Category Archives: startup

Grace Hopper talk options.

A friend suggested I propose a talk at Grace Hopper this year.  She was thinking I could do a sort of introduction to data visualization (which I already outlined for my Analytics department shortly before I left).  I feel like there are more suitable women for giving a lecture on that, but maybe I’m not giving myself enough credit.  I’m sure “not giving yourself enough credit” is a common theme at Grace Hopper!

Here are some topic ideas, one educational, one personal-inspirational, and one idea-inspirational.  What do you guys think I should talk about?

Introduction to Data Visualization (Data Science track)
I’ve been paid to work on the programmatic visualization of abstract data since 2005 (doing it for personal use since…1999?), so I can give people some solid advice, but I’m not always up on the latest research.  Most of the time in industry, though, the latest sexy thing is not useful.  This is almost as true in data visualization as it is in machine learning (Seriously…the regression model or equivalent is the best choice at least 90% of the time.)  So I’m sure I can cover all the crucial pieces for an intro course.  The upside of this option is that I’ve got an outline lying around somewhere from a lecture I was going to give at my previous job.

Straight From Lower-middle Management to Tech Founder (Career track)
This would be a my personal story with observations, anecdotes and advice.  I can’t guarantee it will be a complete success story, but it’s been a very interesting process for me, and puts my previous experiences in a different light where my gender probably made more difference than I thought.  Quite relevant for the conference.

Social Analytics: So Much More We Can Do (Career or Data Science track)
Many of you know I’ve been thinking about personal social analytics for a long time, and I spent a lot of time thinking about social analytics for the dating sites I worked on at my previous company.  I can talk about the popularity of social media and the minimal analytics they provide, and of course mention Klout and its strengths and weaknesses.  And I can talk about Google Analytics and CRMs.  And then, I can talk about what isn’t on the market.

My open source project only got so far before I put it on hold in favor of other work, but I’ve been brainstorming a lot of possibilities for analyzing personal conversation history in the last decade and a half.  These ideas have all been feasible during that time, and they’re getting faster to compute and easier to scale all the time.  So why isn’t anyone making it happen?  In my experience, social media users have been very excited with any level of navel-gazing: finding the list of people who follow them that they don’t follow, or the other way around (drama!); seeing who talks to them the most on a given platform; etc.  There is a market that would pay just for increased analytical power! And they’d definitely pay to have all of their communications data integrated into one location for analysis or even plain review.

And a lot more can be done with the same data.  Merely extend it with some labels and charts and BAM! Social productivity tool.  New target market.  Extend that with some very basic recommendation capabilities and BAM! Customer management tool.  Another target market.  If I thought of all this at least a decade ago, straight from college and before I ever heard of social analytics, others must have too.  Why isn’t the market filled with options?

sudo make me a proper social analytics platform!

oDesk applicant rate

First time I posted a job on oDesk it was for a Mac desktop developer.  I got 4 applicants, 2 of whom I had invited to apply based on a search.  I knew this one would have too few applicants.

Second time I posted for a Community Manager and got less than 20 applicants in a week.

Third time I posted for a Windows desktop developer and got about 20 applicants in two days.

Today I posted for a web front end developer and got 25 applicants in two hours.

You may draw your own conclusions!

Busy week!

It’s been a busy week!


The latest exciting news is that last night we signed on our first contractor with an indefinite termination date.  She’s part-time and remote, but I’m super-excited to be working with someone who may be around as long as I will!

Keep cash reserves

Apparently over 60% of failed businesses are profitable.  They fail because people don’t keep enough cash on hand to deal with:

  • the delay from accounts payable to accounts receivable
  • emergency/unexpected expenses
  • expected expenses that increase due to unexpectedly high demand

I found this shocking at first, but then I remembered that most people don’t keep a reasonable cash cushion in their personal lives to deal with the analogous situations.  This makes me sad!  Low probability events are not likely to happen individually, but it’s likely that a low probability event will happen to you at some point!

Whether it’s in your personal life or your business life, I urge you to take a look at your cash reserves and consider revising them.

Startup founder daily life


I’m good at wearing hats.

For the curious, here’s a glimpse of the types of things I work on daily as a tech-oriented startup founder:

  • requesting information/providing feedback/doing QA/writing documentation for 1-3 consultants, or my business partner
  • poking at 1-2 HR or legal tasks (not my favorite things, so if I didn’t poke at them nigh-daily they’d never get done)
  • 2-5 most important UI tasks
  • 1-4 most important backend/infrastructure tasks
  • poking at 1-3 marketing/branding tasks
  • the IP technology (if there’s time…this is the least interruptible work)
  • updating and reprioritizing tasks
  • wondering how many millions of things I’m forgetting
  • making and drinking lots of tea

Other hats are generally less frequent, such as Executive and Accountant.  I do not consistently wear all these hats daily; some days I set out to focus on 2 of them and only one other interrupts.  Those days are very satisfying!  Until I realize I’ve fallen behind with something.