Starting Up

Over the course of the last year I’ve immersed myself in the world of startups. For years I’ve wanted to do a web application but I was always too busy. But that’s part of the lesson about startups. Despite how busy you are, you have to start.

My startup is called Minuteglass and it is quite simply a tool for tracking time. I’ve used or tried dozens of time tracking applications over the years and Minuteglass is our response to the question of “what could be better in time tracking.”

I’m so excited by time tracking that I started a blog devoted to the topic.

Currently Minuteglass is in private beta. We’ve released to a few select friends and as soon as we have our bug list whittled down we will be releasing to our 500+ person beta invite list. Right now we have 49 bugs / improvements we’re working on.

Most startup founders are programmers or business guys. I’m different in that I’m a user interface designer. While I’d love to be a developer I wouldn’t trade what I do for the ability to code. I love approaching the world from a design perspective.

In the coming months, I hope to share more about Minuteglass and the process I’ve gone through to get to this point (along with my excellent team).

Incremental Billing in Web Apps

I have been designing some of the payment and plan upgrade screens for our upcoming web application, and while doing a little bit of research I discovered something interesting.

Basecamp (above) does not charge incrementally. If you upgrade your plan a day after your billing cycle you’ll have an entire month at the previous rate.

FreshBooks (above) on the other hand charges you incrementally based on changes you make. So if you add extra staff to your plan for example, you’ll have to pay.

Both ways are fine, but it’s just an interesting thing to consider when you build your own web app.

Startups

Over the last couple of years I’ve become immersed in the world of startups. I’m not even sure exactly how this began. It might have been after reading the excellent book Founders At Work.

But I think I’ve had the bug from the start. The consulting business has been good to me, but at times I get frustrated by the very nature of consulting and how nothing you do has residual earnings potential.

With consulting, it unfortunately has to always be about the next project (and hopefully with existing clients, otherwise you have to find new customers). In our consulting business, we’ve managed to acquire 1.1 new client every month. Which is an amazing average (over 10 years).  Our business is going strong and we’ve had some time over the last year to focus on our own startup.

I’ve written about our startup before – it’s a new time tracking application. I wish I could share screenshots and specifics but I can’t until we launch (we’re still in development). We’re building Minuteglass in Ruby on Rails. It’s rather interesting and I like how it offers fast development (I’m more of a designer myself). We’re hosting all of our code on GitHub and we’re hosting our development server on Slicehost. I don’t know if that will be our final hosting company or not.

One of the best resources for new discussions and topics surrounding startups is Hacker News from Y Combinator. It used to be a site called Startup News which frankly was a better name. The site focuses on web startups.

A new networking group has formed in Phoenix called OpenCoffee Club. The idea behind OpenCoffee Club is that entrepreneurs and investors meet on a regular basis over coffee just to connect and talk about share about their startups. I’m really excited about the group and have already met some cool people (and even done some business with Flatterline, the company that is organizing the events!). I think it’s a fabulous beginning to more frequent and interesting discussions in Phoenix about startups.

Anyways, I haven’t been blogging much because I’ve been so busy working on client projects, building Minuteglass, and working on my house (check out this video of my home office!). I’m hoping to start blogging more regularily again.