Square’s Jim Mckelvey Spearheading Another St. Louis Tech Effort

Jim McKelvey, St. Louis startups, LaunchCode, developerAlthough based in Silicon Valley, Square’s co-founder Jim McKelvey continues to make waves in the St. Louis startup community. Just last week we reported on a new financial services startup accelerator called SixThirty. McKelvey is one of the founding partners of that accelerator.

He is also very active in Cultivation Capital and Arch Angels, St. Louis’ premier angel network. He sits on the board for both LockerDome and Bonfyre, two prominent St. Louis startups that we’ve covered a bunch here at Nibletz.

Next Tuesday McKelvey will hold a press conference in St. Louis to announce the complete details of his latest project called LaunchCode. McKelvey leads a group of St. Louis entrepreneurs in a collaborative effort to increase the region’s development talent base and strengthen the burgeoning startup and tech community.

Many coders possess great talent but lack the experience necessary to land a job. LaunchCode helps new coders overcome this hurdle by pairing them with experienced developers in companies that have job openings. Through pair programming – a system used in Silicon Valley involving two programmers, two keyboards, and one monitor – the new developer receives training and experience until he or she is up to speed and receives a full-time job. More than 50 St. Louis companies of all sizes, from Fortune 500 corporations to thriving startups, have already signed up. Employer companies include World Wide Technologies, Monsanto, Savvis, Enterprise, Build-a-Bear, Lockerdome, Express Scripts, and more.

McKelvey is joined by Chris Sommers (co-founder of Givver and Pi Pizzeria), Dan Lohman (co-founder of Pushup Social, Cubical.com and Lab 1500), and Chris Oliver (Lead Developer of Givver) on LaunchCode’s founding team.

With McKelvey’s multiple interests in the St. Louis startup community, fueling an effort to teach more developers is a natural step for the St. Louis startup community.

You can find out more about LaunchCode here




Why You Shouldn’t Learn To Code For Your Startup

Learn how to code, developer, startup,startup founder, Guest post, startup tip, YEC

I get emails like this one all the time:

I am wondering if I could ask for help for a friend. Mike, a good friend of mine, has been working on a startup idea. …He is looking for really great co-founding developers who can help him build out the product in a short period of time. I am wondering if you could tap into your network for leads. Many thanks in advance!

I wish I could help. It can be very difficult for a non-technical entrepreneur to find a technical co-founder if he/she doesn’t already have friends who code. And these days, just about everyone would tell Mike to skip the talent search and learn how to code himself.

Journalists in TechCrunchBusiness InsiderFast Company and dozens of other publications, including VentureBeat, write frequently about how you, as a non-technical founder, are up a creek if you don’t learn how to code. Even Harvard Business School students are learning how to code – despite paying very good money to learn business skills. In short, if you’re starting an Internet company, you can’t go anywhere without hearing about how important it is to know how to code.



Silicon Valley has followed suit. In the last two years alone, online education companies have developed a variety of courses to teach programming skills. Companies like CourseraUdacityUdemyTreehouseCodecademyEdX, and Lynda, are just a handful of the many companies serving the programming education market. For those who prefer to learn in person, there are now a wealth of choices in developer training camps too, including Hack ReactorCoder CampsDev Bootcamp, and the Hackbright Academy. These camps hold class every day for several weeks, teaching basic front-end and back-end skills.

The real reason startups fail (hint: it’s not bad code)

On the surface, it would seem the solution for finding a technical co-founder is to become one yourself.

But you have to question whether turning non-technical entrepreneurs into developers is really the best solution for starting a company. Startups become successful when they have users and customers — and they die when they don’t. Tech startups don’t fail because they have poorly written code.  If you look at TechCrunch’s deadpool of startups, almost all listed companies failed because they ran out of money.  They didn’t have enough users to make their business model work.

I started my first company, Beat the GMAT, without knowing how to program at all. Didn’t matter: I built a loyal following of prospective MBA students for my blog first, which was focused on solving GMAT problems. Later, this audience became active participants in my first forums. Finally, I hired developers to build the most recent version of my site before selling it to Hobson’s. Had I focused on building the site first, I’m not sure that’s how things would have panned out.

Don’t get me wrong: Increasing the opportunities for people to learn is great, and those who want to learn how to program definitely should. But if you’re learning how to code merely to launch a startup, you’re wasting valuable time.

The economic tenet of comparative advantage suggests that people should become really good at their core skills, use them effectively to make money, and then hire others to complement their skills. So, if you are mediocre at acquiring customers and know nothing about programming, shouldn’t you work to become awesome at customer acquisition rather than become a bad developer? I would’ve expected Harvard Business School to understand this better than anyone.

Paying it forward

In the Valley, entrepreneurs and investors often talk about how so many seed startups fail because they can’t get enough customers to become profitable. But we shouldn’t just talk — we should do something. That’s why Elizabeth Yin and I started Hustle Con: to teach non-technical entrepreneurs tactical tips in acquiring customers to build a sustainable business. Others, such as Noah Kagan, have done the same in creating his course called “How to make your first dollar.”  And, there are a smattering of meetup groups trying to teach marketing and sales for startups.

But we can do better. If you know something about lead generation, sales, and marketing, I encourage you to pay it forward and teach other entrepreneurs to improve their customer acquisition skills. And finally, to the would-be founders out there: Stop talking about learning how to code, and instead, start hustling.

Eric Bahn is the co-founder of Hustle Con, a one-day conference on July 9, 2013 in Mountain View, CA. Hustle Con features successful entrepreneurs who will talk about how they grew their companies from $0 to $5M in just a couple of years, how they raised money, and how they grew an audience before releasing a product. Join us with this special code to get 25% off: yec-hustler 

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

Sequoia’s Aaref Hilaly believes everyone should know how to code.


Evernote Launches No Equity Accelerator For Developers

Evernote,developer,startup accelerator,app accelerator,docomo ventures, honda silicon valley labEvernote is known for it’s great relationship with developers. They hold hackathons on just about every continent, they hold the “devcup” and they support every single bit of creativity that developers can build using Evernote as the backbone. Some of the things that have come out of Evernote developers are really cool, and go way beyond the “notepad app” that Evernote started as. (my favorite Evernote app is Hello).

Now Evernote has announced they are expanding on the relationship with their developers once again. Evernote is opening a new on-site accelerator bringing their developers to SiliconValley. Docomo and Honda have partnered with Evernote to make the accelerator possible.

No matter where you are based, if you’re selected for the Evernote accelerator you and your team will be flown to Silicon Valley, you’ll get living accommodations, free food, office space, access to Evernote developers and engineers, group work sessions and feedback sessions and more. At the end of the program Evernote’s Rafe Needleman told Venturebeat, that “they’ll hold  a demo day for Silicon Valley investors and press.”

Currently there are six billion API’s per month across the Evernote platform and Needleman and team are looking for even more. “There’s a million different ways to store, use, and get access to personal and private data, and so far we’ve only built eight of those apps,” Needleman says.

Teams chosen for the accelerator will come from the DevCup. Once they arrive in Silicon Valley not only will they be working with Evernote but they will also be working with Docomo Innovation Ventures and Honda Silicon Valley Labs. This could be a big benefit for Evernote developers whose apps deal directly with mobile and wireless or transportation.

Interested in learning more? Check out Evernote’s developer’s site here.

Unfortunately money doesn’t grow on trees in Silicon Valley, read here.

Apple Rejecting Apps That Ask For UDIDs

Privacy and Apps has become a huge concern for both Android and iOS lately. Ever since Path made worldwide news when they uploaded user address books in their entirety to their private servers, users and even congress has been screaming foul play. Privacy pundits everywhere are demanding a crack down on what phones can tell an app about the user and their device.

Apple and Google are under the scrutiny of Congress to crackdown on privacy especially on mobile devices.

About six months ago, around the time a Wall Street Journal study revealed that several apps on both platforms were taking more data off phones than they really needed, Apple let developers know they were going to start rejecting apps that called for the devices UDID. It looks like Apple is going to ramp that up starting now.

More after the break
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