Prototyping stack (for non-developers)

For non-technical people who have an idea for a digital product, I’ve noticed two reasons that keep them from pursuing: 1) anxiety towards sacrificing some aspect of their life to make the time, and 2) convincing themselves that they need a technical cofounder and/or funding to build something tangible. This essay aims to dismiss reason #2, by clarifying some free (or price-of-several-coffees) tools I’ve used to build a functional web application version-1; my prototyping stack. …


It’s ok to ignore most startup advice because they focus on making things better (and you’re just trying to launch)

The never-ending amount of good advice for building startups causes decision-paralysis for an early stage founder. The purpose of this essay is to temporarily pause that advice and propose a simplified way to think about the product being built, the team doing work, and achieving traction through sales. Successfully answering the below questions are sufficient to conclude a startup “ready” for pitching to accelerators & seed investors.

Product (Viability)

Are people using your product how you expect & as often as you expect?

A simplified way to conclude whether the design and features are satisfactory (or to keep iterating the product /…


How to motivate cofounders to keep doing hard work

My main struggle with the endless advice around “productivity hacks” is that they all pretty much work. However, they are meant to optimize; that is, take a team that’s doing well, and make them do the good things better. When my team (or my own) moral / productivity is at an all time low, I’ve noticed that I’m facing a new type of challenge — not a lack of “optimization”, but instead a lack of “a convincing enough reason to keep pushing forward”. I’ve seen this situation manifest itself in different ways — depression, procrastination by working on low priority…


Learning (and using) remote practices for early stage startup teams

A surprising realization came several months into moonlighting with a friend on a new startup idea — we were hyper productive when working together in a crappy co-working space, yet drastically less productive when we were instead working apart in our homes / coffee shops — turns out, we were kinda working “remotely” when we were apart, except without any remote practices implemented to encourage productivity. …


How to fall in love with a problem and user demographic

I’ve noticed friends with startup ambitions, as well as folks who check out co-working spaces from time-to-time, spend significant time bouncing between various ideas. This observation exists in the corporate environment as well —I’ve seen directors and VPs who find themselves in a position to kickoff side-experiments struggle with picking an experiment that gets enough of their conviction to turn the idea into a first-version prototype (which, I’d argue, makes the startup initiative “real”). …


Duties of project managers that are actually appreciated by team members

After observing project management through various lenses — working as a junior & senior PM, working in a Program Management Office overseeing PMs, being an individual contributor dealing with PMs from different teams, seeing PMs in action who hold certifications in PMP / Agile, being an analyst on a team that thoroughly vented about JIRA tickets as the day approached 6pm — I’ve concluded that there are many ways to be a bad Project Manager, and several ways to be thanked for being part of the team. …


Startup event behavior for pre-funded founders

During a startup accelerator information session I noted a peculiar religious practice: as two strangers walked up to each other, they would promptly begin the conversation with some variation of the question, “what are you working on?” which launched a question-answer-dance that determined whether they would keep talking (or politely eject). I’ve attempted to deconstruct the conversation into its parts, and suggest answers that would unlock the next part of the conversation. …


Product Idea → MVP

The “V” in MVP (minimum viable product) wasn’t clear to me in the lean startup methodology, nor in best-practice interviews with product managers, so building several versions of a consumer app helped define this checklist for determining whether our app was finally “good enough” to the first 100 users. I’m curious whether this logic can also be applied to the milestones of 1k / 100k / 1m users, and will release an update after finding out. …

Vlad Shulman

I appreciate you tuning into my thoughts on launching product ideas. Feel free to let me know what’s on your mind @ vlaaaaad.com

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