it’s Julia Grace, Tindie’s Head of Engineering. I sat down with Julia to talk about her approach to building an engineering team and products. In this excerpt from our interview, you’ll learn about her journey from 8-bit video game programmer to Silicon Valley ... Read more
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