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Oct 20 / Vivi

November in Silicon Valley

Next week we’re heading out to Silicon Valley again. I’m excited, it’s incredible how much of a difference it makes to be physically present there.

I realized today how true this is when, for the first time in the 6 years I’ve lived in New York, I overheard two people in the subway talking about users and some engagement stuff.

They were obviously developers, cared about whatever they were doing enough to talk about it in the subway.

You can spend years in New York and not stumble upon anybody working on a startup. You cannot spend more than a week in the Bay Area without somebody pitching you what they work on. :-)

Oct 9 / Vivi

What does “it’s a good start” really mean

Like many others that haven’t lived here long enough, I thought americans are just too damn positive when I first moved to the US. There’s no way that everything is so ‘great’ and ‘awesome’ all the time!

And the problem goes both ways, my american friends had trouble understanding me.

And then it struck me: it’s just a matter of translation. They don’t really mean that it’s ‘great’, they just have a different meaning for that word. :-)

So I’ve made these graphs to make it more clear what does “it’s a good start” really mean.

Objectively speaking, things probably fall on a bell curve. Most things are average, and trail off on both edges into few things being complete junk and few things being super duper awesome.

99% of the americans that I know will never ever say “i don’t like what you’ve done”. Those words are just not in their vocabulary.

The startup community is an interesting one. You can tell when somebody doesn’t like your idea because they will say “it’s interesting” and then stop.

They probably like it if they start talking about problems that you might have, what if Google starts doing this, what if you don’t get critical mass, etc.

You can tell they really love it when they start brainstorming with you what you could do in the future if you succeed. They get excited with you and stop worrying about issues, instead they talk about what your idea could become.

Where do I even start? :-) Romanians are a negative bunch. The best you can get out of them, if they don’t have anything negative to say about your idea, is to say that even if you do succeed, it’s futile anyways. Somehow, somewhere, sometime in the future it will eventually fail for whatever reason.

[update] And for the curious, here’s how the graph looks like for me. :-)

Oct 4 / Vivi

What determination means

Three years ago I’ve started building a Politics Map of Romania.

It tracks the activity of most active politicians, from election results, to parliamentary activity (if they are in the parliament), how they voted on things, presence in Parliament, to mentions in the press.

It’s probably my most stubborn project to date. I’ve worked on it for about a year and a half on weekends and nights. I’ve invested more time in this than in any other personal project.

Whenever I tell most people in Romania about it I am greeted with skepticism at best and with tales of how doomed this project is at worse. I have about 50 visitors per day on a good day. Almost nobody refers to it. The political bloggers in Romania don’t seem to use it.

And yet, against all odds, against all common sense, I have a deep belief that not only does this need to exist, but it’s important to exist. It’s so important that I need to work on it whenever I find some time to do it.

Whenever I work on it, I still do it with almost the same enthusiasm as when I started the project. I accept that I might be slightly crazy for believing in it so much, but I just can’t help it.

I think that’s what people mean when they talk about the determination of a startup founder.

Sep 27 / Vivi

About last night’s YC NYC

I went, like many other people, to last night’s YC NYC meetup where Paul Graham and a bunch of YC Alumni talked about YC and what’s it like to start or work for a startup.

Lots of people seem to be upset on twitter because PG placed NYC as #2, behind Silicon Valley, as a startup hub. I think they just took it personally. :-)

It just seemed to me that he was being honest, pointing out the many differences between the two places starting from the weather, the culture of the people, the feel of the place and so on, all of which contribute to a successful (or unsuccessful) startup hub.

This New York Times blog post seems like a more objective view of the event than the twitter stream.

Sep 19 / Vivi

On being a generic software engineer

I was thinking these days on how important it is to be a generic software engineer and not get stuck in a certain technology.

In my previous job I worked with Actionscript, C++, Java, Javascript, BigTable.

For our startup we’ve already been through needing Ruby, Mongo, nodejs, Javascript, PHP, Java and ObjectiveC. It’s the first time I had to work with some of them and I’m sure down the road I’ll be having to deal with a few other languages or technologies that I’ve never used before.

There’s so much work across the entire spectrum of the project that I can’t imagine it get done unless you’re able to pick a new language up in about a week.

I’m sure some people make a living out of knowing the extreme details of a certain technology and definitely there are cases when this is useful. But the beginning of a startup is not one of those cases. :-)

Sep 13 / Vivi

Hello world!

After many years of having a “Vivi’s developer blog” in Romanian I decided that the time has finally come to start an english blog. I’ll mostly be writing about my experience as the co-founder of a startup.

I wish I could tell you what our startup does, but for now even we don’t know very well. :-) We’re working on it. Iterating, prototyping ideas, talking to people, finding customers, realizing we were wrong and starting all over again.

It’s a learning experience and I’ll use this blog to write about that and maybe keep you guys up to date with the drama, excitement and adventure that seems to come with trying to start your own business.