API First

13 June 2018

In the last few years I've learned a lot about how a business can continue iterating on a product built upon a software stack that is starting to show a bit of age. One of the lessons I've learned is that products that target businesses should be built API-first, particularly B2B SaaS. What this means is that you start by building the API for the product, the API isn't an after-thought that gets added on when a customer wants to integrate. What is an API? API stands for Application Programming…

Implementing Timezones

20 May 2018

I sometimes find myself giving technical advice on how to handle different issues to founders or engineers at their companies. One thing that usually comes up is timezones, so I'm writing down my advice here. I've implemented timezones a number of times in my career as an engineer. A calendar app whose concept of a timezone was only the offset (-5) from UTC was one of my first implementations. Each time I've implemented timezones, I've done it better and my understanding has improved. First…

Creating a Better Middleman

5 February 2018

They said the Internet promised a new way. That software was eating the world. That travel agents, brokers, and middlemen were a thing of the past. But, look around us. That’s not what we’ve achieved. Nor are we even close to achieving it. We’ve simply created a better middleman. While it might have brought less friction, it also has a downside, these middlemen are based on algorithms we cannot read and cannot hope to fully understand. Maybe what we’ve achieved is removing the humanity from our…

What Kansas City lacks for startups

15 August 2016

In the early half of 2016, the hot topic around the Kansas City startup community was funding, specifically outside investment. There isn't enough of it. Which companies were moving away to get it. Which were staying here because of it. Whether the problem is actually late stage funding. Or whether you actually need outside investment at all. I've always disagreed that the problem is funding. The money will come if the companies we are creating are good enough. What Kansas City lacks is the I…

Vertical integration

16 January 2016

Vertical integration. It's one of those words that they use so much business school that makes you wonder if it actually means anything. I hate those words as much as the next developer, but this is the best word I can think of to call the concept I want to write about. If your company builds a product, the more of the different kinds of work your company does itself that go into the product, the more vertically integrated the company is. Most software startups are fairly vertically integrated…

Why?

5 January 2016

It's a question I ask often. In fact, my girlfriend regularly gets annoyed because I ask this question so often and without even thinking about it. It's one reason she refers to me as her six foot toddler, because kids are notorious for asking this question without relent. I choose to think this is because I've managed to hold on to part of my child-like sense of wonder. She probably would give you another reason. I'm trying to break my habit of asking her 'why' so often, but I think most people…

Building the core of your product

29 September 2015

Everyone has an opinion on outsourcing. Some will tell you it is the answer to all your problems, getting cheap labor that works when you don't, who wouldn't want that? Some will tell you that it only causes you headaches. Like most issues, it isn't that cut and dry, but there is a balance that makes sense as a software startup. I doubt there is a startup in existence that doesn't outsource something. If you're building the software for your database or web servers in house, you're likely to run…

My standing desk

4 April 2015

I always wanted a standing desk. I attribute it to growing up working in a server room for my dad's company. In most server rooms you generally work standing at a rack of servers and I spent a few too many sleepless nights trying to solve a particular server problem standing in front of a server rack, staring at a monitor. At Freightview, we have some furniture made from pipe and topped with wood (actually made of pallet wood, after all we are in the freight industry), building something with…

Starting up in KC

6 March 2015

This is a post that outlines all the things I think have been major take aways from my time working with startups in and around Kansas City. Most of this advice is probably valid far wider than just in Kansas City, but since my experience is very localized here, I figured it wise to hedge my bets. Over the last 6 years, I've learned a lot about startups. I have immersed myself in startups. I've written software for about 10 different startups and sadly, most of them are no longer around. So…

Our place in the universe

6 February 2014

This picture was taken by the Curiosity Rover on Mars yesterday. It might be one of the most awesome pictures humanity has ever taken. It may even be even more awe-inspiring than the Pale Blue Dot, but I believe Carl Sagan said it best: “Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident…

Concentrate

28 January 2014

I'm in the middle of polishing a web app my team is developing at the office. Jared and I sit next to each other and go through the app page by page, and fix what needs to be fixed because he sees things that I miss. Of course, we run in to a bug that needs to be fixed before we can continue with our business. Damn. How long is this gonna take? Its about 3:00pm, people are talking, I'm on edge because this bug has me stressed out because it is particularly troublesome, seemingly without…

2013 in review

30 December 2013

I was going to write a long in depth look at what all I accomplished in 2013 as well as some of my failings. I got bored of it and deleted it, because if I didn't even want to write it, who would possibly read it? 2013 is the year I transformed from a simple web developer into a software engineer. I really started to understand why process, testing, and maintainability is super important in this field and especially when working with start ups. I learned more in 2013 than I probably did in the…