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[Table] IamA founder of Tindie, "Etsy for Tech". Started on /r/Arduino, team of 5, just finished fundraising (pitching 50+ investors), and have now closed $1m+ in funding. This is a follow up to last year's AMA, for anyone interested in startups/tech/Silicon Valley/open hardware. AMA!

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Date: 2013-12-02
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Questions Answers
As a maker, why should I sell my goods on your site instead of amazon? As a buyer, why should I buy from you instead of amazon/ebay? Great questions - as a maker, our rates are lower than Amazon - flat 5% of the order. We also reach a core audience of people like you, which tends to mean you'll sell more on Tindie vs Amazon. As an example, one seller sold exclusively on Amazon, opened a Tindie store, and we began out selling Amazon. He closed his Amazon store and now sells exclusively on Tindie.
As a buyer, you are joining a community of likeminded people from all over the world and in different niches. Some like audio, some drones, others lighting. In the new year we are launching more features to build out the community side of the site. We are a community marketplace - community comes first. We can do a better job on the community side, and those features are currently being built.
As an example, one seller sold exclusively on Amazon, opened a Tindie store, and we began out selling Amazon. He closed his Amazon store and now sells exclusively on Tindie. Amazon has a flat fee you must pay $40 a month When you sell out many times over, inventory management becomes a huge issue.
Many reasons but here are two- * * Amazon has a flat fee you must pay $40 a month.* Easier inventory management when you have to just make sure 1 site is right vs multiple. When you sell out many times over, inventory management becomes a huge issue. But, that's three reasons. How can you run a successful business if you can't even count? Link to static.fjcdn.com
I have a desire to learn a programming language and have messed around with python and java on codeacademy. What would you recommend as the next step? Books? More beginner tutorials? Poking around on github? Sounds like you are now at the crossroad where people either keep going, or 'never have the time.' When I started, I'd get the occasional comment online, 'You'll never figure it out.' It's a pretty accurate statement for most. Most don't figure it out. If you can put your head down and just grit it out, you'll get to the other side.
If you want to grit it out, start with Learn Python the Hard Way. Then figure out a project you want to build and go build it. You'll pick things up as you go. You'll think you have it about 10 times before you really have a solid understanding. There were many times I'd talk to my friends and say "Oh I figured it out." I was wrong 10 times :)
It took 1 year to get to n00b level. The next year is when things settle in. After 2 years, you'll have a solid foundation to keep honing your skills. You won't know everything, but you can hack together projects, & figure things out.
Also checkout Stackoverflow. Learning how to properly break down my problems into questions was a great exercise. It helped me understand what the real problem is vs what I thought it was.
Did you eventually start working as an engineer or was programming geared towards side projects and building Tindie? I did - my first job after learning how to code was as a developer advocate. Not 'coding' but putting what I learned to good use. That company was acquired, and I eventually became a web engineer at the company which acquired us. That was my last job before starting Tindie.
My local hackerspace, a 501(c)3, is just getting started. We're thinking of making some products to generate some funding... would Tindie be the right marketplace for us? Oh cool! Yep! We have members of hackspaces all over the globe on Tindie. Sounds like a perfect fit. If you have any questions, just pm me and we can help!
What sort of things did you do for market validation? Good question - the only market validation I did was ask the question on /Arduino. There wasn't a marketplace for this type of hardware (we are still the only "big" site doing what we are doing). The space is emerging now.
Did you have personal experience with this type of thing, people you knew who needed something like this, or some other type of research? You are right. The big question I got from investors is actually - 'How big is the market?' Unfortunately there isn't a good answer for that bc the market is growing / being defined now. Arduino/Raspberry Pi/Drones/3D printers are all just getting started and all growing like weeds. If those platforms become as big as we think they will, then a site like Tindie will have to emerge.
Also, how do you go about estimating market potential? The one thing we look at is the components market is a massive, multibillion dollar market. The type of components that are on Tindie, generally speaking, first come to market on Tindie. The market potential is entirely untapped. However having orders from gov't agencies & large businesses is very reassuring that there is a much greater opportunity than just hobbyists (which is what most people thing on first glance).
What's been your biggest challenge as CEO of your own start-up? Great questions -
What's the most frequent challenge you saw when working across various start-ups in the Valley? Biggest Challenge as CEO - Communication, balancing expectations, keeping everyone on the same page from users, employees to investors. You'll constantly hear, "Did you see X?" when someone thinks it is a competitor. Chances are it isn't and they have their own idea of what the business is which is different than your own.
What words of wisdom do you have for someone wanting to create their own start-up? Wisdom to start a startup - If it is a tech startup, one of your cofounders must be technical. Either yourself or your cofounder. If you can't build the first version/ a proof of concept yourself, start there. If you aren't technical, and don't know anyone technical, learn. In the valley you hear, "I'm looking for a techincal cofounder." so many times its crazy. You either already know someone (a good friend usually) or you don't. Trust me , you won't 'find' a techincal cofounder.
Thanks for your time (and sorry for all of the questions) No worries - these were excellent questions. Keep 'em coming!
You'd be shocked how many random emails I get with businesses proposals. Are these the recreate facebook type of deals where you do all the work and they get to be the owner for giving you the idea of facebook? It runs the gamut from sales, hiring, marketing, partnerships, you name it.
Did you have a good breakfast? Eh, coffee, leftovers, and IRC. We have a channel on Freenode I hop in every morning to check in with users (Tindarians) and make sure everything is right with the world.
(hash)tindie on Freenode ftw
You've mentioned a few times how you shouldn't outsource development to a third party. Can you elaborate on this? Why not? What was your experience? What should you do instead if you're a n00b coder (like myself)? Sure thing - if you hire a 3rd party, you will always have to pay someone else to iterate on the site. There is a 0% chance it will be right on the first shot. Therefore its really an invitation to spend a lot of money down the road - not just the upfront cost you are spending to get your idea made. This is what I did with Knowble - it cost something like $20k+. Please learn from my mistake :) You'll have to iterate, make changes, learn as you go. If you know how to code, then you can make those changes yourself. You'll do it in the morning/nights/weekends and it will only cost you your time.
What advice do you have for me as a student? Thank you, I think what you're doing is awesome! Very cool! Getting press / outside attention is very difficult (if you don't pay for PR - we don't pay for PR). Write blog posts, like to those sites. The link love will go a long way (over time). Most of the companies that you read about on TechCrunch, PandoDaily, etc are paying for PR which is why they get listed on all of those blogs and have stories come out at the same time (embargoes). As a student, build something! Just keep building things. You have some free time - take full advantage of it. Also meet your peers. Build a network of other students in your class. Some will go to Google, Twitter, the next Google, the next Twitter. Increase your chances of doing well by meeting as many super smart people as you can. Build projects with them. Just make things and learn from experience.
I'm also a CS student and for the longest time I've been interested in Arduino. How did you get started tinkering and where would you recommend someone such as myself begin so as to eventually purchase from your website? There are tons of beginner Arduino books. Arduino also has some great tutorials: Link to arduino.cc
In this age, if you have a CS background, Google is your friend :)
Did some more reading. I personally feel a lot of excitement for how well you're doing lol, congrats! What we're you doing before the 5 year run in the valley? How did you get started there? Learn to do the things you don't know yourself.
NEVER outsource development to a 3rd party company.
Learn how to code.
If you don't know how to code, don't bring on another person that doesn't know how to code.
So what compelled you to go from NC to CA? How did you start getting acquainted with people there? Joined Yelp. Yelp was maybe 40-50 people at that point. Flew myself for the interview, got the job, packed my car and hit the road.
As an aspiring entrepreneur myself, my question is this: what was the process like of getting the company from an idea to something you would be able to pitch to investors? The site was already live, we had products, orders, traffic. The sales early on were ~doubling month over month. Sure they were small but that seems like a very good sign. As it kept growing, people around me connected me with other people interested in the space. The first investor I got was someone that was in my network already, but I didn't know him. He also invests in early stage companies, understands marketplaces, and believes in the changes we are seeing in the hardware space. From introductory call to email saying, "I'd like to invest" was about 12 - 18 hours.
How did you fund the project initially? Spend time/money to get a VERY polished pitch deck.
How did you go about finding investors? If an investor says "stay in touch, I'm interested" thats a No.
Did you have to refine or iterate your idea at all in the process? We didn't have to iterate on the site, but I did iterate on the messaging/how I frame what we are doing depending upon the investor, and how that message was received by the last investor. I was constantly iterating what I said from pitch to pitch.
Would you feel that taking a year off to learn python was a worthwhile decision? With no coding background, can I learn it in a year? Definitely - 100% worthwile. I had saved up enough to live for a year without a paycheck (without healthcare...not smart but I did it). If you are interested, go for it. While you still have a job start learning HTML, CSS, some basic things. Give yourself some sort of foundation before taking the plunge. After a year won't be able to get a job as an engineer, but it will definitely help in the long run. I have never regretted that decision.
Any recommendations on resources to learn HTML and CSS? I have some programming skills (C, assembly, VHDL) and found the code academy stuff to be too slow and had a hard time seeing how to really apply it. Link to webdesign.tutsplus.com
I <3 Tuts / Envato.
How much did a year of free time cost you? Rent was $710 a month, Food ~$200-300. Add in taxes & other spending. $20k ish.
There are many exciting developments in hobby-level electronics development. First things like Arduino, now affordable ARM processors. In addition to cheap accelerometers, laser cutting for enclosures, 3d printing, etc. What trends and fads are you seeing that are exciting to you? What kind of products do you think we will see in Tindie next year? Five years from now? Ten? AirPi - Two 17yr olds in London built a shield for Raspberry Pi to turn it into a weather station. Brilliant, cheap product that I never saw coming and has done amazingly. They had to incorporate in the UK, take a loan from their parents, and just shipped hundreds of preorders they got on Tindie. The only thing I know for certain is we will have tens of thousands of hardware companies emerge over the next few years because it is becoming cheaper to prototype and easier to manufacture in lower volumes. Yes "hardware is hard" but it is getting easier and that only opens the door for more people to come in.
Tapster - a robot for manual app testing on mobile devices. EVERY mobile app developer in the world should have one bc of the time you'll save.
How did you come up with the name Tindie? Indie Tech...Tech Indie... Tindie.
The domain was available. Best $7 I've spent.
Amazing site! Just found it. Question/Suggestion ... I'm looking for a site that will accept commissions for one-off projects based on boards like Arduino or Raspberry. Any chance you're site will offer such a market? Thanks! Can you break down "will accept commissions?" Just want to make sure I fully understand what you are looking for.
Hi there. I have been looking into creating a website my self, and I was just curious as to how you build a user base for something like this? How did you get people to sell on Tindie when it first began? Good question - you'll need to figure out where your initial users are and tell them what you are doing. Get people in your corner. As you build the site, give them updates, let them sign up before the site is live. If you don't have enough users on day 1, do more to drive more users to the site. Launch only when you have some amount of users (few hundred or maybe a few thousand is the best case scenario). You'll never be ready to launch but definitely give yourself some momentum before opening the doors.
I did this by keeping everyone on /Arduino in the loop. As I found a name, a domain, logo, I'd share those updates. Sellers were able to sign up and "stock the shelves" prior to launch which meant once I opened the site for transactions, we had ~20 sellers/ products on the site and orders on day 1.
Have you considered reaching out to the Bitcoin mining community? Their hardware seems to fit into your site. We haven't but I'm 100% open to Bitcoin mining products on the site.
Have you considered accepting Bitcoin? We haven't due to its volatility.
Who is your favorite ninja turtle? Easy one - Michelangelo!
Do you plan on taking currencies like bitcoin, megacoin, etc? Not right now. Bitcoin is too volatile. From talking with other marketplaces that implemented Bitcoin, the % of transactions that come through are very, very small. Most people seem to be holding Bitcoins as an investment strategy (the gold analogy). I think that is true. At this point, we can get a much bigger bang for our engineering buck by working on other features vs implementing/maintaing Bitcoin or a similar digital currency.
Why did you decide to go to the valley for this? For someone thinking of starting an e-shop startup, what would you advise? I had been in SF for 4 years, then moved to Portland after the last company I was at was acquired. I moved back bc missed friends and our head of engineering is in Mountain View too. Made sense from a personal perspective.
Would I move to the valley if I didn't already have a connection to the area? I'm not sure. It is definitely cheaper to live somewhere else. However it is more difficult to get into the community from outside the area. If you live in the the valley, you'll constantly hear about startups/tech and meet people who are part of the scene. It's easier to be a part of the conversation if you are in the area.
I've heard from many of my friends in the industry that moving to SF is also a risk as many of the big companies pose a risk at hiring your engineers. Many of them end up moving their companies back to Canada where Engineers are much cheaper for the same quality. Very true. It is very common for people to stay at a job for one year, vest 25% of your options, and leave for the next hot startup. It is valuable to have a presence in the valley - but not necessary for your team to all be there. I'm a huge fan of distributed businesses.
So what's your take on the interest level in hardware overall? Do you think things being sold on the site will continue to increase in complexity? Or will they be limited in scope and cost in the future because people are more interested in the low end of things? Hey Chris! I think it will gain in complexity - esp as parts come down in price, and manufacturing lower quantities becomes more accessible. The opportunities only get magnified as those two trends accelerate.
I think we will always have low level / low end products, but the sky is the limit - in terms of price point and customers. We already have products that cost pennies to $1k+. We will begin to have more consumerish products - but I think those will fuel growth in hardware. The more interesting products emerge, the more interested people will jump into diy. Very cyclical. Arduino & Raspberry Pi just make that first step so much easier. Gateway hardware drugs.
This looks awesome, I'm surprised I've never heard of it. My question: how hard is it really to start your own business and what are some obstacles no one hears about? It is difficult but not impossible. Things to plan for: taxes & attorney fees. You'll want to set up your business correctly if you plan on raising outside investment. If you don't do that right up front, you'll get bit when you fundraise. The legal fees we'll have for this financing round will be over $10k I bet (probably more)
Any suggestions on where to find and learn how to do this hardware stuff? Where did you learn to it? Was there any doubt while creating this project? Did you think about giving up? Google is your best friend. There are books, tutorials, but just dive in. If you have some coding background just get started. Fortunately that is where I started so its more a process of picking something up and playing around (vs starting from 0).
Question: how much equity did you give up for the investment you've gained? Thanks! A this point it is just closing and collecting checks so the final % will be set in a few weeks once we have a definitive amount closed with this round. However the answer you are looking for is 20%-25%.
I have a question. What stage was Tindie in when you pitched to the investors? (users/revenue) What was is about Tindie that made them decide to invest? At this time last year, I forget where we were with users but we had $3600 in sales that month which would be about 100 orders. When talking to early stage investors, it is very much a gamble. The chance of failure much higher, but then again the opportunity is great. I haven't asked them point blank, but I think it ultimately boils down to they have an idea of how the world will work in the future, and you fit in that narrative.
I have a very refined idea for a web/mobile app start up. I have done months of research on the problem/solution I am building but I have no experience designing websites. Thus, I will need to pitch investors to fund development. What are any tips or resources to get in touch with potential investors? Unfortunately you need to get it built. With out a product & traction, it will be very tough sailing
Do you accept Bitcoin and if not can we expect it in the future? We don't right now and don't have any plans to in the future. Copying answer from another question "Bitcoin is too volatile. From talking with other marketplaces that implemented Bitcoin, the % of transactions that come through are very, very small. Most people seem to be holding Bitcoins as an investment strategy (the gold analogy). I think that is true. At this point, we can get a much bigger bang for our engineering buck by working on other features vs implementing/maintaing Bitcoin or a similar digital currency."
I'm an idea guy; I have new ideas everyday and am actually executing a few of them. My roadblock right now is getting it out there and selling it (to consumers, to investors). I have a new idea that, while the product is different than yours, could rope in every business sector. I've never built a business model; all of my stuff is from the idea point of view. I get an idea, find out if it's been done, and then make it work. What can I do to get the word out there and find investors? What kind of cut do you think is fair for investors? Build it. Unfortunately "ideas are cheap." You have to build it before anything else.
We are a startup who has built it (4+ years of work). Its a business administration product. We are in desperate need of sales and marketing department. How do we approach investors? If you are growing like a weed, they should be approaching you (at least some should). Based on the tone of your question, it sounds like that may not be the case?
As a maker who is currently in final stages of getting a product ready (ie 2nd round of PCB prototypes) any advice about how I go about getting it ready to sell on tindie? How do I determine a good initial batch size to order, handle shipping, refunds etc? Good question - once you are ready, you can list it as a Fundraiser (our version of crowfunding which really is just accepting preorders). It has to hit the min # of units sold to 'live' where we bill the orders and you fulfill those ordered. That will give you a good idea of the initial demand. Shipping & handling you'll need to do a little testing on your end bc it depends where you are located & the shipping service you select. Refunds we can handle on our end. You'll just need to tell us which orders to refund. If you have any other questions, feel free to email us at support(at) tindie.com. More than happy to help!
How did you get in front of 50 investors? Thanks for the AMA I kind of see now what I need to do for my Start Up getting rejected 10 times shouldn't be a big deal I guess. 100% from networking. Friend introducing me to someone else, who says you should talk to X. That person sends the intro, and then schedule a meeting. Cold emails don't get you very far with the top investors who are constantly being bombarded with pitches.
This is very interesting. How is the actual pitching process? I mean, once you get introduced, do you pitch to them in a Shark Tank style? over coffee/lunch? And which aspects of Tindie was the biggest seller to the investors? My background.
How did you come up with the idea.
Why now?
What are you doing?
Traction.
Future plans.
The team.
Some were more presentation style with a slideshow and just run through the deck where the investor most likely will interrupt you from time to time with questions on your points/assumptions.
0 were like Shark Tank.
I think the main thing we have going for us is our team -very strong with startup experience at well known companies/ great engineers. Next is our traction and position in the space.
Thanks for the answer! I thought you were a one man team before getting some funding. How did you get a team together when nothing was really proven? Ah at that point it was just myself and I had built everything up until that point. The site was live, we had products, orders, early traction.
of all congrats on the success with your start up and initial funding. What is the number one thing you would say investors look for in a start up? What helped you achieve success while pitching your ideas? Depends ultimately on the investor and if they are the lead or a follow on investor. The lead must believe in the space, have some idea of what is going, and therefore be passionate about the opportunity.
Follow on investors might know something about the space, might not. The one thing I didn't realize is how much they just "pile on." Most investors look for a signal by another big name investor, and if they are investing, looks good and they want in! The pile on mentality is alive and well.
So are you saying that funding is closed and you are not accepting any new investors? Right - the round is closed. The docs are written. The lead investors have already wired their funds. Now just emailing the smaller investors, getting signatures and the wires for their commitments.
1.) What was the toughest question you were asked during pitches? 2.) Any questions worth mentioning a company should be able to answer that they don't think about? 2) I don't think there is any particular question - just think ahead of what they will ask you. Have your questions down cold. Answer & then shut up. Don't be afraid of silence.
3.) Our products are similar in the sense of the needed co-creation so I'm interested in your marketing strategy on both fronts. (finding sellers and finding buyers) 3) Sellers & Customers has been word of mouth. We haven't don't much on the direct marketing side, so I don't have very good advice on that.
4.) I'm sure not everyone has been full time with the company, so how did you manage a team of 5 part-timers and making sure deadlines were met, goals accomplished, etc.? 1) Market size. There isn't a good answer. You can come up with many different answers with many different data points but at the end of the day, no one knows 4) Everyone is full -time.
I'm trying to convince some friends of mine to get serious about taking an idea of there's to an angel to see if they (we) could get funding. So my question is, what did you need to take to investors in the form of demos/research/etc. to get them to take you seriously enough to give you your first (and subsequent) rounds of funding? Build it first. If you get traction on the idea/project, investors will be interested. If it is just an idea, you'll have a very tough time. The only real answer - build it and they will come (if it is a great project and they see potential).
Makers / producers of open source hardware and products? What niche do you feel is currently not being addressed in the open source hardware arena? I think any hardware product today should have an open equivalent. The opportunity is just sitting there for someone to build an open version of X. Open source if a flywheel. Once you get it started and there is a community to support it, it only becomes stronger and better. At the end of the day, I don't see much difference btwn producer vs educator. If you have an open project, part of your job will be education. Just start working on something. At the end of the day, if you want to produce it and sell it you can. If not, no harm/no foul.
Hi Thank you for doing this. My question is, how hard it is to work with VC/Angel people? Do they push you really hard? Good question - some investors you won't get along with. You'll have different ideas/ look at the world differently/ it just isn't a fit. If that is the case, probably not a good fit as a major investor in your company. The can email you rather frequently - don't want to hate that part of your job...
I'm 19 and have no marketable skills beyond being the designated local tech geek. In terms of coding, I could mess around with the variables in JavaScript, but that's about it. Would I have any use in your organization? If not, what would you recommend the first thing I do to set down that path? Unfortunately not. Get more experienced & become a solid JS developer. Build projects, open the code, get feedback, critiqued by the JS community. You'll have a lot of value as a seasoned JS dev (esp as Node picks up traction)
I'd love to hear your thoughts on patents for DIY hardware! Let's say I've got a hardware design idea, but I know it's an evolution of existing technology. How do I go about researching conflicting patents that could prevent me from bringing my idea to market, what steps should I take to differentiate my idea from similar products, and at what point (if any) do I need to see an attorney? I'm anti-patent. It is a huge time/money suck and ultimately hinders innovation. I'm not the best person to ask on researching your design/idea/ etc but I'd probably just go ahead build it and go for it. Any time you spend looking for conflicting patents, someone else will launch their version and get a leg up.
Plans for the international market? Already international! We have customers in over 60 countries, sellers in over 40. I haven't looked lately but those were the numbers about a month or two ago.
Thank you for shipping to India! \o/
Hello Tindie. I am just now incorporating as of January 1st (LLC) with friends in the tech industry for our first start-up. They are all NASA employees and MIT grads with extensive tech background, but my background is in Public Policy and Regulations development. Are there tools on your website for new start ups in the tech field, or could you offer any recommendations as to navigating pitfalls for someone without extensive tech background? We can definitely do a better job on that end. Since you all have an engineering background, most likely the biggest problem will come in execution - sourcing manufacturers, parts, work abroad vs a domestic manufacturer. PM me and we can definitely help!
What has been your biggest regret starting Tindie? No regrets so far. It's been a huge learning experience- esp this year. If I were still at my old job, I'd have been constantly wondering whether or not this could take off. Happy I took the plunge.
HAve you ever thought to add Music Tech to the site? I know a lot of people who are into buying and creating their own midi controllers/instruments. OR have I overlooked something? We have it :) Link to www.tindie.com
How many register sellers and buyers do you have? Sellers: Over 300.
Last updated: 2013-12-06 11:10 UTC
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[Table] IAmA founder of Tindie.com, 'etsy for tech', that started as question on /r/Arduino in April, led me to quit my job in Sept, and just closed $500k in funding. AMA

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Date: 2012-12-20
Link to submission (No self-text)
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Questions Answers
I've never understood why funded start-ups get so much money -- what do you need it for, and how (roughly) do you plan to use it? Thanks. First and foremost salaries, health insurance, basic business expenses (servers, designers, travel etc). Having worked at 4 funded startups before this, most have to raise other rounds to hire more people as the business scales and you have to hire more.
EDIT: Some think this was a "sneer" sorry if it came across that way! Realistically this lasts a year at most - 18 months. Seed round should let you fully test the concept and if the business actually can grow to a much larger scale. I'm sorry if that answer sounds like it was anything but a sincere answer.
Don't answer questions. Get on the phone and get your damned site up. You're missing a huge marketing opportunity here. Oh I'm working the phones like i'm in Glengarry Glen Ross...working on bringing it back up.
Looks like you need to invest a little more in servers. You got that right!
Good man and good luck. I suppose I'm just annoyed because I really want to check out what you've done and I really want this to succeed. It's coming back up now sorry about the down time!
I think the downtime on your site is the best response to why start-ups need money. +1.
Am I to understand this that the website is down due to reddit traffic? Because I see no tindie.com. Yep.
Looks like you need to move to the cloud. On AWS..just needed moar..
Still down for me, but here's Google's cached version of the home page. We are now back up..promise..
Please hurry. my attention span is very short! Ahhh back up! Did we make it in time?
How did you find funding? I've always been curious about how that process works. Do you just call up random venture capitalist firms, or what? Good question. My experience may have been a bit atypical, but it was all through meeting people who introduced me to more people until I met my investors. I wouldn't say 'networking' because I wasn't trying to find investors. I was just meeting people, and then it would become - "You should talk to..." I didn't have a formal pitch or slide presentation. It was all through casual conversation.
To hear what my investors thought, they both wrote blog posts on the investment.
Link to versiononeventures.com
Link to www.crashdev.com
I was just meeting people, and then it would become - "You should talk to..." I didn't have a formal pitch or slide presentation. It was all through casual conversation. That is exactly what networking is. I wasn't actively trying to connect with person X & Y. Yes it was casual networking but there wasn't a motive. I think of 'networking' as people hunting for another person with an agenda..but I could be wrong..
, Congrats! CONTEXT: I currently work in corporate sales from 9am-6pm every day, and then come home and work on my web/media start-up pipe dream from 7pm-3am or so every night. It's tiring, but I'm also excited, because I feel like I am at least moving in the right direction. QUESTION: Was there a time during the process that you led two lives? When did you know that your original job wasn't just supporting some "habit"? Thanks! I used to do sales at another startup/web company, so I know how you feel very well. The short answer is yes, definitely from June to Sept when sales were doubling month over month. I was also burning the candle at both ends.
The longer answer is that I've been working on startups for 6+ years- sales, support, developer outreach, and most recently engineering. Throughout that time frame I was picking up bits and pieces along the way. Throughout that period, I felt like I was living two lives. Working the day job, tinkering on the side, but really learning. I had ideas throughout that stretch I was working on which ultimately failed or never even got far enough to get off the ground.
The one piece of advice I'd give you or anyone interested in starting a web company, learn to code. I took a year off and taught myself. I'm no where near a great engineer but now we are two years later, I was at the point to be an engineer during the day, and build Tindie in the mornings and nights.
The benefits are vast from having a better understanding of the technology that goes into a website, the thought process around building a feature, and the fact you can build your idea, throw it out there and if people like it, great! If not, you didn't lose $x,000 hiring someone else. Twice before I've paid other people to build my ideas- both failed miserably. Learn from my mistake.
Circling back to your second question, you never know if you'll take off or not. I think if you have the bug, you keep trying. In that way it is a habit. Try, fail, learn and try again. Once you've made a mistake once, hopefully you won't repeat it and therefore you are further along for your next idea.
What's your favorite product on the site? Oh thats a tough one. Here are a couple..
GAMBY - an Arduino shield for gaming on an Arduino
Robot that plays Angry Birds- a robot you can program to play Angry Birds
808 Kick Drum Clone PCB- a PCB for building your own 808 kick drum
AS3935 Lightning Sensor Board- for detecting lightning
How many people run your website on a daily basis? It was just me up until October. Thats when I brought on 2 contractor friends, and last month the first hire - so max 4, most days 2 or 3 of us are hacking away.
Free advertising for what? If the site doesn't work now, chances are I won't remember to come back. Tindie is coming back up. hopefully you'll give us a second chance! Sorry about the down time!
Reddit: World's friendliest DDoS. +1.
How are you paying yourself and others who work for you? Quitting a job for something like this seems a bit scary. Yes, with the funding, we have salaries and are hiring for a Python/django dev! PM me if you are interested!
Reddit effect? Site seems to be down. ping tindie.com. Request timed out. Request timed out. Yep bringing it back up now.
Great concept idea, congratulations on the funding! Have you done any type of market research/ niche market expansionary issues that you might run into or was this an idea that you just dived right into? Thanks! and nope, I didn't do any market research. I was interested in learning about hardware hacking, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc and I felt like other people were also interested. At a high level, I just figured there are more and more people getting jazzed about making electronics, and that's why I just posted the question. I had no idea, so I asked the community and went from there. I didn't expect it to become a business at all. I just saw it as a learning experience and something to have fun with.
Are you going to offer "how-to" guides? It's a good idea. Have any more ideas on what you'd like to see?
What is your price structure going to be like? Are you going to skim off the top from sales or charge the people that post their goods? 5% of each transaction (with a minimum of $1). We only make money when a seller makes money.
Congratulations! Is $500k going to be enough? Where did you come up with the name? Thanks! Not forever.. should last 12 -18 months. Tindie came from 'indie tech' - tech indie..tindie.
I have a legitimate idea for a start-up. Do you have a good resource for helping me figure out where to start? The process? How to go about getting funding? Thanks...and congrats! Cool! Without knowing the idea/audience/your background, ultimately it will depend upon getting it built, out in the wild and iterate as people give you feedback. If you are growing and in a growing market, the investors will find you.
[Confirmed OP is who he says he is.] Marketing my own products seems to be my biggest challenge right now. Do you have any plans for marketing beyond just trying to be awesome and get in the press? Thanks Dustin! Short answer yes. Longer answer, check back in a few weeks.. :)
Did you have previous start-up knowledge before going into Tindie and in this case how did you work out ownership/equity with your investors? Also as a long punt question - do you have any experience or advice about how you divide up a company and give shares/control if there are a number of people working for free until it has a value? Equity depends on how you structure the funding. You'll want to look up startup funding on quora or some info site that can tell you more about the overall landscape. I don't. Since I started Tindie by myself, that was easy. Once you have other employees you can find breakdowns on equity by position & what stage the company is at also on Quora. Do some digging on there. You'll be blown away with the info you find (its a gold mind).
Saw someone asked this above but it wasn't answered. What resources did you use to learn to code? Thanks! Started with "learn python the hard way" progressed to Google App Engine and Django. Basically learn the basics and start building. You'll learn the gaps as you go.
How was your fundraising experience in your city? What were your investors looking for most in your company (for example traction, user acquisition, team)? And finally, do you feel that the city itself is inviting and conducive to innovation? Thanks! Fundraising was fine- but neither of my investors are in Portand (Seattle and Vancouver BC).
Investor comments directly from them: Link to versiononeventures.com
Link to www.crashdev.com
On Portland, I'd say so. Portland is great because its cheaper than the Bay, you can fly down very easily, and less startup noise than Silicon Valley. Before moving to Portland I spent 4 years in San Francisco.
Sorry if you've answered this already or don't want to for privacy reasons, but what's your background? What college (if any), degree, or job did you have before working in startups? I ask as a college student interested in working with startups after graduation. Political Science degree from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Account Executive at Yelp.
All around sales at Redbeacon.
(took year off to learn to code)
Developer Advocate at SimpleGeo.
How long do you think it will be before your site is back up? Apparently reddit has once again broke a site. Back up!
Bro, do your servers even lift? They were hurting for sure.
Did the popularity of this AMA break your servers? Yes, yes it did.
How did you teach yourself to code and build a website? What resources did you use? 'Learn Python the hard way' was a start. From there worked on building a site on Google App Engine, progressing to Django. Really it was a lot of trial and error. The key things were a few friends to ask questions & stackoverflow.
Have you looked into using bitcoins as a payment method? Yes. Because of we process payments and distribute funds to sellers it would be a bit tricky right now. Trying to not add more complexity than we need to right now..
Congrats! From the Crash Dev blog post, you received 11,000 visitors to your website in the first day? How did that manage to happen? I find that very impressive!! Please share your secret juice. I seeded the userbase & products on the site before it was even launched.
Set up a landing page to let people reserve their username.
Once they've registered, let people submit products for when you launch.
Once you have enough products and the site is built, launch.
Post on Hacker News/ Reddit/ forums and get initial buzz.
Thats about it!
What on EC2? can't you just spin up more boxes? I'm new to it, so that's why I'm interested. Yep its what we did after digging into it to make sure it wasn't something else. 4 XL servers.
Awesome idea! where does the name come from? also, what was your job before this? Thanks David! 'Tech indie' tindie ... I was a web engineer at another growing startup.
Congratulations! How did you make the jump on quitting your daytime job? I'm in the same situation now, trying to get my product into an MVP state, and have already done some analysis on that jump off of the W-2 bandwagon. What would you suggest doing? What were the guidelines you were searching for? When did you KNOW it was right to quit? Congratulations again! Thanks! I knew it was the right time when for the 2nd month in a row sales were growing at 100%. A bit of a risk but at that point I figured if it were going to grow bigger, I had to give it more TLC.
As a fairy, I know how he feels. The Speech. ABC.
I wouldnt mind taking a gamble on your company, do you have an IPO? or any public shares for sale? Thanks, unfortunately we are a private company. Maybe one day..
So instead of just asking about how we killed the site.. Since it's dealing with tech stuff do think you'll have any issues with people and patents? for example, someone buys someone elses thing repackages it and sells it as their own. We haven't had that issue yet. Most of the stuff has been open hardware which ignores the patent war..(thankfully)
Would you rather fight one Onnen-sized Lucky or 100 Lucky-sized Onnens? One Onnen-sized Lucky. Link to i1028.photobucket.com
Off topic, I think your site is getting hosed. Can't connect. I fear for the slag that used to be your network switch. lol. What type of categories are you offering on there? Back up! As far as categories, anything from Audio (synths) to plant monitors. Really a wide range.
You guys sell a robot that plays angry birds? Why do I want it so badly? Hmm good question, but it is super popular (as it's currently sold out)..but we can let you know when they are back in stock!
Link to webcache.googleusercontent.com Google Cache version if anyone wants to see the site before he gets his hosting sorted out. Thanks tbends for the help. We are back up!
Did you start this AMA knowing that we would have friendly-DDOSed your site? Nope, had I known we'd have planned a bit more :)
I cant currently view the site, so I'm not sure what tindie.com looks like... but regardless, what's the monetization strategy you've outlined for investors? I'm especially interested as the topic of the site seems to be "indie" and "open source", yet making $ in these areas can be tricky. Thx. Try now..
As far the revenue, tindie gets 5% of each transaction through the site - from there it becomes a question of scale and # of transactions. The makers are actually the ones who decide if their product is open or not. If they end up making and trying to sell their products, we are a great option.
Emile.
My friend is wanting to start an etsy for free trade items made all over the world. Any suggestions? Set up a landing page to let people register.
Once they've registered, let people submit products for when you launch.
Once you have enough products and the site is built, launch.
That's a start!
I still don't understand what your startup is - what's your product? also, i can't get to your site to find any additional info either. This shit should be clear as crystal if you're trying to get exposure. We are a marketplace for people to buy & sell electronics/tech that they make. The site is back up if you'd like to see. We don't have a 'product' but are the marketplace where makers can buy & sell their goods.
I see your site features a robot that plays Angry Birds. How have you used this machine for personal internet stardom and set record shattering high scores? I haven't actually used it - I do know the dev that made it and have seen it live in person. It does work.
Awesome site, just found and joined it due to this AMA. I was wondering if you could possibly add a feature similar to Etsy's where you can heart items and save them? Either way keep it up! Edit: Also a view all items option in subcategories would be amazing as well. Yep we can. Interesting story - we had wishlists on the site before a redesign, removed them in the redesign, and no one has noticed... We are working on a new solution in the future so stay tuned!
Emilepetrone: We launched a simulated diamond jewelry site called Link to diamonius.co and it's doing well, but since we are self funded via family we don't have the cash flow to do big ad campaigns. Any advice on how to get funding that is bigger than something like Kickstarter could provide? The trick for your business is growing so fast the investors come to you. As far as ad campaigns, maybe try cheaper more creative options that drive traffic your way?
When do you expect to breakeven? Good question, won't say the time but we definitely plan on being profitable. We do generate revenue unlike most tech startups so we are well on our way.
While I understand its nice for privacy and security why does the entire site redirect to https? Wouldn't it be less load on the servers to only use it when needed. Yes, you are right.
Why doesn't your website work? Because too many people were hitting the site, melting out servers- but we are back up now :)
How much equity did you have to give up for the 500K? Unfortunately the question I'm refraining from answering..sorry about that!
Is this similar to www.makeprojects.com ? I haven't been able to visit your site to check it out :/ Check now... not really, more of a marketplace than tutorials site.
A section for amateur radio on the front page would be welcome. I've posted links to you on some of the sites I frequent. Thanks! Adding that category now. Once there are 3 products in the category, it will show up in the side bar.
Link to tindie.com
Why would anyone need a robot that plays angry birds? The other thing is you can use it for mobile app testing. Program it to run through a suite of tests..
Sounds like a neat website, can I have something from your desk? Hmm maybe what are you looking for?
Why can't I get on your website from my phone? Good question, the site was down for a bit, but should be running fine now.
of all, congrats! How old are you (serious question - I am just curious)? And you should get your site back up (as I'm sure you know). I'd love to take a look! How about now?
Now? You're still 27. Maybe 28, but I somehow doubt it. May 7, 1985.
You are at step 3 of 100 steps... You're now indebted to others and are obligated to make this a profitable venture - are you stressed yet? You should be... Yes.
Your servers are crashing because of Reddit. Is this a good or bad thing? Good thing...definitely good problem.
Hi there, me and my friend are trying to find an idea for a website service but quite frankly they are all taken and we have no inspiration at the moment. What would be advice for getting inspiration for this type of thing? Hmm just mess around. Building things. I didn't plan on making Tindie a company, it just happened that people liked it. The more you tinker and launch new ideas, the higher your chance for success.
How do you process payments and how do you pay sellers ? We handle payments through paypal, and disburse the sellers' funds via Paypal at the end of the month. So the $ stays within Paypal and we just transfer it, taking out the Tindie fee.
Why don't you use stripe ? We started with Stripe. Ultimately we could get lower fees with Paypal and international customers were asking for Paypal because they didn't have a credit card. But Stripe has done a great job -best documentation award definitely goes to them.
I've got an idea for a company, I've already worked out a business plan and parts of a marketing plan. I'm not really sure where where to start looking for VC. What would you recommend my next steps should be? Sure thing - start building the business, getting traction and growing. If you can show signs of serious growth, the investors will find you.
Could one use this site to sell a used CO2 laser? I'm thinking of selling mine, but I'm not sure yet...Not sure if this site is for products MADE by such things, or if one could sell the laser there too. Sure thing. Just mark it as Resale, and it will show up in our Resale section. We are focused on maker made, but do except other products...
I sent you a PM about offering to help bring your site up, I have the expertise, and the offer still stands. I just looked at the Google cached version, and it looks really cool and interesting. Ah thanks! I haven't had a chance to look through my PMs but fortunately we got it up. Will reply after going through a few more comments..
Looking for any work from home low wage workers? ;-) Not yet!
I love this place! I would love to order more but the budget of a student is limited. Have you considered reaching out to specific people (i.e. Joseph Prusa) to sell specific things they've made in an American market? Thanks! I have, just a matter of time. I met Prusa at the Open Hardware Summit..thanks for the reminder!
how much did you keep for $500k? Assuming you are asking about equity, i'll leave that question unanswered..sorry about that!
Hey Emile, I hope you're still answering questions. You and I have actually spoken over email a few times. I want you to know I appreciate the advice you gave me and the fact you didn't tell me to goto hell :). I've been planning on working on a community marketplace similar to tindie but in a vastly different space. How did you solve the chicken and the egg problem with tindie? Yep still here, just working my way through. Good question..still figuring that out.
Any room for parallax propeller chip? Sure thing, reselling it? We have a new resale section just for that.
Hey, I am currently a student studying Computer Science and a friend and I have been trying to work on creating a E-Commerce Website as well. Although we aren't new to coding, we are somewhat new to coding larger scale software on the web. We have been using Python within the context of the Django framework, but I am curious if in your experience you have heard of any better frameworks or alternative methods to produce an e-commerce site like yours? Check out Cartridge. Depending upon your idea, it may be perfect.
Why wouldn't ya call it etsy for techie? Hmm I dont know..never thought of it.. hmm.
What did you name your boat? Unfortunately no boat or car..
Link to webcache.googleusercontent.com. Should be running fine now..
Did reddit just Friendly DDos'd your site? Yep!
Where are you hosting? Amazon, Heroku, Rackspace? heroku ps:scale web=10 worker=5 AWS.
The site is down. Maybe the start up funds should go to servers? :p. +1.
Can I have like 2k?? It'd help out a lot. Sorry mate, maybe next time?
A bear hug that kills you with a smile. Link to files-cdn.formspring.me
that is why we cant have nice things around here =[ Its ok.. fail and learn.. we now know what to do for next time :)
The good ole' Reddit DDOS. I'll check back later. Sorry about that! It's coming back up now.
And we are back!
... Its gone. And we are back!
Invest in amazon's cloud :) 4 XL's on EC2.
Lol he is the web host. They're probably using Amazon Web Services or some other cloud setup. The OP himself would be responsible for putting in load balancers & ensuring that the site scales with traffic. At the same time, it's a great lesson learned, occasional failure is a good thing :) Yep AWS, and lesson was definitely learned.
That exact thought goes through my head each time a site gets nuked. I'll be a good and bookmark it, maybe Santa will swap me out of the naughty list. Fuck coal. Thanks Willmus! We are live now, also do not want you to get coal.
I wonder how many of us won't. It's kind of poor planning making a big marketing move like this and not notifying your web host that you're expecting a big surge of traffic. In hindsight, you are right. I wasn't expecting it to actually get much traffic. But lesson learned - and we won't make this mistake next time.
Looks like 502 of their gateways are bad. Might take a while to replace them all. Yeah it did, but we are back up!
Oh sorry guys, i was sitting on ctrl F5. I thought so! +1.
Aand it's back. +1.
It's called free advertising. *OHHH You meant the site is ACTUALLY down... nevermind then. I'll still go back, not really that big of a deal, sites go down all the time Thanks! Yeah wasn't expecting it, but we are back up!
Great, now he's gone. Nope I'm here. Edited my answer to add more context.
WE ALL WANT TO HUG YOUR WEBSITE. Link to 25.media.tumblr.com
I've now seen that comment about 8 times in this thread already. It is very, very appreciated.
The friendliest ddos. +1.
The good ol' reddit DDoS. I can't connect to it either. Just try back in a little while. :) Back up!
I just had the same problem :( Sorry about that! Back up, promise!
That reddit hug! Link to 25.media.tumblr.com
$500k won't last you very long at all. Staff costs alone will burn through that in a matter of a few months, and there's all manner of setup costs and overheads on top of that. $500k isn't supposed to last years - realistically one year to 18 months.
Ah yeah, love me some strongbad. Link to homestarrunner.com. My high school chemistry teacher introduced me to strongbad. best class in high school.
Last updated: 2012-12-25 02:33 UTC
This post was generated by a robot! Send all complaints to epsy.
submitted by tabledresser to tabled [link] [comments]

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littleBits Arduino Module Unveiled

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