Practical Tips for Your First Startup

Launching a startup is like walking into uncharted territory. There are so many unknowns and forces that can work against you, that it sometimes helps to have a guide to illuminate the path along the way. Aaron White, cofounder and former CTO of Boundless, helped shine a light for students in his class, Practical Tips for Your First Startup, offering many helpful tidbits of guidance. In case you missed it, we’ve gathered up a few gems that some of our students tweeted, in addition to posting Aaron’s slides below. Enjoy!

Twitter Gems

Aaron’s Slides:

Got Android? Elevate Your App

Are you a java developer eager to learn new techniques to make your app look and feel like a modern, awesome Android app that runs on multiple form factors? If you’re familiar with the Android platform and have some solid app concepts, this two-day workshop can help you take your project to the next level. Come earn from three engineers at Kinvey, who also happen to be Android experts: Morgan Bickle, CTO; Ed Fleming, Software Engineer; and Mike Salinger, Senior Software Engineer. Did we mention that it’s free?!

Intermediate Android App Development Class

  • March 23 – 24
  • 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • 500 Harrison Avenue, Floor 3R
  • Lunch provided
  • Oh, hey, and it’s free!

Apply Now

30 students + 1 Boston programming class = 30 new web apps

What were you doing on Saturday morning? Here at, 30 ambitious coding newbies joined instructor, Aaron White, CTO of Boundless, to kick off the first day of two days of our Lock & Lode: Learn to Code programming class series. The competition was steep for a spot in the class (over 450 people applied!), and everyone who made the cut showed up bright-eyed and ready to dive into 12 hours of Python coding goodness.

Boston Programming Class

I’ll be honest—there was a bit of nail biting when I realized we had a 1:30 instructor/student ratio. But Aaron White patiently made the rounds, and more experienced students teamed up with novices helping everyone come up to speed. It was really a pretty cool thing to see!

Aaron White Programming Class

At end of the first day, someone tweeted an article, Why Coding Is and Is Not the New Literacy. Here’s the thing—many of these folks won’t go on to become developers, but having foundational programming knowledge will open up new doors to each and every one of them. Whether you’re a marketer, a product manager or a business strategist,  “speaking the language” teaches you problem-solving skills that increase your business fluency.

Huge thanks to HubSpot (Dharmesh Shah, Brian Halligan & David Cancel) and BzzAgent (Dave Balter), for generously donating the funds to make it possible for these people to learn to code for free this weekend. It was awesome to see their dedication to learning, and was so very cool to know that two killer Boston companies made it all possible. Want to learn the language of programming? Apply to Lock & Load: Learn to Code today!



We’re Teaming Up with RailsBridge to Teach Women How to Code!

Back in October, a little playful sparring over developers between HubSpot and BzzAgent resulted in HubSpot generously donating funds to help folks in Boston learn to code for free. When we launched our new series, Lock & Load: Learn to Code, we truly had no idea just how many of you are eager to add this skill to your tool chest. We received over 450 applications for 30 spots in our first session, kicking off this weekend with Aaron White, CTO of Boundless. Holy cow!

When we said we want to teach people how to code for free, we meant it. I’m totally pumped to announce today that we’re teaming up with the amazing crew of volunteers at RailsBridge Boston to help women (and a few good men) learn how to code in Ruby on Rails. Didn’t make it into the first session? Apply now to learn how to code in Ruby on Rails.

We’re accepting 30 applications for this two-day workshop with a generous group of Ruby pros who are volunteering their time to help you get your code on. Only women will be accepted to the program, but several men will be invited to join as the guests of attendees. Chill out bros—we’re lining up more sessions for you in 2013.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Dharmesh Shah, Brian Halligan, David Cancel, and the teams at HubSpot, BzzAgent and RailsBridge for making this possible!


Grow Your SaaS Business Successfully

The Software as a Service model has steadily been gaining in popularity in the past few years as both companies and users alike have increasingly turned to the Internet for services. SaaS sales reached $10 billion in 2010, with estimates for the future only getting larger. There’s never been a better time to break into the industry, so what’s stopping you from jumping in?

Before you take the plunge, though, Cory von Wallenstein, the CTO of Dyn, a company specializing in managed DNS, email delivery & SMTP solutions, has a few words of advice for you. He’ll be teaching his class, “Growing a Successful SaaS Business” at on Monday, November 19. Cory spoke with us this week to let us in on his expertise in this area. Read on to find out more.

What are the fundamental difference between SaaS and traditional web and software platforms?

Biggest difference, at least with traditional shrink-wrap type software, is you live and die by your renewals. It puts the “recurring” in “recurring revenue”. That impacts a lot on how you run the business.

Tell us about your work at Dyn. How did you grow bookings to over $36 million in just four years?

Identify a proven market. Build an awesome product that meets the need. Forge awesome, rock-solid relationships with your clients, and lock arms with them to help them build their businesses. They’ll return the favor in kind and help you build your business.

What is the most common mistake made when trying to grow an SaaS company?

Having release anxiety, where you don’t release until you think it’s perfect. The reality is it doesn’t matter whether you think it’s perfect or not, it matters if it solves a customer’s pain point sufficiently for them to open up their wallets, take the money out, and put the money in your wallet. I promise that whatever you find embarrassing about the product you built, there are folks out there that are more than willing to overlook a few rough edges if it helps them do their jobs. You’ll know what rough edges to fix later on by listening to their feedback.

If you had one piece of advice to give to someone starting a SaaS business, what would it be?

Start today.

If you could learn any skill by tomorrow, what would it be?

Multi-tasking. I’m an engineer by degree, and a lot of my thinking is rooted in “focus on one problem at a time and knock it out of the park”. I’ve had to really focus on improving my ability to multi-task and pay a little bit of a attention to a lot of things, and to know when to dive in and when to stay out. And I’m still learning!


Learn how to grow your SaaS business. Sign up for Cory’s class today!