What’s Your Angle?

This post might bite me in the ass one day, but what the hell right?

Running your own start-up is not easy.  In fact, its insanely frustrating for many reasons. Try telling ‘regular’ people your idea over and over and for it to just go straight over their heads.  Either that or they’ll instantly think its crap because they don’t understand it.  Then they’ll wonder, “seriously, what do you REALLY do for work?”  You get to the point of asking yourself: “Why bother even mentioning it?”.

Worse yet, try pitching your start-up and/or idea to a tech blog.  I recently sent an email to a tech blog explaining what FantasySP does and why its a neat place to go for fantasy sports fanatics.  It really works and it really provides an incredibly useful service.  I even provided my Google Analytics stats.  The response?  “Nice, just trying to think of an angle…“.  An angle? Are you kidding me?  The angle is that it’s a bootstrapped profitable start-up with loads of cool features.

He doesn’t give a shit that the business is profitable with me working on it 20 hrs a week.  He doesn’t give a shit that I’ve coded a product that people use, to the tune of 700,000 pageviews in September.  Or that I’ve managed to keep costs under $300 per month and make approximately 10X that in revenue.  Or that my start-up outperforms some that have 10+ employees with over a million dollars in funding.  Or that I’ve done it all myself with no prior experience of the business world.  I can go on and on, but none of that matters.

But this is my fault for foolishly not knowing.

What matters is that my start-up needs an angle that they find interesting.  It doesn’t matter if your startup even does what it claims to do or if your profitable.  If I pitched some shitty idea revolving an iPad app and daily deals with facebook integration I bet they’d be at least following up my email with questions.  Why?  Because its on-the-surface buzzword bullshit that attracts them to write and bring in the pageviews.

If you want your product mentioned, then modesty is not going to work.  You have to play their game by overvaluing your product.  Make outrageous claims like its the next Twitter meets Groupon.   Lets look at a start-up like Color.  I mean, why the hell did anyone even write about that shithole of an idea to begin with?  Because Color is a product of arrogant bullshit from people who have been successfull before, and it will outweigh any logical thought or reasoning as to if it might work.

Everything about startup culture is complete bullshit. People would rather believe and write about pompous arrogant assholes who lie through their teeth about their product.  I bet half the time, the things written in articles are BARELY half-truths.  Why else would all of these start-ups go belly up within a few months?

I give people in the start-up world too much credit (which, if you knew me, is actually pretty remarkable).  People only skip across the surface, and I just have to face the facts and move along.  I’m no longer focusing on getting an investor on board, or trying to be mentioned in a tech blog, or trying to be acquired.  If these things happen, great, but I’m not about to waste my time when I could be improving my existing product.


The cost of running a boot-strapped startup

I’ve seen a few well known entrupenurs make mention of services that they pay for and I’d like to join the club.  For those of you unfamiliar with me, I run a fantasy sports news aggregator called FantasySP.  You can sync fantasy leagues rosters/transactions and be alerted of real-time player tends.  This is bootstrapped in every single way, as I am the sole employee and have zero funding.

The following companies are awesome and deserve my money and/or praise.

Web Host: ServInt $200/month

Not a flashy name in the hosting industry, but they provide solid managed services.  I use their Solo Express server to run FantasySP on a standard LAMP stack. A few other sites (like this one) also run on it.  It is actually about 10% cheaper than this because I pay a year in full.

Cheap Cloud Host: Rackspace Cloud $25/month

For all of those background processes that need to be run for FantasySP, a cheap cloud server from Rackspace does the job with a very fair price.  Highly recommend it to anyone who wants a cheap host to screw around with or run dozens of cronjobs. 🙂

CDN/DNS: Amazon Cloudfront & Cloudflare $8/month / FREE

Amazon Cloudfront is where I store most of my images,stylesheets, and javascript to speed things up.  For the images that slip through the cracks, there is Cloudflare, which offers an amazing service that is part CDN, part firewall, and part dns optimizer.  I have written about them in the past.  I use their free service, the rest of the $8 is spent on Amazon’s Cloudfront.

Version Control System: Github $7/month

Seriously, where else would I host FantasySP’s code and have version control.  Github is my first and only choice.

Realtime Analytics: Clicky $4.16/month

The best real-time analytics package out there.  I have no idea why people in the industry seem to blindly love chartbeat. Clicky is better in every way combing historical and real-time analytics in a great UI.

Application Performance Analysis: NewRelic $50/month

The best real-time software to monitor how your application is performing.  This has enabled me to spend less money on my hosting due to optimizations based on what NewRelic data and graphics tells me.  FantasySP zooms and NewRelic has a lot to do with it.  With around 700,000 pageviews per month, FantasySP remains rock solid.  These guys rock and are totally worth the money.

Source Code Editor: Notepad++ FREE

Notepad++ for windows, its free and it does just about everything those super expensive pay ones do.  (Why the heck is UltraEdit so damn expensive?)

Grand Total: $295 per month

This brings my grand total of web developer / startup related expenses to about $295.  The good news is that FantasySP more than makes up for these expenditures.  I try to not waste any money, so how do my expenses stack up to yours?  I am guessing most companies pay at least $500 per month JUST for hosting.


Full Disclosure, some of the links provided here are affiliate links.



Switch from Google Chrome DEV to Beta Channel

If you are like me, then you’re sick of the Google DEV channel getting screwed up by new bugs. (I thought that was the whole point of the Canary build?)  Recent hair-pulling bugs include: fonts no longer rendering properly, sluggish performance on Twitter, or random crashes that weren’t there a build ago.

Well, fear not.  I just decided to downgrade from Chrome DEV to BETA and I kept ALL my user data.  Here is what you do:

  1. Backup your “User Data” folder first.  For windows 7 users: C:\\Users\YOUR-USERNAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\ . You’ll notice that this folder is fairly big, in fact, mine weighed in at around 1 gig. If you are on an earlier version of windows or a different OS, then head here for more paths.
  2. Next, close Chrome and go to Add/Remove programs to uninstall.  When asked, Do not remove your user data.
  3. Now open up another browser and head over to the beta channel download page.
  4. After you install, Chrome will open and you’ll notice that it did not save any of your settings. Don’t panic.
  5. Close Chrome and head over to your folder again C:\\Users\YOUR-USERNAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome
  6. Rename “User Data” to “User Data OLD” (just incase) and then copy over your backed-up folder.
  7. Open Chrome and rejoice, all of your data is exactly how you left it.
No more weird DEV bugs anymore!  Enjoy. 🙂