August 08, 2013

Do Product Faster

My Mom thinks my line of work is magic. When I told her four months ago that I was going to be a Hackstar at Techstars Boulder, she assumed I'd be locked in a room making all the Internets. Well Mommy, it's sorta like that.

A Hackstar is a software or designer craftsman who has one primary goal: do product faster. What does this mean? Unlike Techstars founders, Hackstars have the luxury of focusing only on product and not other stuff that comes with founding a company. Whether building out features or designing web user experiences, Hackstars spend a good part of the three-month camp making all things product-oriented happen.

I had the pleasure working with two companies: Shopventory and Adsnative.

Shopventory is an inventory management tool for mobile point of sales (think PayPal and Square) ran by a duo of San Diego engineers. If you run a shop, use Square or PayPal, and have a guap of merchandise, you will perfectly understand the problem at hand. I helped them with features like accepting payments, inventory items from PayPal, and abstracting how data is modeled and stored to support future integrations.

Adsnative makes it simple to integrate high-quality content into the organic experience of, say, a mobile or web app. If you're a publisher or advertiser, you'd use this tool to make ads look like everyday content on your mobile or web site. I did several things for this group of Berkley guys like interface with YouTube's API to provide feeds for easy campaign creation, set up vagrant for easy dev setup, and re-factored a feed parser to better parse RSS and web articles.

Additionally, I helped build the official Techstars Demo Day app, which will be used to broadcast TS Boulder demo day and others. It's pretty sweet.

Techstars Boulder is like an exclusive summer camp that hooks Techstars founders up. Founders learn how to run a company with respect to being honest with themselves, and their team and mentors. They get exposure from wise and successful entrepreneurs and VCs like David Cohen and Brad Feld. The list goes on and on, and it sums up to a mind blowing experience. For Hackstars, we get to experience 99% of the program like the founders minus the pressure of making hard decisions and building a successful company. Plus, we get hooked up through getting-in early with companies that are deemed to be unfairly successful.

Techstars Boulder 2013, you've been awesome. The friendships gained, knowledge acquired, and the experiences and moments enjoyed will welcomely haunt me forever. Thanks to Eugene, Luke, and Techstars for the opportunity. To others I've shared drinks with including Crystal and Chase, I will cherish our time together.

As B.B. King once said, let the good times roll.

-- Royce (Follow me on Twitter)

Want the quick 'n dirty on becoming a Hackstar? Learn more about the Techstar Hackstar program.