Chronicles of Summer Startup Accelerator Experience, Insights, and Projects

Posts tagged ‘lean startup machine’

Day 11: WordPress just got complex

After a total of 11 days of 4 hour intensive courses I can say I have the “fundamentals” of HTML and CSS. This is only the beginning of the journey.

Today we focused on adjusting things such as changing the layout and format of pages versus posts, which are  fundamentally different. For example a page might serve a different function that someone simply reading a single blog post. This is where you begin abstracting WordPress as a simple content manager and the “blog” becomes a website. Every page begins to get its own skin and personality and your home page is the most distinct of all with navigation becoming the focus.

All in all it was productive. I got REALLY stuck when the FTP messed up. Basically when I saved my local copy and transferred them over to the server, it didn’t update my template. I eventually hacked a half-ass solution by deleting the theme and then reinstalling it each time to update. Thus far it’s worked out splendidly, but I do need to get to the core to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future with other web pages I create.

Tomorrow is our last day with Chris, but thank the lord I have his email. I’ll give him a quick disclaimer: I will bother the hell out of you when I cannot google, stackoverflow, codex.wordpress.com the answer. You’ll get the occasional dumb question with a copy of code. I will kindly ask you to debug =).

It’s been great having you as our front-end web development teacher and I couldn’t have asked for someone more friendly and welcoming into the programming environment. I look forward to going deeper into the rabbits hole.

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Craft Coffee presentation – Better than expected, but under my par of excellence.

Overall we winged the presentation. I wish there had been a lot more depth and thoughtful insight put into all of our suggestions. After the presentation I immediately went straight to reviewing “The McKinsey Way”. I couldn’t believe how far I strayed from the problem solving methodology. Because of this, I will be sending Craft Coffee some personal notes and tactical recommendations and samples of implementations of these so they can move forward. I want to see a direct impact from one of our recommendations. Perhaps a small change in messaging that ups conversion by 10% would mean the world to me!  I just hate that we had about 10 off the cuff recommendations that didn’t have enough facts to back them up. We didn’t really clearly understand what the key drivers of Craft Coffee growth was. Regardless, I will thank them for giving us this opportunity.

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Other daily stuff: Just finished errands, prepped for a busy Tuesday, and read another 50 pages of Lean Startup. I should be finished in the next 2 days or so in preparation for the NYC Lean Startup Machine Workshop.

Additionally, I visited the Strand bookstore and took a pictures of a list of books worth looking into. I found HUGE 8 POUND business encyclopedia aptly named, “Business: The Ultimate Resource”. This is going on my list for sure.

At the end of the day I ended up buying “Exposing the Magic of Design” by Jon Kolko, whose writing has fascinated me for the past few months. Not to mention I bought a ticket for the Design Extravaganza he’s hosting in Austin in October.

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Day 9-10: Almost done with Front-End Web Design

This past week was a short week since July 4th fell on a Wednesday. We spent the past two days reworking our own wordpress templates and getting them hosted in a subdomain. Mine currently needs to be fixed, but it should be at blog.summeratga.com.

Tonight I’ll be working on editing the content and the structure so the page is more “me”. By me I mean it should host a portfolio of work, link to affiliations, and in general a great place to keep track of all my stuff in addition to my about.me page This will also be my practice page once front end web development. This domain name might end up having a lot of pages that holds all my work in process stuff.

Regardless, I’m glad to have had someone as skilled as Chris teach us all the necessary skills to take the next step into web development. This is only the beginning of my programming journey. I’ll make sure to hone my skills each and every week with exercises and some side projects so that I’m constantly executing the basics and adding new functions as I find them across the internet sea. Not to mention finally honing some graphic design skills.

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On another note, I was referred to Drew at Lean Startup Machine by a fellow intern and friend Sam Hysell. After meeting with Drew this past week, I am the new sales intern. I’ll be helping Drew setup for the two new full-time hires who are coming on. We both agreed that I should be able to close a sale or two from warm lead to finish by the end of my experience. Considering the pay is solely commission based, I know I’m incredibly hungry to get started.

Drew decided it would be a good idea to start by going to the New York City Lean Startup Machine workshop this weekend to begin mingling with the entire team, the mentors, and participants. Really I think Drew just wants to see me in action socializing, generating leads, even getting some sort of “intent” closing by word of mouth. More than anything I’m looking forward to learning about Lean Startup methods in a workshop format versus reading the books. I’ll be there adding value however I can. Take out the trash, get drinks, order food, and schmooze with everyone. Maybe I’ll be able to impart some limited wisdom that a participant will find useful. All I want to do is add value!

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Craft Coffee Project – Boy am I worried. I know the core team has been working pretty diligently on it. I wouldn’t say we’ve come anywhere near nailing it, but I do know we better ship and ship good tomorrow. We have good data, good insights, and good advice, but it needs two more things.

1) We need to structure together a logical consulting presentation so Craft Coffee can leave with something actionable that they believe in.

2) Overall we need to assess the core competencies and interests of the intern class. I feel like the leaders are starting to come out, but we are still walking around with guns that we’ve never used before.

Day 2: HTML & CSS + Introduction to 3D printing

Another day slides by too quickly.

Today, I learned one thing very quickly when opening up a new project. Organization and clarity is key. If your desktop is filled with clutter you’re only slowing yourself down. Even excess tabs can kill workflow. I had about ten tabs open from the previous night and I felt them cluttering my mind the entire class. In the future I will only have the task at hand open. Basically, using the same principle Christopher taught us for web design called a reset, and applying it to your desktop before you begin coding, will help make everything easier.

/* reset using either normalize.css or Meyer’s reset */

On a more technical note, we did two main things today. Chris sent us a “blank-template” file that will help us whenever we begin a project. Through this run through he showed us the importance of organizing code and inserting notes. He’s trying to make us as organized as possible and instill good coding habits so that once we begin more complex projects, which we inevitably will, we have a better time managing all the artifacts. At the end of the day, we ended up with a Brook & Lyn fashion page, which will be improved upon tomorrow.

Some of the most important basics was creating the right div id’s. At least four are necessary:

<div id=”container”></div>

<div id=”header”></div>

<div id=”main”></div>

<div id=”footer”></div>

This would give you a basic stack for the simplest website.

Additionally, a point on method. When creating a website, Chris suggested getting all the content into HTML before starting on the CSS. This way you can look at all the basic artifacts you have on the screen and play around with the position and style of the page in CSS.

I can’t wait to touch on JavaScript. I want to start digging into the function of a website, particularly because I want to help redesign my girlfriend’s fashion blog. I do love front-end web development since it’s focus is on the visual aesthetic, which I find particularly important considering most technology doesn’t get the human touch as noted in this design mind article. Most people don’t bother “getting it” because it’s too difficult. Then you watch a three-year old use an iPad effortlessly and you begin to realize that with great design anyone should be able to pick up something and feel curious versus threatened.

Looking forward to another day!

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I attended this class: Introduction to 3D printing led by Shapeways. They just announced a huge round of funding recently as well, so I know I’m getting educated by a company whose shaping the future of manufacturing and fabrication. I’ve heard a ton about personal manufacturing and fabrication. I want to finally get my hands dirty and make something simple with this emerging technology.

Even though I’ve been to a ton of these I wish I could attend Introduction to Entrepreneurial Ideas. It would just be nice to go through a select method for focusing on new, groundbreaking ideas.

Also, I hope I can talk to Sam and free up my schedule to either attend Lean Startup Machine New York or the Lean Startup Machine in Austin in September

On another note, I’m also keeping track of Singularity University’s Graduate Studies Program by regularly reading #gsp12 tweets

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So far I’m getting closer to Dean as a friend and find him to be genuine and willing to share everything. Love that personality. He has a true love for technology and the entire NYC tech scene. He’s been the most open thus far. I’ve also found the most in common with him from going to extra classes at night to having 200+ tabs open all at once.

I’m partnered with Andrew and on a technical note I think we’re about even. He’s a quick learner and we’ve had brief chats while debugging code. I think we have more in common and I’ll try to speak to him more.

I’d really enjoy it if the class began randomizing seating so we could meet everyone even briefly. There’s so much diversity in the room. I want to make sure I rub shoulders with all the amazing people!

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