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10 Software Development Tips to Get Early Funding for your Startup : Page 2

This article covers some of the early techniques and strategies to help your startup be well positioned to receive the initial round of investment.


6) Will Cutting Corners Come Back To Haunt Me?

Cutting corners will, of course, come back to you. Ironically enough though, not cutting corners and being slow will also come back to haunt you. So you just have to pick your poison here.

If you are creative enough (which is a must in a startup), you can find the silver lining and even use your product's inevitable shortcomings to help you. For example, since you have no testing department and have cut corners to release the product, you will definitely have many bugs in your software that your users will discover. This is at the same time very bad, but at the same time can be an amazing way for you to get into a dialog and conversation with your error-encountering users.

When I was launching Hiking San Francisco, which is a local California site run by one person (myself), I added a snippet in the catch block of each try/catch to send me an email with the error and the information of user who had this error. That way by immediately seeing the errors and who had the errors, I was able to proactively do tech support with those users by emailing them directly, often within two minutes of the error, and telling the user that I am aware of the error and fixing it.

Many of the users replied and appreciated that I was so proactive. In a number of such cases, this proactive approach to supporting my site's users, created a working relationship with those users of the site, and they continuously gave me feedback of what was wrong with the site and what could be better. Today, some of the best features of that site can be traced back to the suggestions by the people who initially had errors, and to the relationships I forged from making the best out of a situation where I knew I'd have many bugs in my software.

7) Cheap and Free Tools

It isn't a startup if you aren't trying to get everything for free or at least very cheap. I wanted to suggest some helpful of free or very cheap tools that may help you in early stage development.

For making great-looking buttons and visual components of your site, try this site named CoolText, which may save you from having to buy expensive Adobe tools. It has helped me stitch together various UI components despite myself being a non-visual person.

Another tool that is great for collaboration and the coordination between the developers on the project is the Basecamp suite. I don't actually use it, but many people in the startup world swear by it, so I'll leave it for you to be the judge of whether it is something that can be useful for you.

As a disclaimer, I have absolutely no affiliation with either tool I mentioned above. I am just an avid user of the CoolText site.

8) If At First You Do Not Raise Funds

The reality for most startups is often a self-induced unpleasant one since they hope for the best and the absolute best is rarely the first thing to happen. After launching a product and getting some initial users (who vary in satisfaction), many entrepreneurs go right to the angel investors and try to raise capital. Unfortunately, not all startups get investment on their initial round of pitching various investors. In fact, many startups never get funding.

What the founders must do in order to increase their chances to secure an investment is to listen to the investors for reasons why they were rejected. Likely, many of the reasons why the investors may reject a startup are often similar to why actual users may decide not to use the startup's product.

Luckily, very often the reasons for initial rejection are easily fixed or improved. The task of the engineers of the startup is to create an environment where the loop of customer-feedback

to product-creation is minimized. If that is the case, the initial rejection feedback can be taken, considered, new features or improvements conceptualized, and the product adjusted; all in a very short time.

9) Startups Who Struggle Finding a Technical Co-Founder

When people whose skills are in marketing or business development come across a great idea for a Web startup, they often find themselves struggling to find a great technical co-founder. Many people opt to hire an outsourced team from a 3rd party agency to build their prototype which can

be taken to investors and customers as the initial product. Despite understanding the dangers of having a 3rd party agency handle their code, but often still opt to just because there is no technical co-founder.

If you are considering to outsource the development of your crucial software to a 3rd party agency, remember this rule of thumb: You must always own your code and have people on your team comfortable understanding, navigating, and modifying any part of the code that makes up your product. This almost screams that you must find a technical co-founder instead of outsourcing.

If it takes you over six months to find a technical co-founder, then there is a problem with either your idea and no one wants to work on it, or there is something you are not doing right, and you must bring in someone with experience putting together a founding team.

10) Don’t Skimp On Hosting

As much as I love to suggest that startup companies save money on just about anything they can, a bad hosting company can be so problematic and damaging to your product that you should go through extra effort to make sure your product is hosted with the best hosting providers.

What you can do to save money is use a cheaper hosting environment for your development server (and staging server if you have one), but make sure your production environment is the best it can be. There are few things more disheartening than finally getting some great PR or a large volume of users just to see that your production server cannot support that volume of visitors you had been dreaming of.

Alex Genadinik is the founder of San Francisco Hiking Community and a Startup Consultancy. Please say hello and continue the conversation on this topic on Twitter @genadinik
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