I took that advice quite literally this weekend. After spending much of my life working in an industry that's behind the times as far as Internet policies go*. I decided the best professional path for me is one that converges with my long term startup goals. Admittedly, we've struggled to zero in on a market we can best serve with a critical value product at Victus Media. I need to get stronger, faster, and hyper connected to have a shot at success. I want nothing more than to be a founder first, and I'm not afraid to knuckle down and take a different road to get there.
What I'm not
I gotta face facts:
- I'm not FU rich, every paycheck counts
- I'm not an ex Googler/Facebooker/Paypaler
- I'm not a top tech blogger, journalist, or professional marketer like the guys I regularly link to
- I'm not an Ivy league grad who's tight with active Angels or VCs. To me Stanford is some place in Connecticut (faulty neural merge of Stamford and Stanford), and University is a place people go to procrastinate (been there)
Who and What I am
I'm just a guy who reads and interacts on a dozen of the best startup-centric blogs. I listen to the opinions of pros and amateurs to get a broad perspective. I learn every morsel I can from anyone who's knowledgeable about starting a business, preferably Internet based. I read what they publish and fire off questions by comment or by email if there's no comment section. I've got a soapbox sized blog of my own, with the world's finest feedback. After deciding network apps and social data mining are the future, I started cobbling together my first ugly php app without an ounce of experience last year. Forgive the horror of that one, I've gotten a little better at design since then^.
Why the Master Crafted Katana is Razor Sharp, it's steel Hammered and Folded over 400 Times
Why shouldn't I earn a solid rep and learn by working with one of the best web app startup teams in the world? If you want to understand fusion, there's no better place to be than where it's hot, at the center of the sun.
Here's an excerpt of an email I sent to a friend about the New York City companies and positions that looked like killer opportunities for me:
My gut is telling me I've gotta learn from people who've successfully built products before, in order to understand the process of bringing a product to market better.
Twilio's gunning for disrupting telecom so they automatically got my interest.
Indeed is doing some fantastic work on finding relevance for job search, and analysis there could be fun with stats/quant.
Clickable also posted a stats/quant background position for their tracking team.
Bug labs was a curiosity to me, the lab reminded me of college junior lab, but they're doing it with modern digital wireless. Of all of the companies, they may have the biggest market with the rapidly growing Internet of things.
10gen's supporting the fastest and meanest nosql DB out there with Mongo**. Plenty of awesome sounding positions within their business all over the web stack.
Of course Boxee's tackling set top boxes, which is a rapidly growing area with some heavy hitting competition.
Outside.in is going after personal relevance with hyper local news, and that's a project I've been enthusiastic about. That's a big market that customized magazines apps like paper.li and Flipboard have shown promise in for early adopters. I've built my own news for about a year now.
Um yeah, pretty much all of those companies had great openings that matched my interests/background. No matter where I end up there will be a steep learning curve to dive into their specific technology.
The deciding factor for me will be the culture of the startup, and the vibe the founders have instilled into the young organizations.
ps: I threw the gauntlet down to Hunch as well (I've written about them a number of times). They have a novel take on search with pseudo inductive reasoning and taste/people clustering with a wicked web app that sucks you in for hours.
*= Chrome isn't allowed at my old-school engineering job because of vulnerabilities in 2008, and IE7 is the suggested default browser. Each office shares a T1 with 10+ people (which is 10x as expensive as a cable modem and 10x slower).
^= I've gotten better with the help of Tyler pushing us into Rails in October last year. See our first "real" app the Intelligent Media Manager. It's no Flipboard (warning it waits on APIs = slow). If only we had streaming or preferably Pubsubhubbub access to twitter last year. My prettiest site is my resume, because it's built on the open source HTML5ish template crafted by Googlers and Matt Nowack.
**= Disclaimer on databases. I'm a big fan of the design of CouchDB and each DB has a place in the future market. The folks from Heroku wrote up a fantastic quick description of some practical DB alignment