Category: Startups & MVP’s

Careers page is the next most important page on website

When we started to think of designing our careers home page, we were wondering if we could identify a few good ones. To our surprise we could not find one.

We believe the careers page is one of the most important pages that is often neglected. Often it is believed to hold value from talent acquisition perspective. However, a savvy client would first checkout the careers page. When we initially launched, the only thing on our website was careers page.

Career page depicts a very important thing about a company – CULTURE. What you write on careers page to attract talent tells the client a lot about the culture and core philosophy of the company and the kind of team they can expect to work with. It validates the bold statement on the home page which attempts to shout out – “we have a bright team”.

We hope to see a lot more beautifully designed career page on websites in the coming future. Please share any you know on this blog.

Important considerations before Hiring a Ruby on Rails Developer

I’ve been working on Ruby on Rails for over 3 and half years now and I’ve been interviewed by many companies both big and small. There have been occasions where I’ve come out of interviews feeling encouraged and motivated despite not getting hired and times when I’ve felt like giving up, wanting to keep programming as a hobby and move on to something completely different (but with a new job offer ). However, its evident that some companies have a knack of hiring people who are always motivated and in love with what they do and while others are okay having people just write some code and go home as long as they don’t complain.

There have been many articles on hiring Rails programmers or any kind of programmer and this post may be just one more to that list but these are some the things I have noticed over the years.

To set the backdrop, I work in Mumbai, India and my average work day generally involves working with my teammates who write code (and a few who don’t), talking to clients and travelling. A lot of the Rails shops in India are small to midsize companies (but there has been a sudden surge in Rails adoption in bigger organization too) where high attrition rates aren’t taken very seriously. Companies where the tenure of an average employee is about 7 months and I attribute this to company culture.

Culture

Its important to be realistic about what your offering a candidate and whether you would be able to live up to your commitments. For an employee, an honest, encouraging and forthcoming employer immediately generates a sense of belonging, a desire to take ownership, and a willingness to strive towards doing their best. The important consideration here is to know if your really making an effort to do whats within your powers to demand the best from your employee. Fat paychecks are great to grab attention but the its seldom enough to keep people going. Work towards building a nurturing culture it automatically attracts talent. Simon Sinek’s TED talk describes this beautifully where he explains, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

I worked with a friend (who is now an entrepreneur) who, after work would encourage me to work with him to build random stuff . We never really managed to build something awesome 🙁 but it taught us a lot about staying motivated. We’d figure out something to be excited about and would come up with ways to use it somewhere in our project. which bring me to side projects.

Impatient/Early Adopters/Side Projects

Its easy to find people who are impatient to try out new things just look at their github account. You’ll find a lot of projects without documentation or tests built purely to experiment on technologies they can’t force their clients to try. They are passionate people who are willing to try out stuff before its mainstream. Passionate programmers are what everyone’s after. Hire them!

Dabblers

Dabblers are developers who can dabble in different technologies to get the work done. They may not be the Javascript Ninja or the Ruby Hero who everyone walks up to at the conference but they know or can figure out enough to get the work done. Its essential that your programmers understand basic programming concepts but grilling candidates during interviews over obscure Rails API methods is pointless. APIs can be learned but whats important is to gather if candidates understand basic programming concepts like Object Orientated Programming.

Humility

I feel humility is hugely underrated at software companies. Its important to realize that software engineering is a team sport and its important that the arrogance of one rockstar programmer doesn’t bring the whole house down. Rockstar programmers are great to have but only if he can help your team to work better. I’ve been interviewed by “Rockstar programmers” whose sole aim was to point out things I sucked at (which was also useful in a way).

Sample Project

Its not always possible for several reasons but try to have your candidates work for you for a week with a fair agreement on a small module so that both of you have an idea of what its like to work together. Nothing works better than sitting down and writing code for actual stories.

Talkers

Maybe for sales and marketing. You’ll know when you see their github accounts.

These are my 2 cents on how to hire developers.

7 Great Websites Built Using Ruby on Rails

When it comes to web development, Ruby on Rails is our bread-and-butter. Our team is skilled using RoR, and we’re proud of the amazing things we can do with it. Of course, RoR is also an open source project, so a lot of people have been able to create some pretty great websites using it. Below, we’ve listed seven of our favorites that you might recognize. Many of these immensely popular sites are so large and complex, it’s no wonder they relied on Ruby on Rails developers.

1. Hulu


Hulu has relatively recently become the go-to place to catch up on TV shows online. They also host movies and exclusive Internet videos. If you have access to Internet, you no longer have to worry about missing the latest episode of your favorite show. RoR helps make Hulu’s large library attractive and easy to navigate on a variety of platforms.

2. Funny or Die


Funny or Die is comedian Will Ferrell’s brainchild. It hosts a deep database of videos featuring Ferrell and his funny friends, as well as other hilarious videos and pictures from around the web. Since the site is built on RoR, it boasts a number of slick features, like a community-based voting system for determining if a video is “funny,” or if it should “die.”

3. Yellow Pages


Remember “phonebooks?” Yeah, we don’t either. This website is the online incarnation of the giant yellow phonebook that used to (and occasionally still does) show up on doorsteps around town. This version doesn’t ever need recycling, and good RoR development has made it a joy to use.

4. Bleacher Report


Bleacher Report is a sports-focused website that relies heavily on user-created content. Because of the vast network of contributors (there are roughly 1000 original content postings a day), Bleacher Report needed to be a user-friendly system. It also integrates social media directly into the site.

5. Basecamp


Basecamp started it all. The Ruby on Rails framework was extracted from Basecamp, a web-based project management tool. Between providing the world with RoR and helping workers track progress on projects easily, Basecamp has created many unique experiences for a wide array of users.

6. Groupon


When Groupon first hit the scene back in 2008, it made huge waves in its test market of Chicago. Four years later, the company has expanded into cities around the world and now offers consumers a way to get great deals right in their own neighborhood. With RoR, their site has been designed to be simple and user-friendly, ensuring that each visitor gets exactly what they want.

7. Manage My Life


Manage My Life is a destination for life management that helps do-it-yourselfers cross items off their to-do lists, manage projects, find expert answers to their questions, and even download product manuals for tools around the house. Managed by Sears, the site was built on RoR to give Sears customers an easy way to put their purchases to work.

These sites are just a handful of examples of great things that have been done with Ruby on Rails development. What have we missed? Share some of your favorite RoR sites in the comments below!

Job boards are noisy

Job boards are noisy. There are zillions of job postings and gazillions of resume. They are powered by keyword searches which by no means are the best way to find what you are looking for.  Nither job seeker nor employers are able to make sense out of this data. Job seekers are restricted to their resumes and employers are overwhelmed by connecting with people who are not actively searching for jobs. To add to the frustration, employers barely get to know the job seeker and have to call them in for a personal interview.

The job board industry needs to evolve for betterment. We are proud to be a part of the moment with one of our newest client in Australia. We are about to launch a new job board which best describes itself by the phrase “Hire & get hired with confidence”.  We are targeting a lunch before this month end and we will keep you posted here.

7 lessons for your business website

Imagine a person walking up to you and starting to talk about herself, boasting about her abilities, asking you to believe that she is an expert and pushing you to take her out for a coffee. Now unless her father’s name is Apple or Groupon, you would not have any clue on who she is, no clue on why is she wasting your time and most importantly no clue on why is she asking you to spend your time and money on her.

Your business website is that beautiful charmer. She has only one agenda – engaging potential customers and generating curiosity to strike a conversation. She is with million others like herself trying to engage the same potential customers. If she is trained right, she can work wonders. So here are the lessons you should equip her with:

1. She should know her AIM

AIM: Aligned Intentional Markets
You do not want her to talk to any one and every one. She would be wasting her precious time in doing so. Your business website, if engages with people who are not the ones you want to work with, will generate garbage data and make it tedious tfor you o analyze the visitor data. Spend the time to know who your audience is. Narrow it down as much as possible. Making a generic website for every one is not worth it.
Moral of the story: Buiild it for ONE not for ALL.

2. Her First Smile

Beauty attracts the beast!. Are you looking for one?
Beauty lies in the beholders eyes, and what is beautiful to you might not be as admirable to others looking at it. With your website, there will be million other beautiful websites in the same space. Of course I am not asking you to have an ugly face, but it is important to understand that the trick is not being merely beautiful. It is in being personable enough with intelligent voice.

The first trick is in the greeting. How is your business website greeting your potential customers? Does it say – “I am an expert”?. Does it not recall the beginning of this blog? She is boasting about herself without any authority validating her claim.

A smart business website will talk to the audience about them. If they have come looking for something in your space, your business website can simply assert the fact that you can help. This draws their attention immediately as that is what is going on in their mind at that moment.
Moral of the story: Multiple landing pages.
More so, if you could be smart about wording her smile with some entertainment & emotional value, you are already making a connection.

3. Make her Friendly, Make her Casual

Humans speak human.
It is important to realize that your business website is not an advertisement. So do not make her speak advertising language. Speak human friendly, interesting, jovial(may be) and interest generating words.

When you talk like a human, it is easier to understand. Only humans make connections. If you sound authentic, fun to engage with , touch the emotional chord and match up the over all chemistry then you will have the opportunity to speak with the potential customer.
Moral of the story: Keep it terse, ask the right questions.

4. Tone her Voice

I love British accent. When they speak, I listen.
If she has a pretty voice with a beautiful accent, it improves the user experience for the listener. In terms of your business website, using good fonts cannot be ignored. Check out typekit, it has plenty of attractive fonts that it can lend you at very affordable prices. You could pick one to suit the personality of your business website.
Moral of the story: Font’s adorn.

5. Make her a good Listener

It requires courage to listen.
It is a misconception that a business website can speak but not listen. A business website sure can listen. She can listen to what her customer is navigating to. She can listen to what her customer is trying to find. She can provide a piece of blank paper in the form of a text box and ask to communicate. She can listen if the potential customer is tweeting something specific about her.

As she listens and learns, she evolves her style of communicating and modify her body language to have more and more success engaging the right people.
Moral of the story: Install analytics & learn from it.

6. Perfume her ONLY if it smells good

A woman should wear a perfume only if she is going to be kissed.
Having a beautiful picture on the website has no meaning unless it is conveying any information. Again,. By no meas am I you to make ugly looking web page. Feel free to use good colors, great fonts, gradient background, but think twice if you are only putting it to make it look good. You might be able to come up with a more meaningful image in that case instead of putting up abstract art. Or you might be able to simply change the layout of the page to smell good. Also lesser the images, better is the performance of your web page.
Moral of the story: Less image, less words, more information.

7. Train her Yourself

Maker her speak your words.
No one understands what your business stands for better than you do. Write the content yourself. Think of every line you write as if you are having a conversation with your potential customer. Try to answer all the questions that you have been asked thus far or the ones you think your clients would benefit from – tersely. What you write has a direct impact on who you impact. So make sure you write for your ideal customer.
Moral of the story: Write the content yourself.

Why invest in your elevator pitch?

Most entrepreneurs do not focus on the elevator pitch. Sure elevator pitch simply means how would you pitch your business to a potential customer in 30 seconds when you meet her in the elevator. However taking the jargon along, you must have a simple sentence describing your business. It should be more than what you do. It should resonate with the customers add value chord.

I came across a story recently which describes this very beautifully. It is about a blind man sitting on the road side with a write up on a piece of paper saying

I AM BLIND. PLEASE HELP

If you think about it, it is an elevator pitch about what the blind man is about and what he is looking for.  The sales figures were low – 9 dollars and 50 cents per day.

One day a man walked upon and saw the message. An entrepreneur he was who certainly valued  helping other entrepreneurs for no returns. He took the opportunity to change the write up to say

TODAY IS A BEAUTIFUL DAY BUT I CANNOT SEE IT.

Guess what? The sales went up to 47 $, 5X growth. When the entrepreneur came in the evening to see if it helped, the blind man recognized the footsteps and inquired about what did he do in the morning to see this sudden change.He said, I said the same thing you were saying it. But I put it differently to touch the emotional chord (add value chord) for your potential customers. That did the trick.

Of course reading the story certainly tells us that our elevator pitch “We are web developers specializing in Ruby on Rails” is similar to the blind man’s first messaging.  I wonder what should we put in to connect with the potential customers better.

Kindly make some suggestions as to how could a ruby on rails developer like you and like us, pitch ourselves.

Zappos incentivizes employees to quit – A Perspective

I came across a blog post that describes Zappos incentivizing employees to quit. The reason to do so is to ensure only the right ones stick around. Before I exhibit my views on the topic, I must mention that I like the work culture Tony Hsieh has built and I am a big fan of creating a fun organization culture like them. However, I am NOT connecting on this creativity of incentivizing people to quit for a few reasons.

INCENTIVE VALUE TOO SMALL

Zappos pays 1000 USD + current months salary to quit. The incentive is too low. Why would any one quit if they have just joined unless they have another offer at hand? If the incentive value is increased, it might not be a wise financial model to keep in place unless the profits are EMBARRASSINGLY large. I wonder if anyone even took the offer.

TOO SOON TO ASK TO LEAVE

The incentive is extended at the end of the first month, after completing the training program. This is too soon for the new joinee to decide if they are enjoying or not. On a new job, a month passes by just to get acquainted with the new environment and it might be too soon to chose to quit. They might need at least 6 months before they know if they are enjoying the new place or not.

DOES IT NOT SOUND INSULTING?

Extending such an offer to quit might depict distrust in employees. Even when they are hired, you are still in doubt of their integrity and throwing an incentive to further test them feels insulting.

I would prefer doing it the other way. Show the trust in people and instead of incentivizing them to leave, why not make it easy for them to leave. If someone is not liking working at your organization, its fine. At the end you want your people to be happy, don’t you?

In that case, why not help them find another job that would be right for them. Zappos have a life coaching service. If your employees are not happy, maybe they can help the employee understand what they might like. If such a role exists in Zappos, try to get them there, if not, show them the way to find it outside the organization. That adds value to people’s life and more importantly, you are doing good while running a business. Thoughts?

Why Build a Shopify App?

Orderly Shopify App

We recently delivered a project OrderlyPrint for a smart solopreneur who saw the need for it and how it could help save time for the store owners by aiding in printing invoices, labels, packing slips and packing lists in bulk. The project took 3 weeks to deliver from idea to inception. The application is very simple, but you can already see the add value it brings to the table for store owners by saving time for them. This triggered me to think why would people build apps for shopify and below are a few things I came up with:

IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM IS EASY

If you are a store owner yourself, you would be facing some problems yourself and can intelligently decide if an app would help. If not, shopify publishes a wishlist which you could look at to validate that the problem exists and would be used by several store owners.

QUICK MONETIZATION

Shopify platform allows you to monetize the app you built by making it available to over 20,000 existing stores that are living and doing business on their platform right now. You could add your app on Monthly subscription mode or a one time fee. So skin the cat as you wish to.

LESS STAGNATION

If you are not a developer yourself, or do not have enough time to build the app with your day job, know that building a shopify application is inexpensive as compared to other web ventures.

There are only around 150 shopify apps (correct me if I am wrong). When you compare it with any other giant like apple app store, there are more chances of your app being seen and used by the store owners. So its better to be some one in few than no one in many.

EASY TO SELL

Most apps sell from 5 bucks to 200 bucks. So if you could come up with an attractive pricing of around 25 bucks a month and can get 1% of the store owners to use it, you would make 200 X 25 = 8,000 USD per month per application.

LESS EXPENSIVE PROPOSITION

Hope this blog helps you decide on building your next shopify app. If you already have an idea and want to discuss it with us, we would be more than willing to answer your questions and share our experience building the application.

Thanks for reading this post and have a great day!

Why not to signup for a fixed bid project?

Startup’s have shoe lace budgets. Agreed. However you still do not want to go with fixed bid projects. Below are a few factors to realize:

MINIMAL VIABLE PRODUCT (MVP)

MVP is the most used word when you are about to build your idea. However, as you start to write down what your MVP comprise of, you pretty much put down everything under the sun to be delivered for the price you negotiated with your identified technology partner. At this point, you already deviated from letting your customer evolve your software, but are now building what you think the customer wants.

NOISY OUTCOME

If you pass all the “feature requests” through your shoe string budget, you end up building MVP. Now that you do not have to worry as the software development is fixed priced, all features get in and your product gets noisy. The retainer model helps you build your MVP better.

TECHNOLOGY PARTNER LOOSES INTEREST

You love your concept but it is more important that your technology partner loves working with you. Only then you have the right energy to create success and do justice to your idea. However, if they work on your project for a few months and have now gone over the time line they estimated, they no longer love your product and guess what, however hard they do not want, they wont be able to do a good job on your product.

RETAINER MODEL SAVES MONEY

Now that you are so much use to passing your feature requests through the funnel of your shoe string budget, you get so good at identifying what goes in and what does not, that you can call your MVP complete sooner than you expect. Spend those extra dollars on reaching out to the world and see if you want to build the product further or its time to think of another.

Before you build your product, think how will you sell it.

A lot of client with great ideas come to us and talk to us about building their product. Of course some of these ideas are very good. However, they never think of engaging into the thought process on how would they position it and sell it. It is utmost important to think and know how you are going to position and sell even before you start building your product. Your marketing has to be figured out before you have a working software.

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