another potentially interesting blog

Here’s another that looks promising, we’ll see.

PS. Both Tony and Starr (the last one I posted about) hit the secret to getting noticed. Link to me or HelpSpot. I (as most bloggers) watch my referrers, so link and you’ll get linked back. And if you have no readers yet make sure to click the link yourself!

helpspot api filter portal

Here’s some video of a little sample app I built with the new (soon to be released) HelpSpot API. In this video the API looks up all my filters via an ajax json call and loads them all into portlets. I can then drag and drop them around, etc. There’s only crude development data in there but you’ll get the idea. It took me about 10 minutes to put this together.

Filter Portal (flash)

did nick sell out

Nick Bradbury asks if he sold out? My vote is no way. To be honest he’s gone way farther than most developers would in not selling out. Usually when a software product gets sold the founder/developer hangs out for a year (usually because they’ve agreed to as part of the sale) and then they bail out as soon as contractually possible. In fact I personally think that’s a good thing. Having been an employee at a company that was acquired, it’s a horrible process for the company getting acquired especially for the founder. Everyone comes in and tells you what to do and changes the product and so on. It’s too personal to the founder and staying around usually just makes everything unpleasant for everyone.

In this case Nick has hung in with the products, they seem to be moving forward, and he seems to have maintained control of the product for the most part. Certainly not a sell out, in fact it’s a rather masterful handling of the situation if you ask me.

microisv or startup

Lately I find the terms MicroISV and startup often used interchangeable. I don’t believe this is correct and it’s part of the reason I think there’s been a little less interest (enthusiasm perhaps is a better word) in MicroISV’s over the past year than we had a few years back.

A big part of which is which is determining your goals. Do you want to run a business with an office, a secretary, 10+ employees? If so that’s a startup. It may just be you in the beginning, but if you envision that environment as your endgame then it’s a startup. A MicroISV is a very different thing. It’s a lifestyle as much as anything else. Are you content making enough money to have a high standard of living, but not enough to have an office of employees? Would you rather run your business than be a manager in it? Are you content sacrificing a higher probability of success for a lower probability of getting rich? If so then you’re starting a MicroISV.

This determination is critical yet so many blogs I read seem to be confused on the difference or not have thought about it at all. Without understanding the difference it’s hard to plan for your business, choose the right economic model, know the right expenses to incur. For instance, a startup needs to be in or create a market capable of millions of dollars in revenue just to them (the overall market may be larger, but how much can they capture). A startup probably needs a sizable chunk of startup money or at least be active in potential funding options in order to plan for future growth.

A MicroISV is a lifestyle. I recently took a big chunk of HelpSpot’s profits and purchased a house. A great investment for a MicroISV, an insane move for a startup. I could have paid a few employees for a year with my down payment. I’ve paid off all our student loans, credit cards, etc. If I was a startup it would have been much smarter to take every dollar and reinvest in the business, not pull money out to pay personal expenses.

It’s not that a MicroISV can’t become a larger business, but when that happens it’s more of an evolutionary reality than an initial goal of the company. I don’t think wanting a startup is a bad thing at all. In fact some people seem built for it, but it’s a choice you need to understand going in. I get the feeling some people who go down the startup path (or worse an in between path) are really more cut out to be MicroISV’s and would actually be happier following that path.

With all the PR startups have received over the last year I think the benefits of the MicroISV option have been pushed aside. I’d like to see a renewal of MicroISV discussion and activism. There are so many other good examples of successful MicroISV’s beyond UserScape (Antair, Gurock Software, Perfect Table Plan come to mind). Let’s start spreading the word again.

nyc subway fact

I guess living so close to New York City and having been there so often you forget how massive it is. A top article on Techmeme right now is about Google doing a transit map for NYC. That’s not that interesting, but one fact in the article is. The NY/NJ transit system has 468 subway stations. Only 35 less than the rest of the country combined. It’s an amazing stat.

37sigs highlights helpspot design feature

On the Signal vs. Noise blog today Matt highlights Twitters online support form layout and it’s unique 3 questions approach. The Twitter portal is powered by HelpSpot. It’s always nice to get some 3rd party recognition, especially for a UI element that was a bit of a risk to implement.

Hat tip to JD for pointing out the mention to me.

new house

Amongst everything else going on last week we moved to a new home from our condo. The condo was really getting tight with the baby, the business, etc. My uncle is a home builder and was able to sell us this house at the “family discount” which was really generous of him. It’s a really nice home, it even has a view of the Hudson River. Here’s a few pics. It’s a little barren still, but we’re working on it.



Office (still waiting for my bookcases, can you tell!):

This was actually a formal living room, but what the heck do you need 2 living rooms for? So we added the doors and made it into the office. It’s going to be nice to have the extra space.


Great room (my uncle didn’t want his pool table, so we’ve put it to use :-)):

Family room:

This might be my favorite room. It’s so nice to finally have a place where we can sit down and not worry about what the baby is touching or getting into.

future of web design

Anyone else going to the FOWD conference in NYC November 7/8? I’m thinking of going if for no other reason than it’s something actually going on in NYC. HelpSpot is probably going to get a pretty decent face lift in v3 and so I’m hoping this might get the creative juices flowing.