The Energy of an Office

Spending the summer of 2012 surrounded by 11 other amazing companies in Techstars Boulder meant constantly bouncing software development ideas of one another, talking markets and strategy and bonding over financing discussions, mentor meetings and late night weekly Techstars meetings. All of these interactions and activities can be summarized as the Energy of an Office.

After Techstars Boulder Summer 2012 ended, several teams stayed in the office to continue growing their businesses, PivotDesk is one of them. I am never the first one to the office, the lights are always on, there’s always buzz, phone calls, meetings and random important people that I don’t know walking around. I have thrived off this energy in just the few short weeks since Demo Day. Being around other smart people, saying hello around the water cooler, random chit chat about cycling, skiing and software….these things are important. The Energy of an Office, much like the ambiance of a restaurant, cannot be quantified but should always be appreciated.

Find a great home for your business, for now. Visit PivotDesk to find Office Space for Startups with great energy.

Great Jason Calacanis Riff About Boulder, CO

In an interview with Kindara, a Boulder based startup that helps Women monitor fertility, Jason Calacanis discussed Boulder’s business culture.

“The thing about Boulder is everybody is so damn smart and fit and active and intelligent and friendly, it’s absolutely disgusting as a New Yorker but God, you go there and people are like How Can I Help You and Let’s Have An Interesting Conversation and I’m well read and I’m fit and let’s go for a mountain bike ride and talk about the NY Times I just read cover to cover.”

I love this rant.  With Techstars Demo Day a week away, it’s a good time to reflect on the unique ecosystems like Boulder. The Work-Life Balance, Entrepreneurial Density and Exciting Tech Scene make the days fly by and my personal productivity much higher.  Techstars is a prime example of the support a Community can provide, this summer has truly been inspiring.  I’m just happy to be a part of it all.  Thanks for the kind words @Jason…and if you’re wondering, Yes I had Tofu today, read the NY Times and am running a 1/2 Ironman on Sunday to clear my head before Demo Day Aug 9th  😉

Discussion of Boulder, CO starts around Minute 20 of this interview.

The Definition of “Going Live”

Today, Brad Feld walked into my office (well, the Techstars office) and yelled “Time to spin up more dynos PivotDesk!”  5 minutes earlier he and Jason Mendelson had tweeted about PivotDesk which drove 50 concurrent users to our Beta site looking for flexible office space in Boulder.

Our site caved, I added more dynos and restarted all processes and we were back (Thanks Ryan Cook).  The dumbest 10 minutes of my summer at Techstars Boulder thus far.

2012-07-25T22:45:23+00:00 app[web.1]: Started GET "/" for 174.29.90.125 at 2012-07-25 22:45:23 +0000
2012-07-25T22:45:23+00:00 heroku[router]: Error H12 (Request timeout) -> GET beta.pivotdesk.com/assets/layout/denver-img.png dyno=web.1 queue= wait= service=30000ms status=503 bytes=0

“Going Live” is a tricky thing in the enterprise and in Startups.  Leading a large team for the past 2 years at a global enterprise software company, “Going Live” was always about when we felt comfortable telling the disjointed Marketing department that they could make banners for conferences and write whitepapers to put on the website.  I heard “When will it be ready” thousands of times.  “Being Live” meant a 100% bug free, feature complete product that everyone thought was perfect.  Of course this was not realistic and we struggled constantly to come to a shared understanding across the company about this.

In a Startup, “Going Live” means people start tweeting about you.

Here are 2 lessons I reflected on today during my long run up Boulder Canyon to cool down after my fuckup:

1. The day you turn off some kind of basic auth is the day you should increase your infrastructure.

I was kicking back listening to Jeff Clavier drop knowledge on the Techstars teams when my phone started buzzing and the New Relic alerts started arriving.  I had no expectation of increased traffic today and we had not had a single infrastructure hiccup in 60 days since deploying to production for the first time.  My mistake was not thinking of the site as live even though it absolutely was.

2. “Being Live” is not the same thing as MVP, Alpha, Beta, Prototype

You’ve probably heard the question “Are you live?” and the response “Yes, live with a MVP” or “Yes, live with an Alpha”.  That’s all well and good.  Getting feedback fast, not being afraid to put things out there and iterating quickly are wonderful things for software development.  Powering those early versions with weak infrastructure is not acceptable.  Although I had all of the right stuff in place (monitoring, backups, analytics, ability to scale), I was not ready for today’s traffic increase.

So, learn from me and don’t let this happen to you.

Find flexible, scalable office space for your High Growth Business in Boulder and Denver right now with PivotDesk

Hiring Senior Rails Developers at PivotDesk

Position:  Senior Rails Developer, Full-Time
Company: PivotDesk
Location:  Boulder, CO

Our ideal candidate is an experienced Ruby on Rails developer that is comfortable making architecture decisions, especially around eCommerce. We offer an environment where highly motivated, self-learners will grow their knowledge and capabilities in all tiers of Rails application development and deployment.  Our offices are located in downtown Boulder in vibrant, open space.  We use PivotalTracker, utilize Lean Startup methods and work with many interesting technology companies in the Boulder/Denver area.

Our Environment: Ruby on Rails, PostGres, Heroku, Redis, Resque, jQuery, HTML, CSS

Required skills:

  • Proven experience developing significant web applications
  • Solid Ruby on Rails development experience
  • Commitment to agile development practices
  • Knowledgeable in relational database technologies, including PostGres
  • Proficiency with Git
  • Proficiency interfacing with and developing APIs

To apply, please email kelly@pivotdesk.com.

A few of my Startup Ideas

I love my job but am always dreaming up new ideas.  I talk about these ideas with friends who usually have great suggestions.  I keep a diary of these ideas but that doesn’t seem like a good way to keep the ideas flowing.

Keeping these ideas private adds no value, so here’s the list:

Commute store

As eco themes, transportation, bikes, buses and trains command more attention and revenue from state and local governments more people are thinking about how they commute.  I envision a retail store where people could shop for products they use in their daily commute.  The store would need a learning component to it showcases new ideas in commuting and have relationships with other local stores to sell products such as bikes.

Gear Layaway

I love sites like Mint.com and SmartyPig.com that promote new ways to manage your money and save.  Consumers get into credit card debt by purchasing big ticket items then paying a high interest rate.  Retails Shops often feel “it’s the Consumers responsibility to manage their money”.  It’s time everyone comes together to create a better option.

Comment on the conversation here:

and on the Startup Weekend website.

Relationship timeline

My wife and I talk alot about dates of meaningful moments in our past.  Although I remember what we did, I can never remember the actual dates.  Providing a way for couples to enter key dates, upload photos and share these dates on Facebook would be a cool web app.  A nice timeline view and a public presence of this application would be key.

Nanny log

A relatively new idea I’ve been thinking about.  We have a 14 mo old daughter and a great Nanny.  She logs her miles and expenses, needs to post her vacation time and around tax time, needs us to provide her with a W2 showing her weekly paychecks and other payments (overtime, etc).  When our daughter was a baby, our Nanny would also log daily activities and feeding schedules.  Today, we use a binder and Basecamp to communicate with eachother, seems like their could be a web app to handle this better.

One Level of Knowledge

Around the water cooler I am talking about sports, pop culture and other topics relevant to our company.  I would love to subscribe to a daily email about these topics.  Did the Rockies just trade their star player?  Did the Broncos decide on a new QB for the upcoming season.  I love being armed with one level of knowledge to participate in these 2 minute water cooler conversations.

If you like any of these ideas I’d love to hear your thoughts.